Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Trading Time for Money

Back to work this morning after an awesome  3-day weekend. I could really get use to working a a four-day week, or even a six hour day. I'm not quite retirement material yet but as I get older, I appreciate my time off a lot more than I used to.  

A friend wrote a comment on one of my recent posts and it got me to thinking about all the jobs I've had since I was old enough to trade my time for money. Maybe the best way to write about it is to 'list it'. So, I'm going to reach way back in time and see if I can remember all the paying jobs I've had:

Babysitter, house cleaner, movie theater person, counter help at a drive-in, cashier at JC Penney, gas jockey, bank (sold gold, mortgage loans, collector, insurance clerk), receptionist, case manager, administrative secretary, legal secretary, executive secretary and legal assistant.

I've always worked. My parents were working people. Mom always had a job pushing papers and my dad was a logger and then later on worked as a heavy duty mechanic. When we were in high school, times were tough and my sister and I held babysitting jobs nearly every weekend. People would call ahead to "reserve" us as babysitters were hard to come by back then. We used our hard earned money to buy school clothes. My sister was a saver.  I never could keep a nickel in my pocket.  I'm way better at saving these days.

I actually love working.  I love the structure of having to be somewhere and planning the rest of my life around that. Confession: I used to have a lot of trouble with 3-day weekends because I felt like I should be at work on that third day.  Weird, I know.  But I've actually learned to enjoy those extra days off.  

In looking back over the last 30+ years of working, I can tell you my two most favorite jobs were ones where I worked with people.  I had a job at the community mental health center in Fairbanks, Alaska.  I think I worked there for about 3 years. I loved that job so much I would have done it for free. I actually would arrive extra early and get the coffee started and just sit in the beautiful building. It was called a "clubhouse model" which was fashioned after a center out of New York. It is a place where people who suffer from chronic mental illnesses can go to get a lot of services all under one roof. We had a psychiatrist, nurses, case managers, housing people, and vocational rehab. We had a huge kitchen where our clients would cook up lunch every weekday. We also had a pool table and TV along with a place to do crafts and a big center room where a "community meeting" was held everyday. Nobody was better than anyone else there ... we were a team of human beings helping other humans beings. And, for me, often times it was the clients helping staff ... teaching us patience, kindness, tolerance, love, joy, etc.  In our clients, I found many who had gifts that simply blew me away. We had artists and singers and writers and comedians.  I learned a lot about myself working there. And, I learned the meaning of not judging a book by its cover.

Later on, after I left that job, I moved to Juneau for a year and worked in hospital administration. Upon moving back north to Anchorage, I went to work at the community mental health center in administration for three years. It was quite a different experience there but I made some awesome friends who were on the team and we did a lot of fun stuff outside of work. 

The other job I loved and would have no problem doing for  free  was at hospice in Yuma.  When I had first arrived in Arizona, I interviewed with them and had been offered a job but turned it down. Five years later, I interviewed again and took the job. I regret I did not take it the first time.  There's no better place to learn about living than working in a place that helps people through the death process. It's a strange paradox.  At hospice, I found real-live angels in every single person who worked there.  I only worked there about a year and a half but it's an experience I will not soon forget.  If I ever have a terminal illness, hospice will be the first people I call. 

Well, it's time to get my keester moving this morning. I still have 30 minutes to do on the treadmill, breakfast to make and slacks to iron before I head off to work.  Ta ta for now.

love, susan

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