Our value as people isn’t determined by the color of our collars or by how we pay the rent. Just because we’ve cleaned toilets or worked in fast food doesn’t mean we’re unintelligent or lazy or that we haven’t tried hard in our lives.
I mean, really; since when has a crooked path indicated a lack of direction? Who ever said nebulous goals mean an absence of passion? Who decided a fancy title is the epithet of happiness?
After all, somebody has to work the overnight shift at the beef-packing plant; somebody needs to be the janitor in your building; somebody needs to collect tolls on the interstate; somebody needs to be the lunch lady at your children’s school. And of course, somebody needs to clean the toilets.
The Serial Worker speaks to the worker in all of us. More importantly, it gives cause for celebration that we don’t have to be somebody to be somebody.
That being said, the 70 or so jobs to be discussed on this site don’t include those chores we all do as children, like babysitting, or mowing the lawn, or earning quarters for emptying dead mice from snap traps during winter infestations. Nor does it include my (surprisingly lucrative) adolescent hairstyling era: when in junior high, I cut, styled, French-braided and permed the hair of my mother’s friends for a few dollars a head. Neither have I felt the need to include the paltry amount of money I made playing in bands (I only mention it here because it makes me sound cool).
It’s conceivable that someone somewhere might discount a temp job or an internship that I’ve included, thinking it can’t be classified as a job because of its temporary status or lack of payment. What typifies a job is indeed a definition of the most slippery sort. Since I’ve had dozens of occasions in which to come up with a standard for applying this label, you’ll have to trust my judgment. Even so, excluding temp jobs and internships, I’ve still had well over 60 jobs, allowing me to graciously accept the designation of Serial Worker. The evidence defending that title can be found in the greasy creases of my jobs. They have truly shaped the shapeless person I am today.
I imagine few would want this distinction of impermanence, to be known as an ungrounded job-hopping gypsy, one of the original “free agents.” But sticking around at a job you hate doesn’t define control—it defies it. And vocational rebirth is hugely underrated.