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8 Weird Jobs I've Worked and 8 Lessons I've Learned From Them

Sometimes the Weirdest Jobs Bring About the Most Valuable Lessons

By sleepy draftsPublished 2 months ago Updated 2 months ago 8 min read
Top Story - February 2024
46

This article started as being inspired by the Top Story by Dani The Writer, "More Than One Can Bear." I don't want to give any spoilers, so go read it - it's a great piece!

In the comments, Dani and I got talking about one of my past jobs and I started thinking about some of the other "unconventional" jobs I've had over the years. Our conversation had me thinking about how much I'd learned from these jobs, good, bad, and everything in between. Not only that, but I feel pretty lucky to have such an eclectic repertoire! I've left off some of my more boring, run-of-the-mill jobs, but here are some of the "weirder" ones I've had since I started working and some of the lessons I've learned from them.

1. "Paint your own pottery" studio instructor

This one isn't a fun lesson, but it's an important one: learn your workers' rights. Especially if you're under the age of legal employment and can't understand why you're being given the side eye by adults every time you mention "your job" or not having a lunch break after eleven hours of work.

Also, this should be a given but it wasn't to me so, uhh - employers should not throw things at you, even if you are a child (especially if you are a child and they've hired you. Also, you should get breaks and there are actual, whole laws surrounding that little fact! So go learn them before you get taken advantage of, kiddo.)

2. Children's spa manicurist

Once a parent hears you used to work at one of these places, there is a high possibility you will unironically be asked to do their six-year-old's nails almost every time you see them. Yes, even your university professor.

No, doing children's nails is usually not a problem (I mean, I did take the job because I like working with kids!) That is given, however, that I'm at the person's house and we have a friendly relationship in the first place, or you've booked a birthday party with the company I work at.

It especially helps in your favor if you are not, in fact, my university professor asking me to do this on a study-abroad trip you're getting paid to teach and have brought your husband and child along on while asking me to do 11 hours of rehearsal a day for four weeks straight including translating a script from Anglo-Saxon to modern-day English in my off hours using an Oxford English Dictionary subscription I will fall in love with and will not be able to afford without my student discount, all the while expecting me to do your six-year-old child's nails at the same time, while also asking me to pay for the opportunity to be there in the first place, which, might I add - is the opportunity of a lifetime which you, my instructor, would rather I spend painting your daughter's nails.

*Giant inhale*

In that case, you will end up on this list.

And the piece of advice I will give in reflection of your attitude will be: do not paint this kind of person's child's nails in this situation. They know there is a power discrepancy and you've paid to to be there and learn, not paint their daughter's nails, for which she can afford to treat her daughter to herself in her own time.

My note to my past self is this: Your money is being spent, your time is being spent, you're working hard for these credits, and your grade shouldn't suffer because you're spreading yourself thin with people-pleasing that means nothing to the person you're trying to appease.

3. Walking drunk people home at night

I could go on and on about this job; this was one of my favorite jobs, hands down and the lessons I learned from it were endless. If I could pick one piece of advice to give from this employment chapter, though, it would be that if you're in college or university, try to get a job working on campus if possible. It's usually a super fun gig, a great way to meet people and get involved with your community, pays well, and offers a ton of flexibility. Go for it!

If you aren't in the post-secondary school chapter, I'd say what I learned from this experience is that if you ever want to get to know your neighborhood inside and out, explore it by foot. You'll amaze yourself with how close you feel to the place you're living.

Also if you have the opportunity to explore where you live at night (given how safe you feel doing so!) it will reveal to you that every single town is just a little bit haunted between the hours of 1 am and 4 am.

4. Private golf club bistro server

I had to sign an NDA for this job so I can't actually tell you what I learned during my time here. But maybe there's a lesson in that...

Always read the job description's fine print so you know *exactly* what kind of job you're getting into!

5. Thrift store worker

This is another job I could honestly write a whole article about. Scents really are the most powerful holders of memory. Working in the donation center, the hardest part was sifting through belongings and wondering what happened for those items to end up there, or worse, finding out what happened when someone's donations were the result of everything going wrong in their life.

So often we would get a young person in their twenties or thirties who would be donating vans of their deceased relatives' "junk" only to unknowingly donate items that are worth thousands of dollars or have significant historical value. These donations go behind a special glass and are still thrift store prices, but it's sad to think that the original donator will never know what they lost. If we have their information, we'll reach out, but most people are just in a hurry to drop the stuff off and let us deal with the rest. The lesson: A little extra time is worth it if you can take it in almost every situation.

A second part to this lesson is to check the books at the thrift store - believe it or not, there are some solid first editions in there for $1 or $2 simply because we don't have enough people in the back to go through everything with a fine-tooth comb and check the editions of every book that gets donated. You'd be surprised what taking an extra second or two of slowing down or just being curious can bring. Especially within the walls of a thrift store.

6. Newspaper passenger princess

This one isn't *technically* a real job of mine, simply because it was my boyfriend's job. But I still went with him nearly every night, so I'm putting it on this list, lol. It was a night shift delivering newspapers 364/365 nights a year. He still has this job and I still join him when I'm not working one of my current two jobs. It throws me and my sleep schedule completely off-balance but it's so fun, I can never resist hauling myself out of bed at 3am and curling up in the passenger seat with my boyfriend, my dog, a blanket, a spooky podcast, and a whole car full of newspaper. The lesson is similar to part of #3's - weird things happen at night. It's worth it to wander out every once in a while and see what you find if you're able to do so.

7. Budtender

This is my current job! I sell and smoke weed, lol. The lesson I learned here was that weed is so much more than just getting high and that taking the time to learn about cannabinoids and terpenes will enhance your experience as a cannabis user, tenfold. It seems like a lot of information, but once you figure out which terpenes you like and don't like it's the gift that keeps on giving.

The lesson for non-cannabis smokers is that spending a little bit of extra time on researching something you enjoy even casually is worth it if it'll make your experience of doing that thing better!

8. Public golf course pro shop attendant

Since this is a public golf course and very different in culture from the other golf course I worked at, I can talk about this one! I love this job, lol! I still have it, now. It's a summer gig and features early morning starts with early afternoon finishes. I learned I was a morning person here, weirdly enough. The "lesson" learned was this, though (and get ready because this is another one that could be an article on its own, but I'll try to keep it brief):

If you struggle with mental illness and severe seasonal depression like I do and do not have a degree or diploma, like me - look into seasonal work. I kid you not it is a game-changer. It's a few months of good work during the summer (so the less depressing months) and then in the winter you have the option of collecting EI or finding another gig until the "on-season" starts again. The money is usually good enough in the summer, though, that the possibility of living off your savings while you take your 3-4 month break between seasons, is actually entertainable. I work two jobs in the summer and then in the winter, I'm at the pot shop part-time and writing or taking pictures a little more full-time. Living by what's organic to me instead of working against myself has been incredibly beneficial and has helped me prevent burnout (which I can struggle with when it comes to work some years.)

So that's the lesson: work with yourself and your flaws instead of trying to hate or shame them into submission. Treat those obstacles like you would a small child who's trying to alert you that a learning strategy does not work for them any longer - let's explore what does work, then!

In all, I'm grateful for all of the weird little jobs I've worked over my lifetime so far, and I'm looking forward to the weird ones I'll work in the future. Whether it be learning about workers' rights or learning to relieve shame by finding a job that's just the right fit, there is so much to be learned at work that is beyond what can be put on a resume.

What was your weirdest job and what did you learn from it?

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About the Creator

sleepy drafts

a sleepy writer named em :)

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Comments (34)

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  • Nabila Nazir2 months ago

    https://vocal.media/viva/natural-smile

  • Thavien Yliaster2 months ago

    Please remind me to return to this. I'd like to comment now, but only having a phone will make it extremely difficult.

  • masterplay972 months ago

    great post

  • Randy Baker2 months ago

    A big congratulations on making the Leaderboard this week! I guess I wasn't the only one intrigued by walking drunks home. lol

  • Amethyst Champagne2 months ago

    Awesome story, and congrats on the TP!

  • Lamar Wiggins2 months ago

    “Newspaper passenger princess” or NPP 😮😂. Amusing title! I’m jealous of the Thrift Store position, mainly because of the interesting things that can be found. There are videos on you tube about people finding treasures there. So it’s great advice to take extra time to consider the worth of stuff before we donate. My weirdest job was working at a tomato packing plant when I was 16 ish. It was 80% people in their 60s or older. The other 20% were people in my age range at the time. I actually took pride in searching for the best tomatoes to package as they came down the conveyor belt. Each package needed to weight 8 pounds. I got pretty good at guessing the weight before I actually weighed them. My biggest lesson was listening to the wisdom or in some cases, rants of the older people. I left there with a bigger respect of that age group. Excellent article, Em. It’s full of its own treasures. Thanks for sharing and Happy toking! 😁🤩.

  • Asad Message2 months ago

    I want to know how to get a story published. 24+

  • Alex H Mittelman 2 months ago

    You’ve had some interesting jobs. I want to be a bud tender! Congrats on top story!

  • Atomic Historian2 months ago

    Okay, you got me. This is so inspirational, I gotta do my own

  • Back to say congratulations on your Top Story! 🎉💖🎊🎉💖🎊

  • Chloe Gilholy2 months ago

    Great article, really thoughtful.

  • I loved this, the descriptions and lessons that come with each job. That’s an excellent way to view your jobs, what you can take from each one. I’ve never thought in terms of that but I suppose I can take lessons from all my jobs if I thought about it. This was really entertaining, and the “haunting” part caught my attention. I’ve worked overnight… however… not really spending time outdoors or anything. I’ve worked some pretty typical jobs, granted “watching TV” is my main responsibility at my current job and that’s pretty different. My weirdest job may have been when I briefly sold knives. I think I learned I’m not a salesman and that’s ok! Glad I found out early on. Also congrats on top story for this well deserved!

  • J. Delaney-Howe2 months ago

    I LOVE that you are a budtender. That is so awesome. Fascinating piece with some sage advice. Great job and congrats on the Top Story!

  • Congratulations on your Top Story Em!!! 😎❤️

  • Caroline Craven2 months ago

    Ha! This really resonated with me. I have definitely had some weird and wonderful (and definitely not so wonderful) jobs along the way! Great article.

  • Kendall Defoe 2 months ago

    I was an enumerator for Elections Canada, meaning that I had to go from door to door in my neighbourhood getting information on voters for the rolls before the system was moved to a computer system. Very interesting portrait of the place where I lived.

  • Christy Munson2 months ago

    Your advice to think carefully before signing a nondisclosure agreement is resonating with me right now! If only I could write about that! Thanks for the post! And congratulations on a Top Story!

  • JBaz2 months ago

    Always interesting the amount of jobs a person an have, and it seems as though you still have many years of trying your hand at deferent things. And learning what life has yet to offer Nice article , congratulations

  • Test2 months ago

    Awesome story, sleepy drafts! Congrats!!!💖

  • Cathy holmes2 months ago

    Wonderful and fun read. Congrats on the TS

  • Syed Shahmeer2 months ago

    If you like this post you would also enjoy "The Enchanted Hourglass" https://vocal.media/fiction/the-enchanted-hourglass-kp43n0dhs

  • L.C. Schäfer2 months ago

    Back to say well done on T.S.!

  • Dana Crandell2 months ago

    Your "Paint Your Own Pottery" experience reminded me of a job I really need to write about, because it taught me a wealth of lessons over more than a decade. I enjoyed reading about what you learned from each job. At my age, and having started working at 14, I could write a library of lessons, pleasant and otherwise.

  • I've never had to sign an NDA for any job before. The job that you did this for seems so sus to me now because of that, lol. That pottery place was so toxic. Same goes for the manicure job thingy. I'm just so glad you're no longer working those!

  • L.C. Schäfer2 months ago

    What a mixture, a handy array of experience for you! I am dying to know what's zipped up behind that NDA though 😁

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