Remembering the Hustle

Nov 29, 2017 | Life in Progress

I’ve had a job since 1990 when I was 15 years old. My first job was at a frozen yogurt store. My friends and I all worked there after school and it was a hangout. LOVED. I spent my money on clothes (I was a huge thrifter in highschool/college), music (cassettes and CDs), and gas for our 1985 red Honda Prelude that my mom let me use.

Before I settled into Social Work and then full-time art at the age of 30, I had many random jobs that paid my bills. I liked to collect jobs, it seems. Here’s a list of some of those jobs I held, often at the same time:

Video store clerk (Blockbuster video).

Music store clerk at the mall (remember Musicland?).

Nanny in my early 20’s while in college (admittedly, I was a terrible nanny).

Telemarketer. Remember the At+T commercials selling you long distance plans? I was on the other end of those 800 numbers.

Office manager (so wasn’t a good job for me as I have zero office management skills).

Temp at Kindercare Accounts Payable Department.

Travel agent (before the internet).

Barista at a couple of coffee joints.

Hostess at an Italian restaurant.

Server at a big box restaurant (I was fired on day two as I was a TERRIBLE server as I couldn’t keep it all straight).

After school care provider at the YMCA.

Catering Biz helper (sort of loved this job).

Department store clerk at Macy’s.

I’m sure there are others that I’m forgetting. Sometimes I think back on these days with fondness with the after-glow effect that comes with nostalgia. But most of the time I’m glad the hustle of those days, wondering how I would pay my bills, constantly stressing about money, is over.

Tell me some of your random jobs you’ve had. I’d love to know!

Sending much love,

Show/Hide Comments (5 comments)
  1. Lindy Gaskill

    It’s fun to see what people do for work. Compared to some, I haven’t had that many jobs…seeing as I got my first one 45 years ago. Guess I’ve been lucky as most of my working life, I’ve been self-employed. I kinda like that so I can do my art in tandem. It would go like this – babysitter, weed puller, car hop (lasted 2 days, not so good at it), housekeeper, receptionist, medical records clerk, physical therapy aid, graphic production artist, graphic designer, fine artist, image specialist.

  2. Melissa Blue

    Coke stands and popcorn stands at Great America back when it was Marriott’s, then a string go rotten retail jobs. At one, the assistant manager was hooked on coke so every evening when he counted the drawer the cashier amazingly turned up short. One girl was subjected to a detective watching her every move until finally she was fired. Then the next. Then it was me, and I quit! I worked for a vet for quite awhile as I was in pre-vet in college. That was the best job! But being a vet was not for me. I loved working for a library but then we moved and I could never find another library job that was as good. Currently I’m running through my savings with a brick and mortar studio/gallery. People warned me that people don’t go into stores anymore and boy~ it is true!!!! People just cruise by and won’t even glance in the window. Two more months and then my lease is over and I can get on with my life.

  3. Terry Filipowicz

    Hearing about people’s gigs is always kind of fun. I watched a few neighbors’ pets as a kid but my first job was at age 17 in an upscale deli. I lasted a week or two because I was too shy and nervous at the counter. I began to find my voice and one year later I started at a pizza restaurant and stayed two years. Sizzler restaurant was next for five years. Two of those years were after graduating from college. I started a store and then district newsletter while there to feed my writer and journalism side. I was paid in a lot of meals and soda pop. I then worked in TV news as a writer and producer–both before and during grad school. I also worked in PR for a university and taught classes there too. I did randomly work a few months in a teeny tiny Irish import store because it seemed like it would be fun and some easy money. It was. Then I moved to another city. It was tough to find work. I taught film production and writing at a university one summer. I was also at a lovely university museum walking around the galleries and telling people “don’t touch that.” I worked big fundraising events. I learned so much about art and became a member of the museum after leaving that job for full time work in TV news again. I had an ugly, depressing spell after leaving the TV job after four years. I couldn’t find gigs outside of this city so I could move. I mostly lived off my savings while I did small contract projects including—get this— some book editing, author assisting, and RANCH HAND work in the wilds of Wyoming. The land was something like 50,000 acres. I broke through a lid and plopped into a septic tank while mowing and clearing the one acre around the house. But I now teach digital arts, communication, journalism, and technical writing at a college, work in communication and production for a book publisher with a niche in gifted education and psychology, and run a business working with creatives on writing, communication, PR, etc. I’m still in that same city. Someday I want to oversee an organization that helps creatives with money and resources to make the world a better and more beautiful place. I’ve had to hustle to create my own magic but I do ok. I don’t want to fall into a septic tank again.

    • Kelly Rae Roberts

      Whoa, I wouldn’t want to either! I like “create my own magic,” you got this.

  4. Holly

    Papergirl/Babysitter/WeedPuller/ – These were all before 13 yrs old
    Christmas of 13 yrs old got a job at a High End Men’s Store -folding shirts (I loved matching ties to the shirts…..I was good at Sales)
    Next Summer started as a Maid at one of the Casinos – Ponderosa Hotel.
    Then the flood of jobs began – Busgirl – PBX operator – Hotel Front Desk – Bookkeeping Auditor – Bank Clerk – Liquor Store – Tall Girls Store – Gemco Credit – Casino Bus Greetor – Casino Hard Count & Soft Count – Casino Sales Manager – Temporary Service Manager – Sales Rep for Temporary Service – Sales Rep for Occupational Health Service – Drug Testing Company – ART BUSINESS FOR 8 YEARS (2008 financial crunch) – back to work – Dr. office tech. – and now for last 5+ year – Office Manager for CPA firm (I work with amazing men that give to the community – and also support my artistic endeavors).


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I’m Kelly Rae Roberts

Before I picked up my first paintbrush at the age of 30, I was a medical social worker. I followed my creative whispers, and today I’m an artist & Possibilitarian. I’m passionate about creating meaningful art and experiences that awaken and inspire our spirits.

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