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

How Sweet it is… To look for a Writing Job

Last couple of days the routine has been the same. Check my phone. Sit down to write. Check Amazon, save some books I would like to buy. Check GoodReads for more book ideas to put on the list. Check my email, received some job posts, read it through, you need at least two years of experience. Apply anyway. Get an email that the job post from yesterday, besides liking my resume decided to not move forward on the hiring process. Get up, check my phone again. Sit down to write.

My last couple of weeks after Creative Writing School has not been the greatest. I’ve been taking time to learn different things that could land me a job. A paying one. Nothing from real life was taught at school, subjects like business, how to marketing your books, or whatever you write(short stories, scripts, comic books), or finances in terms of, if you want to be a freelancer; which is probably going to happen with most of most us anyway, you have to know how to organize yourself and your time. Be precise and know your worth. Otherwise, people will pay you nothing to write a 300 page book, because they assume all it takes is for you to just sit down and write.

In my research about where do I go after online school, I was hit with the cruel reality of the lack of networking, the absence of experience, and lack of a mentor. The school told us, all along that we should have a mentor for difficult times, to get some kind of guidance. Yet they never guided us to one, and I have yet to find one. It’s not like I’m Creed or something, but I would like to have someone to train me. I reached out to the school career department, the advisor was nice and gave me a lot of links and tips on how to improve my resume. Very helpful, but I’m not the kind of person who waits around. After an empty day, thats what I like to call the day I don’t do anything at all, I decided to apply for some unpaid internships. At least I would spend my time learning something useful. Last week I got an email from GenM, offering me an opportunity for an apprenticeship, not paid, but I would learn a lot and be able to put those insights on my resume. I say, why not?

It usually takes a week for the placement positions, you choose what you would like to learn and work with, then they place you with a matching company. While you are waiting on a position, you can take small courses to get familiar with how writing marketing content works. A few days after applying, I received a call from my mentor and set up the hours I’m available to dedicate to my apprenticeship. We video chatted and talked about the business I would be helping with for a good 9 hours a week, I felt as excited as when I started school a couple of years ago. I don’t care about getting paid or not. I want to learn, I want someone to guide me, so I can follow the necessary steps. After all, I’m starting over, in a different career, after fourteen years of working in hotels.

The idea here is : You have to keep paddling, no matter how difficult it gets. It is easier said than done, but this time off working, I am able to pursue something other than the service industry. It has shown me that the struggle is real, that social media is not what it is cracked up to be. There are a lot of people who want to take advantage of you and your work. Some people want to teach you, and you have to be available to learn. I would rather work for free for a little while, learning, rather than spend another 60 grand on a masters school, and not be able to get a job because I don’t have experience outside the bubble. It is just like you have to keep coming back to the hamster wheel.

I also applied for Writers Work website. I’m still getting familiar with it and also taking some classes on how the site works. There is a list of website submissions, that you can send your work, and I’m going to start working on some pieces now. I’ll post an update on my progress next week.

Keep writing!

J.

HIGHLANDER

Patience, Highlander. You have done well. But it’ll take time. You are generations being born and dying. You are at one with all living things. Each man’s thoughts and dreams are yours to know. You have power beyond imagination. Use it well, my friend.”


I finally sat down to research the writing market and it hit me like a cold water bucket being thrown in my face. I spent the last 2 and a half years, dreaming about the day I would write what I’d like and it could get some money. While in school, I kept with all the deadlines, a huge amount of pressure, putting entire projects together in two days. Yes, two days, because I needed the feedback from my peers on Friday. Sometimes I would have to create a whole new spec script in a day, 30 pages. Not a problem. The problem is, writing in real life is way more challenging than just posting assignments to be graded.

Last week, I updated my resume a couple of times, applied for many different job positions, confident that I would get some answers. Nothing. During my browsing around, I started checking some job offers on the freelancing website, that has tones of people offering to pay you 50 bucks for a thousand words, to research, write, put it on e-book format and deliver the job in a great amount of time. It made me frown, but what hits me harder was a specific one I stumbled upon. The words on the offer cut me the same way I was a kindergarten and the other kids didn’t pick me up for the game. The add goes on and on and says “Native English speakers only”. It took a few minutes to sink in and I finally understood. The AD was only offering the Freelance job to Born and Raised Americans only.

It doesn’t make any sense for me, as I graduated in Creative Writing, on the same level as all the other Americans I took classes with. My father-in-law is born and raised American, and I don’t mean to be rude, but writing is not his strongest skill. People told me, yeah sometimes they want someone proficient, well I’m proficient, and I guarantee you, my paper won’t have an accent when you read it.

I busted down crying. My husband let go of his tv and hugged me. Would all my effort to improve and compete at the same level as other native speakers, be washed away because I was not lucky enough to be born in this country? Do I have to hide where I’m from to get a writing job because instead of asking for the pieces I write to evaluate me, they instantly assume I’m not a good writer because English it’s not my first language? Let me tell you: it is.

I live in a second language. I worked with customer service and do all my errands in a second language. Do you know when you have to go the bank to pay rent? I can do it too, in English. Do you know when you have a job interview and they make you explain what are your plans for the future, or what how your past experiences will relate to the new job? Again, I answer it all in English. Stop measuring my ability to speak another language based on the country I was born. It’s derogatory and it looks stupid on you.
I will not go into the political aspect of this, because I don’t blame on the President, I think those morons were there before he got in, all feeling entitled for reasons only they would know. He just unleashed this urge of hatred and gave them authority to treat foreigners with doubt and disrespect. Like “it is not your land, you don’t need to be here.”

I keep applying for jobs in different platforms. I have been trying them all. Indeed, Zip Recruiter, LinkedIn, UpWork, Writers Work. I got a few interviews, but they were all in the suburbs of Chicago or other cities, so I had to let go. I also applied for positions such as Content Creator, Writer Assistant and so on. While it doesn’t happen, I work on learning other skills I always wanted in my free time, like digital drawing and entrepreneurship. Maybe I will create a writing company for the outcasts at some point. Your voice needs to be heard, you don’t need to be quiet because you have an accent.

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