The 40 Jobs I've Had So Far

The 40 Jobs I've Had So Far

This post originally appeared on The Billfold.

For most of the 28 years of my life, I’ve pretty much taken up any offer to make money that came my way. Here are 40 jobs that I remember.

1.  Child model, 1988

Payment: Unknown
I only have hazy memories of this, but it somehow involved tacky clothes from some store in my hometown mall, which until 2002 was only called “The Mall.” I could not make it as a model now, except maybe in, like, weird bear stuff

2. Local Television Commercial Actor, 1988 to 1992

Payment: $50 for one commercial, all others free.
Highlights: Started out with Clean City Committee, costarring with a brown kangaroo mascot and other small children in anti-littering commercials. Later drafted to a Crime Stoppers commercial where we were handed crowbars and asked to beat up a car in a junkyard. Once paid $50 for a local pharmacy commercial which involved asking for scientific names of drugs to kindly old man pharmacist. Mom forced me to put it all in savings. I blew right through those savings my freshman year of college.


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3. Self-babysitter, 1993 to 1997

Payment: $5/night
Highlights: My parents paid me stay home alone and babysit myself while they finished their college degrees with night classes. This was largely a ploy to 1.) make me less terrified of staying home alone by incentivizing it and 2.) make it easier for them so they didn’t have pick me up at one of my aunts’ houses. Involved watching lots of Unsolved Mysteries and scaring myself shitless.

4. Bar Stocker, 1995 to 2002, 2004

Payment: $20/day
Highlights: At an age that probably wasn’t entirely appropriate, on select Sundays, ensured  that the coolers at my grandfather’s bar were stocked with beer and, sometimes during the summercleaned off the beer garden with a power washer. To an 11-year-old kid, $20 was a LOT of money. I have rarely felt the same sort of job fulfillment since.

5. Champ Man Mascot, 1996

Payment: I do not recall being paid. Probably chalked up to “family duty.”
Highlights: My former brother-in-law once was part-owner of a Champion Auto franchise. The day they opened, I served as the store mascot, which involved wearing an oversize Dickies shirt and a large racing flag mask.

6. Brick De-Mortar-er, 1996

Payment: $.05/brick
Highlights: My parents bought a new house in 1992 with the intent of renovating the entire thing. I was paid to remove the mortar from old bricks so that they could re-use as many of them as possible. This was an absolutely tedious job, and I would only do it until I had $2 or whatever I needed for junk food and comics. There were hundreds of bricks.

7. Electrical helper, 1997-1999

Payment: Familial duty, Scout Camp
Highlights: Some kids spend their Saturdays mowing the lawn. I spent mine helping my dad rewire our house. There was a loose agreement of payment but also a speech that started, “I’m your father and you live in my house and something something Scout Camp.” There were a lot of tedious hours spent ensuring wire was fed between levels of the house and that electrical outlets, light switches, and light fixtures were properly wired. I’m still surprised I’m not dead.

8. Power Raker, 1997 to 2000

Payment: Cheaper Scout Camp, supposedly
Highlights: Like Neil Armstrong, David Lynch, and Watergate felon H.R. Haldeman, I’m an Eagle Scout. In order to raise money for Scout camp every year, my troop did something called “power raking,” which basically involved pulling up a bunch of mulch and cleaning it out of people’s yards. I’m convinced to this day that it was some kind of scam. At any rate, in some way this helped us pay for summer camp. It also ruined a lot of perfectly good spring Saturday mornings for a few years.

9. Tee-ball umpire, Summers of 1998 and 1999

Payment: $14/game
Highlights: Charged with basically saying “safe” or “out,” and learning the important skills of shoulder shrugging when parents protested.

10. “Proprietor,” “Landscape Small Business,” 1998 to 2002

Payment: $5 and up (plus tips)
Highlights: Mowed lawns for money, mostly my parents and grandparents, but also my mock-trial coach. While driving me home from work one day, apropos of nothing, I had an awkward sex talk with my dad involving the words, “Before you make love to a woman, make sure you love her.” The week before I went to college, my grandfather tipped me hundreds of dollars, resulting in an accidental date because I didn’t want to break a $50 on a single movie ticket, so I bought two.

11. Stage Crew, Local Concert Series, 2000

Payment: Free concert entry
Highlights: Recruited for this gig at my parents’ yard sale. Styx and Dwight Yoakam played. Dwight Yoakam was only artist to need the town name (NORTH PLATTE) written on piece of masking tape on the stage. Secretly got drunk for the first time on vodka. (Sorry, mom.)

12. Store Clerk, Souvenir Store, 2001 to 2002

Payment: Minimum wage, promoted next summer to 10 cents above minimum wage
Highlights: Worked at the same souvenir store where my grandma worked, my mother used to manage, many of my cousins and my sister spent at least one summer clerking, and all the old ladies knew my name. Store featured a hand-carved Miniature Wild West show, a two-headed cow, and a Michelin Man dressed up as a Native stereotype. Spent much of the time talking to my boss about the decline of The X-Files in post-Mulder era.

For John's jobs numbers 13-40, continue reading at The Billfold.


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