Monday, January 21, 2008

Take this job and shove it

Patty here…

Back in yon years of yore, I was a rising star in management at a company that had historically provided few opportunities for women. After a bad boyfriend breakup, I decided to leave the area and seek my fortune in Los Angeles. I gave my supervisor a 30-day notice and suggested several members of my staff who were qualified to replace me. He brushed off the news, convinced I would recognize my folly and withdraw my resignation. "Seriously," I said. "I've leaving." Frustrated and annoyed, he made me promise not to tell anyone.

Meanwhile, I gave notice at my apartment and started packing. A week before I was due to leave town, my boss still had done nothing to target a replacement. I confronted him with the cruel reality: I was really, truly out of there. On my last day of work, I cleaned out my desk and walked out of the office for the last time, knowing that when Monday rolled around, the people who worked for me would see that I was gone but they wouldn’t know where or why. I was leaving to chase windmills with no going-away lunch, no sappy greeting card, no heartfelt goodbyes, no closure. Nothing. Nada. Zip.

To me, burning bridges seems like a questionable management style. It makes more sense to acknowledge the contribution an employee has made and wish them well. I've been working since I was 13, so I've had a million jobs, or so it seems. For me, change is the natural order of things, especially changing my work environment. I’ve never been overly concerned about security or attempting the impossible. Why else would I have chosen a career as a mystery novelist? When considering the next great adventure, I always ask myself: What’s the worst thing that can happen? Failure? Less money? Big deal. The riches I have are in the experiences I’ve gained.

Here are a few of the jobs I’ve had and quit with no regrets: babysitter, bakery counter sales, receptionist, secretary, fruit warehouse worker, research assistant, temporary office worker, juvenile detention group supervisor, administrative assistant, waitress, manager, actor, cellulite wrapper, caterer’s assistant, Easter bunny at a children’s party, personal assistant, nanny, sun tan salon counter sales, consultant, and administrator.

Your turn. Have you ever had a wacky job or a bad job breakup?

Happy Monday!


  1. I think there should be a "cellulite wrapper" in your next book.

    Sure beats my offbeat job of selling ladies' seamed Berkshire stockings.

  2. Wow, where to start?

    I've worked in a hot dog stand, loaded tractor-trailers in a grocery warehouse, was a radio DJ (and a terrible one at that), a railroad spiker, short order cook, carpenter, managed night janiors, and fund raiser for the Police Athletic League.

    But I've never wrapped cellulite. How, and dear God why, would anyone want wrapped cellulite?

  3. David, the process went like this: I dipped strips of cotton cloth in a secret solution of sea salts and what-have-you and wrap it tightly around limbs that host the cottage-cheesy cellulite. Then wait 30 minutes or so and witness inches melting away. I actually wrapped Natalie Wood for a wedding scene she was filming, shortly before she died.

    Paulie, I think YOU should write about a cellutlite wrapper. I'm laughing already.

  4. All I can think of when you say cellulite wrapper is, "You want that to go?"

  5. Let's see, the short list includes: waitress, bartender, short order cook, sales clerk in a fake flower store, optician, and funeral director. Most people are either intrigured or utterly put off by the funeral director gig, and it was one of my all time favorites. I might still be doing it had I not run afoul of the good old boys who bought the little mom-and-pop shop I worked for - they decided that a) a woman, who b) stood up for the employees, and c) had an opinion, was far too dangerous to have around. So, they downsized me, and a month later fired my colleague, simply because she was (and still is) my friend. The cherry on the cake of it all was that California was in the midst of a recession (early 90's) and jobs were not easy to come by - I learned a lot from the whole experience, but it was one of those things that are much easier to remember than to live through.

  6. I definitely think cellulite wrapper has murder written all over it. Set in the film industry, title: It's A Wrap.

    Sorry, Monday morning ....

    I, too, have had many jobs, starting with picking blackcurrants when I was six - country kids start work young, it was once part of the culture. However, the job I hated the most was in an egg-packing factory. Oh, Lord, I hated that job. I was fifteen, and the manager was supposed to pick up four of us (all women and girls) from the bus-stop in the morning, and take us to the factory, then return us in the evening, so we could catch our buses home. No one wanted to sit next to him because he had a serious case of WHT - wandering hand trouble. In the end I bagged a ride from a woman who drove a very ancient Land Rover and we'd go throttling around the country lanes at break-neck speed while she called hijm "nothing but a dirty old b*****d." And dealing with broken eggs all day - oh, yuk. I can still pick up ten eggs at a time though, not that it will ever get me a job.

  7. Louise, youz so funny.

    Rae, I will forever think of you as Norma Rae, standing on an embalming table giving empowering speeches.

    And somehow I don't think you'll ever have to pick up eggs for a living again, Our J.

  8. At least you decidedly weren't a cellulite rapper.

    Odd jobs? Not so many, though cleaning carpets and spraying weeds by hand are on a very long list. But how many of you have worked under the Golden Arches?

    The "bad job breakups" would be the times when someone started a nasty rumor behind my back, which apparently spread like wildfire--then upper management decided to terminate me without even bothering to ask me about it. Yes, despite having a sterling commendation in my last job review. And no, you really don't want to hear any more about it.

  9. I got work as a maid when I was twelve, by typing up a resume and putting dittoed copies in every mailbox on our road in Carmel. Also worked for Ansel Adams that year, answering his phones for a dollar an hour when he and his wife went out to dinner.

    Have worked as a chambermaid at the Tickle Pink hotel, a stablehand (taught Clint Eastwood's two oldest children to ride), a frozen-yogurt server at Zaro's in Grand Central Station, a sheet-rock sander, a door-to-door political fundraiser, waitress at a soul food restaurant (the only white chick. They called me "Camellia"), prep cook at a beachside place, secretary, journalist, typesetter, editor of a book catalog, restaurant critic, dotcom editor, and fact-checker for Town & Country and Martha Stewart Living.

    Also, I wrote term papers for other people in college--$5 a page.

    Thank GOD I can write novels, and I hope I don't ever have to give it up. I've really disliked every other kind of work I've ever done (mostly because I was SO BAD at it all), although I loved almost all of the people I got to work with.

  10. Jeff, you should have sued the bums!

    Cornelia, your weird jobs beat mine hands down. (what does that mean, by the way...hands down? Just asking)

  11. Long ago and far away, I actually sold used cars. In Las Vegas. (Amazing what one will do to get through school, isn't it?) I was only "fair" at that, according to my evaluations, so I then went after the security of Late Night DJ, which I actually enjoyed. And that dovetailed much better with my partying....I mean, uh, my STUDYING habits....

  12. William, did you ever find anything unexpected in the trunks of those Vegas, um...bodies?

  13. (laughing) Actually, Patty, no, no dead bodies, but some very odd people would come by the lot and sell, or try to sell, their vehicles. One guy I remember threw an honest to God tantrum when the manager explained we didn't deal in bicycles.

  14. Odd people in Vegas? Who knew? :o)