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First Jobs: True Tales of Bad Bosses, Quirky Coworkers, Big Breaks, and Small Paychecks Capa comum – 28 abril 2015

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Sobre o Autor

MERRITT WATTS is a former magazine editor and current freelance writer, who has written for Details, Women's Health, Conde Nast Traveler, SELF, Martha Stewart Living, and more. Her first job was as a telemarketer. She lives in San Francisco.

Trecho. © Reimpressão autorizada. Todos os direitos reservados

First Jobs

True Tales of Bad Bosses, Quirky Coworkers, Big Breaks, and Small Paychecks

By Merritt Watts


Copyright © 2015 Merritt Watts
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-250-06125-6


Title Page,
Copyright Notice,
Editor's Note,
When Work Gets Weird: The Strange Tales,
The Nude Model,
The Mexican Minor Leagues,
The Holdup,
The Pet Gravedigger,
The Barkeep's Revenge,
The Corrupt Carny,
The Accidental Showbiz Beginner,
The Very Personal Assistant,
The Starstruck Salesgirl,
The Dating-Service Receptionist,
The Odd Jobs,
When Opportunity Knocks: The Success Stories,
The Junior Journalist,
The Printing Professional,
The Serious Scooper,
The Pecan-trepreneur,
The Aluminum Heir,
The Striving Shoeshiner,
The Farm-Stand Prodigy,
The Wienermobile Driver,
The Survivor-Camp Staffer,
When It Couldn't Get Worse: The Horror Stories,
The Alaskan Adventure,
The Water Park Janitor,
The Bacon Packer,
The Undocumented Dreamer,
The Disillusioned Dishwasher,
The Atheist Bible Salesman,
The Zoo Chef,
The Tormented Sandwich Assistant,
The Slacking Scooper,
When Life Hands You Lessons: The Things We Learned the Hard Way,
The Flower Wholesaler,
The Tech Go-Getter,
The Very Late Bloomer,
The Ice Cream Shop Education,
The Fishy Situation,
The Growing Gardener,
The High-Society Seater,
The Help,
The Produce Picker,
The Self-Taught Sea Urchin Trader,
When Business Meets Pleasure: The Fond Memories,
The Retail Romance,
The Soda Jerk,
The Sausage Prince,
The Gun-Club Girl,
The Rosie the Riveter,
The Newbie Barista,
The Victory Farmer,
The Happiest Worker on Earth,
The Rebel at the Rectory,
The Glamorous Gofer,
The Hippie in Training,
About the Editors,



The Strange Tales

The Nude Model


Everyone is surprised when I tell them that I was a nude art model in college. I don't really project that sex kitten persona that most people associate, wrongfully I might add, with nude models. My standard outfit for a Friday night out in college was jeans, a polo shirt, and flip-flops. I had never done any modeling before—I'm pretty short, so it's not really my bag—and I'm not even an artist.

But when I started college at Penn State, I was on the hunt for a really good part-time job. My parents are both solidly middle class and I knew I'd need to pay my own way through a lot of college. The on-campus jobs all paid minimum wage, and the off-campus jobs took more time. I was really into spending my waking hours doing schoolwork and getting As, so that wasn't going to work. I was looking for a job where I'd make the most money in the least amount of time.

One of my new dorm friends was an art student and she was the one who tipped me off to the nude modeling gig. She described it very simply: You sit there naked and people paint or sculpt your form. Once she mentioned that the models were paid fifteen dollars per hour, I was sold. I went over to the art building and filled out the application. It was pretty easy—basically if you are willing to do it you are hired.

My first job was for a sculpting class. I was so nervous that my palms got really sweaty just walking into the building. I kept thinking, "What are they going to think of me? Are they going to think I'm a slut? What kind of girl takes her clothes off for money?" I was really worried about people having that perception of me. The only thing that calmed me down was reminding myself that all of these people were aspiring artists and I was doing something very valuable for them.

Still, that first time was pretty awkward. I went into the bathroom to disrobe but, once I took off all my clothes, I realized that the classroom was across the hall and I'd have to run naked through the hallways to get in. So that wouldn't work. But it also felt weird to just strip down in front of people. Eventually I got a robe that I would wear so that I could change in private and walk over to where I was posing before taking it off.

I'd be asked to pose differently, depending on the class. Sometimes I'd sit on a pedestal, and sometimes the pedestal would spin around and I'd feel like I was on a lazy Susan. Other times it was really active; I'd be asked to hold a position for thirty seconds and then switch. That was meant to be a practice for students who were learning to draw different lines and curves quickly. My favorite position was the odalisque position. It's a very classic pose where the woman is reclining. That was the most comfortable because all I had to do was lie there in a nest of pillows. Sometimes the instructor would put on music and I would just fall asleep.

The students were always in a circle around you with their mounds of clay or their notebooks or easels. You can't really see what the students are drawing or sculpting; the only thing you can see is a room full of people looking at you. I'd often peek at how people drew me and a couple times I thought, "That's not how I look!" But generally people want to draw something beautiful so they focus on your positives, and you end up looking like a better version of yourself.

I was told I was pretty good at it because I was able to keep still. You don't think about how hard it is to stay still but it's actually quite physically demanding. I would leave sore and numb. But I started really looking forward to the time I spent modeling. It evolved into a Zen-like activity. At that time cell phones were just becoming a thing and they made me feel constantly busy and distracted, so it was a nice refuge to just be able to zone out.

I was pretty popular with the professors and so they kept hiring me and I ended up doing it a couple times a week for three years of college. I was only recognized once, at a frat party. I didn't recognize him, but obviously he recognized me. We were both very mature about it, I think, and so there wasn't much else to be said. Otherwise, I didn't really have a lot of friends who were art students, so I was able to keep my modeling pretty separate from my social life.

I'm not an artist, but I learned that drawing the human form is one of the most difficult things to do. It takes a ton of talent and a ton of practice. And behind every great masterpiece or work of art there is someone who got paid to pose for that artist.

—ALYSIA MUELLER, thirty, has worked as a reporter at the Associated Press and as a communications specialist for USAID in Amman, Jordan. She is currently employed as a staff writer for a law firm in New York City, where she lives with her husband and her baby daughter.

The Mexican Minor Leagues


I played a lot of baseball growing up in El Centro, a small town in California about ten minutes from the Mexican border. It would get crazy hot there in the summer, but my dad would still take me out to throw baseballs every day. As a result, I had a pretty good high school baseball career, at least up until my senior year. That was the year that all these kids from Mexicali came over for high school and joined the baseball team. They were good. Really good. Five of us lost our starting positions right away. We had held that team together for the past three years, but these other guys were just so much better than us. And they were great students too. They did everything right. I wanted to hate them, but I couldn't.

That year, we won the last game of the season, which made us league champions. We did it—we won it—but the five of us didn't play at all. I sat on the bench the whole time. I didn't even feel excited when we won because it wasn't really my team anymore.

As I was leaving the game that day, the dad of this kid I grew up with came up to me and said, "Hey, Jeff, I'm starting a team in Mexico. Do you want to play this summer?" He said we would have games in Mexicali once a week on Sundays, and that I would get paid twenty-five dollars a game, free meals, and a ride. I was in.

Sunday at 6:00 a.m. they rolled up in a really nice SUV. I had no idea what was going to happen, I didn't even know what to bring. I just showed up in a T-shirt, baseball pants, and my jock strap. They handed me a team jersey that said "Diablos" and we headed down to Mexico.

We played around Mexicali all summer. We played teams from Tijuana, San Felipe, and other towns around there. Mexicali is surprisingly gigantic, and we'd travel everywhere. One week we'd be playing in the middle of a field and no one would watch us, and the next week we'd be playing in a good-sized stadium with lots of people who paid to see us. My hometown was close enough to Mexico that these were just day trips; sometimes my dad would even come watch us play.

As promised, we always got food. No matter what, we always got fed before we went home. But if you had a really bad game, you didn't get paid. It wasn't even talked about. It was just, like, you struck out three times, you are not getting twenty-five dollars. And other times, if you had a really good game, you got a six-pack of beer. That is kind of awkward when you're eighteen. I mean, it's not a trophy or anything, it's just a warm six-pack. It's kind of a hard thing to take home to your parents.

Everyone on the team was under thirty, but I was one of the youngest guys. I was also the only white guy on the team and I had surprisingly little Spanish comprehension. I didn't understand most of what was going on. But I knew the cuss words, so I knew when someone was mad at me. Our coaches spoke broken English so they could tell me what to do, but if they were giving a rousing speech before the game, I would pretty much just stand there and wait for them to say "Break!"

Being white, I also got hit a lot. Pitchers would throw the ball right at me because they thought it was funny. Looking back, yeah, it was kind of funny. Hit the white guy—that's a game, let's get the crowd into it! I get it. But at the time it upset me so much. I would always steal second base, or at least try to, because I was so mad at the pitcher. It was my little revenge.

One game there was an actual baseball player on the other team. This guy was legit. Back in the day he had pitched for the Pittsburgh Pirates, but now he was over forty and still trying to make it. He was obviously the best player on the field. I had never been in competition with a guy who could pitch so hard. He would just fling balls across the plate. As I was getting ready to go up to bat and face this guy, our player on first base hurt his hamstring and had to come out of the game. At that point, we were out of players.

It was ridiculous; people were paying to watch us, and we had run out of baseball players. So my dad stood up in the stands and said, "I can play." My dad was fifty-five at the time, six feet tall, and probably a hundred fifty pounds soaking wet. He was wearing this big lifeguard hat, jeans, and a collared shirt. But he ran out there, someone threw him a jersey, and he stood on first base. Everyone was like, "Is this real? Can you do this?" But the person who was the most upset was the pitcher. He was like, "I am a professional, and you are going to let this person just come onto my field? No!" He was mad and he was having it out with the umpires. I was the only white guy on the team, so it was obvious that it was my dad. And I was up to bat next.

The pitcher threw three fastballs at my head. Super fast. I was scared to death. My dad was encouraging me from first base, saying, "Stay in there! Stay in there!" He even stole a base, so then he was on second. Then the pitcher sent one right down the middle. I swung, hit a double, and my dad scored a run! So then I was on second base and the pitcher was even more pissed off. I have never been so scared. I was still convinced he was going to try to throw a ball at me. The next guy on my team comes up to bat and the pitcher hits him with a fastball right in the side. I have never seen a player crumple like that. He basically had to crawl to first base, but he had to stay in the game because we were so desperate.

In the end, the other team won. But hitting a double off a legit pitcher and scoring in my dad—that was one of my all-time favorite moments on the baseball field.

—JEFF, twenty-nine, tried to walk onto his college baseball team during his freshman year. Now he is an elementary school teacher for children with special needs and an avid baseball fan.

The Holdup


I grew up in Baltimore, which can be a little ... bumpy. In an effort to give me a straight shot in life, my parents were pretty protective. When I turned sixteen I wanted to get a job so I could have my own cash, but my parents were really picky about where I could work. All the other kids were getting jobs at ice cream shops, restaurants—fun places where kids could hang out, places that were a little social. My parents were like, "You will have no part of that."

Eventually I found this ad in the paper for help at a card store in the little strip mall about five minutes from my house. It was just two little old ladies running the store, selling cards and figurines and other little tchotchkes. My parents finally said okay, and I got the job.

At the shop I usually did a bit of inventory and helped get things organized, but the biggest part of the job was helping clueless men pick out presents for their spouse or their mother or whomever. It was a lot of walking guys around the store asking them questions like "Well, what does she like? What are her hobbies?" I liked that the store was all about celebration—people came in for birthdays and anniversaries, that sort of thing.

One day I was working with one of the owners. She was doing inventory in back while I worked at the cash register up front. This guy walked in and he started looking in the glass case underneath the register where we had the fancy pens and things like that. He asked to see one of the pens. I remember clicking into salesgirl mode, like, "Well, let me show you, mister!" When I was distracted getting the pen out of the case, he moved behind the counter and put a knife to my side and told me to open the cash register.

In that moment, everything started moving really, really slow and I thought, "Okay, I'm not going to make that fatal mistake of forgetting how to open the cash register or anything." I just got really focused and did exactly what he said: I unlocked the cash register and gave him all the money. Then he ran out.

I don't know if I was in shock or what, but as soon as he left I walked to the back of the store and calmly told the owner, "We've just been robbed." I wasn't crying or hysterical. I just said it very matter-of-factly. In fact, I think I said it so matter-of-factly that she was suspicious. She was like, "What are you talking about?" So I said, "Come look in the drawer, all the money is gone."

As soon as she looked in the drawer I think she was wondering if I had pulled a fast one, if I had pocketed all the money and just made up this story. She really didn't believe me for a beat! But then we called the police, and they came and said that it was not the first incident like this one in the past couple of days in that area. So that kind of validated me. But if I had been a little more hysterical I think it would have been better for me, at least in that moment.

When I told my parents about the holdup, they couldn't believe it. They were shocked. They had done all this thinking and planning and hand-wringing about my job and here I was with these little old ladies in a store that sold teddy bears and "I Love You" balloons and this happened. Needless to say, that was the last day I worked at that card store. My parents made a new rule: No more jobs at strip malls. So I got a job at a different card store in an enclosed mall. Two years later I moved to New York City to live on my own. Out of the frying pan and into the fire!

—SHERRI BROOKS VINTON, forty-seven, is a cookbook author based in Los Angeles. She has written three books about canning and preserving produce.

The Pet Gravedigger


When I was two years old my dad got out of rehab and we moved down to Florida. He was just looking for a job that had steady pay—you don't have a great amount of leverage when you're fresh out of rehab. So he started working at The Humane Society in Boca Raton, Florida. At first, he was the guy who drove around in a van to pick up dangerous animals in people's yards. He had a big, long stick with a rope around the end that he'd use to pull alligators out of people's pools and that sort of stuff.

Eventually he was at that for long enough that they put him in charge of the pet cemetery. I had never heard of a pet cemetery before, but it was exactly what it sounded like: a place where people could go to bury their pets and come back to visit the graves. By the time he got that job I was thirteen and I wanted to start working. He wasn't in the greatest health anymore, and I could help him out. Plus, he paid me. So I started going to the pet graveyard most weekends and some days after school.

Digging the graves was my main job. A grave for a medium-sized dog would take three to four hours to dig. My dad had devised a system for this: He had different pieces of plywood shaped to the different-sized caskets. I would lay that plywood on the ground to start the grave off, like a stencil. And then I would take it off and dig deep. Not a six-foot-deep grave or anything—I don't think you'd want to dig anything six feet deep in the Florida muck—but, like, three or four feet deep. It was a lot of work, especially for a kid.

Once I dug the grave, I'd have to get the animal ready for burial. There was a big freezer behind my dad's office where we'd put the dead animals so that their bodies didn't decay too much.

My first burial was a golden retriever. Now, that is a very heavy dog, especially when it's frozen. I had to take it out of the freezer a bit early to let it thaw, because it had frozen in such a position that it wouldn't fit in the casket. I was wearing gloves, but it was a typical hot day in Florida, so I was also wearing short sleeves and sandals. I lifted the dog up and tried to carry it so that it didn't touch any of my bare skin. The hair on it was all stiff and matted. I was pretty grossed out. Then, all of a sudden, I felt a drip on my foot. I still remember the way that felt, and it makes me shudder. It was so cold and creepy-feeling—some unidentified liquid dripping off of a dead, defrosting dog. I wore closed-toed shoes from then on.

If someone wanted an open casket funeral—which, trust me, people did—you'd have to let the animal thaw out a bit first. You'd usually have to set it out for a few days; those animals could really freeze all the way through. Then you'd try to set the animal up in a sort of natural-looking way. There was this little room in the office with a coffee table that we would turn into a makeshift altar. I'd put a little white tablecloth on it and my dad would put the pet in the casket on top of that.


Excerpted from First Jobs by Merritt Watts. Copyright © 2015 Merritt Watts. Excerpted by permission of Picador.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Detalhes do produto

  • Editora ‏ : ‎ Picador USA (28 abril 2015)
  • Idioma ‏ : ‎ Inglês
  • Capa comum ‏ : ‎ 256 páginas
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1250061253
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1250061256
  • Dimensões ‏ : ‎ 13.97 x 1.45 x 20.96 cm
  • Avaliações dos clientes:
    4,9 de 5 estrelas 12 avaliações de clientes

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