Slaveships and Spaceships

Yesterday, work was the furthest thing from mind. I laid around the house all day until it was time to go out. I vowed to ween myself off Twitter and the laptop. It wasn’t until I saw a retweet from Vibe editors Jozen Cummings and Clover Hope about a guest blog written by Complex Magazine editor-in-chief, Noah Callahan-Bevers on that I went back on my word. You don’t have to read it unless you’re an aspiring writer like me, but it was powerful.

A few minutes later, I had a Hey Mon! moment with a friend via Twitter as we listed how my jobs we have. You do remember Hey Mon!, a popular segment about a Jamaican family, right? Old boy is a landscaper, works retail and is thinking about taking on yet another venture. I’m a facilitator, adjunct professor and freelance writer. I was seriously considering working with the Census, but I don’t want to be all up in people’s homes like that. I’ll pass.

In between that time, I continued to peruse The Calm and found a post that almost brought tears to my eyes. You’ve got to see this. Did you listen? This has got to the be my favorite track on The College Drop-Out. I would listen to this over and over while drying to my wack-ass job during graduate school. That along with “I’ll Fly Away” and “Spaceship” got me through many a day at SuperTarget on Seigen Lane, affectionately called “The Dungeon” or “The Bullseye.”

I’ve been working this graveshift, and I ain’t made shit. I wish I could buy me a spaceship and fly past the sky. -Spaceship

I’m a little confused, but don’t tell anybody. I’m about to break the rules. Don’t tell anybody.-Graduation Day

I so felt Kanye on that. I listened to that interlude about three times alone via the blog. I started to think back on all of the many jobs I’ve had. The only time I’ve had one job is in high school. I’m hustler. So what drives me? My work ethic or the moolah? Check out my many jobs, the highs and the lows.

Mental Health Care and Rehab Center (First Summer Job at 14 and 15)

High: I knew the coordinator, so I was always paid in advance. I met an old woman, Arabella Ross, who was 94 years old. I would visit her room everyday at 2 p.m. sharp. She tell me about her life as a young woman and constantly call the RNs “fat bitches” when they’d come to give her meds. She passed away 1999. I’ll always remember her.

Low: It was hella boring. I could barely stay awake when “activities” with the patients weren’t going on. I would sneak in the “secret office” in the back and take naps throughout the day. Well, I would be in a coma, damn near. Walking past the kitchen to get to my office made me want to barf daily. I can still smell it. Ugh

Old Navy (High school through college/summers):

High: I felt like a grown-up working 20 hours a week while I was in high school. I know some kids had to work, but I didn’t. I just wanted to, but I worked like I had to. Employee discounts and making jokes about our manager, Big John’s tight-ass jeans during staff meetings and diving onto the piles of fleece pullovers during night shipment with the boys. Fun times

Low: Working on Sunday. I hated leaving early for or missing church. Don’t Sundays always feel extra long? Felt like I would never get out of there, and we closed at just 7 p.m.

Macy’s (formerly Goldsmith’s) (College Summer Breaks)

High: Overcoming my fear of using the cash register (Don’t ask. I’m scared of numbers) Getting a great discount and working in the high-end women’s department. I was probably the only 19 year old wearing Donna Karan at that time. Made some great work friends who I still see occasionally.

Low: Having to complete the damn application every summer I returned to work (through my junior year). Trifling customers who wanted to disregard the return policy. Yes, you can return a dress from 95, but don’t clown when the return value is .08 cents (true story). Customers who want to switch tags and steal.

News Reporter Intern

High: News reporters typically don’t get to work until 10ish. The newsroom is totally casual–in dress and demeanor. I walked in the first day in a dress and heels to find seasoned reporters kicked back on source calls in t-shirts and jeans, cursing like sailors. Of course, seeing my first byline in the city’s paper. I had a major story for my first assignment and I nailed it.

Low: Going to Error Court and going through a terrible fiasco (more on that much later). Working in Obituaries and Sports before actually receiving an assigment. Can you say boring??? Ugh One of my editors had a jherri curl still (that may not surprise some of you.).

SuperTarget (Grad School)

High: It was  job, and I had an apartment, so I needed money. Everyone who worked there went to school with me, so it was a big party. I worked with my best friend, so there was much clownery: A customer called us drag queens after she caught us laughing at her boyfriend. Hilarious!! I tried sushi for the first time in the deli, too. Don’t judge me.

Low: It was damn trap. At closing you could never get out. I hated the rude customers who looked at me like the lowly check-out girl (maybe I was?) and totally disrespected me. I also hated seeing mothers and daughters come in and shop on a Saturday. That’s what me and my mom would be doing…if I didn’t work this crappy job and actually lived in the same city. I basically felt like a slave.

Substitute Teacher in East Baton Rouge Parrish

High: I loved the babies. Teachers would request me so I really got to know the students (I only taught elementary kids). They would make cards and pictures for me. I still have them all in a folder. Also, I could pick assignments and have the automated system call my cell to accept or decline. I learned all the side streets in Baton Rouge since I would sub 2-3 days a week. I was still working at Target full-time and going to class.

Low: Having jack a kid up the first day on the job. I got stuck with the “resource” students who argued about whose hood was harder: Glen Oaks or somewhere in New Orleans. Sigh. The extra duties. I get paid to sub, not to do lunch or bus duty. And no, I cannot attend faculty meetings. WTH?

This is where I stop, as I don’t want to incriminate myself. What are some highs and lows of jobs you’ve had? I can’t be the only one who’s had a Kanye moment.


3 thoughts on “Slaveships and Spaceships

  1. Without getting into too much detail, I started out mowing lawns. Since then, I’ve worked in restaraunts, bars, supermarkets & news. The job I like the most is the one where I can just do my job, it pays well, & a boss that doesn’t ask a lot of questions. The ones that I’ve done & didn’t like are ones that I knew were beneath me, but at the same time, I’ve got to do it.

    Thank you for letting us share, Alisha.

  2. Maybe writers really all hustlers. Even in high school I worked two jobs and still wrote on the side. (Why I have none of those clips baffles me) The only time I can remember not having more than one hustle was right after I graduated college. I stopped working my senior year because I interned full time and directed a play on top of my 18 hour schedule. Then I had to move back to Memphis and depression set in. I then started a PR company. That fed my need to write…

    Now, I work part time, freelance whenever I find the right opportunities and do Public Relations work all in hopes to one day be able to just write for a living. Who knew we’d work this hard for words?

  3. Good Stuff Till!!!

    Let’s see, my first offical real job was in the summers during high school at LA Dept of Revenue (mom worked there so I got the hook up). It was fun non the less…..that job was like google before google…..if I knew enough info abou you, I could see your info…..(did I just type that out loud)…..LOL!!!!

    Then when I started college I keep the job at LADR, worked at LLI as an admin assistant, and Express (w/ Trell …fun times)….all at the same time….crazy days!!!

    A highlight was when my boss at LLI at the time told my mom…”your daugher is really organized and smart, maybe she should do this as a career”….my momma looked at her like she was growing 5 eyes…..REALLY….I was totally in school working on my engineering degree….is she serious….but then again this was coming from someone who took 10+ yrs to get a general studies degree…..I thought it was funny…..

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