Personal Stories

Working as a McDonald’s Party Hostess Changed My Career Path

Like millions of teenagers, I worked at McDonald’s in high school. I was mostly tasked with cleaning or working the cash register, but a couple months in, I knew what would be best for me. I wanted to be a birthday party hostess.

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For the Love of Books

I was raised in a reading family, by a father who showed his love for us in many ways, but none better than through books. As kids, my sister and I were never chided to go outside and get “fresh air”; if we were reading on the couch, then that was just fine. Weekends found me sitting on a tiny chair at the local bookstore, nose deep in the latest installation of The Baby-sitters Club or Sweet Valley High, tearing through them as fast as I could.

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Now What? How Answering This Question Lead Us to Changing Everything (Part IV)

Everyone seems to have a way of summing up Los Angeles.

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Rides for a Dollar a Minute

I’d met the rickshaw boys the summer before. I worked in the fast food stand on the corner, sweating over the deep fryer in my company-issued apron and ball cap. They parked their rickshaws across the way, at the mouth of a pedestrian alley in the tourist-filled heart of historic downtown Ottawa. They came by a few times a day to refill their water bottles, flirt and beg for free slushies. We both stayed on our feet until bar close—I fed the drunks and they hauled them home—and once I got my fake ID I started joining them on their Monday nights out, the only night of the week that they took off work.

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How We Think About Class

While everyone agreed in principle that it is generally not desirable to judge people based on their appearance, we diverged on whether judging people based on apparent wealth is as bad as judging them based on, say, race.

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Income Vs. Expenses: How a Freelance Writer Makes a Living

So now that you have an idea of my monthly income, let’s look at expenses.

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Inside ‘The Scratching Pad,’ a Cat Shelter Run Out of One Man’s Apartment

If you’re a New Yorker with a beating heart, you probably remember the subway kittens that shut down the MTA last summer in the most adorable way possible. If you’re a cat lady like me (which oh praise is now a badge of honor, thanks New York Times), then you might already know Steven Liu, the guy behind the Scratching Pad, who took in the tiny bandits and fostered them through their eventual adoption. In July of last year, Steve found a duplex apartment in Bushwick, moved in with two roommates, and started taking in cats—current total eight.

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My Love/Hate Relationship With My Work IDs

During the few college summers that I worked at the Meijer One-Hour Photo Lab, I left the house each day in khakis and a white T-shirt. Upon arriving at work, I would retrieve my mint-green, black-collared jacket from the floor of the car and slip into it as I walked across the parking lot, fastening the last button as I cruised through the automatic doors.

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Walking the Dogs of the Rich

The first dog was named Gucci. As Justin, my trainer (as if I were some kind of dog too!), told it, it was because Gucci’s owner wanted to advertise that she’d spent as much on him as on a designer handbag. Gucci was definitely cuter than a handbag, but a lot less practical. Bernese Mountain dogs are built to survive in the Alps, and a high-elevation Financial District apartment in New York City is hardly the same thing. Coaxing Gucci into the elevator, and keeping him from barking long enough to hustle across the marble lobby and out the service entrance, was an act of sheer will that I tried to muster and brute strength that I certainly lacked.

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An Elegy for the “Non-Creepy” Realtor, aka Maggie Estep

Lately I’ve been hearing about writers in my Gen X demographic taking jobs in real estate — one of the more flexible, potentially decently paying occupations that, say, a middle-aged writer can qualify for with relatively little prior training. First it was the former bureau chief of an NPR affiliate station. Next, a colleague from a magazine I once worked at.

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When One Person Earns More Than the Other in a Relationship

Things are not even in most respects, and I get that.

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Music I Listened to While Working as a Temp

Most profound listening experience: Every morning, I would sleep in until 11 a.m. because I worked swing shift. Being that I was in Seattle in March, it would still be dark and cloudy at that late hour. My commute was a slow, degrading walk down Pike/Pine Corridor to the train depot. It was always overcast, and sometimes it rained early in the day. I had Tegan & Sara’s The Con on repeat during my commute, which fits perfectly with heartbreak and lack of Vitamin D.

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