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Saturday, March 07, 2009

Let me tell you what I've done. (part 1)

A few months ago this was going around the blogosphere as an honest-to-goodness meme: people were spontaneously writing out their work histories, like resumés in essay form. Nobody seemed to be saying "I saw so-and-so do this, so I thought I would, too." The odd thing was, I had been planning to do the same thing myself for some time.

Yesterday I had an opportunity to review my resumé and I found myself thinking, "Dammit, I've had some great jobs." It was depressing, really. But maybe I should take hope knowing where I've been.

So here it is. It turned out to be so long that I've had to break it up into multiple parts.

I didn't have very many jobs in High School. I really wasn't working towards buying a car or having beer money, so I tended to focus on my schoolwork all through the school year and play all Summer long. My only significant job was in the Summer after my (I think) Junior* Sophomore year and consisted of dogsitting for a neighbor family while they were away on a multi-week vacation. They kept the dog cooped up in a small room in their basement, lined with papers, and they wanted me to let the dog out and clean the papers twice a day. But Skippy was a young, energetic dog, and it seemed cruel to keep him cooped up in a stuffy room for so long. So I visited him multiple times each day, and took him out for extended romps. He and I developed a bond that Summer. They moved away later that year, and I heard that Skippy was hit by a car and killed soon after.

The only other jobs I had in High School were actually after graduation and before the start of college. One was an inventory job at a store at the Wyoming Valley Mall. It was me and about two dozen other temporary employees, hired specifically for a big inventory count. Each of us was assigned to an area, and we were paid something around minimum wage for our efforts. I completed my count quickly, efficiently, and accurately, turned in my numbers, and was paid for the time I had worked. Other people who were working more slowly and less efficiently were still on the job, earning money, when I was sent on my way. I learned a lesson about doing a timely and efficient job that day.

I searched the mall for other job opportunities and found one as a stock boy at a women's clothing store. That was interesting, for the few weeks that it lasted.

In college my main job was maintaining my GPA to maintain the merit-based scholarships that were paying for my education. Without them I would not have been able to attend college, or would have had to go into debt so deeply that I might still be trying to pay off my loans.

Between semesters I worked at Owens-Illinois, later OI-NEG, later Techneglas. This was a glass factory that manufactured TV faceplates. (The NEG stood for "Nippon Electric Glass", a Japanese manufacturer that bought, and eventually closed, the factory.) For three summers I worked there, handling heavy faceplates for eight hours at a time. My fingers are still curled from the carpal tunnel I developed there, and I have learned to ignore the hisssss of tinnitus that came from being exposed to the industrial sounds all day.

During my time in grad school I was a "teaching assistant" in Introduction to Physics labs at the University of Delaware. What this meant was that I was the teacher for the lab, responsible for introducing upwards of eighty non-science students to the wonders of Physics in action, and designing, administering, and grading exams. This lasted as long as my graduate career, one semester.

After I left grad school I made the decision to stick it out in Delaware for at least the rest of the term of my lease and find employment somewhere in the area. Newark, Delaware is an area full of industry of all sorts, so this didn't seem like such an unlikely proposition. With the guidance of one of my former graduate professors I was able to get a job at a solar cell manufacturer called AstroPower. I started off assisting in the testing and evaluation of incoming silicon substrates that would be turned into solar cells. I took to the work, and was fascinated by the place, and at the end of the first year of my lease I signed on for a second. Changes came to the place, including my first experience with a Reduction In Force, or RIF; I survived it, but my supervisor did not. I assumed his job while maintaining my current pay, which was barely above minimum wage. As the second year of my lease began to draw to a close I observed that I had taken on more and more responsibilities, including the management of several employees, but was barely making enough money to pay the rent. With some regret, I informed my manager that I would be leaving when August rolled around. And I did, with a heavy heart.

I came back to Nanticoke feeling like a failure. I began a half-hearted job search, but shortly thereafter my grandmother was felled by sciatica. She needed around-the clock assistance just to get around the house - my mom's house, since it was the only house of a local family member where my grandmother would be able to get around without needing to climb stairs. Getting a nurse to watch over her would be prohibitively expensive. Since I wasn't doing anything else at that moment, I was the obvious choice to be her caretaker.

She gradually regained her strength and mobility. I took her out on the occasional outings, including shopping trips. By the Spring of 1992 she was able to live on her own again. Which was fortunate, because shortly after that I received a call that there was a job available for me at a place I had been trying repeatedly to get into - Specialty Records, a local record, tape, and CD manufacturer.

To be continued. Part 2 will cover the various jobs I have held at Specialty Records and its successor companies.

*The Summer after my Junior year I was at Pennsylvania Governor's School for the Sciences.

1 comment:

whimsical brainpan said...

That's a pretty wide variety of jobs you had early on.

Sorry to hear about Skippy.