Thursday, September 27, 2007

Work Didn't Used to Suck

I have had some pretty fantastic jobs in my life. These are jobs that I would literally do even if I won $300 million in the Powerball next week. And then there are the jobs I’ve had that actually pay the bills.

In category #1 fall the following jobs:

1 – Naturalist

Wake up time: 7:30am. Group breakfast is at 7:45 and you can’t be late.
Uniform: Anything comfortable. It will get dirty.
Office: The outdoors. Day and night, rain and sun, winter or summer.
Duties: Teach children of various ages about the outdoors. Play games and sing songs and do skits; lead ascents up a high ropes course or climbing wall, or out on an actual mountain; act the part of a pioneer woman in full dress, making candles in a log cabin; pull out authentic pioneer tools, a snake, a compass, an herb, and teach children about them; lead horseback rides, kayak trips, mountain bike excursions, camping trips, white water rafting adventures.
Downsides: You get paid $250 a week, which is barely enough to cover student loans and car insurance and other vital bills. There are no health benefits. Because you live with the dozen or so people you work with, the rumor mill is magnified ten thousand fold, and there is no privacy.
Perks: Work follows the school year, so lots of holiday time off, and time off in general. There are lots of international staff, which makes life interesting and also gives you people to crash with if you ever go to England/ Australia/ Scotland/ New Zealand/ South Africa. Everyone you work with is your age, full of energy, and loves what they do. Every day is spent outdoors, teaching and learning and playing with horses and ropes courses and other great stuff that most people pay a ton of money to do on their fleeting weekends out of the office.

2 - Actress
Wake up time: 9:30am. Rehearsal starts at 10, and goes through the day and night. **During the run of the show – you gotta be ready to go by 6pm, but the rest of the day is yours.
Uniform: Anything that approximates your onstage costume.
Office: The theatre. With occasional forays into antique stores and Goodwill to find set and costume pieces.
Duties: Memorize your lines, learn your blocking, perform your part, with feeling.
Downsides: You get paid $175 a week, which means you use your charge card a lot. There are no health benefits. Sometimes you have to deal with divas. You have to find a new job every couple of months, when your show closes.
Perks: When the show starts running, you work about 3 hours a day. It is fun. It is creative. It is art. Theatre people are wild, fun, and sometimes melodramatic, and always interesting.

3 – Baker
Wake up time: 5:30 am. This definitely sucks, but your day is done by 3pm, which is soooo great.
Uniform: something clean. Doesn’t matter what, you’ll have an apron on top.
Office: the bakery. You are often alone, with just the radio and smell of cinnamon rolls baking to keep you company. It is wonderful, even in the early morning hours.
Duties: Bake things. Solicit business. Flirt with customers. Purchase fresh produce and baking supplies. Read recipe books and try new things. Keep your hands out of the cookies if you can.
Downsides: You get paid $7 an hour, which is just enough to pay the bills until your car has a $2000 breakdown and then you are up the creek and out comes el chargeo cardo again.
Perks: Your schedule is flexible. It’s just you and your boss, and she’s great. It’s creative. You get off at 3:00 every day, only work 3 hours on Saturdays, and have Sundays and Mondays off, which makes your weeks fly by and your weekends feel miles long.

Here is category #2.

1,2,3,4,5 . . . – Office Manager, Human Resources Professional, FITB with your own well paying corporate profession
Wake up time: 6:15 am.
Uniform: Business casual. Yes, you have to iron for this job.
Office: The office. Climate controlled, the hum of electronics, if you’re lucky (I am, right now) you get a window. (I’ve also avoided ever working from a cubicle thus far, lucky me.)
Duties: Create excuses for paperwork, fill it out, keep it filed. Come up with made up words like “strategic planning” and “total rewards management” and “performance index” to make yourself sound smarter and more essential to the success of the company. Inflate a few hours worth of work into mounds of ridiculous time consuming paperwork to please some corporate people, who prefer quantity over quality. Listen to people complain about stuff. Write budgets, policy, safety audit checklists, or whatever falls in your scope of work, and then squeeze in some creativity by fiddling with the formatting and throwing in some clip art.
Downsides: Whether it’s a mind-numbing routine task or really complicated new project, it’s rarely interesting. The corporate world owns your time, doling out a vacation day here and there with a miserly grunt. Some of the politics are just beyond comprehension.
Perks: You get paid enough to pay all your bills, eat well, contribute to a retirement fund, do necessary home improvements, travel. You can make sound investments in your future, afford to have children and support them, take trips, or classes, or any of the other wonderful experiences that money can buy you. Sometimes you get to write a blog and nobody seems to mind, as long as you get your tasks done on time.

I *miss* my old jobs. I grieve for them. I miss the day to day joy and fulfillment of my former work. Each one had its problems, biggest of which was always the non-livable wage - and I definitely like knowing that at this point in my life I am able to make good financial decisions that will secure our future happiness. But often, in this office, under the drone of these lights, with my fingers on the keys and my eyes on the screen, my mind is a million miles away, cheering a kid up the climbing wall, or paddling a kayak, or making tres leches cakes with NPR chattering in the background, or blinking under the hot lights of a white hot sparkling stage. And I sigh, and say woe is me, and then hitch up my bra strap under my business casual top, pour myself a cup of tea, and try to suck it up and pretend to like it. Because that's just, well, just what you do, isn't it?


super jane said...

maybe, just maybe, you're saving enough in your retirement fund to retire early and then do those other jobs just for kicks. *cross fingers*

glove said...

That's the plan. *Grin*

Wicked M said...

Let's all chant together:

Early retirement!
Early retirement!
Early retirement!

Please, oh please, oh please.