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Celebrating Everyday Spirituality

Sunflower Seeds

Celebrating Everyday Spirituality

What Jobs Have You Had in Your Life?

A good friend handed me a book the other day, saying, “Here, I think you might like this book.” The book is Inspiration Sandwich by an artist named SARK (Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy). My friend was right. I really enjoyed this unique and highly imaginative book.

In one section SARK reflects on the 250 jobs she’s had in life. She says, “My first job was as the wakeup fairy in kindergarten.” Her words got me to thinking: What are some of the jobs I’ve had throughout my long life? In addition, I asked myself, “What did I like about each job, what didn’t I like, and what lesson(s) did I learn from each job?” I suggest you take a few minutes this week to do the same. Such a reflection can be fun as well as enlightening.

Here are a few of my early jobs. Probably my first job was doing the dishes with my sister. Since she was 5 years older, she always got to wash the dishes while I got stuck with drying them and putting them away. What I liked? Helping to make the dishes nice and clean again. And being with my sister (most times). What didn’t I like? Drying dishes was boring! And time consuming. There were plenty of interesting and fun things I could be doing with my time after supper. Lesson: some jobs are boring, but have to be done.

Another job I had as a little girl was picking strawberries with my siblings. What I liked? It was outside, we could eat some of the strawberries while we picked, I often had fun with my siblings, and (best of all) we got 10 cents a quart for the berries we picked. But it was the beginning of our summer vacation and was often hot when we picked. Lesson: earning money can be hard work.

Babysitting was another job I did a lot of. What I liked? The kids—at least most of them. I never had any younger siblings, so babysitting afforded me the chance to play with younger kids. And earning 50 cents an hour was good money back in the 1950s. Most customers gave me tips too. What didn’t I like? The late hours. And the responsibility for those kids. Lesson: Being responsible for other people is a BIG job.

For a couple of summers (age 14 to 16), I worked at Sorter’s fruit stand at the corner of Chardon Road (Route 6) and Bishop Road. What I liked? I got 50 cents an hour, Mr. Sorter let us eat some of the fruit in the back room, and all the other workers were boys! Granted, two of them were my brothers, but the others were Jimmy, Kenny, Fran, Eric, and others. I also enjoyed meeting a wide range of customers. I still remember my first customer, a truck driver who wanted 2 pounds of sweet cherries. He told me to keep the change for my tip. I also remember the students from the nearby Jewish Yeshiva and the Catholic seminary walking up to the stand in their black slacks and white shirts or their cassocks and buying our good fruit. What I didn’t like? I had to learn the names of 20 or so different kinds of apples and what each kind was best for: eating, baking, making applesauce, or making cider. Lessons: Your fellow workers can make or break a job. Jobs force you to meet new and different people and to learn many new skills.

I also had a wonderful waitressing job from age 16 to18. I loved almost everything about that job—especially generous tips! But I didn’t like my sore legs and feet at the end of an 8-hour shift. Then I entered the convent. As a novice, I learned other jobs like: washing the huge pots and pans in the main kitchen, mopping floors in rooms the size of basketball courts, operating the floor shiner in a narrow hall without banging it into the wall, sewing and mending things, peeling hundreds of potatoes by hand–until we got a potato peeling machine. Warning: If you leave potatoes in the potato machine too long, they come out the size of marbles! At another time, I plan to reflect on my jobs from age 21 to the present.

What about you? What are some of the jobs you’ve had in your life? What did you like, didn’t like, and learn from these jobs?

Our song today is “God Is Working” by Deon Kipping, an American Gospel Musician. Written in 2020, the song reminds us that God has a “job” too: loving us! God is at work in each one of us, in our family, in our country, and in our world as a whole…

I hope you will share a few thoughts with us about some of the jobs you’ve had in your life.

13 Responses

  1. Good morning, Sr. Melannie…

    What a great topic! Okay, so I have had many jobs (I’m sixty-six years old!), the primary one being teaching, but one of my other jobs, the one did when I wasn’t teaching, was landscaping. For about thirty years, when school let out in June, I went to work for a landscaper. I mowed lawns, worked on stone walls, dug holes, planted shrubbery and trees, wheelbarrowed mulch. The work was hard but I loved it (mostly!). I was never a foreman — a boss — always a laborer, a “shovel.” After the mental stress of school, it was such a relief to “work the fields” for about nine weeks. And there were some ancillary benefits! Every day was a picnic lunch, plenty of fresh air and sunshine. The work was hard and so it was like having a gym membership, only I got paid! (I would lose about ten pounds a summer) I just had to wear work clothes, and it didn’t matter if they weren’t ironed or if they carried the stained work of dirt. I could go on! But now I must start to ready myself for that primary job, the one requiring pressed shirts and creased pants.

    1. Hi, John, Thank you for sharing with us your “summer job” as a landscaper. What a welcome change from being in a classroom that summer job must have been for you–as you so beautifully describe! Not “being in charge,” but just being “a shovel.”… plenty of fresh air… and losing 10 pounds! I remember one lay teacher who was excited about working at Burger King during the summer. Most of the other employees were the age of her students!… But I’m certainly happy you always kept your “primary job” as teacher!… Melannie

  2. As I recall, baby sitting was my first job as well. Who wouldn’t want to make 25 cents an hour? That job was short lived. During the summer I got to work with the next door neighbor kids on their oldest sister’s fruit and vegetables truck. Her husband drove the loaded truck and two of us worked every day of the week running melons, apples, vegetables etc up to the customer’s house in Denver. Sometimes we even received a tip! We were paid 15 dollars a week! That was a lot of money back in the 60s. In high school I worked as a waitress. The tips were great because you always had money. My first real job was working at the Air force accounting finance center as a clerk typist. A real government job for a whopping $3.50 an hour! Oh how times have changed.

  3. My first job was trapping pocket gophers with my sister on our Minnesota farm. We would cut off the two front feet of the gopher and turn them in to our county courthouse for 35 cents a pair. I always love to tell people about that first job of mine – especially at cocktail parties!

      1. Debra, I always pray to the Holy Spirit when I’m looking for an appropriate video. This song was a new one for me. It really spoke to me. I’m so glad the song spoke to you too! Thanks for letting me know. Melannie

  4. I’ve had sooo many wonderful jobs all my life.
    All good bosses. I’ve been so fortunate & have thanked God many many times, as I know some people dread going to work.
    It was fun reading your blog today.
    Many thanks for all you do.

    1. Sue, If you think your past jobs were all “wonderful,” I have a hunch YOU were a wonderful “employee”! You probably came to each job with a positive perspective and an eagerness to learn and be of service. Yes, you probably also had some good luck along the way. Thanks for writing! Melannie

  5. Hi Sr. Melannie,

    This is such a fun topic! I also had a plethora of jobs that were the same as you and the other respondents. I have also worked in restaurants, landscaping and accounting. Thankfully I never had the job of trapping pocket gophers!
    God Bless!

    1. Greg, I’m so glad you found the topic fun. I know I had fun writing it! And it sounds as if your work experience was varied–except for never trapping gophers! Thanks for your comment. God bless you too! Melannie

  6. 1st, thank you, God, for the December issue of “Give us this day” where I discovered you, Sr. Svoboda!
    Washing and drying dishes at home.
    Waitress in my coal mining town.
    Admin work in the U.S. Air Force.
    Marketing & advertising for the USAF.
    Admin work for Supervalu.
    Recruiting for U. S Army as a civilian.
    Marketing for assisted and Independent living for the elderly.
    Admin for chamber of commerce.
    Admin for the U.S. Navy as a civilian.
    Innkeeper on Mackinac Island
    Volunteer at Hospice Charity Shop in Wales.
    Seasonal work at Hobby Lobby.
    Presently, a volunteer at a thrift shop for a Catholic grade school and part-time paid employee front desk in a boutique hotel.

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Meet Sr. Melannie

Hi and welcome to my blog! I’m Sister Melannie, a Sister of Notre Dame residing in Chardon, Ohio, USA. I’ve been very lucky! I was raised in a loving family on a small farm in northeast Ohio. I also entered the SNDs right after high school. Over the years, my ministries have included high school and college teaching, novice director, congregational leadership, spiritual direction, retreat facilitating, and writing. I hope you enjoy “Sunflower Seeds” and will consider subscribing below. I’d love to have you in our “sunflower community.” Thank you!

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