Thursday, April 19, 2007

Things I've done for money

With all the talk about class and making a living, I started thinking about all the things I've done for money.

(I think Adam Szymkowicz did this once, but here's my list.)

(in no particular order)

waiter (TGI Fridays - "Would you like a balloon with that?")

raised thoroughbred yearlings (payment for the summer of work - a 1969 Volvo)

stall mucker (i did it more than once)

dog kennel cleaner (the guy I did it for had had his front teeth knocked out by a horse at the track in Mexico City)

newspaper boy (my first job - which I thought would qualify me to become President of the United States)


lawn mower kid

snow shoveler

dry cleaner clerk (used to find small vials and coke spoons in our clientel's pants)

over-the-counter stock exchange clerk (once upon a time traders had their transactions tallied by hand - I did that)

pizza boy (at Pistilli's where Mrs. Pistilli spent her days mixing sauce with severly arthritic hands - a photo of Christ over the sauce pot was laminated to protect it from the red splatter bubbles)

book seller (at Stuart Brent Books on Michigan Avenue in Chicago - probably the best independent bookstore in the country at one time - also at the now defunct Oxford Books in Atlanta and Borders, the evil gentle giant)

video store clerk (when money was stolen from the back room I was forced to take a lie detector test)

gas station attendant/pump jockey (for David Adiv, one of the best human beings on the planet)

security guard (at 120 lbs I was less than imposing so they paired me up with a guy who spent the hours getting high and telling me stories of when he was a gigilo in Atlantic City)

caddy (it was not like the Bill Murray movie, but boy did I want it to be)

raccoon hunter (a short story I wrote about this won the Senior Scholastic Fiction Contest when I was in high school)

dishwasher (also for Mrs. Pistilli as well as Nino at Grandpa's Deli in Barrington Il)

market research telephone interviewer (My name is Malachy Walsh, I'm calling from Kapular and Associates a market research firm located in Arlington Heights, Illinois....)

horse trail path-cutter (behind rich people's houses there are paths for rich people's horses. I blazed them one mosquito-infested summer in which I was chased by many large dogs)

book/library page (at the University of Illinois in C-U)

freelance writer at the Washington Post (the newsroom looked just like one in All The Presidents Men; I witnessed the stock market crash, Iran-Contra-Gate and the ascendency of the first Bush there - I also saw Ben Brantley strut around the newsroom saying, "We got him. We got him by the balls now" when Marion Barry was caught in a hotel with a hooker and crack pipe)

tack washer (for Amy Ylvasaker whom I had a mad crush on when I was like 12)

research assistant (for a guy who was writing a book about Custer - I wasn't good at it and I got canned)

script reader

theater manager (I was actually the intern who was the only left to run the shows after everyone went on summer vacation)

ditch digger (in Atlanta while putting myself through ad school)

literacy tutor (actually I never got paid for this but it was the best thing I ever did)

advertising copywriter (see my work at


Dave Tutin said...

All I can say is wow!!

Here's my list of things I've done for money:

1. Musician (starting at age 12)

2. Writer (of various stuff starting at age 18)

Everything else I did for free.

patrick said...

Great list. Here's mine (I think I'll post it on my blog, too.)

1-hour photo shop clerk (in a mall in Staten Island. I lasted one week.)

Pet sitter. (mostly for dogs, but I also watched my neighbor’s livestock. Feeding a frisky bull made me find out how fast I can run. Pretty fast.)

Lawn mower.


Computer programmer

Janitor (part-time, really it was freelance cleaning, but I like the sound of janitor better).

Turnkey. (the guy who has the key and gets paid to open up a place while contractors do work there)


Stage hand

TV news cameraman (internship)


Snack bar worker

Cafeteria server

Brick washer/sealer (one of the most fun summers ever)

Filmmaker (I got paid to make a short film on Super 8 for some international students conference while I was in college.)




Theatre producer


Producer/director for radio dramas

Subject in medical experiments


Circulation manager for medical journal

Computer network administrator/consultant

Office temp—helped design some of the early catalogs for Dell Computer, law office, and other places.

Word processor

Office assistant

Researcher for headhunter company (lots of lying involved)

Community garden coordinator (I didn’t really get paid for this, but it was a job.)

Playwriting instructor

Night watchman

Front desk worker at dormitory

Marketing consultant

Real estate developer (sort of)

Dave Tutin said...

Patrick...did you say "subject in medical experiements"?????

patrick said...

You don't think all that superhero stuff is fiction, do you?

patrick said...

I forgot to put Mime on my list, too.

malachy walsh said...

Robert Rodgriguez "sold" his body to medical experiments to help finance his first movie...

See what you have to do to get in?

Jeff Shattuck said...

I wonder if there's a song idea in such a list. Here's mine just for fun.

Super market dude (I stocked the cold section)
Gas station attendant
Instructor at gym
Book salesman
Stereo Salesman
Forklift operator on midnight shift at Overnight Transportation
Indexer (basically I entered keywords to create a searchable databese of magazine articles)
English teacher
Journalist (wrote for a very small magazine)

I think that's it. Crazy.