Friday, March 27, 2009

Weekend Assignment #260: It's a Wonderful Job

Hi folks! This week, we turn to guest professor Florinda for a topic most adults can relate to:

Weekend Assignment #260: Maybe it wasn't the "best" job by objective standards, but of all the jobs you've ever had, which was your favorite, and why did you like it so much?

Extra Credit: What was the shortest time you ever held a job? What happened?

My office at Worldwide Travel, newly organized as I
prepared to leave the company.

My favorite job to date was at Worldwide Travel, where I was Operations Manager, Comptroller, and staff accountant. I did pretty much everything bookkeeping or accounting-related except the income taxes. I also designed a company website and maintained it for a year or so.

It wasn't the most lucrative job I've ever had, and I didn't always get along with every employee that came to work there. And I have to admit that toward the end of my twelve years there I was a bit bored, and less motivated than I had been to give the job all my attention and effort. But it was an important job for my for several reasons. First, it gave me a chance to learn a lot of basic accounting, a process that had started less than two years earlier at Travel Tree/Travel Network. Second, it gave me a decent wage compared to every job I'd had to that point, with raises along the way.

Third, and I can't stress this enough, this was the first job where I felt like a "treasured employee," as my boss called me occasionally. When I had worked in retail, and later as a travel agent, I had mostly worked for men who managed by intimidation and browbeating, who looked for deficiencies and overlooked successes. Mal and Sandy Potter, who owned Worldwide Travel, weren't like that at all. They made me and other employees feel appreciated. Early on we used to get a birthday check and other little perks, and even when those went away there was at least a birthday cake, and a supportive attitude. The business suffered many setbacks, including the cutting of airline commissions from 10% to 5% to eventually zero, the rise of online travel sites, the blow to the travel industry dealt by 9-11, and Sandy's declining health. But Mal and Sandy never tried to blame or pressure their staff to make up for such calamities. Instead Mal instituted sevice fees and negotiated deals with tour companies, and managed to keep the company going for years while other travel agencies folded. "It is what it is" was Mal's motto, and he used that philosophy to make the best of circumstances rather than complain too much about things not going his way. And I admire him for it.

As for the shortest job I ever held, my four days working in check cashing stores this past January are beaten handily by a job I quit after a single day. It involved going door to door in towns and cities around Ohio, canvassing for some kind of supposedly progressive tax reform proposal. We were given some minimal indoctrination and training, and driven to Marysville, where I accompanied someone who had been doing the job for a while. I had previously gone door to door as a Girl Scout (selling cookies), on behalf of a group fighting Multiple Sclorosis (also for just a day or two, as a volunteer) and as an enumerator for R.L Polk (compiling a City Directory), and all of those experiences had been fairly excruciating for me due to shyness. This one was worse. Beyond the social discomfort, I was deeply uncomfortable about the fact that I wasn't well-versed on the issues involved, and wasn't at all sure that if I did the research I would still agree with what I was being paid to espouse. So when they came to pick me up for a second day of work, I told them goodbye.

How about you? Did you ever have a job you loved, or at least one that sucked less than the others? Tell us about it in a blog entry, and please remember to link back to this entry. Then leave a link to your entry in the comments below. I'll post a roundup of your responses a week from now. Meanwhile:

For Weekend Assignment #259: Mentors, I asked whether you ever had a mentor, or mentored someone else. Apparently this one was a bit of a stumper, but we did have two responses and a comment:

Laura said...

I had a couple of awesome mentors when I was in high school and interested in science. I participated in the American Heart Association's internship program, and was sent at first to a laboratory in which the researcher was working on elevated lipoprotein levels in various cell lines. She was really friendly and welcoming to me, and spent a lot of time explaining the process of sending articles to journals and requesting grants and a lot of the more fund-raising side of science.

Julie said in comments...

I'm not sure I can answer this one. Sigh.

Mike said...

My fifth grade teacher was pretty good to me. He was the track and soccer coach, and I did well in both of those. He helped me a bit in track, but nothing much more than most students. Did I ever tell you I set him up with my sister? That might be a story for another time. There are benefits to having a sister ten years older.

That's it for now! I look forward to hearing about your good and bad jobs, past and present - and no, I don't expect you to name names unless you want to.

And I'm running low on "guest professor" suggestions for these Weekend Assignments. Please, please, please email me some new ones. Thanks!



Karen Funk Blocher said...

Word to the foolish: my comments policy does not allow a canned, ALL-CAPS, paranoid screed against "Zionists" in response to a Weekend Assignment question about your favorite job. Honestly, how does someone like that even function in the world, let alone online?

barrettmanor said...

I'm late, but I think I have a good excuse:

Florinda said...

Sorry I missed last week, but I'm back for this week's Assignment. Thanks for letting me guest-professor again!

Mike said...

I made it a favorite jobs thing. You'll understand after reading it.