There’s Always a Lesson to be Learned. Things I Learned on the Jobs.

franmelmed Culture, Fran Melmed

Funny thing about growing older—you realize that your parents were right more than they were wrong. Except… except!… when it comes to odd jobs. Y’know, those jobs you took to pay for clothes, parties, and tuition; to avoid figuring out post-college days; to gap-fill when any job would do. I’m here to tell you that these experiences add up. Just take a look at my stellar resume of odd jobs to see what I mean:

Singing telegram messenger

This high school job let me don costumes, master the art of driving while batting 25 helium-filled balloons out of my way, and bring happiness to all—especially the cop who arrived at the scene of the accident when I was in the bunny costume.

Lesson learned: Expect the unexpected. And don’t forget the trench coat.

Swiss Colony® food passer-outer

High school again—and more costumes. I now stood safely out of my car and inside the mall, where I wore a Swiss Miss uniform and carefully balanced a metal tray filled with toothpicked cubes of low-grade cheese and salami, asking passers-by, “Try some Swiss Colony today?” Repeatedly. For eight hours.

Lesson learned: Every job has a bit of boredom. It’s made better with cured meats (AKA rewards and recognition).

Aerobics instructorJane-fonda-workout-record-1

College (and pre-liability days) found me teaching aerobics, without a lick of knowledge about physiology or motivation. My hard-core, extended abdominal work—sans shouting “one more, two more, you can do it!” à la Jane Fonda—won no fans. I relied on the class being self-motivated—heck, I was sweating it out too! Didn’t hear me complainin’. I was fired.

Lesson learned: When times are tough, you need to cheer(lead).

Theater intern

My first post-college gig and on my way to a life in the theater! Hello, NYC children’s theatre company! Hello, marketing department! Wait…where are the lights? The makeup? The costumes?!

Lesson learned: Every organization’s a business. If you don’t get that, you won’t be in business.


Post-divorce and holding down two jobs—the real one and this one. Counting the number of customers coming into the restaurant. Counting the number of dollars in my apron from the customers who have already come and gone. Counting the bills due to keep the house and the lights and heat on.

Lesson learned: Nobody’s thinking about engagement when they don’t have a living wage.

Whether it’s because jobs are scarce, the path’s unclear, or the bills need to be paid, odd jobs have their place. And I’m sure I’m not alone in my oddball job history. Share yours and I’ll give you my Kelly Girl Temp of the Year award — a story for another day.