Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Barreling Right Along....

My path of employment, for the most part, continues along the expected path of most students.  Part-time, low paying, cashier type jobs.  Long, late, drunken serving jobs.  Those sorts of things.  What is most impressive/horrifying, is the vast number of positions I have held in my life time, and of course, my inability to find a job I am good at and love.  But every once in a while, a job comes along that fits into none of these categories.  A job that is strange and unbelievable, that offers me a special sort of skill set.  Something people who have grown up in cities whose main source of income is tourism will understand because we are willing to gouge the tourists for every cent they are willing to throw at us.  Ready for this?  I was once employed by Niagara Daredevil.  This is a company where people paid $16 for a polaroid picture of themselves and sometimes their loved ones, pretending to go over the Falls in a barrel.  (Side note - I was looking for some pictures to entertain you and for the sake of my own integrity, I have to inform you, if you were to go there you could also get a picture in a canoe pretending to go down the rapids.  This was not nearly as popular because, obviously, it is kind of stupid).

Every day, I would head off to work in these little booths at the base of the Skylon Tower.  The only way I can describe the set up is, pretend for Christmas as a small child you really really wanted to go over the falls in a barrel.  Your grandfather, loving you a whole lot, decided to build you a Falls and also a barrel so you could take pictures and pretend you had been.  The whole thing was a rickety construction.  The locks were ancient, the till was a drawer with a pad lock, you had to count the number of polaroid sheets you used and if you made too many mistakes you would be in trouble.  The problem with the picture taking process was you had to pull the picture sheet straight out of the monstrous camera contraption or else it would leave blotchy marks.  Then you would have to let it wait the appropriate amount of time until the ink had dried, all while having tourists impatiently waiting for the photo.  Then, once the paper was off and the picture quality was fine, it had to dry!  Can you ever imagine how many over eager customers grabbed the picture as soon as I set it down, forever leaving a thumb mark smushed into the middle of their picture??  No you probably cannot imagine.  Just as you can't imagine this was actually my real summer job, and I went here at least five days a week and sat by myself trying to pressure sell people into getting these photos.  But it is all true.  I could not make this stuff up if I tried.

I have two very clear memories of that job.  First, across the hall from me was a HUGE television that played the Marineland commercial constantly.  You know how much you hate that song when you hear it twice in a row on the radio?  Imagine EIGHT HOURS NONSTOP!!!!  I shudder every time I hear it, or see the little girl wiping the screen clear to watch the beluga whales because I know there is a triangle spot of frost on the lower left hand corner she is always going to miss.  Every time.  Until you think you will lose your mind hoping she would just pay attention to what she is doing and clear the whole screen.  You'll see....  o you'll see....

Can you find the frost she missed?

Sorry...  where was I?  O yes.  The other thing I learned was about myself.  In my head I picture myself as rather adorable.  I know I'm short and have stubby legs.  I can't help that.  But I have a cute little smile and twinkley eyes, and, I had always assumed, at least a little bit of innate sex appeal.  This job taught me otherwise.  I had to wear a baseball cap, as well as an oversized t-shirt with a picture of the owner in the barrel going over his fake falls on the back.  I was mistaken for a boy multiple times.  The other girl I worked with had long curly blonde hair and somehow made the shirt fit in ways I couldn't.  I would tie it up, wear extra make up, push up bras.  It didn't matter.  Inevitably, I would hear someone say, "Go ask the boy how much a picture costs."  I am not too proud to admit this, sometimes I would turn around to answer their question and people would say, "O dear I'm so sorry sweetheart."  but sometimes, they would not say anything and they would leave believing they had gotten directions to the elevator from a pre-pubescent boy. 

In conclusion, the rediculously useful skill of being able to successfully operate a polaroid camera from 1953 has not actually gotten me any great number of job offers.  Instead, I seem to be suffering from the fact that I spent my university summers not working towards a career but trying to avoid huge amounts of student debt and filling my resume with hilarious, but not so employable skills.  Stay tuned, I wish I could say it was all uphill from here....  but it is decidedly not.

No comments:

Post a Comment