Your job, love it or hate it, take all you can from it

by — Oct. 11, 2000 (Comments)

Your job defines who you are or become. I have managed to take the best parts of each and became a very well rounded, experienced person. Some of the things I have learned have been hard lessons and sometimes I didn’t know what the heck I was suppose to learn, but it turned out that for the best, or for the worst, there was a lesson to be learned.


At 16, I wasn’t a real waitress, but I worked as a cafeteria helper. We carried customers trays to their tables, took care of the drinks (brought more water, tea or coffee) and cleaned up after. The tips were very small, unless of course we had a busload of people. The pay, in those days, was even smaller. There was no wage minimum at the time and the pay was less than 50 cents an hour. Yes, I was young, but what management didn’t know was that I had to be financially responsible for myself.

I remember in high school some of the students skipped school because they wanted to see a few celebrities appearing in our small town, a rare occurrence. Instead of punishing them, they punished the whole school and made us all stay an extra hour. I was late for work. The school officials did not realize that in punishing the whole school, they were making those few of us who had jobs after school seem irresponsible to our employers.

What I learned: 1. Patience for older people who couldn’t get around well and needed help. They were precious. 2. Employers paid you what they wanted to and asked you to clean things you would never dream of cleaning. 3. Team playing, we were all in the same boat. Working with older people was a joy and a blessing in what they could impart in both work and life. 4. Dressing to fit the job. We all had uniforms and hairnets. 5. Most children are stinkers, even then. More so now!!!! 6. The school system did not care about the individual.


My first job was at a company that is today known worldwide. In those days there were no harassment laws and whatever an older male said to you (sexual jokes) you had to accept. The flirting, the sexual remarks and the leaning into you all had to be tolerated.

Smoking was everywhere, but especially in the office. When I became pregnant while working there, I was in the direct line of fire from someone who kept a cigarette burning on their desk. I complained about it only after I became pregnant, but it didn’t matter, there were no health warnings at that time. I quit before I was ready because of it. It hurt us financially, but I was too uncomfortable for my unborn child and myself to do so.

What I learned: 1. The inner workings of a large business office and impropriety. 2. There are cliques and special groups in a larger place of business and not a lot of team playing. 3. What works is who likes you and how they can use you. What can you do for them? Politics is alive and well. 4. If you are creative and want to do your own thing, you won’t work out. 5. Prestige of the company follows you on your resume. Outsiders will recognize this factor.


I was never afraid to knock on doors or to pitch a product I totally believed in. There are many different types of people behind those doors and many different stories. I saw and talked with the young and old, the foreigners and the different aromas/odors of a household. The product was popular and much needed.

What I learned: 1. Many different people make up the world and that they are friendly or not according to their happenstance at the time. 2. Middle level income people were the most friendly, the best customers and told the most interesting stories. 3. The upscale neighborhood, on the other hand, had just as many houses to go to, however, there were fewer customers. I nevertheless continued to contact as many people as I could, that was my job, but never won them over, even over time. 4. How to handle inventory. 5. Customers: those who cannot pay and therefore, being stuck with that merchandise, holding merchandise until a paycheck came in, and the company: how to cope when they ship the order across the country making it impossible to deliver the order on time and having to go back to the customer for another order. 6. How to handle all kinds of people and circumstances.


Working for a university has all sorts of benefits besides the obvious. Free classes (when I worked full time), discounts on everything, being surrounded by intellectual discussions and eventually obtaining that degree. There is absolutely nothing bad I can say about this experience. All the good outweighs any negative I could possibly think of. A boatload of experiences that I took with me into every other thing I did there after.

I learned patience, how to be uncomfortable, but still learn, for example, sitting in a class soaking wet walking across campus, getting with the program (I was much older student), and learning, always learning. My first trip to New York City was with a theatre class on a 12-hour bus ride with mostly students. I was an assistant teacher my last semester. One of the field trips was to visit a psychic, something I would never have undertaken on my own, but a positive experience I have never forgotten. I gave a lecture in the community and found that people outside academia were hungry for knowledge.

My experiences changed me and opened my eyes to see that there was more to see and to never stop learning. I learned to figure things out and what to do with them once I had.


Violence and confrontation, for the first time I was counseled on letter bombs. The world was changing, however, the agency was on top of the changes. I learned the passion of people’s beliefs and how far they would go to support their beliefs or wanted us to go on their behalf. Big politics and fundraising was a big proponent to this business.

CHURCH I learned that people pull together and that they want to help each other. They are a select and elite group within their own and will go that extra mile. They are multi talented and want to share that talent to benefit, entertain and help others. Being other oriented benefits everyone.


Good and wonderful, shallow and lazy, I found it all. Most all department heads were political and would sacrifice each other when things were going wrong. When things were good they worked well together. If someone came from the outside and knew they were only there for a short time, they were on a mission to destroy. It didn’t matter whose life they destroyed, just that they had more notches in their belt. There were some wonderful people in situations they would not have been in had the environment not been so political.

I saw the most unfairness and a lot of people, in order to cope, put their head in the sand and choose not to see. One of the elected officials was so prejudiced, it brought a horrendous atmosphere to the whole workforce until at last that person was not elected again. It took a long while for the workforce to bounce back, if it ever did. For years there were no raises, some of the workers chose not to work as hard, others bided their time and others were able to move out and move on. Some of those were back, the grass isn’t always greener and it seemed safer, if not the best.

What I learned: 1. Nothing is fair. 2. Prejudice still exists. 3. There is good and bad everywhere. 4. Some people will stab you in the back just because. 5. That you may be terminated not because you did horrible work but because they wanted to do a favor for a friend or relative by giving them your job. 6. That you better have a back up at all times and 7. Document, Document, Document.


From book publishing, marketing, public relations, to television, to magazines, there isn’t a more interesting field or a worse paying one. The trade offs are worth it to me. I learned so much about each of the above-mentioned fields.

However, I also learned that in a small business, you are the maid, the gardener, the gopher/errand person, and the janitor. There is no one else to do it and they won’t hire a service, you are IT! If you can get past that you can learn. I learned the business of how to copyright, put together PR kits, write and edit author’s works, track television programs and be in on the ground floor of all knowledge in the industry, and put together a monthly magazine from the ground up.

In all positions, I learned patience, how to handle all kinds of people (diversity), how to obtain knowledge and information, utilize contacts, to market and sell, and tons of software programs. I also have a deep abiding faith in God. I have self-confidence and wholeness in my outlook. I took what I needed from each job to become what I am today.

Indispensable, I am... to me and to those I come in contact with. But I know there is always that other factor over which I have no control. I have learned to live with that, maybe not to love it, but to not become complacent either. I believe in me. With God’s guidance, I can do anything.