A Memory from Every Job I Have Worked

  1. Paper route
    I was seven and shared the route with my older brother. There was one house that scared me so I would run up its driveway, drop the paper, and run back down to the sidewalk as fast as my legs would take me. I don't remember why I was scared.
  2. Bus girl at a fancy French restaurant
    I didn't get tips. My boss once gave me a $20 bill "as a pittance."
  3. Piano teacher
    I taught two kids, aged 7. They loved me so much that when I went away to university, they quit piano because they only wanted me as a teacjher. Flattering, but I also felt bad about ending their piano careers.
  4. Telefundraiser for my university's Annual Fund
    I hated this job so much. It was not unusual for me to sit on my bed and cry before leaving home for my shift. I hated the pressure to raise money and following the script and the disdain with which some alumni and parents spoke to me. I quit after four months.
  5. Lunchroom supervisor at a middle school
    I once wore a Harry Potter t-shirt and pigtails and was mistaken for a grade 7 student. I was 20 years old at the time.
  6. Tour guide for Toronto-area school trips to Quebec City, Ottawa and Boston
    I loved this job like crazy. I remember the moment I realized I was fluent in French (a lifelong dream) as I chatted with a lady without having to think about it.
  7. Supervisor for the school tour company in Quebec City
    I got to live in QC for two months, two summers in a row. Heaven. There was a bakery down the road from our flat that pumped its kitchen air out onto the sidewalk. It smelled so good.
  8. Grade 1 French Immersion teacher
    I got swine flu, then six weeks later I got a cold that went into my inner ear and gave me vertigo. I was varying degrees of dizzy for two months from January to March. One of many reasons that year was so hard. They say your first year teaching will be one of the hardest of your life...true!
  9. Grade 2 teacher at an international school in Germany
    The school took a hard line on staff dress code that year and I felt very frumpy.
  10. French tutor
    I dreaded this hour after school each week, but the extra cash was great. When I told my student's mother I was pregnant so I couldn't tutor after the summer, she said "Oh, that's good for you, but it's bad for us."
  11. Special education teacher
    One of my students asked what it was like to see Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech live. He and I liked to rib each other like that.
  12. French teacher (grade 4/5)
    My favorite thing to teach: French to beginners. The other French teachers at school make loving fun of my Canadian French accent, which actually makes me proud. 🇨🇦