Friday, August 29, 2008

RevGals Friday Five: Labor Day

From the RevGals:

Here in the USA we are celebrating the last fling of the good ol' summertime. It is Labor Day weekend, and families are camping, playing in the park, swimming, grilling hotdogs in the backyard, visiting amusement parks and zoos and historical sites and outdoor concerts and whatever else they can find to help them extend summer's sun and play just a little bit longer.

It is supposed to also be a celebration of the working man and woman, the backbone of the American economy, the "salt-of-the-earth neices and nephews of Uncle Sam. With apologies to those in other countries, this is a Friday Five about LABOR. All can play. Put down that hammer, that spoon, that rolling pin, that rake, that pen, that commentary, that lexicon, and let's have some fun.

1. Tell us about the worst job you ever had.
I think canvassing door to door for a political group was probably the worst. It so goes against my introverted nature. I don’t like selling anything, even a cause I believe in, and no one wants a canvasser to show up at their door. On the other hand, I worked with some really cool people. So, perhaps the worst job was the time I worked for a researcher at Emory, where I had to dispose of the radioactive waste. I mean, it was low-level and all that, but still.

2. Tell us about the best job you ever had.
I’m not sure it’s happened yet. There are aspects of every job I’ve had that were positive. I worked at Cambridge University Press for a while—that was a connection with a prestigious history and legacy and knew we were publishing some of the best intellects around. On the other hand, the books were pretty boring. Working for a literary agent was kind of glamorous. I met some authors, even some Russian spies (and it’s pretty cool when you answer the phone and it’s Michael Nesmith on the line). But the husband and wife team I worked with were pretty much insane. Working for a Hispanic press introduced me to a culture I didn’t know much about, and the work atmosphere was very relaxed. The head of the press was completely nuts, and the managing editor was chronically late with everything (which is really not what you want in a managing editor). The computer publishing company sounds dull, but there were some very quirky and interesting people there. The educational publisher. Well, maybe that was my worst job. My boss had no ability to feel compassion. Even when Firecracker was in the hospital for a week she expected me to be at work. She never even asked about her. When I had the shingles, she expected me to be at work. So, I guess she was a . Where I work now is pretty cool. It’s not the work I thought I would do, but they have been extraordinarily understanding of my family emergencies, and despite the fact that some of their beliefs don’t sit well with me, I know that they have warm hearts.

Afterthought: Holy cow, I can't believe I forgot about working in Walmart summer of my senior year of high school. Walmart had just moved in, right across from KMart. It was so awful. I was in the fabric department, and I developed conjunctivitis from the dye. We had to take shifts as greeters--no one was used to that then, so they skittered around us suspiciously. Customers left stuff in an unholy mess, and we had to spend hours in the evening "zoning", putting everything back in order, labels facing out. I once had a freaky old man pray for me in the linens section, and there was a biker in automotives who took a shine to me. Whew. I'd never want to do that again.

3. Tell us what you would do if you could do absolutely anything (employment related) with no financial or other restrictions.
I would like to be a stay-at-home mom. That’s kind of ridiculous because I am horrible at creating a viable structure for myself, much less anyone else, but I have this longing to be there when the girls get off school and not having to rush rush rush in the evening. We can’t afford for me to go to part-time, even. Part of me wants to home school, which is probably even more ridiculous, given my chronic disorganization and inattentiveness (not to mention my distaste for the religious tone of most home school communities), but there it is.

4. Did you get a break from labor this summer? If so, what was it and if not, what are you gonna do about it?
Not exactly. I had almost no vacation time, and we moved. But I did take a Friday and head off with the family to Savannah and Tybee Island. Savannah is becoming a favorite place to visit. I’m not sure why. It’s not as if there’s tons to do there, particularly for kids, but we love the waterfront with its cobbled streets and the old, gracious houses.

5. What will change regarding your work as summer morphs into fall? Are you anticipating or dreading?
Fall is easier for me than Spring, when there’s a major conference to prepare for. The pace is pretty steady now. But, someone just retired, and her jobs are temporarily being spread amongst us. And then there’s the hurricane season. If there’s a major disaster, the work here will increase greatly. We also do a lot of projects for Thanksgiving and Christmas, fun stuff for us as well as community work. It’s pretty jolly, but it means the workday is a bit crunched.

Bonus question: For the gals who are mothers, do you have an interesting story about labor and delivery (LOL)? If you are a guy pal, not a mom, or you choose not to answer the above, is there a song, a book, a play, that says "workplace" to you?

Oh, do I ever have a labor story. Firecracker was determined to leave the womb early. It was so unexpected—DramaQueen had been full-term, healthy as could be. We had to go to the hospital twice. The first time the stupid nurse told me it was Braxton Hicks. The next day all hell broke loose when I got to the hospital. The doctors were in a kerfuffle figuring out what to do. They didn’t have the facilities to care for a baby born so early (26 weeks). Soon I was loaded onto a helicopter for transport to another hospital. Things were getting surreal. To this day the sound of helicopters is a little unnerving. They put off labor for as long as possible to give me various meds, but they couldn’t do what they hoped, which was to put it off for weeks. My room was full of hospital personnel for the delivery. I don’t know how they all fit. They warned me that she probably wouldn’t have enough lung power or energy to cry, but she managed it—feisty right from the start. I got to kiss her and she was whisked away to the NICU and oxygen and a heated bed. This was probably the single most frightening experience of my life.


  1. Finally catching up, what interesting stories you have!

  2. 1. It wasn't really a job, but for two years I "volunteered" to help out at VBS during the summer. The first year I was with my mother in the craft room, and while the kids were fun (most of the time) and spending time with my mother wasn't all that bad either (at least in retrospect) VBS itself isn't all that--well, useful. Plus the restrictions on who could or could not "help the children grow" were ridiculous.

    That second year of "volunteer" work saw me in the gym for game time. Most of my memories of that time are unpleasant. That was also the year our church fell apart because of some heavy accusations and a King-James-Only epidemic.

    2. I've never had a job job. I feel bad about that, but right now there's no need to have one.

    3. Stay-at-home writer. Or full-time writer. Whichever one sounds more like it's a job.

    4. & 5. N/A

    None whatsoever.