The weirdest jobs I’ve ever had. So Far.

When times get hard, you have no choice but to get a job, unless you are a trust fund kid. As weird as the job offer looks, you sound hopeful that it will be different daily.

I got my first job at 17, at the movie theater at the mall, after I was held back for my third year of high school. I like the environment, but I hated that I had to work and not only watch movies.  

My labor contribution to the world is turning 18 this year, and reflecting on all the jobs I’ve had so far, I came up with a list of the weirdest places I’ve ever worked. 

At first, it looked like a good idea, daily, it was a beautiful mistake to accept that offer. 

 A Prep Cook for the La Taqueria, a catering company that serves Facebook employees

When I first moved to Texas, one of my dear friends was working for a catering company, that cooked and served food for Facebook employees, in downtown Austin. In the phone interview, the HR lady offered me the job to work in one of the restaurants, serving the Facebook Employees, which I was completely fine with.

She just forgot to mention the fact that I would prepare the food, set up the food line, serve the people, clean out all the kitchen before I leave for the day. It was a Prep Job, not a serving job.  

I arrived for my first day around 7 am, excited because it was so easy to get a job in Austin, I mean, still in the south. Thanks to my friend. It looked like an amazing place to work. 

 The Facebook HQ.

All the high-tech people walk around like they own the place, the free drinks and snack stations, and the restaurants serving great food. Again, I was happy for five minutes while I was being introduced to the place. When 8 Am hit, I already wanted to leave. 

The girl training me was convinced I couldn’t pull out the job, and she was right. First, we had to go and get all the pantry stuff, like avocados, onions, tortillas, drinks, to fill out the stations. They gave me an apron and forced me to wear a cap.

Like I was going to play baseball or something. It looked like my mom took me to work with her in a hurry, due to how ridiculous I looked.  

At some point in the morning, we went to get some refreshments, and while I was at the station, I greeted one of the Facebook employees with a “Good Morning.” The girl looked at me, sighs and walked away. Completely ignore us, like she was some kind of superior being and we were her servants because we were wearing black aprons.

I asked my coworker if this was a normal attitude and she said yes. No, girl, this is not normal. You are not better than anyone because you have a tech job.

Anyway, to summarize that day I made about 100 tortillas, guacamole, and served the workers. Oh and we also had a big meeting with all the catering company employees, chefs, HR people, preps, in the middle of the kitchen to talk about sexual harassment.

All that was said: “Not cool guys, if you get caught you will get fired” or some absurd thing like that. At the end of the day, I left to never come back. 

Bus Stewart 

A few weeks after this disappointment of working in a different position I was hired for, I made the same mistake again. A charter company was hiring for the server position and I gladly applied for it. 

At the interview, they talked to me about my experience as a server, what would I do to calm down the clients if the bus broke down in the middle of the highway, what would I do if the AC stopped working. I used my expertise and creativity to answer the questions and I got the job. Even though the questions were very sketchy.  

 It’s like a flight attendant, but on a moving bus! 

I had to be in a parking lot, in the middle of a highway in Austin, close to the airport, at 7 am. I swear that I heard the bus would come out of the Hyatt hotel downtown, the part I was not informed about was, the guests who would get the charter would be picked off at the hotel, not Joana. 

While waiting for the girl who was going to train me, I walked around the bus, while shaking my head, not again. Like a flight attendant, I had to fill all the cabinets with supplies, make sure the sound system was on, and I had snack baskets. Wait. Snack baskets?

Trying to serve food and snacks on a highway 100MPH is not fun, or safe.

Yeah, for serving the guests, while the bus goes at 100 MPH on a highway. To Dallas and back. In the middle of the trip. You can also ask if they want refreshments. Good morning Sir, would you like your coffee on your lap or your face? Also, if you can hurry up and pick it up from my hand, so I can hold on to the seats, I will be forever thankful. 

I was surfing in the middle of the bus, both ways. Carrying a tray full of chips. Asking if people need drinks, while they take their sweet time choosing the bag of chips. From Dallas to Austin is about 3.5 hours, round trip is about 7.

 Once you are back, you have to clean the entire bus. After being juggled around all day, I had to vacuum the seats and the floor, clean the bathroom, throw the garbage out, in the same garage I was at 7 AM. This time it was dark.

My coworker gave me a ride home to never see me again. I sent out an email, saying that the job was not for me and it was too dangerous to be in a moving bus, without a seatbelt. While taking lunch orders, serving chips and coffee. 

Indie Video Store attendant

After being fired from the photography store, I got a job at the Indie video store, where my best friend was working.

At that point, we worked together on my first job at the movie theater and she was a great ally. I had fun working at the movie theater, and I was a bit desperate as usual to get a job. Why not try the Indie video store, full of those annoyingly rich film students?

Only rich kids go to film school in Brazil. We don’t get loans or scholarships. You either have money to pay out of pocket, or you don’t go until you have. At least not for film school. 

The year was 2004, and we were slowly coming out of VHS and embarking on the DVD era. Mind you, Brazil is usually 5 years behind with technology and life improvements than America.

On my first day, I was given a list of people, who had not been in the store for the past month, and I had to make cold calls to try renting the new DVDs. I was only excited for my break because I wanted to check the bakery next door. 

I was 18 and I couldn’t wrap my head around the movies I had to sell people. Iranian movies, German movies, Polish, and movies that talked about deep concerns.

Concerns that I’ve never encountered at that point. “We don’t have blockbuster movies here. It’s a more refined video store, more classy” Yeah, but you also have Glitter and Titanic, so I guess I could fit in. Just like Andy, from Devil Wears Prada, I had to try to find out the movie by its original name, sometimes French, sometimes German, and at that point, I barely spoke any English at all. 

Again, I had to be able to explain the movies. Why did the director make these choices, what were the influences, in order to convince people to rent the movie. I had no idea of what I was saying.

“In her skin”
The horror was to explain this movie to the clients.

One day, I had to explain a French movie called “In my Skin” about a girl who has pleasure eating her skin. Uh, classy, and no, by that time I’ve never seen Amelie Polan. I hate film snobs, but this is a subject to another post. 

One day, my boss traveled with her wife and I mischievously put Glitter on tv. The customers were baffled when they saw Mariah and her sluggish movie on the tv screen. Someone told my boss after she got back, I never saw that DVD again. 

I quit after the boss fired my friend. I couldn’t be at the store without her, or the Glitter DVD. Somethings gotta give.

I still think about that job as the most obnoxious job I’ve ever had. There were a few other jobs around the world, but none has made me sell Iranian dramas on a rainy Wednesday.   

Please let me know in the comments what was the weirdest job you have ever had and how did particularly changed your life. If it did, or it became a story for the books, like mine.  

Stay Healthy, Stay safe!

XX

J.Snell

Back to Basis to where I’m not an immigrant

Every night, before I put myself to sleep, I thought about that place. The streets, the people, my former teachers. I Imagined myself walking around and going back to the stores I once couldn’t afford to buy anything.

In my mind, there was always a sense of victory, if I could go back, and show everyone the new me. I would do it in style. I will never forget the day that a boy from my school, look at me and say “If you want to be beautiful, you have to be born again”.

15 year old me, heavily bullied by schoolmates.

My only plan was to leave that place.

I haven’t thought about having a career, money, or any type of what is considered “success” in the eyes of society. I just wanted to leave and the rest I could figure later.

And I left.

After many years of living in the States, I’m now married, and with the life, I built to myself, a life based on a day by day achievements. I didn’t get rich, and it’s not a life based on what money could buy if I worked 70 hours a week.

I learned fast that nothing of that “hard work” matters if you are not happy with what you are doing. Eventually, you end up sick and depress, with a house full of stuff you don’t need. Stuff you bought to fill spaces that were missing in your life.

I live in a 1 bedroom apartment while working part-time and I’m still able to travel internationally two times a year. Ask me how. I would probably don’t know the answer.

Back to Basis.

On this last trip, I decided to take a few days from Vitoria, where my mom lives, and back to Rio de Janeiro. The jungle that raised me, that made me who I’m today.

It was the most eye-opening trip of my life. At the end of the trip, I was emotionally exhausted, but it was all worth it. Seeing my friends, and receive a long hug, that hug you receive from friends who have known you your entire life. It hits you differently. When friends that you consider family: “That’s Joana, I know her how she is” It brings you back to the ground.

Living in the United States for the past nine years, part of me lacks having my references. What I mean by that is, having people actively participate in my stories, or create new ones.

I have friends who can tell my stories for me. Because they were there.

In Rio, If I’m telling a story, it’s guarantee a friend will add to it, sometimes is nonsense, but still participates. If I have to tell a story here in the States, first they will not get any of my references, and second, they will not listen because it’s not interesting to them.

I do have friends here, but they are always too busy in their chaos to have time to hang out. Here in the States, time is money. In my country, we have no money, It is what it is, so we just hang out freestyle.

While walking around those streets, I saw my younger self, the one who used to be brave. The me that was not always in the shadows, afraid of getting yelled at “go back to your country” and then I realized what it was.

My country, my culture, my language. 

Brasil is my country, my language, my culture. Something I will never have in the States. The United States, feels like a borrowed beautiful dress, that I want to, but it doesn’t fit me. Almost like Cinderella’s shoes, that I somehow made it fit. It hurts, it’s never going to be comfortable, but I still insist on wearing it.

I went on a crusade of places I wanted to show my husband. My school, the building I used to live in, the mall I used to hang out at, the Chinese food parlor I used to take my broken ass to eat after school. It was so cheap, I used to question where the meat was coming from. The tale of the pigeon sandwich. I will write about this some other day.

We had three days filled with emotions, trying to find cheap places to eat because after all, I still consider myself a local and refuse to pay more because I have a gringo by my side. I did pay for overpriced pizza at the mall, but it was one time, and I was ok with that.

My mom was there too and, it was priceless to be able to see her coming back to our place. I have to dedicate an entire post about what to do in Rio, in 3 days. There is a lot I want to say.

I have a place in this world. 

Going back to Rio made me realize, that yes, I have a place in this world. A place where I don’t need to worry about making mistakes and be deported, or feeling unwanted like I don’t belong. A place where I have friends and family. Part of me got back to the United States with a less worrying feeling. If anything happened, I would have a place that I used to call home.

I missed the feeling from when I used to run those streets. Rio is the only place on earth that if I don’t have a phone or if my phone dies I can still go around, and get to places. No questions asked.

There is no way it will not take me another nine years to come back. In the next post, I’m going to write about my 72 hours in Rio and all the cool stuff we were able to do.

Stay tuned, stay safe, and be healthy.

And keep living out loud too!

Travelling abroad during Covid.

I’m finally back and ready to take the wheel with the blog again. It was a great break, but now it’s time to put in perspective all the new projects I had blocked in my mind because of missing my family.

The last time I went home was December of 2018, and I left with a promise of coming back soon. Or at least having my parents visit me, in case I was not able to take time out to go see them. When Covid started in 2020, we were still hopeful they could come to see us, at some point, until the borders were close, with no intent to open anytime soon.

Mama, I’m coming home.

My mom also had the PCR test done before my arrival.

Not being able to go home last year and hug my parents was a struggle. I was hoping we could switch presidents here in America, so I could travel with peace of mind I would be able to come back to the country without any issue. Brazil is in such a chaotic situation, that if we kept Trump, I might have to stay there, as I’m a resident, and not a citizen of the United States yet.

I promise myself, as soon as the elections were over and he would finally be out of the office, I would buy my tickets to go home. I waited a few days after he left the White House, because of crazy conspiracy theorists, so I could purchase my tickets and that’s exactly what I did. On January 28, I finally purchased my tickets to go home.

All the preparation and anxiety, days without sleeping, waking up in the middle of the night, led me to a state of alert as my eyes were on the news, in case something else changed for the trip.

The PCR Test.

Brasil only lets citizens and Americans in if they have a negative covid test in their hands. My husband and I set up a drive-thru appointment at Walgreens, to do the PCR test before our trip, it costs us about 120 dollars each.

The drive-thru of Walgreens works like the Mcdonalds, but instead of getting food, they give you a swab so you can stick it on your nose. The results come out a little over 24 hours, as the lab works non-stop. I was very nervous because the trip was on Monday, and they told us the results could take up to five business days. We called and the lab told us to be calm, the results would come up fast.

The airport.

Denver doesn’t have direct flights to Brazil, so we bought the domestic leg separated, from United airlines. It’s funny because they are all careful to separate the boarding by rows and yet, you are on a packed plane and being asked if you would like to fly on a different flight.

The flight was crammed with people. The crew served us some snacks on a bag and soft drinks. Besides eating, we were supposed to keep the mask on all the time.

We got in Fort-Lauderlade from Denver to our international flight, to check in our bags and prepare to fly out. At the check-in line, there was an airline worker, making sure we all had a negative covid test in our hands. When we got to the counter, the lady asked for it again and stamped our tickets confirming we were negative.

I asked her if I could put the paper away or if I would have to show it again. She said they would not ask for it in Brasil and explain that it was the airline’s responsibility to check its passengers to make sure everyone was negative before flying. I kept the paper close to my hands anyway.

The flight.

I found out if you seat by the window, the plane will shake less. Booked all the flights with window seats.

As everyone on the plane tested negative, it gave us a little bit more peace of mind for the many hours trapped breathing the same air as other people. The airline crew reinforced that even though everyone was negative, we should keep our masks on, only removing to eat and drink. I’m not gonna lie, it was terrible trying to sleep with the mask on.

Planes are already uncomfortable, I’m an extremely nervous flyer. I’m always on alert even when the entire plane is asleep. I either take some Dramamine or wine. I need something to pass me out and on this trip, my drug of choice was Dramamine. After eating and the cabin lights were turned off, I took my scarf, covered my face, and held the mask in my hand.

The arrival.

When we arrived in the country, it took us a good hour to get out of the plane, as now they are only letting people out, row by row. Let me tell you that people are slow as they can be when it comes to getting out of a plane.

I had my PCR test in my hand, but no one asked me to show it. The Homeland security officer advised my husband that if something happened, like borders closing, he could easily renew his visa stamp for another 3 months. I wish we could stay that long!

The airport in Sao Paulo constantly reminds us over the speakers of the importance of wearing a mask, cleaning our hands, and keeping a distance from others. That’s not what I saw.

Brazil is a huge country and it’s nearly impossible to control the people, as they have a hard time following the rules. Some of them, because they can’t, and some of them because they are stubborn.

People need to work and they don’t have any government subside money to live off. I’ve seen buses crowded with people, with no AC, in 90F degree weather, and that’s Corona paradise. When we left the country was going on lockdown again.

Josh loves Brazil and always has a great time visiting. He loves the food, the people, and how cheap it is for us when we arrive in the country with some dollars. We eat what we want, drink and enjoy the warm weather. My mom is constantly asking why the man is blistering in the heat of the room when he could just be outside with a fan. Whats its torture for us locals, its a blessing to my Indiana guy.

The way back.

Once again, we had to take a PCR test for the trip back. I think it’s fair, as you don’t want to contaminate the airline crew and other passengers, it gives everyone peace of mind. It costs us half of what it costs us in America, expensive for Brazilians, but 1 dollar is worth about 5.70 reais. Let me explain this better. It works like this: If something would cost me 57.00 Reais, I would be paying 10 dollars, plus a small amount of transaction fee.

We had to set up the drive-thru appointment, at the lab stand outside the mall, and wait in line. When it was our turn, the lady was all prepared to perform the test on us, which scared Josh. On this trip to Brazil and another reason why we traveled since the American health system is inexistent.

We went to the doctor and found out Josh has an autoimmune disease, called Nasal polyposis, which is a small benign tumor inside his nose, that can be controlled with antibiotics and medication.

The polyposis obstructs his nose, impeding the PCR Swab to go all the way up. The lady stuck up the swab to my brain, with him, she attempted, but he hurt so bad, she had to stop halfway before he slapped the swab away from her hands. Get the vaccine when it’s available to you, so you don’t have to go thru this invasive procedure.

This time we were requested to show the negative PCR at least three times before boarding our final flight. Once at the Airline check-in point, at the check-in to the international flight in Sao Paulo, and lastly, the Homeland security. Nobody asked us for it inside of the United States.

Traveling with the Covid restrictions was hard, but all worth it.

Seeing my family, spend time with loved ones, and getting josh the treatment he needs was all worth it. We didn’t visit places, didn’t go to any parties, all we did was staying with my family because I still need to protect my parents. After all, they are in the risk group.

I didn’t cry saying goodbye, but I cry my eyes out when the plane took off.

It was hard to say good-bye. It getting harder and harder, as when I go there, I see my parents and I’m not around to be with them. I just have to put on my big girl pants and plan the next trip, hopefully, next January, after the holidays. Since we have to go back to pick up Josh’s medication.

All I have to say is if you want to go home, go home. Life is too short to plan too much, wait for the next opportunity, or to the perfect time to do what you want. Take your chance and jump in, life is a short breath of air. Don’t waste it. Don’t forget to Live out Loud Too!

On the next post, I will write about how going back home re-centers my mind and focus.

J.G.Snelly

XX

It’s ok to be a late bloomer in a new career.

Are you a late bloomer in your new career? Have you finally had the chance to pursue your goals a few years after your 30’s? It’s ok. It happened to me too! There is nothing wrong with being in your 30’s 40’s or even older and decided to step up and work on something you always wanted to.

Warning: being true to yourself might cause dizziness, lack of confidence, confusion, doubts of a better future, sometimes inevitable crying, and skeptics from family and friends.

Deciding on your career at 19 it’s not very smart.

I had to decide on my first career at 19 years old. At such a young age and with no realistic expectations, the only thing I knew was, I loved traveling and I wanted to live working in fancy hotels. Maybe traveling and visiting places around the globe. In my second semester, I realized I wanted to write for Lonely Planet magazine. Had to bottle up because of circumstances at that time.

When I graduated in 2008, there were no Youtube Channels that had traveling as the main content. In our Tourism and hospitality field at that time, we were supposed to work at the hotel front desk or in a restaurant as a food and beverage supervisor, we had to climb our way up for years unless you mess around with a manager. Not my kind of climbing.

Years of running around in my 20’s and financial instability.

The reason why it took me so long to pursue what I wanted in the first place was, years of running around in circles, moving countries, and being out of status in the USA for three years. I finally had the chance to change careers in 2017.

Only after I got my document, the time I needed to dedicate myself, and the courage to apply and sink myself in debt. In my 30’s. It was not an easy decision to go back to school and learn a completely different subject. In a second language. While working as a waitress in a bar.

When old dreams knock on your door, open it.

In 2017, as I decided I was going to follow my long life dream to be a writer, having so much to say and my voice needs to be heard because I believe I’m not the only one going through this. I want to write for tv shows and create characters based on what I had to deal with being an immigrant. Of course, that not only valid for me.

I have seen a lot of young kids these days, making a lot of money in different apps, especially dancing around TikTok, teaching make up tutorials and that can be very discouraging. I feel out of place every time someone who is 17 is extremely successful because of an app, and I and others who work so hard barely can get by.

Last week, I received a phone call from the Career Center, from my school, to check if I had any success after graduation. I told him no. I have a blog, but I haven’t had any success, at least not in what I expected to succeed.

A career switch in your 30’s is risky but sometimes necessary.

As I explained to him, changing careers in your 30’s is not an easy task. Especially when you are competing with a super high tech new generation that was born with a phone in their hands. I’m used to working with customer service and run around in a restaurant like there is no tomorrow.

I can multitask, I’m street smart and I’m good with sales but put a photoshop program open in front of me, and I freeze. I know how to crop and resize. Work with brightness and contrast, but that’s it. I tried to remove the background of the image once and it made me want to cry.

It like being born again, but older and broke.

Relearning all the new programs has been the hardest part. It feels like I slept for the past 14 years, while I was hands-on in the restaurant job trying to survive, the technology of the world moved on and I didn’t follow.

Every time I look for a job, either in content writing or marketing, the position requires at least five years of experience, my heart, soul, plus the B2B copy samples to prove I can do it. How do you have five years of experience on something that you just started?

There is nothing wrong with starting over, as many times you need to. People tend to believe, because of the social standards imposed by society, you have to be successful before 30, married with kids and a white fenced house.

I’m sorry, but this American dream from the early ’70s doesn’t exist anymore. It only exists to put pressure on people and make them feel bad for their life path. It works the same way the beauty standards. Sephora would never sell you a 60 dollar foundation if they don’t make you believe you need it.

During the conversation I had with the career center, the person who called me told me he understood what I was going through because he was also in his 30s and majoring in Audio Production. I wonder how many people are frustrated about trying to start something over

The fear of wasting time and failing again.

A career change in your 30s is filled with doubt and an intense lack of confidence. It’s usually surrounded by fear and sometimes a huge push to move forward. Days that you will feel like you will conquer all your dreams, because you have a lot of experience in different life areas and days will you feel paralyzed by fear of failing again.

You will feel like there is no space for error anymore, is either now or never. Why didn’t you find out how to follow your dream sooner? Maybe you didn’t have the finances, maybe you had babies and had to take care of your family, or you spent some good amount of years, trying to be something or someone, an important person for you, though you were or had to be. You were filling someone else’s expectations and not yours. My mom doesn’t understand why I want to do it. Neither does my dad.

Ok, Boomer.

Being born and raised into a boomer generation family, who never followed any dreams, always worked 9 to 5, and expected you to do the same and be successful is very nerve-wracking. I tried to explain to my mom what a screenwriter does, and told her about my YouTube channel plans. She says “go for it” even though she has no idea of what I’m talking about.

There were a few times she threw some shade at me talking about my successful cousins are, who at the age of 30 got some assets like a house and a car under their names. Like happiness and success is measure by what you can purchase.

It will take time to become an expert.

Sometimes it comes to a point in your life you can’t pretend anymore. You have to work on something that fulfills you. It’s ok if you are not an expert right away. It will take me a good amount of years to be as good a screenwriter as I’m waiting tables. I never thought I was gonna be able to manage taking care of all those tables and customers, I was macerated when I first started. How hard can it be to wait tables, right? I will write in a different post. There was no hope for me, but I insisted, as I’m insisting now.

I will not let this go and you shouldn’t either. I made a promise to myself I would make it work. There is no timeline to make things happen, you can take your time. Surrender the pressure other people put on you. You shouldn’t be scared to try. You shouldn’t be scared to follow your heart, and find the happiness you deserve.

Keeping the dream alive

Forget about the idea that you are getting too old to try. One of my favorite authors, Rachel Hollis, wrote in her book” Girl Stop Apologize” and I quote “Dedicate one hour of your day for your projects” and that’s what I try to do since I read it. One hour a day to work on what I want, either illustrating, writing, making music. Keeping the dream alive, until you can work with it fully.

Let me know in the comments how are you keeping your dreams alive and if you had a career change later in life! Or if you still looking!

Follow me on my social media for more of my Mid 30’s life struggles!

Stay healty! Stay Sane!