Monday, January 30, 2006

A Jill of Many Trades

I have had a few jobs in my day. In fact, when I was filling out my application for security clearance a couple of years ago, I was amazed by how many crazy jobs I have taken. Here are a few greatest hits:

Grossest: Fish gutter at a cannery in Alaska. I was regularly covered, including all over my face, with fish guts, blood and viscera - yum!

First: Dr. Elridge's Plant Pathology lab at the University of Utah. I was 14 and they gave us a stipend to work in a science lab for the summer. That was my first experience working let alone working in a lab setting and it was a lot of fun. I got to grind samples with liquid nitrogen and prep them for the mass spectometer. I made test tubes out of tubes of glass, who knew glass was so easy to melt. I measured specimens in the green house and out in the field. It really was a fabulous job.

Fast Food: Hot Diggity Dog - no I am not making this up. My friend Emily knew the owner and so several of my friends and I worked there for a few months in high school. It didn't last long - the job nor the joint.

Most boring: There were several contestants for this one, but the winner was my second job. I worked at my dad's company doing assorted office tasks. Most of the time this amounted to shredding old tax documents - for days on end. They would literally send me into a room with a large shredder and an office or two filled with boxes of docs to be shredded. There was really no way to make this interesting. To add insult to injury, the shredder was so loud that I almost always walked away with a headache.

Janitorial: Unfortunately there are several contestants for this one too. But the winner is the bathroom crew at 5 AM in the law building at BYU. Because it was a team effort, it was actually a lot of fun, despite the fact that we were cleaning 7 floors of bathrooms at the crack of dawn. I got to meet and work with a fabulous lady named Ingrid. She was a hoot. She would do *anything* for candy.

Telecenter: Sadly, also several choices to pick from in this illustrious category - so I will pick two. The first is the Holiday Inn call center. It wasn't too bad, just a little crazy. The training was a full week to answer the phones and they were really intense about it. This was my summer job before I headed off to Alaska. The second was called Allied Marketing in Provo, UT. Now that was a funny place. It was almost all students, but the supervisors really took their power over us very seriously. I did the midnight shift and that was never easy. Plus it was the first time I learned what it was like to IM with a bunch of people you were sitting in the same room with. That took a little adjusting to - why not just turn around and talk? The gasoline drive-off calls were the most fun. I worked at an internet start-up company in Silicon Valley right as the boom started to go bust. Lucky for me it was a summer job, that company went under. But they had the best employee perks ever. We had a pool table, a couple of work out rooms with weight benches, etc., a video game room with huge comfy chairs, and the best part - a well stocked kitchen courtesy of the company, including catered lunch for everyone - everyday.

Sales: I tried to sell those Cutco knives. Unfortunately, I am a terrible sales person and I was my only customer.

Weapons: I worked as a contractor for the US Navy selling Undersea Weapons to foreign countries - my main focus was Japan. Honestly it sounds much more hardcore to say you are an "arms dealer" than it really was. It was actually very administrative in nature, there is a lot of paperwork and hoops to jump through for both countries.

Retail: This is a tough call, Eddie Bauer and Pier One Imports - I spent most of the money I made at both places, and I enjoyed them pretty much the same too.

Teaching: Anatomy 260. I got to teach the lab portion on the cadavers. That was a lot of fun. When I taught muscles, I came with some beef jerky and started chewing on it shortly before we started looking at the real thing. I probably got a bigger kick out of this than my students.

Most disturbing: Toxicology lab. My best friend Mary and I were working on a test of Vie Haka on lab mice. We had to cut open the euthenized pregnant mice. That job made me switch my major from zoo to botany. Botany labs were a lot more fun to work in. We also did fungal tests, counted box elder bugs, counted trees on a particular stretch of the canyon, etc. Science is just fun.

Favorite: DARPA. I got to read through all kinds of cutting-edge technology. And I am just nerdy enough and curious enough to love that sort of stuff.

Current: I am doing patent work on a very part-time basis. It too is very interesting and I think I will love it more as I keep going.

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