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Day 324/365 - Jack of Many Trades | by Kevin H.
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Day 324/365 - Jack of Many Trades

A complaint from JW on her Twitter feed about grocery baggers last week gave me the idea of doing a shot that would provide me with an excuse to ramble on about all the jobs I've ever held in my life. And so here it is...


1. Grocery bagger at Safeway - My first job ever and I hated it. Does anyone enjoy their first job? They called us "courtesy clerks" and in addition to bagging groceries, we had to wrangle grocery carts, run price checks, and redeem aluminum cans brought in by recyclers. I worked there for about six months and then quit.


2. Game attendant at an amusement park - This job was fairly cool. When you weren't working you got free admission to the park. It was a seasonal, summertime job and I worked there four years, partly during high school and partly during undergrad. The first year I worked a section of skill games that involved things like shooting baskets or throwing softballs at milkbottles to try and win prizes. The next three years I worked a remote control boat stand. That was great. I worked on my own without much in the way of supervision and I mostly just made change for people. When things were slow I would just turn one of the machines on and drive a boat around the little lagoon.


3. Busboy at a semi-fancy restaurant - Well, fancy for suburban Missouri anyhow. Hated this job too. I had it one winter in high school in between gigs at the amusement park. Cleaning up after people at a restaurant sucks. Even worse was having to occasionally act as 'muffin boy' and walk through the dining rooms with a muffin pan asking diners "would you care for a muffin?" Man I hated that part. On the plus side, I learned how to walk on a slippery/greasy restaurant kitchen floor, a skill that has proven useful on icy winter days.


4. Temp worker for an employment agency - I did this for a few months after graduating college before my Navy enlistment kicked in. I worked in an ice plant, an archery company, and a plastics factory. My mom was actually temping at the plastics factory at the same time, but we worked different shifts.


5. Operations Specialist, U.S. Navy - Had this hitch for four years. I operated radar, communications, and data network equipment, did some navigation, and spent a whole lot of time cleaning and painting (which is why I now refuse to help friends paint when they move to a new place. I'll help with anything but that.). Being in the Navy was okay. I mostly enjoyed it the first three years, but by the fourth year I was more than ready to go. On the plus side, I got to go through the Panama Canal, cross the equator, and make more than a few trips to the Caribbean.


6. Receiving clerk at a Dollar Store - I did this for about nine months after I got out of the Navy while I was building up my Virginia residency so I could get in-state tuition for law school. I unloaded trucks, tracked shipments, and stocked shelves. It wasn't a bad gig. My bosses were pretty cool. They even taught me how to rebuild the alternator on my Jeep during lunch one day.


7. Temp worker for an employment agency, part deux - The summer before entering law school I quit the Dollar Store and headed home to spend some time with my family after not seeing them much the previous few years. This time I just helped set up a Harry and David store at an outlet mall and then stayed on for a bit as a stock boy.


8. Research assistant for a law school professor - Did this the summer of my 1L year. It wasn't a bad gig. Mostly I just did a lot of cite-checking and footnoting for an article a friend of the professor's wrote on ceasefire agreements. Spent a ton of time in the library, but I got to set my own hours.


9. Judicial clerk for a state circuit court judge - During my second and third years at law school, I clerked part-time for a local judge. He was a great guy and I learned a lot. One of the opinions I drafted for him wound up being the single-most read state court opinion that year, so that was pretty exciting (it was about whether an accident report prepared after a hand dryer fell off the wall in a Ponderosa bathroom and landed on a woman's foot could be withheld under the work product privilege. Or was it a paper towel dispenser? I can't remember.).


10. Summer associate at Alcoa - I worked for Alcoa's Office of General Counsel in Pittsburgh during my 2L summer. One time I got to fly to upstate NY and back on the corporate jet to go to a meeting about a deal to sell excess electricity generated by an aluminum factory power plant. The fridge on the plane was stocked with beer and I had one on the flight back. It was an all right job, even though the bastards didn't offer me a permanent gig after graduation. That's why I now take especial delight whenever I hear some bad news about Alcoa earnings and why I was thrilled that former Alcoa CEO Paul O'Neil crashed and burned as Treasury Secretary. Not that I hold grudges or anything.


11. Attorney for a government agency - My current gig. It's not bad. Mostly I practice grants law, but I also do a bit of work with government contracting programs, personal and real property, and employee travel. I also did appropriations law for a few years but thankfully I don't do that anymore. Having to answer the same question about whether federal funds can be used to buy food over and over and over again gets really old. (And no, 99 times out of a 100 they can't, in case you were curious. But that doesn't stop people from trying to scam a free meal.)


So there you have my list of employment, some more gainful than others. Hmm, I didn't realize I've only held eleven jobs in my life. I also babysat a couple of my cousins one year when I was in high school, but that doesn't really count.


(August 28, 2009)

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Taken on August 28, 2009