5 min read

About Claudia (part one)

I'm not sure if I can tolerate my own boring nature, but I've learned that I need a 100 things about Claudia. For the next ten weeks, I've commited to sharing ten things about Claudia.

Frankly, I'm not sure we'll get through ten things, but lets see. If you have questions or any fascinating topics, help a girl out by leaving them in the comments.

We'll start with my favorite topic: Work.

About Claudia : Work

1. I started working when I was about six years old.
My mother had a scheme to recycle newspapers. My sisters and I would take our red wagon around our suburban neighborhood and collect people's newspapers. I found the work deeply humililating. About once a month, we'd load up the stationwagon, pack it to the brim and take it to the recycling center where we'd make about 1 cent a pound. My mother would charge us for the gas money and her time. Even though my older two sisters rarely went with my little sister and I, we split the proceeds of the newspaper haul between all four of us. Thus, three hours every Saturday for a month paid about three dollars. We didn't receive an allowance, so this seemed like a pretty good deal to me.

2. I owned my first business when I was eleven years old.
I saw a notice in the local newspaper that the paper would support kids who opened businesses. Because the newspaper gig wasn't a big pay out, I decided to start cleaning people's houses. I advertised in the paper that summer and developed a clientele of about ten houses. I rode my bike everywhere so they supplied the cleaning supplies. Although I did my own banking, my expenses went way up. Learning that I was making 'so much money', my mother decided that it was time for me to pay for my 'expenses'. They paid rent and food, and I paid everything else. I kept this business and those clients for the next six years.

3. Around this time, I began weekend babysitting.
I like kids. And they like me. It was fun to take care of children while their parents took trips. I had a couple regular clients who I sat for until I graduated high school. I wonder sometimes what happened to these kids. Wherever they are now, I hope they are well. These funds helped pay for cheerleading wardrobes, band expenses, all my clothing, and any entertainment.

4. My first real job was at Burger King.
Even though I made more money in my other endeavors, I wanted a 'real job'. The day I turned fifteen and a half, I went into Burger King for my interview. I liked working there. At that time, my mother went 'on strike' or something like that. She decided to stop buying food. Burger King was a lovely place to eat when you're not eating. At that time, I cleaned houses, did the weekend babysitting and worked at Burger King. I was rich!

5. Cocos!
They opened a Cocos up the street from Burger King and I applied as a hostess. The pay raise was enormous ($1/hr). By that time, my mother wasn't feeding either myself or my little sister. I was able to get my little sister a job there as well. What a funny place and a funny time in my life. It was my first experience with people who just worked. They had these 'old' women who had waited tables since they were my age. (I bet they were thirty years old.) There was a bunch of drama that happened while I worked there -my first work drama! When the 'new' manager came in, he felt like he should mentor me. When I think of it now, I realize how much his words impacted me - especially with what was to come....

6. Food Service.
I went to Occidental College for a couple years out of high school. It was part of my BIG PLAN. Of course, I hadn't planned on my parents renigging on paying for my private school education six weeks before starting. I was stuck with either withdrawing from school or doing it myself. My choice of doing it myself, and the ensuing argument, got me tossed out of my parents' home and told not to return. Biggest paying job at Occidental College? Food service. I could only work twenty hours a week there. (I was so ubiquitous at food service that I gained a couple Occidental grad therapy clients because they remembered my name tag.)  I had an enormous bill... so I worked....

7. Friedman's Microwave Ovens.
I actually worked at Friedman's in the summers while I worked at Coco's. It's hard to imagine, but microwaves were new and quirky. I worked there as a salesperson. The store was owned by these two guys. They were very nice to me. When I went to college, they transfered me to their downtown Pasadena store. I was trust into a mix of housewifes, woman wearing ten carat diamond rings, and a host of fascinating coworkers. I worked around forty hours a week at Friedman's.  I also worked....

8. Typesetting the college paper.
I didn't do a lot of this because, frankly, I wasn't very good at it. I mostly filled in when someone was sick or needed a weekend off. It paid ten dollars an hour! I wasn't restricted by the work/study twenty hour a week rule because I was a contractor. We had this super fancy computer that you would type out strings of words then past onto pages. I honestly think that my lust for fabulous fonts stems from this time.

Then a whole bunch of things happened all at once. The common thread among each event was that I was treated so lovingly, and with such respect, at these jobs, that I started to feel differently about myself. I transferred to UC Berkely.

9. UC Berkeley Housing Office.
My friend Bill worked at the Housing Office. It was a great job. It paid well and had another host of quirky co-workers. (For example, one man was the oldest son of a King in Sri Lanka!) Our boss was this 'forward thinker' who eventually put the entire system on Apple Macintosh computers. That was my first computer experience. Because I had a wonderful financial aid man who helped with my school bill, I only had to have this one job while I went to college. I worked there until after I left college.

10. The Daily Cal.
While in school, I had a job as a day photographer for the Daily California. They would send me out on assignment and I would take pictures. I loved the cool quiet of the dark room. I don't know if I was any good at it. I really liked that job. It didn't pay well, and affected my grades horribly, but I loved working in the newsroom.

There's my first ten jobs. If you haven't fallen over with boredom yet, we make make it through this Wednesday series.  I've never minded working. In fact, when I look at this collection of first jobs, I see how blessed I was to have them.

Thanks for reading! :)