15 Important Things We Learned From Our Weirdest Jobs

It certainly gets better.

Most people go through several jobs in their lifetimes, and it feels like the ones you have earlier on are especially... uh... interesting. Your first job probably wasn't the most exciting or stimulating one you'll ever have, but you certainly learn a lot from earning your own money for the first time. Lousy jobs are a drag, but if you're privileged enough to have received a good enough education there are better ones on your horizon. Here are some things we learned from our very first jobs, or the ones we had that made us get a lot better at finding silver linings.


1. Language island.

"My first job was washing dishes at a Chop Suey place next to the mall when I was 16. I spent hours up to my elbows in hot, dirty water in a cloud of greasy steam that embedded my clothes, hair, and skin with the unforgettable smell of twice-fried fat. No one in the kitchen spoke much English, so I was able to enjoy a relative amount of solitude, which I liked. What did I learn? I learned how good cold beer tastes after working a sh*tty job and I learned that my fear that I would never do anything more important or more inspiring or more interesting than washing dishes was, as it turns out, unfounded."

2. Cold call.

"I worked at a cafe in high school and once my coworkers locked me in the freezer to be funny. It taught me humor is very, very subjective."

3. Lessons in the mundane.

"I worked at Office Depot during high school, and I learned that having something to work hard at — even if it wasn't something particularly fulfilling, and even if it was often very frustrating — could make all the difference."

4. Learning one spray at a time.

"I interned at a film museum and had to make sure all the object in storage were in good conditions. as a rule if anything had liquid it had to be emptied since it could leak and damage other objects. I once came across this Dynasty collector's edition perfume set and had to empty it, but couldn't pry the bottles open since that would damage them. So I had to spend about two hours spraying about 14 bottles of incredibly cheap smelling perfume in to a sink, one spritz at a time. I learned there's an inverse relationship between how classy perfume smells and how long it lingers on you. It was somehow still the best internship ever."

5. Safety first.

"I got my first job at 15. I worked at the local amusement park as a lifeguard for a few years. So many life lessons. I learned not to date a co-worker, because after you break up, they might get promoted and become your supervisor, which is just as terrible as it sounds. On the positive side, I was drilled in CPR so much, I could do it in my sleep. It's a very underrated skill set and I think everyone should learn how to do it. "

6. Rolling with the punches.

"I worked as a production assistant doing everything from managing extras to unloading equipment to buying fake blood. Even though it was a lot of grunt work, I learned to roll with the punches and gained a variety of skills in the process. It definitely made me more resourceful which is a useful skill in both work and life."

7. Back to basics.

"My first job was selling pretzels at a mall, and I learned being fast at math is an especially important life skill since during violent thunder storms that cause blackouts and shut down cash registers, people are even hungrier and more impatient than usual. I also learned pistachio ice cream can be made by adding a drop of mystery flavor and the color green to vanilla."

8. Smoothie struggles.

"I worked at Jamba Juice when I was 16. I learned that $5 smoothies actually cost a quarter to make. I learned that none of that sh*t is healthy unless you pick an all fruit smoothie. I learned that hot, sweaty days inside a Jamba Juice are the ninth circle of hell when you're behind the register. I also (serious lesson) learned that being busy can be stressful, but it makes the time fly when you're working, so that's good. Most importantly, I learned that there is nothing cooler than wearing a visor and an apron at the same time."

9. Shining stars.

"I worked at the Hollywood Bowl for a few summers in high school, and learned that working at venues is the best way to see free shows, and that fireworks, without fail, make me cry because omg-they-are-so-beautiful and that no one should see Reba McEntire star in South Pacific more than
four times."

10. On laying low.

"I interned for an opposition politician back in Malaysia one summer break and was told that our phones might be hacked and that the cobbler stationed outside the office might be a government agent spying on us so we shouldn't talk to him, but also not to worry about it because everything in the office/my boss' house was likely bugged anyway. It was scary but still a great experience and it made me feel très James Bond."

11. Standing up to the customer.

"A lesson I learned from every job I had working with the public: The customer is not always right, and the level of the customer's anger is directly proportional to how wrong they are.
The most glorious thing I ever witnessed was the amusement park owner not returning a $1 deposit to a guy for a rented inner tube because he didn't bring back the tube AND the wristband (this is so you don't steal other people's tubes and get their dollars). There are signs all over the place saying you have to have them both, and the tube rental person tells you when you pay. It was just a dollar, but she was not giving into this grown man's hissy fit, and I wanted to high five her for it."

12. Supersize me.

"After working in fast food, I learned that you should never eat fast food because now you know how it gets made. I also learned that people like to buy large quantities of this disgusting food, but still feel healthy by ordering a Diet Coke."

13. Unexpected jobs.

"I was a Hollywood assistant working for this producer and part of my job was doing his kids' homework. I learned ethics mean different things to different people."

14. Not the best fit.

"Telemarketing in high school. I learned that it's worse than death."

15. Early morning pups.

"I worked at a kennel when I was 14. Woke up at 5am every day before 9th grade to go clean piss, sh*t and puke out of mean dogs' pens and then fed them. I learned that some smells are bad enough to stick on you for a whole day, and that no human being going through puberty should have to be awake before sunrise."


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