Little Caesar’s Pizza: My first job. I worked there for two weeks in August 1989. I was scheduled a grand total of three shifts. First shift: I scrubbed out used pizza pans. Second shift: I put the little prefabricated dough balls into some dough stretching machine despite the fact that you were supposed to be 18 years-old to operate it. Third shift: cheese and sauce station. The franchise owner moved me off sauce because he said I was making “race tracks” with the ladle. Then he moved me off cheese because he said I was “gonna put [him] in the poorhouse” because I was too heavy with the cheese. Best part: I’m not entirely sure that in 1989 Little Caesar’s was using real cheese. After the cheese he sent me back to the pans. I quit the next day.
WCIR FM: What started out as a gopher job around the radio station turned into a full-blown gig as a weekend overnight DJ (though I often worked during the week too, in violation of child labor laws). Great job, even with the bad 1989-92 top 40 music I had to play. Best job I’ve ever had. I kept it until I left for college and even came back for the summer after freshman year. My last shift was seven straight hours of non-format music from my personal collection. My boss figured it was easier to let me do that than to argue about it.
A Columbus, Ohio public opinion polling company whose name I honestly can’t remember right now: I worked there a month during my sophomore year in college. Seemed like easy money until you realized that people hated me calling them to interrupt their dinner and/or “Wheel of Fortune” watching even though I wasn’t selling anything. I quit without really telling anyone. They called me three weeks later to ask me if I would ever be picking up my last paycheck.
Ohio State University Bookstore: Office supplies counter. I had this job for the balance of college. It was about half student employees, half-lifers. The lifers were a bit scary. One of them said that the worst thing that could ever happen to him would be for him to win a lottery when the jackpot was below $20 million. Why? “Because there are certain things I’ll need to do if I win, and I’ll need all of that money.” His expression when he said that was serious, approaching dire.
Limited Credit Services: A second job in the summer between sophomore and junior year. Fielding customer service calls from people with Limited, Victoria’s Secret and Express credit cards. Most of it was fielding calls from mall stores where the account holder wanted to buy $250 worth of ugly clothes but only had the credit limit to buy $150. I was a bit of a pushover and usually let them have it, so I’m probably partially responsible for the state of our debt-heavy, consumerist economy.
Department of Justice, Antitrust division: unpaid clerkship the summer after my first year of law school. Since they weren’t paying me I could pretty much leave whenever I wanted to. They called it the “13th Amendment Schedule.” That summer they were going after Ticketmaster for gumming up the concert industry, Microsoft for monopolizing the operating system market and was looking at GM for trying to put entrepreneurial electric car companies out of business. My contribution: I searched LEXIS for criminal cases with interesting fact patterns that I could maybe one day adapt into a mystery novel.
Law Firm Number 1: A litigation boutique here in Columbus. Crazy screaming partners who always made you feel like crap. Insane hours. I quit to make more money at Law Firm Number 2. When I quit, the screamers said that I was making a huge mistake and would regret it for the rest of my life.
Law Firm Number 2: A big, international law firm here in Columbus. Crazy, passive aggressive partners who never let you know where you stood. I preferred the screamers. It was a pretty big mistake leaving the screamers, and I did regret it for a time. Insane hours. I quit to go someplace less passive aggressive. When I did, they sort of casually let me know that they were probably going to let me go soon anyway. Did I mention that they were passive aggressive?
Law Firm Number 3: A big national law firm here in Columbus. Crazy partners who had all kinds of humanizing personal problems but who were, on the whole, nice to me. The place actually worked out OK for a good long while, but I soon started to realize that my life might be better if I didn’t go out drinking after work every night and living and breathing the facts of my ethically-shady clients to the exclusion of quality time with my growing family. Naturally, such a decision was terrible for my career, and after a year or two of coasting, I was laid off. But hey, at least I started up the baseball blog during the coast.
State Government Job: Started back in February, leaving on Friday. Bad money, but good work. Nice people. The first time in 11 years that I realized that one can practice law for a living and actually be happy. If it weren’t for the NBC gig, I probably would have stayed there until I retired or until the state pension system went broke, whichever came first.
So, doing the math, that means I average a new job every two years. I’m 36 now, so I only have, what, fourteen or fifteen jobs until I retire? Watch this space for coming career announcements!