The last person who set eyes on my resume referred to it as “an eclectic mess.”
I thought that was a little harsh, so I corrected him saying that others found it a “challenged piece of paper with fire starter potential.” He seemed to concur as he shook my hand goodbye.
The life of my resume began one spring morning in 1971, the day I took my first real W2 gig at the Seattle Space Needle. I became an elevator operator, but on the seventh day I rested…I was fired.
It wasn’t entirely my fault. I had a real hard time focusing and memorizing stuff. Put more than two ideas in front of me, and my brain turned into a bulbous bilge block of spark-less cylinders.
So when the manager gave me a lengthy sheet of Space Needle facts to commit to memory…dates, travel speeds, safety features, and points of interest…I tossed that sheet off the observation deck and for a brief moment of delight, tracked it’s billowy descent.
As I rode up the spine of that magnificent 605 ft. beast accompanying a small group of gawking tourists breathing heavily on the glass, I filled their heads with improvised nonsense.
“Welcome to the Seattle Space Needle…built in 1962 for the Worlds Fair. And what a fortunate group you happen to be! You lucky travelers are currently on our one- millionth ride to the top. That calls for a special treat! No, it’s not a complimentary dessert at the revolving restaurant. It’s better than that! A free-fall from the observation deck to the base. That’s right…Instead of the normal 43 seconds, we are hoping to beat the earthquake drill record of 9 seconds. Please don’t worry…We have a highly trained medical team standing below in case anyone suffers the bends. ARE…YOU…READY?”
With that, I put my hand on the emergency lever, opened my mouth wide, and started counting down from 5 like I was breathing through a contraction. About the time I hit #1, you could hear the screams across Puget Sound.
My last day I was definitely on a roll. Really cracking myself up…until unbeknownst to me one of the owners took a ride to the top. This time I was expounding on a large mass of mountains to the south known as the “Perky Peaks”, after a Dutch explorer’s wife. The head honcho interrupted me just as I was explaining how hikers camp ‘tween her twin mounds, which can be challenging to scale on frosty mornings.
“Ladies and Gentlemen,” Mr. Large-and-In-Charge said, giving me the stink eye, “What our operator meant to say is we are able to see a vast array of mountain ranges from this spectacular location. To the east are the Olympics…to the north Mt. Baker…south is Mt. Rainier, and the Cascade mountains to the west.”
When the doors opened, the relieved guests escaped while I took the EXTREMELY long 43-second ride back down to street level with my boss, where I had to forfeit my uniform and call my mom for a ride home.
Some time later I took a job at a seafood restaurant in Seattle called the Hindquarter. I was hired as a cocktail waitress, only there was just one slight problem.
I knew nothing about cocktails.
The lone drink I could identify in a pinch was a draft beer…but that was only as a result of habitually imbibing from red plastic cups at tailgate parties.
The Hindquarter had a specific clientele. A sophisticated, yet shady group who loved their Jim Beam, Jack Daniels, Johnnie Walker, and a host of other high balls that sounded devilishly dangerous.
I guess you could say the lounge had ambiance… soft candlelight, dark booths, but for a waitress with NO skills, it was a bit like Dante’s Inferno.
On my first night a group of regulars strolled in. Ten or so guys in black suits walked past me just as the sun dropped into happy hour. They took a seat in the back. Each ordered a different concoction with olives, onions, lemon twists, no salt, salt, sugar rims, etc. I fumbled through the first round, but with a drink under their belts they decided it would be hilarious to change seats and throw me off.
Then they complained to management and soon after, I was ushered out the door with a wad of kleenex soaked in snot-slobber, and my .53 cent paycheck in hand. (See photo…Exhibit A.)
Years later, by process of elimination, I was hired at a clothing store in Manhattan.
The first day I silently followed the owner around his corny boutique while he filled my head with inventory stats, and how to trick customers into buying knock-off goods at designer prices.
Ron, a veteran salesman leaned against a rack of half-priced shirts and smiled. Not exactly a “howdy” sort of smile, but more of a “Oh God, look who I have to potty train now” smirk.
My head was reeling when the owner finished his morning training session.
“Wow…that’s quite a lot to process!” I whispered to Ron.
He studied me for a moment and said, “There’s only one thing you need to remember…when a good looking man walks in, he’s mine.”
That moment I knew I was going to get an education far greater than how to operate a register.
I learned quickly that when Ron hurried to the door to meet a customer, that was my cue to BACK OFF.
Or if he poked his head behind the dressing room curtain and asked how those pants were fitting, turn around and pretend to fold shirts.
In the year that I worked there, I don’t think he knew my name.
He called me “Little Douche Bag.”
He assured me it was actually an often used East Coast term of endearment, and that I should proudly add the name to the heading on my resume to insure preferential consideration.
Coming from a pro like Ron I took his advice…but I must have been over qualified because oddly enough I didn’t receive one inquiry from the batch of fifty applications I’d sent out.