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Twenty Things I Have Been Paid To Do

February 26, 2009
Someday, all this will be yours.

Someday, all this will be yours.

Two months into unemployment, and it’s becoming clear to me that the job market has changed since the last time I looked for work. Back then, I had my pick of places to work. Now, not so much. But this has helped me remember some of the things I have done for money in the past. I’ve updated it a day later, because I remembered some other stuff I’ve done.

  1. Cook. I have worked at McDonalds, Burger King, two pizza places and Red Lobster. It wasn’t for me. I was fired from the golden arches, and had to be removed from Red Lobster by ambulance because, hey, I’m allergic to shellfish, who knew? BK was a lot of fun, though, and I still maintain friends from those days. But there was a lot of polyester.
  2. Tend bar. I’ve never worked in an actual bar for more than a fill-in shift here and there, but I did weddings for a year and that was kind of fun. No cocktails, no mixing, no cash … just take tickets, open one of three kinds of beer, and pour shots into little plastic glasses. And when people got too drunk, there was always an embarassed relative there to help them home.
  3. Type. I worked a summer typing classified ads for a weekly newspaper, back in the linotype days. I liked it, but I wondered for a long time why there were so many cottages available on “Lake Frontage.”
  4. Write. I was paid $20 to review a Red Rider concert for the local daily, and that was the beginning of it all. This was the first time I was paid to do something I liked, and I kept doing it for decades afterward. I’m still doing it, just not being paid.
  5. Teach. I’ve picked up the odd buck as a temporary instructor, but it wasn’t for me. Well, the high school kids were the issue. Teaching college-level journalism, though, was fun and interesting, especially the mornings after cheap beer night.
  6. Sell. I have sold advertising space, men’s clothing, work boots, jeans, Rolex and Gucci watches, diamond engagement rings, china and $300 pens. You haven’t lived ’til you’ve spent a weekend at a seminar aimed at the different kinds of soles used in work boots.
  7. Wait tables. You’ve done it, too. It’s the most honest work on the planet. But I don’t want to do it again.
  8. Learn. I was paid to go through gemology school. You can’t argue with that. Now I know about gold and jewels and other shiny stuff.
  9. Telemarketing. This coupon-book business operated out of a hotel room, and the guy skipped without paying us. I should have known something was up when I noticed he had a clip-on ponytail.
  10. Critique. Music was my primary focus, but I’ve been paid to sound like I know something about TV, movies and theatre, too.
  11. Draw. I did illustrations for a magazine, pen and ink stuff, very simple drawings, but fun.
  12. Make music. I don’t know why anyone thought I qualified as a musician, but I have actually, on stupid occasions, been paid to create sounds that could be called music. Actually, it was called other things.
  13. Manage. I’ve been a manager and supervisor in retail stores and newspapers, and it’s really rewarding. I enjoy leading, and learning from, people with different experiences than my own. Also, I got to wear a tie.
  14. Record Librarian. This was a weird job that involved sitting in a room filled with LP records, doling them out to radio producers who wanted “that album with the guy who sang that song, you know the one, it has that part in it …” Meanwhile, I was making mixed tapes. It was the 80s. It’s what we did.
  15. Design. I have created advertisements, newspaper pages, posters, church newsletters, business cards and more. Not saying it was all that good. But it bought at least three Arby’s combos.
  16. Talk. I’ve mentioned my brief, failed exploration of radio broadcasting before. Things have gotten better since I dumped the scripts and had sinus surgery.
  17. Babysit. Probably my first job, looking back. This involved sitting on people’s sofas and watching television while children I never actually saw slept upstairs. I probably made five bucks a night, which was a lot of comics three decades ago.
  18. Make comics. This is probably the most fun I ever had. I wrote and storyboarded a series called Unknown Forces, which was published nationally and read by about six people in the early 1990s. Another artist did the pencils, and I tweaked the end result. It was about a secret network of telepaths, and, ultimately, not very good.
  19. Drive limousine. Don’t ask about this one. I try to forget it, especially after the incident with the newlyweds, the broken sunroof and the rainstorm.
  20. Edit. I’ve edited books, short stories, newspaper stories, audio files … ultimately, editing is cool because you get to have the final say on something. Like right now.
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One comment

  1. So, what kind of job are you looking for now? Not that I’m hiring, just being nosey.

    We have a lot in common actually:
    1. Well; I haven’t actually cooked, but I did own a catering business.
    2. Type; used to have a popular mobile tech site but wasn’t really paid to do it.
    3. Write; see #2
    4. Teach…never done that.
    5. Sell; 19 years of doing that…blah.
    6. Wait tables; nope.
    7. Learn; never paid to do that.
    8. Critique; I am critical but no one ever gives me money for that.
    9. Draw…

    …nvm. We have nothing in common.

    WAIT! I like Lost!



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