Some other stuff I’ve done, by way of making money:
I forgot to mention the first non-babysitting job: I worked once a week in a concession stand at the Ephrata Raceway. Yes, even I am amazed that Ephrata has a raceway. The weird thing was, it was fun! I normally groan when the phrase “customer service” is mentioned, but it was my first shot at ‘serving’ people on a job, and it was neat. It kind of gave me a high, to give people what they wanted, in a sense. And if they didn’t like the size of their elephant ear – which we actually made ourselves, whoop whoop – I’d give them another one. Problem solved. I did, however, live in fear after being told that occasionally the owners of the raceway would ask a concession stand chick to go down to the ‘winner’s circle’ or whatever and award the trophy. “And sometimes, they’re really excited! They’ll grab you and kiss you, but they don’t mean anything by it,” said the person who delivered this information. As I’d never before been kissed, or grabbed, for that matter, the task did not appeal. In any case, I was never asked.
The first night I worked there was notable because it was the date of “my” senior prom. April 22, I believe. To which, obviously, I did not go. I didn’t go to any formal dances in high school. I was quite a ways from being ready to go on a date. Boys were still kind of scary. I liked to debate sports with them and stuff, and I’d had secret crushes on a few, but no WAY did I want to actually date one, or go on a date with one. I considered myself to be mature for my age, in some ways, but not in a social sense.
In college, I don’t recall working much until, hm, my senior year? Is that possible? I do believe it is. I freaked out when my parents actually followed through on their draconian vow to fund only FOUR YEARS of higher education at an in-state, public school. My year in Wales, during which I took stuff that seemed fun, interesting and educational (Welsh language, Welsh history, a class on Dylan Thomas and an English class on, um, Jonathan Swift or satire or something) put me behind a bit in terms of credits. Also, not taking any core classes in my major until I was a senior put me behind a bit. Go figure… So I stuck around an extra semester – I was in no hurry to get out and have a Real Job, anyway – and borrowed a bit of money from Mom and Dad and (arm flung over eyes dramatically) Paid My Own Way.
(I must break here to point out that, honestly, I do realize how very very very lucky I was to have my college education paid for. I have run into so many people who are still toting around massive student loans, or who have busted their heinies to pay them off, or who didn’t end up going to college at all because they couldn’t figure out how to pay for it. I don’t think I was so very grateful at the time – entitled is more like it – but I surely am now.)
That senior year, before the year of Paying My Own Way, I got hooked up through a sorority “sister” (and an actual friend of mine! Yes, some of the sisters WERE actually my friends) at one of the sweetest, and yet most boring at times, jobs I’ve ever had: Ushering (is that a verb?) at the college’s coliseum. I either took tickets, or guarded a non-entry door (YAWN), or stood up high in the stands and guarded against Potential Trouble at such events as: Cougar basketball games, ballets, concerts, guest speakers, etc., etc. You could pretty much watch the event, if you weren’t doing the non-entry door thing. Man, that was a ghastly assignment. So, total crapshoot. Awesome job, or so boring you wanted to shoot yourself. I was super bitter about the basketball events because I was TOTALLY INTO the Cougar team – and even had a class with the star player, whoop whoop! – but my friend Jenny, who couldn’t have cared less if her life seriously did depend on it – wouldn’t have out of principle, in that case – had a permanent ‘floor’ assignment for basketball. Grossly unfair.
A list of the concerts I worked (and thus saw for free, or was subjected to, depending on your perspective): Def Leppard; Bryan Adams; George Strait; Alan Jackson; New Kids on the Block; and more that I can't recall.
The one really bad thing that happened at this job was that I met, and inexplicably befriended, a guy named Dean, who my parents are probably thanking God nightly to this day I did not run off with. (that was never EVER a possibility, Mom. Seriously.) But they were right to worry, because this guy was messed up with a capital M and U. I think most of my decision to hang out with him was a) I did not want to be back in the U.S.! I had seen the light. America sucked. I missed my little carefree student life, and my friends, in the U.K. and, b) I HATED, DESPISED and LOATHED being forced to live in the sorority with every fiber of my being at that point. So, hanging at the bars with Dean was escape. Also, I had hung at pubs with my friends in the U.K., and … well… that was different. But I didn’t quite get that yet. I was young and naïve, what can I say.
Dean, in case you’re curious, turned out to be my first kiss. When I was 22, or nearly so. I didn’t like him in that way, but I didn’t know if I’d ever have another male friend willing to kiss me (yes, I’m serious), so I said, okay! Do you mind? He, of course, did not mind. Stuck his tongue straight into my mouth. A completely disgusting experience. I sprang out of the car, right there in the parking lot of the Moscow (Idaho) mall, and spat on the ground. He was not impressed by my reaction.
So, to tie up the Dean saga, eventually, I learned my lesson and told him to get lost. It took awhile, though, and a very scary lecture from my dad about how, basically, I was better than that. About how my family was better than that. I am reminded of it sometimes, when I read The Lion King to Lizzy, and Mufasa, speaking from beyond the grave, says to Simba: Um, I don’t actually remember exactly. But something about how he’s born to live more of a life than he’s leading. How he must return and take his place in the circle of life, yadda yadda. I’ve always felt that it was very very brave of Dad to deliver that lecture. I’m quite sure he’d have rather chewed on nails than to have embarrassed us both that way. But, it was necessary. So that’s what a loving parent does.
Which brings me to the most ridiculous job I’ve ever had: I then took a turn as a bartender at a little sports bar in Pullman (the college town) called the Sports Page. Which, at that time, was still pretty run-down; the cheapskate owner since sold it and the new owner spruced it up and made it a lot more shiny and trendy. But at that time, it was beer on tap, beer in bottles and wine coolers, and maybe a bag of microwaved popcorn if you were hungry. The tips were okay; the smoke inhalation was horrendous. I probably got asked out an average of about once a shift. But, all in all, it was kind of fun. Again, my parents were horrified. The gal who made up the shifts didn’t like me much, I think, and I worked only two or three nights a month. So it wasn’t much of a job at all.
Ah, Dean: The last time I heard from him was after I’d moved to Spokane – the second time around at the Spokesman-Review – and he called me on my birthday (a coincidence; he hadn’t realized it), wanting me to bail him out of jail. Classic. And cathartic. I had the not very Christlike pleasure of telling him that, yes, 200 dollars was not so very much, but I would not bail you out of jail if it cost me only twenty cents. Goodbye, and good luck.