Thursday, August 11, 2016

First Seven Jobs: A Sort-of Résumé

Earlier this week, the hashtag #firstsevenjobs was trending on Twitter. And, as it suggests, people would list the first seven jobs he or she had in a tweet.

Mine went as follows:
Newspaper reporter
Technical writer
When I had compiled the list, before I tapped Send, I thought about whether I had covered everything: after all, my list went from my first-ever job to what I'm doing now. Only now, as I write this post, do I remember one job that I left off. But it was a short-lived job, didn't last very long, didn't feel like a job because I never applied for it, and was a job that I only ever seemed to do with a few drinks in me.

When I was 12, my family lived just north of Chelsea, in Kirk's Ferry, Québec (only about 10 to 15 minutes away from where I now work). We lived in a fairly small community, and I remember hating it because there were very few people my age who lived within walking distance. My closest friend lived about five kilometres, or so, along the notorious Highway 105. Riding a bike, you took your life in your hands as you went against fast-moving lumber trucks.

While I had no one to play with, there were plenty of kids in the neighbourhood who were younger than me, and so I was hired to babysit a few of them. It was an easy job, because most of the time, the kids were almost ready for bed by the time I arrived, so I would just watch TV until the parents returned.

True story: when I lived in South Korea, I met a fellow Canadian as a group of us toured the southern island of Cheju. As we chatted, we learned that we both lived in the Ottawa area, and the conversation turned to the Gatineau Hills. I mentioned that I lived in the Gatineau Hills, and when this fellow traveller mentioned that his best friend lived in Kirk's Ferry, we discovered that his friend was one of the kids that I babysat.

Small world.

My first real job, with steady hours and a paycheque, was working at Mother Tucker's restaurant, in Bells Corners, as a dishwasher. My older sister, who was a server, helped get me the job. It was thankless and the hours sucked, and one manager was constantly yelling at me, even though I worked quickly and would cover hours at a moment's notice. After a few months, I had had enough of the verbal abuse, and I quit.

My mother, who was a regular customer at a paint and wallpaper store in the Merivale Mall and had become friends with the manager, was chatting about how I quit my dishwasher job and my reason for leaving, when the manager told her that she was looking for a salesperson. My mother returned home, told me to get cleaned up and go to this manager, who hired me on the spot.

I worked at St.Clair for about four years; at one time, when I took a year off between the end of high school and college, I was full time and was being groomed for management. But I also left, briefly, to join another friend for another retail job in a department store. After a couple of months, I missed the staff and customers at St.Clair and I went back.

But later, I was poached by another manager in the Merivale Mall, and for another four years, I worked as a salesperson, and eventually an assistant manager, at a camera store. I moved around a couple of times, working out of Carlingwood Shopping Centre, Billings Bridge, Baseline Road, Sparks Street, and St.Laurent Shopping Centre, I eventually returned to the shop in the Merivale Mall.

In between, with my journalism studies completed and my diploma freshly in hand, I found a job as a reporter-photographer at a small newspaper in Wakefield, Québec. The Low Down to Hull and Back News was a rinky-dink paper, run by a screwball owner who was adverse to any new ideas, and who micromanaged me to the point that, for the first time since my days as a dishwasher, I quit without the prospect of another job.

On a coincidental day*, I ran into the manager of the camera store that first hired me away from St.Clair, and when he learned that I was looking for work, hired me back, right away, in a full-time position (I was part-time when I left him for the newspaper gig).

The Merivale Mall was my second home, off and on, for about 15 years. After I left the camera store, for good, I stayed in that mall but worked for another six years at a bank, where I eventually became the assistant customer service manager.

I worked at the CIBC until my wife and I made our plans to teach English in South Korea. We were overseas for two years.

When I returned to Canada, I began looking for jobs as a technical writer. While I searched, CIBC hired me as a casual employee. After a couple of months, it looked like I might not get a writing job, and the bank manager offered me a position as an accounts manager. I asked if I could think about it for a day, that I would give my answer at the end of the following day.

That day, I was called and offered a technical-writing position at Corel Corporation. Instead of giving the bank manager my answer, I tendered my resignation.

I've been a technical writer with four companies over the past 17 years. In just over a week, I'll be celebrating (I don't know if that's the right word) my 10th year at my current company.

That's my professional life, in a nutshell. What are your first seven jobs?

* As I was putting the final touches on this post, I just remembered that I did, indeed, find a quick job, cleaning carpets, after I left the newspaper. It was a means of paying for my car, but I left it as soon as my old camera-store manager hired me back. We'll just let that one go by, won't we?

No... wait... there's another job that I had, after I was a dishwasher but before I worked for St.Clair. One of my best friends and I enlisted in the militia for a summer job. We joined the Cameron Highlanders, but after only a couple of weeks into the initial training, I broke my leg in high school, playing soccer, and had to miss the summer training. It was after my leg healed that my mother had the conversation with the paint-store manager.

Memory is a bitch, isn't it?   

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