I’ve had some odd jobs. As a kid early on most of these jobs came from the Recreation Center in my hometown of Nolensville, Tennessee. I picked up trash at the baseball fields where I played little league. I swept the bleachers in the gymnasium where I played basketball. As I got older I did more down at the Recreation Center. I mowed grass. I raked fields. I chalked lines on the ball fields. Still picked up trash. I also umpired baseball and softball games. Occasionally during the week but mostly on weekends. Picking up trash was hard work. Enduring mouthy coaches and parents was harder work.
I had odd jobs as a teenager. The summer after my junior year in high school I went to work at a retreat named Ridgecrest, located in the Black Mountains outside Asheville, North Carolina. It was my first time away from home for more than a week. I worked there for around two months. I believe my dad’s idea for me working there was about getting me ready for my senior year of high school and college. It worked. I learned a lot, and the experience helped better prepare me for both.
After that summer I took a job at a great big Baptist church in Franklin, Tennessee. The one I grew up going to. I did setups on Saturday and breakdowns on Sunday. I made sure the doors where unlocked on Sunday morning, kept the coffee pots full during the day, and locked the doors Sunday night. That job taught me real responsibility. People were actually counting on me to show up and get the job done. It would have been embarrassing to have let them down.
During college I generally only worked holidays and summer vacation. The summer after my freshman year I was a camp counselor for the Williamson Country Summer Day Camp program. I also started working nights at a dollar movie theatre. There were some characters at both places. The summer after my sophomore year I was a camp counselor at an overnight camp right outside of Chattanooga, Tennessee. I remember it as the greatest. Canoeing. Swimming. It was fun but dealing with that many kids was a challenge. That experience taught me a lot about teamwork.
There was one notable exception to only working weekends and holidays in college. I had spent my working in the warehouse for a publishing company and decided to see if I could add baker to my resume. What was I thinking. I was talked into working a 5:00 AM to 8:00 AM shift by the new sandwich and pizza shop that opened close to my apartment making bread and pizza dough. I really should have known better. I am not a morning person. You’re talking to a guy who avoided 8:00 AM classes his entire college career outside of his first and last semesters. The first was a rookie mistake. The second was unavoidable. Believe me. I was a baker for about two months before the owner decided that he only needed two bakers, not three, and I was the only one who put his classes and exams before the job. Don’t think he meant it as a good thing but that is how I took it.
Soon after I graduated and my jobs began to look and feel more, well, adult. Which is really what all of my jobs since have been like. Grown up. On some level I have enjoyed every job I’ve ever had. They have all taught me at least one or two things I’ve taken with me to my next job. And they were all wonderfully and perfectly odd.