1. Apricot cutter. My first job. I was ten and I lasted three whole days before I got sick. When I got well, Mama and Daddy said I didn't have to go back. So, I didn't.
2. Babysitter. Once, I couldn't find a kid when we played hide-and-seek because he shimmied up a tree. That seven-year-old taught me to look up.
3. Newspaper columnist. I was paid 10 cents an inch to write a weekly high school column for the hometown newspaper. Even got a byline. A friend and I started the Baling Wire in our sophomore year, and I went solo from the last half of my junior year to high school graduation.
4. Tutor. I took both paid and volunteer positions, mostly the latter.
5. Hand Pollinator. Every summer, Mama hired teenagers to hand pollinate cabbage, zucchini, cucumbers, pumpkins, corn, and other vegetables for her seed company. She finally hired me the year I graduated from high school. I actually liked the work.
6. Office Clerk. I had several part-time jobs while going through college.
7. Transcriber. The first, maybe only, job from which I was fired. I kept editing out the uh's in the taped interviews that I was transcribing. They'd warn me not to do that. Pigheaded, I was.
8. Clerk-Typist. That was my first full-time job after graduating from college. It was slim pickings for a woman with a liberal arts bachelor's degree living in San Francisco in 1976. One of these days I'll write more about this job. For now, I'll just say I filed a complaint with either the State or Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which resulted in me getting a raise along with several months of retroactive pay.
9. Literacy/Job Search Skills Teacher. Twice, I created a curriculum and materials for a basic literacy and job search skills summer program for at-risk teenagers, who were mostly immigrants from the Philippines.
10. Youth Counselor. I worked for a community-based nonprofit in San Francisco, helping at-risk teenagers and their parents negotiate the public school system. Most were immigrant families from the Philippines. I often felt like a fraud because I did not speak Tagalog nor did I have the experience of being a child and teenager in a large City. And, most of my clients were male!
11. Substitute Teacher. Oh my gosh! Substitute teaching was all I could get when I finally earned my teaching credential. Teaching jobs were few back then.
12. Developmental Editor. This was my dream job. I created, developed, and edited student and teacher materials for a small special education publishing house. I got a teaching credential so I could eventually do curriculum development, which required that I do at least a few years teaching in the classroom. I got to bypass all this when the publisher hired me, first as an assistant editor. My career got established with this job.
13. Freelance Writer and Editor. After four years of intense apprenticeship learning the ins and outs of publishing, editing, and creating educational materials, I decided to go independent. Being recently married, working long hours, and commuting also factored into my decision. That was 34 years ago. I retired over a year ago, but does a writer ever retire?
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