Saturday, April 3, 2010


A couple of months ago I happened to start a list of all the types of employment I've ever had. I sort of startled myself, and I don't know what to make of the list. Of course, I didn't know what to make of it years ago when I read of all the jobs the author, Jack London, had held. Did it represent courage and adaptability, or a short attention span and an inability to maintain good employee/employer relationships?

I'll leave off the employments I never got paid for, like martial arts instructor, poet, and painter. And I'll only do a rough approximation of chronological order. But follow me for a moment, if you will.

Newspaper delivery boy
Library assistant [alphabetizing cards for my mom]
Kitchen drudge/dishwasher [an Orange Julius restaurant in Albuquerque]
Agricultural laborer [detasseling corn]
Summer Child Care/Nanny
Construction work [KU football stadium renovation]
Assistant Soccer Coach [Grinnell College]
Figure Model [for drawing classes, yes nude]
Linen Boy [Hospital worker, shifting laundry, both clean and dirty]
University Ceramics Lab assistant [KU and the University of Iowa]
Ceramics Instructor [children, adults, community center and College]
Full Time Potter
Home Repair Guy
Writer [essays]
Writing Teacher
Factory assembly worker
Loading Dock worker
Furniture Mover
Prepress technician [Allen Press, Lawrence, Kansas]
Pressman's helper
Access Control Officer [credit card manufacturing security officer]
Clay Supply Warehouse worker
Medical Supply Delivery driver
Proofreader/Copy editor
Art Museum Security Guard
Bus Driver
SafeRide Driver [free late night taxi service for college students]
Library Assistant
and now, a Manuscript Specialist at a University Archive.

I'd prefer to mark all the changes down to geographical moves and improved opportunities. Almost none of the jobs involved getting fired or laid off. And several were the sort of part time work you count yourself lucky to find when you're also trying to be a student. I suppose student is a job, too, though almost no one will pay you to do it.

The long and the short of it is that I've got a lot of story material based on diverse work experiences. And I have a hard time understanding how someone stays with the same job their whole working life. It either indicates a brilliance in finding the perfect first job, or a complacency about life that borders on the vegetative.

Paula Poundstone was right. We ask kids what they want to be when they grow up because we're still looking for good ideas ourselves. I hope my current new job [combined with my old interests] lasts a good long time. Stability can be a change.


French Fancy said...

What a fabulously eccentric list of things you have done. I love the idea of being a corn detasseler (well, someone's got to do it). I remember around the time you were juggling lots of things, one of them being the free student taxi. I thought at the time what a good idea it was.

I'm glad you are back in the blogosphere though. I'm going to clamp you to my sidebar so I can keep track of what you are going to blog about (yes, I do want to see you here more often please)

bye from France

Larry M. Brow said...

Thank you, Julie. It's good to be back, though I say so knowing that I've still got a great deal of work left to do being a student this month. I've always found it hard to be a student in April.

French Fancy said...

I'm finding it hard to be a student full stop. I'm on my fourth home study course now and it is becoming slightly tedious. I'm going to have a break from it for a year or two after this current one finishes (creative writing).

What do you have left to do? (I'll await the long list)

Larry M. Brow said...

For the Masters in Museum Studies I have the two courses from this semester, Archival Practices, and Exhibit Design, to finish [this month, actually.] Then, at minimum, I have to complete The Nature of Museums, this fall. The previous instructor is leaving and I don't know who will take their place. I MAY also need another history course, and either 3 or 6 credits of Internship. I'm hoping to get the entire Internship requirement waived as I have many more hours of employment experience than it requires, and I've given two separate presentations at the state museum association conference on lessons gleened from those employments. We'll see.

So, either I finish in December, or next May. But I empathize with the easing of your enthusiasm.

French Fancy said...

Oh my goodness, you are truly in an exalted academic status. I had no idea you had done so much or the nature of your studies - but then why on earth would I know?

I am so glad you are working in an environment which goes hand in hand with everything you have studied. May huge rewards fall on your head, Larry - you really deserve it.