The Perfect Job Doesn’t Feel Like Work
Growing up, I remember my dad sitting me down and talking to me about the difference between a job and a career. He wanted each of us girls to understand the importance of having a good career and being independent. He never wanted us to have to rely on a man for support. His occasional lectures made me realize how important school and good grades were to be able to live a comfortable life. I believed a job was hard physical work. A career might have some long hours but it was more brain work then physical hard work. It was a requirement for each of us girls to get our high school diplomas. I got my diploma and got married very young. I felt like I may have let my father down. I talked to my dad and he told me that he was not disappointed in my choices. He explained he just wanted me to be happy, be the best at whatever I decided to do and to be the best mother and wife that I could be. Being a mother was the first job that didn’t seem like work. It was enjoyable, rewarding and I was good at it. Many years later, I got divorced and my life changed forever. I had no education, no skills and no past employment history.
As I attempted to enter the work force, I struggled with many things. It was hard to get an interview with no experience. It was even harder trying to sell myself during an interview. I just needed a chance then I could work hard and prove myself. Over the last twenty years, I have been offered many chances to prove myself. I have worked as a babysitter, a waitress, a preschool teacher, a photographer, a manager in a small baby consignment shop and many cashier jobs. Some of these jobs I hated, most of these jobs I loved, some of these jobs I tolerated but each of these jobs I showed up because I needed a paycheck. The hardest job I ever had was working as a waitress. The most rewarding job was working with children. The best job I ever had was being the manager of the photography set at the local mall. It was a short seasonal job but I got paid salary each week. I worked very hard but it was fast paced and so much fun that the work day would go by so quick. This job was amazing and unforgettable. Our job was to basically greet children, sell photo packages to the parents, take excellent photos and run the cash register. There was so much more to this job. We got to play a magical role for this children. It wasn’t just the Easter Bunny or Santa that they came to see. We played the role of Santa’s helpers, elves or we had to be the voice for the bunny that doesn’t speak. I played the part of an elf for seven years and had many children return to see me for most of these years. They’d bring friends and family members to introduce me and would ask me to share my secrets with them. I would tell them how to tell the difference between Santa’s helpers and an elf. Elves have short names with only 2–3 letters, like Bo or Cat. The games we played in line is what these children looked forward to until they could get their turn to sit and talk to Santa. Even though this was a fun job, I took it very seriously. This job never seemed like work to me, I truly enjoyed being there and I never called in sick once.
I am so thankful that I grew up surrounded by family members who showed me great examples of a strong work ethic. My grandmother retired from the high school as a custodian. My dad retired from Cornell University as a custodian. That is one of the dirtiest, most under appreciated jobs. My mother was one of the most disliked individuals in our neighborhood because she was a meter reader. She issued tickets for unpaid parking meters and for people parked in handicap parking spots. She showed up for work with a smile everyday battling the weather. Now as a single mom, I must show up for work everyday because I have a family to feed. I want to pass on to my children the importance of taking pride in having a strong work ethic. Most important to me, I want my children to be proud of me.