Tuesday, 4 November 2014


I got my first job when I was seventeen, working as a cook at a McDonald's, which I did full time for a year. Since then my employment status has been punctuated fairly regularly by things like moving, going to school, travelling, and just plain old getting laid off. The result is that, in the nine years I've been in the workforce, I have a worked a staggeringly high number of different jobs, none of them for longer than a year, and most for less than six months.

Sometimes I wonder if that's a reflection of my non-comittal personality.

The second job I had was with a company called Acklands-Grainger, picking orders in a gigantic warehouse. They celebrated their 125th year during my time there. Those of us in the warehouse were given a celebratory pen, emblazoned with the company logo. It was a pretty nice pen, actually.

I spent two summers working for the public works department of a small town with the improbable name of Sexsmith, Alberta. We refered to it as "Sex Town." Perhaps we had juvenile senses of humour, but we had fun.

Sexsmith's quaint little Main Street
Image from here

I once worked on an assembly line in a factory that built trusses. We worked 50 to 60 hours a week there. The overtime pay was fantastic, but I just couldn't handle spending that much of my life in a factory. So I quit and used a bunch of the money I'd saved up to travel around Japan for a bit. It was worth it.

Another time I had a warehouse job I was overqualified for simply because I spoke fluent English: (seriously, the ad I'd responded to said "only minimal English skills required."). This was actually really cool, as it meant many of my co-workers were immigrants, some of them brand new in Canada. I got to work with people from Ethiopia, Cambodia, China, Namibia, India and other places besides. I learned how to greet people in Amharic (sälam!) and Mandarin (ni hao!). Unfortunately, as much as I loved the diversity, it didn't make up for the terrible management and even worse pay. I wasn't sad to leave that place.

Up until last Friday I was working as a shipper\reciever for a concrete specialist supply store. It was the smallest company I'd ever been a part of: there were only six of us. I got to drive a forklift around and phone shipping companies. But, as you can imagine, the concrete business slows down a lot during the winter, and my boss figured that with November here they could only afford to keep one person in the warehouse. So I am now, once again, unemployed.

This isn't entirely a bad thing, actually. I have a bit of money saved up at the moment, and I should be able to get EI, so I'm not in an urgent panic to find a job right away. That means I can take a bit of time to look for a place I think I'd enjoy working at, rather than taking the first thing that comes up.

It's also an oppurtunity for change. Other than my stint in a McDonald's kitchen, every job I've ever had has been general labour. I've never worked in customer service, and I think it might be nice to try something new, if I can. I would also love it if I could get something that's part time, as that would allow me to take a class or two starting in January.

In other words, while being laid off means not making money, which is unfortunate as I think about going back to school and the cost of transition-realted things like electrolysis, it also means having options. And that part of it I rather like.