AKA The Part time job years
Over the next several years I worked a number of part time jobs that were just as educational as their full time counterparts. Often I worked a couple jobs that overlapped to accommodate my kids, their schedules and my husband’s ability to watch them. That right there helped me juggle and prioritize my time.
Banquet Hall Busser
I worked at the Gazebo Banquet Center on and off over a span of five years (with a year off in there somewhere to have a second baby), and this job was my first service job as an adult. There is something about wedding receptions that can either bring out the very worst or the very best in people, and the wait staff had to roll with all of it. I learned that:
1. Just because there is a party going on doesn’t mean that you are there to have fun. Have too much fun and you will annoy your coworkers, customers, bosses, or all of them.
2. There is nothing like working with Vietnamese, Indian, and Korean women – especially those who are newly immigrated - to make many of your problems seem small indeed.
3. Even a clumsy girl like me can crank out their signature standing fan napkin fold if given enough practice.
4. If I find myself at a function there and walk up behind Michael the manager, I can still make him jump by telling him they put out the wrong colored napkins.
About this time we got our first computer, which eventually led to my finding my true love – Photoshop. I learned some retouching skills and started taking in the occasional side job. The work was fun and engaging, but dealing directly with customers was not my forte. I learned that:
1. Customers don’t come to you, and if you don’t want to go to the customers, you don’t work much.
2. If you are distractible, working from your home might not be in your best interest. Even housework starts looking good when you are trying to avoid work.
Elementary School Volunteer
When my oldest daughter started elementary school, I started volunteering. I was a pretty crummy volunteer too – bitter and resentful - until I read “The Fountainhead” by Ayn Rand. I am probably the only raging liberal whose sanity was saved by Objectivism. When I was working on projects that other people found important (bake sales, fundraisers) I HATED it. Once I got selfish and only took on projects that I wanted to do (mural painting), or got paid for (academic coaching), did I come to enjoy the kids, the teachers, and the work. Over the approximately ten years I worked in the schools my kids attended, I painted nine or ten murals. I’m more of a technician than an artist, but how often are you going to get entire walls to work on? It was especially good for my ego since I’ve never been praised as much. Of course 5 year olds are easy to impress, but I’ll take kind words where ever I can get them. I also took teams of kids to state level Science Olympiad and Destination Imagination, and one team made it to DI Global Finals. All of this because I chose to do only what made me happy. It worked then, and for the most part it still works for me today.