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The Best & The Worst February 7, 2020

Posted by nrhatch in Home & Garden, Humor, Life Balance.

Before we enter the “real world,” many of us join the labor force on a part-time basis to earn spending money to supplement the meagre allowances doled out by parents on Saturday mornings . . .

In our family, the four of us each got $1 a week, but only after we’d weeded the gardens, mowed the yard, and slopped the hogs.

Or scooped up dog poop from the dog’s run.  Or washed the cars.  Or emptied the dishwasher.  Or shoveled the driveway.  Or cleaned the bathrooms.  Or completed any other onerous chores dreamed up and assigned to us.

Realizing that I needed more than $1 a week in spending money caused me to look beyond the confines of my parents’ home and garden.

My first part-time gig in high school involved “babysitting” for neighbor kids.  I loved it!

They played or watched TV while I did homework. After finishing my homework, I played or watched TV with them, supervised dinner and bath time, readied them for bed, and then read to them.  Fun and easy.

Plus, I loved being in charge!

Eventually, my desire for cash caused me to look outside the neighborhood for supplemental income.  And boy did I luck out!  My 3 favorite part-time jobs included:

1.  Test Monkey at Bell Laboratories (testing phone reception).  I sat in a booth, listening.  And making notations on a sheet of paper.  No manual labor involved.  Nice!

2.  Beertender at the Hoi Polloi (college bar) ~ listening to local bands (and drinking beer) for free while serving up draft beer (for $0.50) to fellow students, including crushes.  The tips were great AND we got a meal ticket to use at the Wigwam.  Each golden ticket covered ALL the food we could fit on the tray ~ a huge club sandwich, fries, drink, dessert, etc.  Enough for me and a few friends!  The only downside of the job was mopping up the ankle-deep spilled beer at 1 am.  *YAWN*

3.  Working in a snack hut at the Garden State Arts Center ~ listening to rock concerts for free.  After intermission, we inventoried our sales, closed the snack huts, and sat on the lawn to listen to the main acts, which included Stephen Stills, Dave Mason, ELO, Chicago, the Moody Blues, Seals & Croft, Loggins & Messina, the Eagles, Hall & Oates, etc..  If we didn’t get scheduled to work on the night of a good concert, we got into the venue for free by telling the ushers (our friendly co-workers) that we were picking up our checks.  The fact that we had 2-3 friends with us never seemed to faze them.

But life is not always a bowl of cherries, ripe for the picking.  I also got hired for two part-time jobs I hated.  Both involved selling on commission.

1. Distributor of Exam Survival Kits on campus ~ the kit included candy, snacks, and a Crammer Hammer (an inflatable hammer that stressed students could smack against the side of their head to relieve stress and cram knowledge into over-stuffed brains).  My job was to distribute kits around campus during final exams, receiving a solid $0.10 for each!  After receiving $400 for distributing 4,000 kits, I resigned.  In comparison, selling Girl Scout Cookies could be viewed as a get-rich-quick scheme.

“Here! Let me hit you with my Crammer Hammer!”

2.  Still worse was my short stint as a Fire Safety Consultant ~ selling fire safety equipment door-to-door.  I made a total of two presentations.  The first to parents of my best friend who declined to order safety ladders for their bedroom windows for one good reason ~> they lived in a single-story ranch.   My second (and last) presentation, to a neighbor who had been a volunteer firefighter for years, convinced me to quit.  Half-way through my preamble, he asked to see the stats/hype I’d been “sold” by the company.  As we went over them together, he demonstrated to me that I’d been brain-washed by the “party line.”  With that, my consulting days were done.

But all’s well that ends well.

Needing something to do for the rest of the summer, I got a job as a cashier at Becker’s Hardware . . . where I met BFF.

Aah . . . that’s better!

What’s the best part-time gig you ever had?  Or the worst?  Do tell.


1. Rivergirl - February 7, 2020

Damn. Now I totally want a Crammer Hammer….

nrhatch - February 7, 2020

Maybe your hubby has one squirreled away in the shed somewhere?

Rivergirl - February 7, 2020

Could be…

nrhatch - February 8, 2020

Even if you don’t find a crammer hammer, you might find something else amusing. 😉

2. Ally Bean - February 7, 2020

Worst – In high school I worked at Dairy Queen and had to make those darned curls on the tops of the cones. I never got the hang of it and came to resent the idea of embellishing a cone like that. Stupid idea.

Best – In college I worked as a banquet waitress wherein I served the same meal to all the people at an event, fetched their beverages, and then waited to clear the table. The pay was decent, each event tipped the wait staff a set amount, AND many of the people who attended these events knew we were college kids, so they slipped us another tip on top of the standard. Lots of standing with a smile on face, but easy money.

nrhatch - February 7, 2020

You: “I can’t make those stupid curlicues on the top of the cones so I’m just going to give you a little extra ice cream.”

Me: “Deal!”

Being a banquet waitress presenting identical meals around the room sounds easier than lots of waitress jobs . . . but the size of some of those trays of plates. Yowsa! You need muscles!

Ally Bean - February 7, 2020

Oddly enough the company I worked for didn’t believe in trays. They thought it was too commercial and they wanted to present a homey atmosphere so we carried plates in our hands and on our arms. Wasn’t that difficult, really. I couldn’t have dealt with those trays.

nrhatch - February 8, 2020

Balancing plates on your arms ~> also an impressive skill to add to your life’s resume. And useful if you’re entertaining!

3. Val Boyko - February 7, 2020

The best college jobs always have an added bonus! You really lucked out Nancy!
No rock concerts or delicious freebies for me … apart from a free breakfast at the local hospital kitchen where I started at 5.30am – had to get the porridge on and turn on the equipment for the cook. I served the staff breakfast and did the clean up and washed floors afterwards. I was done by 10am. YAWN!!!! My other jobs were waitressing, tending bar, and a shop assistant in a couple of Edinburgh tourist shops. That’s where I met my first Americans….. 😉

nrhatch - February 7, 2020

Nice to be done with work by 10 am . . . but a 5:30 start time would take a wee bit of practice. At least you didn’t have to eat breakfast BEFORE work.

One of our local hospitals has been catering in ALL food since November because the kitchen came down with a bad case of mold. :mrgreen:

4. Jill Weatherholt - February 7, 2020

At sixteen, I was working as a skate guard at the nearby roller rink. Getting paid to skate…best job ever!

nrhatch - February 7, 2020

Way cool, Jill! Do you still skate?

I skated very little as a kid ~ we had adjustable roller skates that clipped over your sneakers. Instead of gliding and skating and sailing along with grace, we did the . . . herky jerky. 😆

5. joyroses13 - February 7, 2020

I would say you def lucked out with your jobs, free meals, drinks and concerts! Nice!
I worked at Rax Fast Food Restaurant, they aren’t even around anymore, but they had the best shakes! Worked at Wendy’s too,and got free food there. LOL! We had fun goofing around at work.
Sounds like your best reward from your part time jobs was meeting BFF! How can you beat that? 🙂

nrhatch - February 7, 2020

Fun stuff! Sweet shakes + salty French Fries = Perfect Combo

One of my neighbors had a job as a taste tester for Frito Lay ~> getting paid to eat Fritos, Doritos, and other salty crunchy snacks is my idea of an OK job!

joyroses13 - February 7, 2020

Oh Man, yes I would sign up for that job! And yes, sweet plus salry is def the perfect combo! 🙂

nrhatch - February 7, 2020

Have you ever tried a Take 5 candy bar?

Peanut Butter

Yes. Please.

6. Alien Resort - February 7, 2020

I also tested phone reception. The company was Dynastat, it was the 1990s, and cell phones were being rolled out. Boring but easy money, and you could come to work only when you felt like it.

nrhatch - February 7, 2020

Being a “test monkey” was a perfect “low key” job, eh?

Them: “Can you hear me now?”
Me: “Yes. Yes I can.”

So much better than being a “lab rat.” 😛

7. Kate Crimmins - February 7, 2020

Wow! Free concerts! That was a really great job. I didn’t work until I was a senior and it was interning in an office. Easy peasy but not interesting. Good money for a kid though.

nrhatch - February 7, 2020

Working in music venues as a teen-ager ROCKED! 😀

My older brother’s best friend felt that I needed to get a real job in the real world. He suggested an office internship so that I could get some real experience and earn some real money. I felt that there would be time enough for the real world AFTER college.

Kate Crimmins - February 7, 2020

You were right! Had I been given the choice, I would have chosen the concert venue. My other choice was a cashier in a grocery store. The office job trumped that.

nrhatch - February 7, 2020

BFF’s dad worked in a grocery store after retiring as a police officer. He seldom came home without a bag of food.

Being a cashier at a grocery store would be better than lots of places . . . but I would get hungry looking at food all day. 😀

8. Tippy Gnu - February 7, 2020

You didn’t mention anything about bananas. Being a test monkey sounds like a dream gig, but only if you get all the bananas you can eat.
Worst part-time job: Working at Taco Bell. The owner’s wife was an evangelist who forced all the employees to convert to Christianity.
Best part-time job: Working at Taco Bell. I was allowed all the tacos I could eat, for lunch.

nrhatch - February 7, 2020

It was the best of times . . .
It was the worst of times . . .

I wonder whether any of her converts “stuck with the program” after leaving her employ? Probably not many.

Tippy Gnu - February 7, 2020

I sure as hell didn’t.

nrhatch - February 7, 2020

But I bet you still eat tacos! 😉

9. L. Marie - February 8, 2020

I also earned money doing chores at home. I also babysat. But my first job was working in the candy and nuts department at Sears. Our store had the highest employee theft rate in the state. Had a work-study job during my undergrad years, working for an associate dean. It wasn’t glamorous. I typed her correspondence. But she gave students like me coins for the vending machines!

nrhatch - February 8, 2020

What a claim to fame! Was that the store-wide theft rate . . . or the pilfering rate in the candy and nuts department? As a teen, I would have had a tough time working in a food department with tantalizing tidbits just an arm’s reach away!

Smart dean. Money + Food = Motivation!

L. Marie - February 8, 2020

It was store wide. In fact, the person who trained me was fired for that reason.

nrhatch - February 8, 2020

Now I’m thinking about “sneaking” friends into those concerts ~ at the time it seemed like harmless fun (especially if the concert was sold out). In retrospect, it seems a bit “shady.”

I wonder how many other lines I’ve crossed without realizing it at the time?

10. Debra - February 8, 2020

This was fun to read, Nancy, and to learn more about you in those early, work-formative years. Most did sound like good jobs, but I, like you, had some experience with “sales” and hated them. I sold AVON door-to-door in my late teens, and it was a time when that was fairly well received. But I just didn’t like cold calling anyone at all. I loved babysitting, and also found some office work during summers. It does sound like some of your jobs had really fun environments!

nrhatch - February 8, 2020

Thanks, Debra. Glad you enjoyed.

My next door neighbor bought Avon products, but I don’t think her Avon lady did many door-to-door sales. Instead, she took the monthly brochures to (and collected orders at) group meetings (church, book discussions, gourmet club, Bridge, etc.). Smart way to avoid ringing door bells.

Your comment reminded me about getting the little sample tubes of lipstick from my neighbor ~ I was partial to PINK!

11. anotherday2paradise - February 10, 2020

A very entertaining read, Nancy. You really got around, didn’t you? 😅 How fortunate that you met the love of your life on that last gig. Many of my part time gigs have involved playing the piano or organ, some more enjoyable than others. My worst gig was when aged 14, I got a Saturday job at a butcher’s shop in the English town where we lived. I hated the sight of all the hearts, livers, chitterlings and other offal. In winter it was so cold in there that I had to hold my hands under the cold tap to warm them up. There was no hot water. Now that I’ve got started, I think I could write a book about all my part time jobs. 🤣

nrhatch - February 10, 2020

That does sound awful, Sylvia. Offal awful ! 😉

It also reminded me of something. Becker’s Hardware could be quite “cool” in the winter because the loading dock doors had to be opened so often. If I cashiered during winter break, it was in hat, coat, and scarf. On the plus side, there were no “hearts, livers, chitterlings and other offal” loitering about. And we did have hot water in the bath!

Even if you don’t write a book, remember to share some lovely snippets with your grandkids . . . preferably on paper.

anotherday2paradise - February 10, 2020

Maybe I should do a post about my sundry pocket-money jobs. 😀

nrhatch - February 11, 2020

That’s an EXCELLENT idea!

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