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.
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?
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”
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!