This week I went back to what I know best, looking after babies. While I would love to have my entire day free to work on my writing, at the moment, it is not paying the bills. While we are in no way destitute, with the purchase of the house, painting, updating and overall furnishing has required a good deal of the green stuff. As we all know the only green stuff that grows on trees are leaves so it was time for me to help replenish and repay what we have so freely spent within the past couple of months. For that reason it was time for me to get a job. The problem is, I really don’t like to work. Oh I am not lazy, I have had my share of jobs over the years, okay I have had more than my share, but I find that I don’t fit in well in the ordinary work force. I don’t like to be told what to do and I am not very good at sitting at a desk and pretending to look busy. I am much happier when I am my own boss with my own rules. Let me explain…
My first paying job was offered to me when I was only twelve years old. I was at the laundry mat with my mom when another lady happened to come in. The lady had her two year old in tow and neither was happy about being at the laundry mat. I started playing with the little girl which distracted her enough to allow her mother to finish the chore at hand. After she was finished, she made it a point to seek me out and pay me a few dollars for watching her daughter as well as asking if I would be interested in coming to her house to babysit for a few hours the following evening. That proved not only to be my first job but the foundation of a long running child care career. While I have had numerous jobs throughout the years, I always seem to return to my roots.
In my early teens I continued to sit for Tiffany, the little girl in the laundry mat, and her soon to be born little sister, Vanessa, as well as many other families who sought out my services. As with all occupations, some babysitting jobs I enjoyed more than others. I always enjoyed sitting for Tiffany and Vanessa. They were wonderful little girls, easy to watch and mature beyond their years from the beginning. There mom was nice and always paid exceptionally well.
There were also other sitting jobs that didn’t go as well. There was the family who asked me to babysit who attempted to entice me with the fact they had a color TV. Okay, I am showing my age however that same family failed to mention that they did not have a door on their bathroom. We may have lived on a dirt road, in a small town in Kentucky, but our bathroom had a door and that door locked, something that meant a bit more to me than yes, even color TV.
There was also the family that hired me to watch their four energetic kids after school for a whopping thirty dollars a week, which was a lot of money back then. The arraignment started out well but soon turned very sour. I was happy to have a job and even happier pretending their house was my house if only for a few hours a day. I quickly made myself at home, sweeping the floor, doing the dishes, folding laundry, all the things one would do if they owned the home. Unfortunately for me I did it so well that the family seemed to forget how to do it themselves. That must have been the case as each time I would come home from school to my “Pretend house” there was always so much more to do. The final straw for me was when I arrived “home” one Monday after school and dishes were piled high in both sections of the sink as well as on the counter and stove. There were also several piles of laundry on the table along with a note as to how to run the washing machine. It was then I admitted to myself that things had gone too far and I assure you they were not pleased when they got home and found that all I had done that day was actually watch their children.
When I was fifteen I had my first “real” job. It did not last long as it was a real job but I was not a real, meaning legal, employee. You see, not seeing the harm I kind of fibbed on my application and told them I was sixteen. As it turned out after being there several months I was required to get a work permit which unfortunately showed my true age.
A year later I turned sixteen, the legal age to work at that time, and got hired on at Kentucky Fried Chicken. I think of all the jobs I have had in my life my dad liked that one most. It was probably because at the end of the day I was allowed to bring home buckets of chicken which had failed to sell that evening. Because there was so much extra, dad ended up taking the excess to work the next day and was scoring big points with his co-workers. As it was we ended up moving to another county and, on the day of the move, no-one was available to give me a ride to work. The manager then decided that I probably would have this problem more often with the added driving distance and took this occasion to let me go. I was told later by an ex co-worker that the manager received several nasty letters as well as a couple of death treats after firing me. I guess you don’t mess with a girl who brings home lunch for a hoard of hungry foundry men.
That job was soon replaced by a couple of other fast food chains before going to work as a telemarketer. I would call people saying I worked for the fraternal order of police and that we were selling tickets to a country music show featuring some pretty big name stars. As it turned out, the whole thing was a scam. The company I was working for was not associated with the police and there was no concert. I was pretty bummed about it as I was very good on the phones and made quite a bit of sales to unsuspecting people.
After high school I worked at a dry cleaners for a few months until the day before eloping with my husband. I asked for the day off but, since we were keeping it a secret, I could not tell her why the time was needed. She said no, I said I do and, well, I was no longer employed there. For a while I wondered if dad was madder at me for eloping or because it was also the end to his having very neatly pressed clothes for work. In all honesty I think it was a bit of both.
After getting married it was several years before I went back to work. We only had one vehicle. I ended up getting pregnant shortly after we got married and then we got transferred to California. After having three children within four years of being married it just was not cost effective for me to work outside of the home so I did what I did best. I began watching other children. If there is one thing I have always been good at it is caring for children and looking out for their safety. My children never had the luxury of having me all to themselves but at least I had a means of helping to put food on the table.
When we moved to Charleston I was able to work outside of the house for a short period of time. First I volunteered at the Navy relief thrift shop. While it was not actually a paying job, it did pay mileage and cover daycare as well as allow me to have first dibs on cute clothes for the kids. One day, while helping in the sorting room, this really wild shirt came in. It was very ornate with huge daisies in bold colors. I made the comment it reminded me of a clown costume. Picking up on the theme I was soon able to find other items to complete a whole costume and soon Crazy Daisy was born. For the next couple of years I went to birthday and ships parties dressed in my thrift shop costume, with my painted face and pink sprayed hair. I would play a few games with the children and do some cute face painting, hand out cheep prizes and charge twenty five dollars an hour.
The best time I had happened when someone called and asked if I would consider throwing a pie in someone’s face as a prank. The party that hired me said I didn’t have to dress up, nor did it have to be a real pie and they would pay me double what I normally charged for a hour of being a clown. So… I loaded the kids in the car, had a friend’s daughter ride with me to sit in the car with the kids, then backed into a parking spot at the very busy car lot ready to make my special delivery. I had purchased a plain white cake box from a local store, cut a hole in the bottom for my hand and filled a tin pie pan with whipped cream. Nervously I walked into the show room and casually asked for my victim. Apparently everyone, except the poor fellow, was in on it and soon the lobby was bustling with employees who just happened to be milling around. As the guy approached I wished him a happy birthday, crammed the pie into his face and made it to the car before the poor man had time to wipe the cream from his eyes. Later the lady called saying how amazed they all were at how fast I moved. Of course, I had kids in the car; I could not chance being arrested! I thought about offering that service on a regular basis but never got brave enough to follow through with it.
I worked many other jobs over the years. I was Assistant Manager of a card shop. While the title was pretty cool the pay was still not good enough to pay for childcare. I worked at a couple of other fast food places; I loved working the drive-through best as it was fast paced and kept me busy but always I ended up returning to my comfort zone, which was watching children. As my children grew and entered school full time my options changed.
Tune in next Friday to see what happened after we moved to Michigan.