One woman's pleasure is another's worst job ever

I've been thinking a lot about jobs lately. I'm sure it has something to do with my friend Debbie's retirement, my bloggy friend Tammy's job search, and the quest of my former coworkers/current friends as they seek out freelance writing gigs to replace those drying up.

Or it could have everything to do with the fact that my savings account is coming perilously close to the empty mark.

Whatever the reasons, I'm thinking about jobs and how I really need one and how I don't want to settle on one until it's the best job I've ever had. Crazy, I know, especially in this insane economic climate we're all learning to live in. But the clock is ticking on my time here and I want to have the best job ever -- and plenty of years doing it and enjoying it -- before my time is up.

I recently had a pretty good job, but it was far from what I'd classify as the best job ever. I've also had mediocre gigs, plus a few horrid ones that I hated but they helped pay the bills.

I've also worked in a position that downright made me cringe, literally. It's the one I'll not hesitate to share when I become rich and famous and am asked by some reporter "What's the worst job you've ever had?"

Heck. I'll probably never get that rich and famous, so I'll just answer that question here.

When I was about 25, I worked in a beauty salon. I was a "nail tech," applying the biggest, longest, stupidest-looking fake nails on women with lots of money. In addition to doing nails, I occasionally did "wraps." The weight-loss kind of wraps (that really were a bunch of bunk!) and the mother wrap of them all, the highest gig in the salon: the seaweed wrap.

The seaweed wrap was billed as a fabulously relaxing way to pull toxins from the body -- the whole body -- and soften the skin. It was also the smelliest. Rich ladies with too much time and money on their hands Customers would pay about $200 (and this was nearly 25 years ago!) to be painted with reconstituted dehydrated seaweed and lay there in the stinking mess for upwards of an hour.

And who painted the seaweed on their bodies? Me. I was responsible for all the steps it took to make their skin toxin-free and baby-butt soft. For my work, I made $125 -- an unthinkable amount for two hours of work ... at least unthinkable for a 25-year-old with three babies and a husband already  working two jobs to support the family.

So I mentally tallied up how many diapers I could buy with $125 and went through the steps.

Step 1: Show the ladies the restroom, where they could remove their clothes, throw on a robe and return to the wrap room, where they were to remove the robe and settle in on a massage-like table -- in the buff. (It was always ladies. Men requested the service, but that was too freakin' weird for me and I refused to take those customers. Luckily the salon owner understood ... and wrapped the males herself.)

Step 2: Exfoliate the skin -- of the entire naked body -- with a soft-bristled brush. The entire front side ... and I mean entire. All as I held my breath as much as possible because I have a thing about smells -- and these women often didn't smell so great. Then flip for the other side.

Step 3: (After brushing all the gunky dead skin off the table and myself!) Go over the entire naked body with a little rubber massager thingee to stimulate the deeper tissues. Continue holding my breath. Flip for the other side.

(Do note here that I'm kind of a prude. I never was one of those liberated gals who "experimented in college" or any other place and was not used to brushing or massaging or doing anything else to another woman's naked body. The ladies never seemed to notice, as their eyes stayed closed and they appeared asleep through the entire process, but it was the height of discomfort for me. Well, not the "height," as the next step was even worse.)

Step 4: Mix up a batch of seaweed paint using the dried seaweed and warm water, while holding my breath and refraining from gagging; seaweed stinks! Using a paintbrush the size of those found in hair highlighting kits, paint the stinky seaweed slime all over ... no, ALL OVER the already stinky bodies of the women. Flip for the other side.

Step 5: Wrap the stinky seaweed slimy woman in a plastic sheet, put a warm towel over her eyes, turn down the lights, turn on the soft and stupid new-age crap music, and let the woman stew in her juices for 45 minutes.

This is where I would go in the bathroom, scrub my hands nearly raw and try not to cry. I hated this more than anything in the world. If there were cell phones back in the day, I would have then gone out to my car, called Jim and cried. But there were no cell phones so I held back the tears and kept myself busy with other beauty-salon-like chores until the timer went off and my customer was done.

Step 6: Direct the wrap lady to the shower, where she could wash the stinky slimy mess and the toxins sucked from her pores right down the drain. Instruct her to gently towel dry and return to the table -- still in the buff.

Step 7: Lotion up the newly toxin-free and soft-as-a-baby's-butt woman, from neck to toe. Flip for the other side. Tell her to take her time relaxing then get dressed and meet me at the front counter.

This is where I'd again scrub my hands raw, hold back the tears, and practice a fake smile for the final step of the process: collecting payment.

Step 8: Smile, speak in soft new-agey "Wasn't that refreshing and wonderful" terms and take the money from the satisfied customer.

Then, because I always made sure I had no other customers scheduled after a wrap, I pocketed my $125 and drove home. In tears the entire way. Feeling like a prostitute because I took money for doing something I would never ever in my wildest dreams do if I didn't need the money so badly. Then I'd wipe my tears, go in the house and hug my girls. All the while swearing I'd never do it again.

Until the next seaweed wrap showed up on my schedule and I couldn't refuse it. I had three babies at home and a husband who already worked two jobs and we needed the money.

All these years later, I can still smell the stink of that seaweed. Maybe that's the reason I can't stomach sushi.

I think the time has come for me to add "The Best Job Ever" to my resume. I've clearly already had the worst!

Today's question:

What's the worst job YOU have ever had?

Trash talk

I've found that since being laid off, there's far less garbage in my life.

I'm not talking about office politics, primadonna designers, "other duties as assigned" or all the other garbage associated with the working world. I mean that literally, there's less garbage in my life.

It used to be that the garbage service we pay for allowed for three big garbage cans. And we often filled those three big garbage cans ... to the brim ... and then some. (The service also allowed for two additional garbage bags along with the cans, so that's where the "then some" went; we didn't leave it scattered around the cans for the friendly garbage man to pick up.)

But then December 2008 came. And I was outsourced from my position. And I now only work a part-time position (which really is okay with me).

And about five months ago, I saw the need to change our garbage pickup to be for just one measly can.

I admit that I changed the service to include one can and one recycle bin (I am trying to do that green thing that's so popular of late). But what ends up in the recycle bin isn't enough to fill a garbage can. Which means we're generating about half the trash we did while I was fully employed.

Even the day after Christmas -- a day that in the past meant that three full cans were surrounded by three additional lawn-and-leaf-size bags plus a pile of the boxes from the gifts and goodies -- saw only one full can ... and one full recycle bin.

The diminished garbage pile can't be just because my kids have grown older and the gifts come in smaller packages. We were in the same boat last year and still had piles of Christmas garbage.

And the smaller daily accumulation of garbage certainly isn't because any of us are on diets around here.

No, I honestly believe there's less garbage because I make less money. Because I make less money, I buy less stuff. And because I buy less stuff, there's less garbage. (Which clearly speaks volumes on the trap of consumerism I'd fallen into!)

I bet garbage collectors all across the country are emptying lighter cans -- fewer cans -- into their trucks each day. They probably get through their rounds faster and get home earlier.

So forget all the predictions and prognostications of the economists and financial gurus, it's the garbage men who can give us the real scoop. They'll be the ones to tell us when the economy is looking up, when we can all breathe a sigh of relief that the worst truly is over. They'll be the ones to see the bigger piles on the horizon. And bigger piles will mean bigger smiles ... for all of us.

There you have it: The truth is in the garbage!

Today's question from "If...(Questions for the Game of Life)":

If you could change one thing to make life easier for your own gender, what would you change?

I would get rid of that whole menstruation thing and all that goes along with it!