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Small Talk: Money aside, this work life has paid off

I have decided it is time for me to come clean. I can finally look back on my checkered job history and laugh.

I think it is my obligation to offer a small crumb of comfort to any recent graduates out there, staring at the want ads and scratching your heads.

Just a few decades ago, I managed to wrap up five fabulous, fun years of college, still having no idea where I would find my independently wealthy husband, or gosh, maybe even earn my living — and look how fabulously I turned out.

OK, OK, I’m a penniless journalist/librarian/wife of an entrepreneur, but I could be doing a great deal worse. In fact, I have done worse.

Where, you ask, did my winding path to stardom first lead? My first job ever was doing cleanup in a kennel. From there, things had to go sideways or up.

Next, I sliced and served roast beef sandwiches for Colonel Sanders. That’s right. The Colonel did not always eschew red meat, and he even let us wear fetching ochre polyester uniforms.

My elderly resume must also include my time as a hostess at San Diego’s own Anthony’s Fish Grotto. Yes, I had studied hard to become a well-rounded, well-read English major. What else would I do but jump right into the world of food service?

I did this only as I waited to be hired by a major airline so I could continue food service at 30,000 feet. I wanted to see the world. I did.

I learned that the inside of the Holiday Inn in Munich looks exactly like the inside of the Holiday Inn in Pittsburgh. I also learned that trapping 300 people inside a cramped metal tube for 12 hours and plying them with liquor is true sadomasochism.

Finally, I stumbled into the newsroom, and I have been laughing like Br’er Rabbit in the briar patch ever since.

I’d like to say that my sparkling talent landed me my first reporting job, but in truth, my uncle published the newspaper. Nepotism is a wonderful steppingstone. I highly recommend it to everyone until you get your confidence up.

So what advice am I actually giving you here? None. I offer only reassurance and moral support. I just want to serve as a positive example for late bloomers.

Some of us just need to fritter away parts of our youth accomplishing absolutely nothing except gathering self-knowledge and great stories for future parties.

We ask only a bit of indulgence and patience until we find our niche. I have frequently existed just above the poverty line, and I have no pension to retire on, but I was never, ever bored. For me, it was a fair trade-off.

Jean Gillette is a freelance writer, smiling as she waits in line at the 99-cent store. Contact her at [email protected].

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