So, taking a break from my home remembrances (which is nearly finished), I thought I would take a moment to reminisce about various jobs I’ve worked at.
I got my first job at 17. It was a pretty basic cashiering job at a local store in Wausau called Fleet Farm, just off of Highway 51 on Badger Ave. I had been desperately trying to get a part time job and they were the first to bite. I think I may have made around $8/hour, but I didn’t really enjoy it. I have back problems and of course we had to stand for hours at a time. We couldn’t even lean on anything because it was seen as “unprofessional” (I had been leaning at one point and I got a call at my register because they had been watching the video feed and saw that I was leaning). Those black mats did very little, if anything, to alleviate any discomfort.
In this, I shared a first job type of experience with my bestest best friend in the whole wide world, my soul-twin, Sara. She also got her first job working as a cashier, although she worked at Pick N Save on Schofield Ave. We loved to trade cashiering stories with each other. We were the Retail Hell Underground before RHU ever launched.
Fortunately, I didn’t have to stay at Fleet Farm for long. I nabbed a job at a department store called Younkers that was one of the “cornerstone” stores in the mall. Younkers is a regional chain who, while I was working there, was a division of Saks, although in 2006 it was sold to The Bon-Ton. I started in September and worked there part-time through February of the next year. Working there during the whole holiday season is the reason I despise probably about 99% of Christmas music. They had their own little station they tuned in to, and it cycled through the same songs every single day. I swear, if I hear “Santa, baby” one more goddamn time, there will be blood.
After that, I faltered a bit in the job market. It took me months to nab another job, but I managed to get my favourite job that I’ve had so far at Hsu Ginseng.
I didn’t get a whole lot in terms of pay, but even years later, it’s still the best job I’ve ever had, hands down. I worked in the warehouse, filling orders. Race wise, Caucasians were in the minority; most who worked there were either Chinese (working as sales reps) or Hmong (working in the sorting and grading area). I think there were five Caucasians there when I was there, so it was kind of interesting, culture-wise, to see something different so close, in a nigh immersion type of experience.
When we had a company meal, there were American dishes, certainly, but there were quite a bit of ethnic food, and let me tell you, those Hmong women from the grading area sure knew how to put out a spread. That was the first time I’ve ever had purple potatoes and they were fantastic. I think they were just baked, but they were incredible. It’s kind of difficult to describe the taste … almost flowery, maybe? They mostly taste similar to regular potatoes, but there’s just a spot of different in flavour that’s hard to describe. If you like potatoes, especially anywhere near as much as I like them, you’ll like the purple variety.
The only reason I left that job is because my family moved to Pennsylvania in 2006. I initially got a job working in the warehouse part of the same company as my father, but I was fired over a little piddling bit of bullshit (meanwhile, the guy who kept sexually harassing me was kept on). I was initially very upset about it – it was the first time I’ve ever been fired – but in reflection, it was a good thing, because if they aren’t going to fire someone over witnessed sexual harassment, it’s not a company I would want to work for.
In a few months, I found another job, this time working as a CSR for Guardian Protection. It was definitely nowhere near the top of my list of good jobs. It wasn’t so much the job atmosphere, it was just the job itself. I am just not an over-the-phone customer service kind of person. It was extremely stressful and I was having difficulties with sleep during my time there. So of course when my then-boyfriend told me about a contract that was coming up with a company he was affiliated with that would be very lucrative and beneficial for him, I put in my notice and ended up quitting in July 2007.
Huge mistake. The deal fell through and we ended up with neither of us having jobs. I secured another job at Mitsubishi Electric in October, I believe, filling orders in their warehouse, but it didn’t last too long. For starters, I started off in one department doing one job. Then all of a sudden, they switched me to another department doing a much more mind-numbing job, but I was promised that it would only be temporary. It wasn’t, and I ended up extremely frustrated because I was obviously having quite a bit of financial troubles (Mitsubishi paid less than Guardian) and the “temporary” job was so boring, really it only afforded me time to fret over my troubles, which made my mental state worse. We ended up being evicted that December, and we had to move a bit of a ways away, so I quit.
Throughout 2008 was a real struggle for me. I tried desperately to find a job. I was in denial of my situation – living in an unheated camper trailer in the driveway of my boyfriend’s family – and I kept trying and trying to function. I applied for every job I could find and found some work through temp agencies. In January of that year, I started off as a receptionist for a company while their regular receptionist was on medical leave. There was a possibility she might not return, and I was told that if she didn’t, I would be offered the job. I worked my hardest and did my best, because I liked the job and the atmosphere and I got on well with the other employees. However, about a month or so later, the woman who hired me was giving a tour to another woman. At first, I didn’t think much of it, but she was then introduced to me as the person they’d hired to take over the position permanently. Just like that, I was out of a job, and in a rather painful way, too. True, I was technically only temporary, but I had been told I would get the job if the person did not return. They never expressed any kind of displeasure with my work, and it felt like I’d been stabbed in the back. I cried the whole way home that day.
I landed another temporary gig, but I quit that assignment after a couple of months because I never once did what I was told the job entailed (they were “getting computers set up” a process that apparently takes a couple of months after giving a job description to a temp agency), and I felt it was very deceptive. They also had a very particular dress code that was difficult for me to adapt to (being as I was less than dirt poor). I could wear jeans and t-shirts and the like, but there was absolutely no skin that could show when bending down. Of course, the job I ended up doing – keep in mind, the job that I was not hired for in any way, manner, shape, or form – required me to bend over a lot, and my shirts would ride up some and expose a little bit of skin. Not much skin, and no crack or anything like that, but just a little bit of back skin. Even a tiny glimpse was unacceptable, so after being reprimanded several times, I finally came in one day in the biggest shirt my then-boyfriend owned, looking slovenly and sloppy as shit, and I asked if that was fine. Unbelievably, they said yes. I quit that day.
My then-boyfriend’s step-mother worked with a park that ran a seasonal store, and I was initially hired on there to help out. Now, since I hadn’t grown up in Pennsylvania, much less the immediate area, I disclosed up front, in the interview, that I didn’t know a lot about the area and its features, but I was always open to learning about it and I had no problem doing so. I initially started as a full-time person, at manager-level, actually (yay!) and I ran the store. We didn’t get a whole lot of traffic, but it was fairly early in the boating and boat tour season, so I figured we would probably get more as time went on (it didn’t while I was there, probably because the group had next to no marketing skills and the store was tucked away in the park). We hosted a fundraiser during that time with a silent auction, and I actually spent a whole day running around and getting donations of gift certificates for them to use (I was compensated, obviously, for my time and gasoline). They ended up hiring two more people, as they’d planned to do, and I only actually met one of them (the other worked an opposite schedule to me). However, a couple of weeks after the third was hired on, I was told that they wanted to let me go. Why? Because I didn’t know the area well. Now, keep in mind, I had told them that up front, and I pointed that out to her, but she insisted they no longer wanted me in my full time position. I tearfully asked for a part-time position that I knew was open, because I really really needed a job, no matter how low the pay, and she agreed to start me on that schedule. However, it was only a couple of weeks later that they let me go for good. I was furiously angry, as the cited reason was something I myself had disclosed up front, so they could have avoided going to the trouble of hiring me and firing me by just not hiring me in the first place, but I didn’t have to exert any revenge. A big part of their little park program was owl rescue and education, and they had a beautiful owl that was basically their poster bird. Within a month after my final firing, the bird got loose during a demonstration and flew off, never to be seen again. Karma’s a heartless bitch sometimes.
I got another job soon after, though, a temp-to-hire position in the medical records department of a doctor’s office. They were still solely using paper charts at the time, so I spent my days fetching charts and putting them back and adding stuff to them. It wasn’t the most enjoyable job, but it was pretty easy, and I really liked the woman I worked closely with. She often remarked that I was the quickest trained employee she’d ever worked with, and she was very happy with me. It then came as a shock when I got a call from my temp agency as I was driving home one day, saying that the office no longer needed my services. I smelled the bullshit on that, because we had just been gearing up for a file audit and we really needed all the help we could get. It would have been impossible for the woman I worked with to do everything herself, and I’m sure the woman I worked with was furious (she wasn’t involved in any HR stuff, she was simply the only other file clerk, so she was supervisor and trainer by default rather than by any actual title). I asked him if they gave a reason, and he said no, just that they’d told him they no longer needed me. Again, shades of bullshit. I asked him to look into it for me and let me know, and I explained why. He never called me back, so I’m still at a loss as to what exactly happened.
The last job I had in 2008, and the last job I had for a long time was at a pizza shop that a couple of my friends worked at. It was the first food service job I’d had, but I liked it. The pay wasn’t fantastic, but I liked it there. I tell you what, I can make a mean pizza. 😉 It wasn’t meant to last, however. One night, I ended up working until close with only a manager, a guy who was extremely lazy. I hated working alone with him, because as soon as he could, he’d go back in the office and just hang out in there the whole time. I hadn’t gotten to stretching the dough in my training yet, so if there was an order for a pizza in a size that wasn’t already stretched, I had to practically beg him to come out and stretch me some dough. That night, I got a call from a person who wanted to place a pre-order for lunch the next day. I had never done something like that before, and I wasn’t trained to do something like that, so naturally I put him on hold and went back to the office to ask the manager to take the call. He refused. He said to just take down what the guy wanted. I told him I wasn’t trained, and he said all I needed to do was just get what he wanted. The guy ended up asking questions that I couldn’t answer, but I did the best I could, as the manager was obviously in no interest of helping me. The next day, when I came in, I was brought to the office and fired. Apparently, the guy wasn’t satisfied with the answers to his questions and he called in that morning to cancel the whole order, so I was fired because of the lost business. I broke down in there and I explained the whole situation, but the manager guy was in really good with the owners, so of course since it was his word against mine, I was the one to leave. I was pissed off to no end by the blatant favouratism of a lazy-ass employee, but I had no recourse.
After that, I spiraled downward into a state of depression so severe, I ended up on eeking out on welfare for a while, because I had no other options at that point. I won’t go into detail about it here, because this is a long post anyway, but I’ll cover it at some point.
The next job I got, I started in October 2012. I was in my next to last term of school, and one of my schoolmates recommended me at her job. It was technically in my field, and they didn’t mind that I was still going to school, so they hired me on. I did radiology billing for four radiology groups in the Northeast Ohio area. I didn’t like dealing with some of the patients calling in about their bill, but the rest of the job was – dare I say – enjoyable. I even got to take over working claim rejections, and I was thrilled with my work. I really hated to leave that job, and I only did because I moved to Minnesota. I’d broken up with my then-boyfriend and decided to start over, as my brother offered me a place to stay. It ended up being a good thing anyway, because they were soon bought by another company and then that office was shut down and everyone lost their jobs. I still keep in touch with quite a few people from that job. We were like a wacky family. Our supervisor, Colleen, seemed to have a language of her own, but we all understood her and what she wanted. She rarely ever got anyone’s name right on the first or even second try of calling out to us, yet we always knew who she was talking to, even if it was the name of someone else working there. We had some good laughs, and I look back on it with fondness.
After I moved to Minnesota, I started desperately looking for a job, as I only had limited funds with which to pay needed bills. I found one a month after I got here and I started in early October 2013. It was another over-the-phone customer service position, this time at Minnesota Life Insurance. I was in the claims department, and I did claim-related things, like starting them, checking status, sending forms, and the like. It was a very high stress job, and even though I liked the people I worked with, again, I just couldn’t handle it. I had gotten the job through a temp agency for a six month assignment with the possibility of being hired on after that initial period, but I started job hunting and turned in my notice in February, just a little shy of the six month mark. I did get offered a permanent job there, as I did good work, but I couldn’t stay there. I was becoming an alcoholic and it simply wasn’t healthy for me. When I walked out on my last day, I put in my ear buds and blasted Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made For Walkin'” as I left for the last time.
And, that brings me up to my current job. I started in February 2014 for Healthport, a copy service that contracts at various hospitals and doctor’s offices processing records requests. I now spend my days logging in requests, quality checking them, printing and sending electronic records, copying charts and microfiche, if needed, for historical records. It was a slight pay cut from Minnesota Life, but it was worth it for my mental health. Will I stay here forever? Who knows. I’ve learned that it’s pretty foolish to say anything for certain when it comes to the future, so for now, I’m just seeing where it’ll take me.