Is it worth it, let me work it

I have worked a number of crazy jobs in my relatively short time here on planet earth.

Like many other young ladies, I started out as a babysitter, but quickly learned that it wasn’t really my jam. I never cared for the portion of the evening that included the kids being, well, conscious, and it was pretty devastating to learn that most of the families that I worked for had mediocre pantries at best.

If I was going to give up my Friday night, I figured I might as well get a week’s worth of junk food stuffed in my face – AM I RITE OR WHAT LADEEZ?

Anyways, after my failed and relatively short-lived foray into the world of child monitoring, things took a turn for the serious, and I was hired on as a Safeway cashier in the summer after grade ten.

For my then teenage self this was HUGE. I was making eight dollars an hour and I got to nonchalantly creep on all the weirdos who came into the store.

(And by creep I mean epically judge them based on the goods they were purchasing.)

This job was nuts for many reasons, the first being I had the absolute WORST assistant manager of life.

Sanjay* was a young, cocky, sexist jerk who was constantly on one giant power trip. The guy wouldn’t allow me to wear sweaters (so instead I would just wear the massive winter coats that were reserved for the dudes who collected the shopping carts at night) and he once made me cry in the upstairs back room by telling me I had failed a secret shop, despite having no material evidence to back up his claim.

According to him, I hadn’t thanked the secret shopper by their name on the store receipt. For my “punishment” he made me read aloud the names printed on about two hundred receipts, just so he could be sure that, and I quote: “I could, in fact, read.”

I pretty much sobbed through the entire thing, choking out the names, my cheeks burning with shame and embarrassment. Every so often I would squeak out, “This…this isn’t right…”

You can imagine how, for anyone, let alone a fifteen year old girl, this kind of thing can be pretty darn traumatizing.

I ended up filing an informal complaint against him (and by informal I mean I stuttered out my frustration to the actual store manager, letting him know how I thought it was unfair that Sanjay would let other girls wear sweaters but not me, and about how he told me I had a failed a test when I clearly hadn’t.)

And that yes, I could read, thank you very much.

I never expected anything to come from my actions, but amazingly from that day forward Sanjay never spoke to me again. He wouldn’t even make eye contact with me when he would come around to give me more change/bills for my till.

Just remembering those tense, awkward exchanges gives me the heebie jeebies.

Other than that, Safeway was pretty par for the course in terms of high school jobs. Working crappy shifts, bonding with my co-workers, having a laugh when my friends come through my line.

Also, I am strangely proud of how Speedy Gonzalez I was on the till. I had those PLU codes DOWN (I will never forget bananas – 4011), and would often make it a contest to see how quickly I could clear my register.

Sometimes customers would even be nice enough to compliment me on my mad skills.

(Or maybe this was just because I looked a bit like a rapper in my massive, massive winter coat.)

Anyways, my tenure at ye olde Way of Safe came to an end when I received a job a small café the summer after grade twelve.

I literally left a letter in the upstairs office that read: Please accept my resignation effective today.

Looking back, it probably wasn’t my finest hour, both in terms of politeness and leaving on a positive note, but by then I was so worn down by the store’s rampant culture of apathy and soul-sucking awfulness, that I really didn’t care.

After the café (which ended after that summer) I worked a number of jobs throughout my time as a university student, including stints at an international newspaper and magazine store (which also rented international movies and had a massive pornography section).

In the two years I worked there only two dudes came in to rent from the latter category.

I just figured they must be crazy traditionalists.

This job was great because I got to keep a ton of the magazines, which meant my collection of international fashion, nature, political, and photography periodicals grew like (paper) weeds.

I also watched a lot of great foreign flicks.

After that, I was hired as a temp at a chocolate store to help them in their lead up to the Easter rush, worked as a receptionist at a physiotherapy clinic, and then as a barista at a coffee shop down at Granville Island (MY FAVOURITE JOB OF LIFE).

After my stint with BIG ORGANIC FAIRTRADE COFFEE, I tutored and then took on a two-year stint with immigration with the government of Canada.

And now? Well, a girl has to have some secrets, doesn’t she?

Looking back, I wouldn’t trade in any of these jobs.

They introduced me to lifelong friends and provided me with experiences (both good and bad) that have helped shape who am I.

Which is of course, a rapper in a giant winter coat.


*Name has been changed, despite rampant douchbaggery

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Vanessa Woznow

Writer, runner, ranter, reader. I write about all things.

17 thoughts on “Is it worth it, let me work it”

  1. Despite not having shared any of those particular jobs (other than babysitting), my familiarity with all of the places you mentioned brought about a kind of stroll down memory lane. Funny to think I worked with M around that time. During which time he referred to me as Chairman Mao, I note.

    1. I do believe you have frequented everyone of those places that I worked at…or most anyways!

      Man, working at the movie theatre…what a trip! And I cannot believe he called you that – I certainly hope it was a monicker picked out of love! (I also hope you yelled at him THAT’S NOT EVEN THE RIGHT COUNTRY!)

  2. OMG…..I will never forget the PLU for bananas either. Seriously, if you say 4011 in a crowd there will be at least one person who responds by saying, “bananas”. (I, too, worked in a supermarket through high school.)

    Great post! I love that you loved being a barista!

    1. YES. I totally want to run into a crowded room and yell it out, just to see if anyone knows what I’m talking about! (This is making me laugh just thinking it.)

      And yes, seriously, I LOVED working at that coffee shop. I took such pride in my espresso skills, and I my coworkers we such dolls. It was a blast and a halft.

  3. knot being a lady (well, 99% uv da time, M O L), i can’t comment.
    & da B-site hazz bin missin yer remarx, even if they be uv disssapruvul

      1. i’ve liked some of my jobs.
        someday i’ll write about THE CURSE my very own father pronounced upon me, which, amazingly, was both true and totally false.
        (basically, after he found out i was going for the “psycho” deferment to get out of going to Vietnam and being killed, or whatever, he said: THIS WILL BE ON “YOUR RECORD.” (whatever THAT is!). YOU WILL NEVER GET A GOOD JOB. YOU WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO WORK FOR THE GOVERNMENT.”
        Years later, I reminded him of this. I not only never got to work “a good job” — it seemed I was only able to work for “the government.”)

        1. That must have been pretty intense having your dad say that! However, I can honestly say that I’m really glad you didn’t go to Vietnam and get yourself killed. :)

          Are good jobs and government jobs never synonymous? Never the twain shall meet? :)

          1. axually, some o’ deez gubbmint jawbs ain’t so bad. e.g., my last two positions as an oil&gas regulator. sometimes it’s like “real work” …

  4. You have built up quite the skill set, lady! It is funny how those jobs can shape us so much, even the ones like babysitting. My first job was when I was 13 years old cleaning stalls at a Quarter Horse breeding barn just down the road from my house. It was an experience, for sure! Got to see tons of foals hours after they were born and made friends with the barn cats. :)
    Very fun idea for a post, by the way! And I hope karma bit that Sanjay guy in the butt…hard! You are way too sweet and kind to be treated like that, gosh it makes me mad.
    Hugs to you and Happy Wednesday, Loveliest!

    1. Sweets, that’s is an AMAZING first job! I can only imagine. I bet those barn cats were total scrappers! You are seriously too cool for school. :)

      And thanks! Karma totally dig bite old Sanj in the butt – he’s now one of those subway attendants that stands around all day helping people with their transfers. I see him occasionally and yell at him in my head.

      Big hugs back!! x

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