Too Many Jobs to List Them All,

Fandango’s provocative question #152: What do you do for a living? If you are retired, what did you do before you retired? If you’re currently unemployed, what did you do before becoming unemployed?

On my ‘about’ page, I say this: worked in so many jobs the list goes on for pages. And pages. Anyone would think Cage was a nomad.

It’s true. I started working when I was eight years old, delivering newspapers, and helping the milko (loved the horse), and the delivery grocer (also by horse). Maybe I shouldn’t mention those last two, and even the newspaper delivery – do they still do that?

Anyway, on with the story.

After I’d saved enough money from the delivery jobs, I bought an old fishing boat and hired it out to a skipper (worked as deckhand during the season, and skipped school occasionally to do it).

After that, there’s a blur of bread delivery (one place, a nature park or some such thing, had a paddock of emus next to the road in. These emus liked bread, and the fence wasn’t enough to keep the most desperate of them within the allowed space – most mornings, it was a mad dash from the bread van to the verandah, then dancing with waving arms and the big apron to appear more scary than the bloody monster bird, then a mad dash back to the vehicle. Why didn’t I park closer? I wasn’t driving, and the driver (who shall remain unnamed despite my constant curses with her name on my lips) thought it was funny. Then I took over her job, despite not having a licence.

All the above isn’t counting the work I did on fruit and veg farms in exchange for produce and the use of their vehicles on occasion. Or the killer sheep job (not telling about that; people are touchy on that subject).

The blur included a few other jobs, like working in a lolly shop in the lunch-break from school, a milk-bar after school, and a brochure-delivery job two days a week (although I did it at night, and I didn’t mind making a bit of noise as they landed in the letterbox, or thrown against the door if the driveway was steep and the letterbox way up that slope). There were others, now gone into archive in my memory.

Let’s skip a few years and go onto the taxi-driving in the city while studying part-time at night. It’s a shit job, and most licence-holders won’t hire their car to a young female, so I got a stinky vehicle, and a stinkier boss, but I put my card around in a place where the people of the night lurked. And the jobs I got from the girls who worked escort services (who preferred a female driver), earned me triple what most night-drivers got. And not many jobs allocated by way of the radio. All word of mouth. And I’d be there for them when the hour was up so they didn’t have to hang around (sometimes, it meant carrying two or more ladies, but they all seemed to know each other, and they all paid individual fares based on the ride to the location).

The bad thing about driving a taxi at night is the loons, especially the ones who want to die and think the best way to do it is to take someone else with them. Not joking. It got so I wouldn’t pick up single males or any job that would take me across any of the bridges.

After that, there’s a big gap in the memory. I moved too many times to recall, but there are flickers of memory for lunch shops, supermarkets, cleaning, hotel maid, hostess at a gambling den where straying hands were likely to get chopped off at the elbow (must never speak of this again).

Worked in an office for an insurance agent (my first cheque bounced, so I had to give him a stern warning about paying me in cash, and in advance, or I wouldn’t be back there without a few big, hairy friends). That job didn’t last long, but I learned enough to work in an insurance office as an agent. What a miserable job that was.

I went back to small-scale farming. Goats, horses (and training), medicinal herbs, etc. Didn’t earn enough to keep me and the fosters in charity-shop clothes, let alone food, so that was sold.

What else?

Oh, yes. Driving the shit-truck. Not sure where it fits in the whole scheme of the blur, but it was memorable – for all the wrong reasons. Ever wondered what a sewerage pit smells like when it’s cracked open? I know, because I stepped on an old one to open the vent, and the centre of the concrete lid snapped in half and dropped me in it up to my neck. Not kidding.

No one came near me for weeks, but I stayed on the job for a couple of years while also making and selling items for markets (patchwork stuff, quilts, dolls, pillows, jackets, etc.).

At one stage, I had three full-time jobs. One started at nine-thirty (employment agency), one started at six-thirty (office and bank cleaning), and one started at eleven a.m. on weekends and went until three a.m. (the same type of job as the den hostess, but for gamers so they didn’t have to get up from their stupid games), and then more cleaning on the early shift weekends, finishing up before the markets opened. Worked one hundred and eighteen hours a week. Yes, it’s possible (there are 168 hours in a week).

Saved enough to buy a block of land and then the fosters and I built a house. Okay, the first house was a chook house, but the second one was a small house, and the third structure was a real house.

And then the bank gave us problems. They didn’t like lending to a single female, so they would only do a twelve-month, interest-only loan. So I went back to three full-time jobs and the extras, got the fosters involved in the market stalls, and we managed, after two years, to pay off the loan and the exorbitant interest.

I think, although not too sure, that after that episode, I went back to working one job at a time (and the markets, including tarot reading). Office jobs from accounting to programming, occasionally legal stuff or court records, with a seasonal sprint at the fruit and veg picking on the holidays, just for fun.

Oh, did I mention that I was always doing some form of educational stuff? Yep, but I don’t know how I fitted it in. Some was by mail (my earliest schooling was School of the Air, so not a problem with motivation lacking from no interaction).

Ended up with a couple of degrees, a Grad. Dip and lots of Diplomas, and a lot of bits of paper that now seem such a waste (they weren’t at the time – employers love bits of paper).

Now, although not officially at retirement age, I am a full-time, unemployed writer, composing stories that include some of my experiences of life, and researching subjects that intrigue me.

Now, that’s the life. I’m a writer whose life was spent researching experiences to share.

Now for the big question, how much of that do you think is fabrication?

28 thoughts on “Too Many Jobs to List Them All,

  1. Is the cheetah a friend of yours? I worked in 3 different factories before I caught an office job, but I never drove a taxi, waited tables, or tended bar.Your life sounds like you gathered more raw material for your writing than I did. I was afraid of the world for a long time.

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    • I did see a big chopper/cleaver come out as a threat, taken seriously, and the tables were shut down for that night. The rules were very strict, and the drinks/snacks hostesses weren’t allowed to make conversation – just take orders and fulfil them without disturbing the tables.

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  2. I was of the opinion that it was all true, it comes out in your writing – so many experiences, and well, this is Australia after all, and our formative years were not like today’s manicured opportunities. what a grand life (though maybe not at the time).

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  3. I suspect most if not all of that is true to one degree or another, l too have had many jobs in addition to my career path, it was the only way to get knowledge and even if much of it is not, that is your job after all is it not? To fabricate the truth – to stretch, to embellish and to enrich the plain text 🙂

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  4. Holly Molly, that’s a lifetime of experience you got there. I wouldn’t have guessed how interesting your life is, and surely wouldn’t assume you’d be so active. Compared to you, my life seems dull. Wow. Just… wow. 😮

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