Saturday, March 20, 2010

Working girl

I was on the train yesterday and got to thinking about all the different jobs I've held. I think my mind wandered in this direction as it was early afternoon and my day off, and whenever I'm out and about on a day that most people are working I wonder about the other people who are out and about and seem to have the freedom to not be at work on a Friday afternoon. Are they on their lunch break? Are they en route to a meeting? Do they work nights? Are they an actor or pro boxer or inventor? Are they unemployed ? Independently wealthy?

I've always been a worker. My first real job was at 11 or 12. I was hired by a neighbor who lived on the 5th floor of my apartment building to assist him in a local election campaign. I wore a round, navy blue button on my lapel that read 'Caz Grascz for Freeholder' in white text. (Both names rhyme with Jazz). I did not know what a freeholder did (actually I still don't), but I liked Caz and wanted him to win more than anything. He had a big personality, and knew how to relate to children. He wore a plaid sports coat and porkpie hat, had a big nose and a shiny, reddish complexion, and his real name was Casimir which I thought was neat. There was something about his speaking voice that reminded me of Earl Scheib.

My job was to stand next to him as he knocked on doors, smile as he gave his pitch, and when he was finished I'd offer a leaflet from a small stack which I kept neatly organized in my hands. I remember thinking, at the time, that I was hired for my intelligence, and that maybe I had a future in politics. I wore my campaign button to school and the other kids thought it was dumb, which only made me more loyal to Caz. Sadly, Caz did not win and I have since lost the button. I'd kill for that button now.

Since then, I've had so many different jobs. I've been a baby sitter, a zoo docent, a TV extra, a clerk typist for the US Navy, a bartender (I lasted one day), a publicist, a refugee advocate, a PA to a man who had an addiction to strippers, a telephone market survey conductor, a data entry zombie, a hauler of recyclables (I wore overalls and leather gloves), a face painter at children's parties, a receptionist for an orthopedic surgeon and a proofreader, to name a few. I've worked at a Japanese bank, a Manhattan emergency room, a Bronx grammar school, a record label, and the United Nations.

I once almost took a job selling knives door to door, but despite the rich writing material I knew such a job could provide, I couldn't bring myself to do it. What kind of weird people buy knives from a traveling salesman? Whoever they were, I did not want to meet them.

My most favorite "almost job" was as a translator for Mexican heart throb Luis Miguel. He was in town to promote his record and his regular translator cancelled last minute or something. I got the call from my temp agency but couldn't get there fast enough. They gave the job to someone else.

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