Seeing people post their first seven jobs makes me rethink my childhood. The list below is a look into the mind of the grandchild of a pool-hall hustler. It's still my job to hustle. Today, is the pub day for The 7th Book of Wonders in paperback -- and, look, it was a top 100 New York Times Notable and an Entertainment Weekly pick and Kirkus pick. There's not much more I can do except tell you to buy it. So I have. And now how a glimpse into how I started out, not in writing but in hustling...
1. Dog-Trainer/Dog-Ride Owner and Operator. I would get neighborhood kids on rollerskates in summer and on sleds in winter and get my dog to pull them around our dead end – for cash. I paid my dog in marshmallows from the kitchen. All gross, no net.
2. Performer. I charged my family to watch me and my best friend put on Carol Burnett like skits in the living room.
3. Day Camp Owner and Operator. By ten or eleven, I ran a camp on my porch where neighborhood moms could leave their kids for a couple hours. One mom ran a daycare and would drop off her own kids and the kid she was supposedly watching.
4. By 12 or so, I was babysitting for a dental hygienist. 8-hour days, two kids, ages 2 and 4 or so. At twelve? It was a different time.
5. Eventually I got (and was fired from) a filing job at an eye doctor’s office.
6. I was a terrible caterer. My boss said he’d never seen someone do so little work. He was actually pretty impressed. One of our gigs was a lunch stand for a banking convention. I had to give change by doing math in my head. I’d basically take the money and then hold out a bunch of change and tell them to take the right amount because I couldn’t do the math.
7. Deli worker. Now this I was good at. I eventually could guess slices down to less than a quarter pound by holding them in my hand – so when I gave birth and the obstetrician held the baby and guessed her weight – and the nurses gushed -- I was seriously unimpressed.