Wednesday, April 4, 2012


The First Time I Heard the Term "Helicopter Parents"

The summer after my junior year of high school, my parents decided it was time for me to get a job. I agreed, actually, but fun fact about the labor market: no one wants to hire 16-year-olds. There are lots of restrictions about the number of hours they can work, they have no experience, and they're very hormonal. So despite hours of trudging around submitting applications in my favorite short-alls (#1 in Outfits That Will Guarantee Unemployment), I was jobless.

I’d resigned myself to a summer of backyard burning-but-not-tanning when one of my teachers emailed me to saying he’d heard about a lawyer who was looking to hire a student. Nothin’ fancy, just clerical work. I love few things in life more than alphabetization, so I contacted the lawyer and set up an interview.

When the big day came, I was in top form: actual pants, hair brushed for once, maybe even earrings? My dad drove me over during his lunch break at work.

“How long is this going to take?”

“I dunno, probably not more than 15 minutes.”

“Okay. I’ll just wait in the lobby then.”

The office took up the ground floor of an old brick building; from the outside, it looked distinctly like a private investigator’s office. When we walked in, my immediate reaction was: “This is not what the law firm looked like on Ally McBeal.”

The place was a mess. There were shoulder-high stacks of books and papers on every surface, the walls were covered in yellowed newspaper clippings, there was so much dust in the air that you could reach out and grab a fistful. And there was no lobby, just three well-worn chairs shoved into a corner. My dad plopped down on a velour armchair while I made my way back to the secretary: a large, pug-faced woman who seemed to hate me immediately.

“I think I have an appointment with Mr. Ludlow.”

She rolled her eyes.

“Louis! Girl here!”

A moment later, Louis the Lawyer came out to meet me. He was gaunt, middle-aged, and dressed in a brown corduroy suit. As he walked me to his desk in the next room, he said, “Don’t mind Belinda. She’s a real bitch. But she’s totally broke and has a bunch of awful health problems, so at least it’s understandable. But she wouldn’t have all those health problems if she weren’t so fat!” I was reasonably confident that Belinda could hear everything he was saying.

Once we’d sat down, Louis explained the kind of work I would be doing. “We’re not exactly a law office, per se. What we do is sort of compile legal cases and send them out in mailings. Like here” — he brandished a newsletter at me — “we have something about a car recall” — page-flip — “and here’s something about a hair loss suit, and a rodeo.” I had no idea what he was talking about, but I nodded. “So what we’d want you to do is gather these, sort them, prepare mailings, organize address lists, that sort of thing. How does that sound?”


“Okay, good. Now let me show you your other project.” He swiveled around to face his computer. “My daughter is in grad school now. We thought she was a real fuck-up when she was younger because she did so poorly in school, but it turned out she was just artistic! So we sent her off to an arts boarding school, y’know, and then she went to college to study filmmaking. Almost failed out, because she really is pretty dumb, but she made it through and now she’s doing this grad school thing. Her thesis is about advertising and the words used in advertising.”

“Wait, I’m sorry: is she a filmmaker or does she study marketing now or — ?”

“She’s a filmmaker. So anyway, we have this program here with words from advertising, and she’s going to look at frequency and trends and things like that, but we need to sort out the unimportant ones. So just — look, see, just uncheck the box next to words that we don’t want. Like ‘a,’ ‘the.’”

“What about that one? ‘Many’?”

“No, no, we should keep that. ‘Many,’ like ‘a lot.’ Yeah, that seems important. Let’s uncheck ‘cars,’ though, we don’t need that one.”

He proceeded to scroll through a page of words and decide which words were or weren’t important pretty much randomly.

“So yeah, that’s what you’d be doing. There’s a couple hundred pages of words to get through, so that should keep you busy for a while.”

I took over the mouse and started to uncheck boxes, also basically at random. As I did, he suddenly blurted:

“Have you ever heard the term ‘helicopter parents’? It’s used to describe this new phenomenon of parents who don’t stop involving themselves in their kids’ lives, even after they’re grown.”

I nodded vaguely. Was he about to explain why he was hiring a high-school student to work on his daughter’s graduate thesis?

“Yeah, so, you should probably tell your dad not to come with you to interviews. You need to be independent.”

I stammered a reply — “I don’t have a car of my own?” — and went back to checking boxes. He kept talking. After 10 minutes or so, he stood up.

“So, I was thinking I’d pay you five bucks an hour. It’s not that I don’t think your time is worth more, it’s just that I don’t think the work is worth more! And I’d like to pay in cash, under the table. Payroll taxes can be a real bitch, you know?”

You wouldn’t believe how much I burned-without-tanning in my backyard that summer.

Gillian Brassil is a roustabout. She currently lives in Providence and maintains a Tumblr of little consequence.

Photo by ppart, via Shutterstock.

137 Comments / Post A Comment

The Lady of Shalott

God, I thought this was going to be a story about "the weirdest job I ever had as a 16-year-old." Thank goodness. My weirdest job involved working at an ice-cream shop for a psychotically cheap man who, instead of ordering a fresh drum of chocolate ice cream, would send one of his 16-year-old employees down to the grocery store to buy a gallon of Breyer's and have us just mix it on in there.

AND he made all his ice-cream caked in the dead of winter and kept them on display in the freezer case for the next year/until someone bought one. Once I sold an ice-cream cake that had been made in December to a woman in June. It was all so horrifyingly unprofessional (and frankly, gross) that I'm surprised I lasted as long as I did there, making $6.50 an hour.

Vera Knoop

@The Lady of Shalott Buying by the gallon can't have been cost-effective. How is it possible that he wasn't getting a bulk discount?

My job at 16 was working in a net cafe (yes, those were still a thing; it was the mid-90s) where my boss was an alcoholic ballerina who lied about her age by at least 15 years and fat-shamed me constantly whenever she caught me-- gasp!-- eating lunch. And the creepy owner would come and stand directly across from me for hours, watching the Lewinsky hearings on the tv just above my head. And our sysadmin was also a drunk (and a lech), so I got yelled at a lot by customers because nothing worked right.


@The Lady of Shalott I got my first job at 15, which I quit after they denied me a raise for being Jewish, and then the job I had from age 16-18 was at a local farm market in my hometown. The elderly matriarch and patriarch of the family that owned/ran the market HATED me with a burning passion because when I was 16, I wore thick eyeliner, black chokers, chuck taylors, and band t-shirts. They thought I was some "punk kid" and started a campaign to get me fired by accusing me of stealing stuff. Aside from babysitting, I didn't have a job with nice, respectful people until college.

The Lady of Shalott

@Vera Knoop I have wondered that myself many, many, many times and I have never been able to come up with a satisfactory solution. My best answer is "he was crazy" and an actual answer is probably that he lay somewhere along the spectrum of "penny wise and pound foolish."

oh, disaster

@The Lady of Shalott Oh god, that reminded me of the time I had to try out for a job at an ice cream place. I spent two hours, three days in a row, trying and failing to make the perfect soft serve swirl. All the messed up swirls went into a giant plastic container and I got to take it home. At the end of the third day, the lady handed me $30 and wished me good luck. I think I got the good end of that deal.


@The Lady of Shalott When I was 16 I worked at a plant nursery. The geraniums were in the greenhouses and would start blooming in January. In order to stop this, I would have to spend 16 hours every weekend snapping the buds off with my fingernails.


@olivebee My first job was at Wet Seal and right as I was in the thick of my goth phase. I remember going to work one day dressed in an absurd floor length red / black crushed velvet dress with some kind of corset thing going on in the front (plus dark lipstick and a choker) and being asked by my manager to never wear it again. Reasonable! One of the assistant managers was completely insane and on bad days would scream at us for no apparent reason, in retrospect I'm certain she was on drugs. I once walked in on two other co-workers doing coke in the back room, they slammed the door in my face and I just turned around and went back to straightening clothes.


@klaus Doing coke in Wet Seal is my new dream.


@klaus And to think, while Wet Seal's patronage is mostly 11-15 year old girls and their poor mothers who wish the clothes weren't so skanky, the employees are having a coke-fest in the back room. Wonderful!

Tangential Wet Seal story: when I was in 7th grade, these Wet Seal shirts were all the rage. They were tank tops with a fruit spray-painted on, graffiti-style, and an adjective to go with it. Ex: 'Juicy!' and a strawberry. My mom took me to the mall, and I desperately wanted one of these shirts. So I picked up one with cherries that said 'Wild!' and my loud, Jewish mother (who cannot whisper to save her life), looks at it and goes: "Oh no. You can't wear that!" And at this point I knew where she was going, so I tried to stop her from continuing, but she went right on ahead with "Honey, when you lose your virginity, it's often called popping your cherry." Everyone in the store turned to look at us.


@olivebee Oh my god, Wet Seal. I had a blue PVC plastic jacket from Wet Seal. I'm actually blushing in embarrassment thinking about it.


@The Lady of Shalott I love weird job stories!! My craziest job was at a legit early 1900s syle book binding factory, with assembly lines and everything.

Leon Tchotchke

@olivebee Off-topic, but: Stuff like this is why I'm always baffled when people talk about "family-owned" businesses like it's a big positive. Every family-owned businesses I've worked for has been a godawful shambles and a nasty place to work where the only people who seem better off are members of the family that owns it. I'll pick "soulless corporation" over "family-owned" any day of the week!

Back on-topic: my first real job was working the overnight shift in a Wawa. I had a day-long training seminar that was spent learning the history of Wawa and watching these amazing parody music videos that taught basic principles of working at Wawa, like a Chumbawumba parody that talked about going to help out at the registers if four or more people were in line.

They did not, however, do any actual "training" about, like, how the registers or the deli or anything worked, so when I started the next day with an overnight manager who was constantly running out of the store on mysterious errands, I had no idea how to do anything and the store degenerated into chaos. Food was delivered and I had no idea where to put it, cappucino machines clogged and I couldn't unclog them, people came in and ordered sandwiches at 2am and I would just kind of wing it and guess at how to make them.

I eventually started just lurking in the refrigerated area behind the soft drink displays for hours at a time, wearing the parka for the walk-in freezer and pretending to shelve things in the back. They never "fired" me per se, but after two weeks of this I discovered that I had been given 0 hours, and that persisted until I just stopped coming by. Problem solved!


@The Lady of Shalott I had the best first job! Well, second job, my first job was at a bagel store when I was 15 and I worked there for a week because they didn't understand labor laws. After that I worked at a small, family owned (not by my family) exotic pet store that also did animal birthday parties. It was the best! When it was nice out, I would take the 11ft albino bermise python out to "sun" on my shoulders in the parking lot and people would take pictures with me. We also had a beautiful green wing macaw that would hang out with me at the cash register all day (he would try to "help" with coins).

mc coolfriend

@The Lady of Shalott Ha, my first job was also at an ice cream shop. The owner was this horrible woman who weighed all the completed dishes out on a digi scale to make sure they complied with franchise specs before handing it to the customer.


@Leon Tchotchke I was also an undertrained Wawa worker. I vividly remember being put behind the deli with the instructions "Just, you know, make sandwiches. Like you would make your sandwich at home." Who makes hoagies at home?!

They didn't put me there that often, though, because I was too young to use the meat slicer. I spent a lot of time in the walk in freezer as well.


@The Lady of Shalott I did a lot of temping in the summer holidays as a teen, as did all my friends. It was normally no worse than boring data entry but that was because we quickly learned to turn down work in the 'egg factory' depite the relatively high pay. You had to catch eggs coming off a conveyor belt and put them in the boxes, which is incredibly inefficient (why isn't there a machine to do that?) and also means you get covered in egg.

H.R. Vixen

@meetapossum my first job was selling bedding plants (mostly petunias) from an old delivery van on the side of the highway. during the downtime (you wouldn't believe how much downtime) I got to water the plants using water from the ditch, deadhead the petunies, and read and read. I am now a compulsive deadheader (of the petunia variety, not the jerry garcia variety)


@Leon Tchotchke i LOVE WAWA. i want to see all of those training videos.

also, my first job was at lucy the elephant, y'all. the worlds largest elephant building. NOT KIDDING. google it, you will not regret it.

Veronica Mars is smarter than me

@meetapossum I may have had this jacket? But mine was like, pearlescent baby blue. And probably from TJ Maxx or something. (Also I gave you a shout-out in a recent comment elsewhere on the site.)


@Veronica Mars is smarter than me Yeah, I'm pretty sure we're talking about the same jacket. I think it may be the ugliest things I've ever owned.

Is this a scavenger hunt?! :D

fondue with cheddar

@oh, disaster "Mr. MacBeth, come check out your wife's beautiful cones."


Oh that was very good.@y


I like this story and I LOVE your author bio.


@Kristen Yes! My friend was a circus roustabout. LOVE that word.


Tangent: A friend and I recently came up with the term Helicopter Kid. Because we were both one, until we grew up and starting seeing therapists about how to better swoop in rescue our parents and the therapists explained a lot to us about how NOT to do that.

Anyways..........That last sentence was an utter relief! I was sort of afraid you might have spent your summer that way!


@sox I know! I feel like most 16 year olds (back then...not so much nowadays with all the entitlement) would have been like *shrug* "It's a job, soo...sure!"


@olivebee I am probably a helicopter parent in training. But. I wouldn't allow my kid to work for money under the table at an actual officey kind of place. Or a restaurant, or whatever. Babysitting, sure, I can see it. But not for an actual office job like that.

Scut work? Tedious work? Boring work? Sure.

Vera Knoop

@sox I'm going to have to borrow "helicopter kid." That is a perfect description.


@PistolPackinMama i did that for three years in high school, and i have to say it was the best job ever. they didn't really keep much track of my hours and i got unlimited free diet coke and seltzer. plus there were usually gift baskets during the holidays that i raided like a viking. and it was $10/hour under the table!

don't rule it out, just be careful?


@Vera Knoop I suspected someone here would get some use out of it, and is why I shared!


@sox This is FANTASTIC. I finally have a term for all the habits I'm trying to unlearn. Never have been a helicopter parent though. I wonder whether there's a correlation...
Anyway, thanks. Therapist will be impressed. I will credit you.

Sydney C

@sox Oh man, being a helicopter kid has cost me so much money in therapy. It's good to know I'm not alone!


@Sydney C Don't you wish you could bill the people you talk about to your therapist in proportion to the time of your appointment they take up?


This guy sounds alarmingly like the boss at my unpaid internship in college--tiny horrible book distributing company, and he liked to tell us, his all-female all-intern staff, about his bitchy ex-wife and which woman on the internet he thought were attractive. We all quit after he sexually harassed one of the other interns.


@frigwiggin It kind of sounds like he sexually harassed all of the interns.


@Kristen Well, yeah, verbal sexual harassment vs the actual physical contact he had with the anonymous girl who complained (I suppose that was more sexual assault?). We should have been smarter and left earlier. Ugh.


As someone who is in the process of finishing up her thesis, I wouldn't let a highschooler touch that thing with a ten-foot pole. (No offense, high schoolers! I love you guys, I do. I just don't trust anyone else with my research?)

Vera Knoop

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher It doesn't sound like this person was the most dedicated or passionate student ever.


@Vera Knoop That's very fair. And also she has a crazy dad. (Note: we are talking about the college student, not the author!)


@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher I worked for a grad student (unpaid!) on her diss research when I was in high school. But I figure she thought that if anyone wanted to pin and identify thousands and thousands of tropical rainforest ants, all for glory and no money, who was she to say no?


@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher Ask a librarian!


@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher I mean, sure, I wouldn't let them edit mine or anything, but I'm not 100% sure my method for picking what is important or not has much to do with anything other than how sick of looking at scanned documents I am. High schoolers might at least attempt *some* kind of system.


my entire body was screaming in horror at this guy. i'm so glad you burned-without-tanning instead.


@cliuless Everything about him was horrible and disgusting, but when he had the hypocritical nerve to tell her that her dad was a helicopter parent, I was like "Hell to the no!" (So, basically I was initially more offended by hypocrisy than unlawful "employment" and repugnant attitude towards people. Yikes.)


@olivebee Yeah - few among us would have the wherewithall at 16 to point out glaring hypocrisy like that, but I kinda wish we could go back in time and throttle that nitwit.


@BoozinSusan We could all just show up, en masse, in the office. "Hi, we're from the Hairpin? We got a call about glaring douchebaggery and we just wanted to investigate."


@BoozinSusan I LOVE THIS. Can we have matching jackets with intimidating logos?


@Xanthophyllippa I'm thinking the Drive jacket. You know, the one with the scorpions and the Ryan Gosling.


@BoozinSusan Which Tom wore to go bowling on Parks and Recreation.


@BoozinSusan I'll take a medium, please.


What's the exact, total opposite of helicopter parents? That's my mom and stepdad. And frankly, I am glad.

No weird summer job stories for me. I mean, I worked at a movie theatre as a teenager and it sucked monkey balls, but it wasn't above-average suck.

As a fellow short-haired lady, I think Gillian's Tumblr is totally consequential!

Leon Tchotchke

@DH@twitter Gnostic parents? Demurgic parents?

Daisy Razor

My parents were much more of the "Are you bleeding? No? Then suck it up" parenting style, but I will never forget that when a summer boss of mine made me cry (he went on a nearly hour-long tirade about how lazy my coworkers and I were. We worked at the public tennis courts, teaching lessons to five year olds. It was not rocket science, but we were all good workers.), my dad called my boss's boss and got him fired. I will admit, it was a pretty awesome moment mostly because it was so totally unexpected.


@Daisy Razor Upthread, I mentioned how I quit my first job at 15 because my manager denied me a raise because I was Jewish. My parents are like yours, so when my mom got involved and called the regional manager of the franchise, I was like "woo-hoo!"

Daisy Razor

@olivebee It was also the first time I ever heard my dad say "dickhead," so it was just crazy awesome all around.

Ester Bloom@facebook

@Daisy Razor When parents curse! Always an exciting milestone. I still remember when my father tartly referred to a friend's father as "The east end of a west-bound horse." (Also because it was AWESOME, and true.)


@Ester Bloom@facebook : Oh, man!

My folks are cah-razy conservative, so the first time I heard my dad say, "CRAP!" (when my sister broke a car window), I thought we were all going to die.


@Daisy Razor I'm so glad your parents stepped up! Did they flat out tell you they were denying you the raise because you're Jewish, or was it implied in some other way?


@AuntAgatha I think you meant to aim that towards me...My manager's exact words, when I asked why no raise (even though I got one at my 6 month review), were "well....this IS a Christian nation, so your type doesn't really belong." I pretty much stormed out of there in a huff.

Reginal T. Squirge

The Story Of My Life: A One Act Play

Person Who Is Not Me: "Hey, you know that one thing about you? Well, these people also have that same one thing about them so I'm going to assume you are one of those people forever and ever, not matter what you do or say.!"

Me: "Hmm."



The first time I heard the term "helicopter parents" was when my boyfriend and I adopted a puppy, and our friends suddenly couldn't stop describing us as such.

But, you know, it was A PUPPY. Not being a helicopter parent to a puppy is asking for a dead puppy.


@marz Also a totally destroyed house.
ALSO, I feel like you can't be a helicopter parent until your child goes off to school of some sort. Puppies and infants need pretty constant supervision.

Vera Knoop

@marz So, what, you took its PSATs for it?


@Vera Knoop Yes, we took her Puppy SAT for her.

Elvis Costello's Spectacles

"I love few things in life more than alphabetization" - a kindred spirit!

Science vs. Dinosaurs

@Elvis Costello's Spectacles I worked at a library during high school. My entire job was alphabetizing stuff! It was great!


@Elvis Costello's Spectacles See also: my love of lists and list-making.

Vera Knoop

@Elvis Costello's Spectacles
I work in a tutoring center, and NONE OF MY COWORKERS (college and graduate students who are good enough at writing to tutor their peers) seems capable of alphabetizing the student files correctly. It is extremely frustrating.

Tuna Surprise

@Vera Knoop
I'm a lawyer and one time I inserted a new term into an alphabetized list in the wrong place. The guy who reviewed my work sent it back to me with the mistake circled and "KINDERGARTEN!" written in the margin. Not my finest moment.


@Vera Knoop The number of times a day I yell I DON'T KNOW HOW THE ALPHABET WORKS is kind of embarrassing.


I had a job in college at a family-owned jewelry store. It was one of several locations. Here are a few horrible and, in retrospect, funny things about that job -

1. As it was family-run, many of the people who worked there were related. My boss was a mentally unbalanced, perpetual art student who had clearly been given the position because her family was worried about her. She lived above the store, talked incessantly about chronologically conflicting past lives, and kept her art projects in the basement.

2. Being sent to fetch things from the basement, where said art projects lived, was a lot like being toddler Bart Simpson in his giant clown bed. You know what I mean. Benevolent forces were not at work.

3. Her grandmother, wife of the late founder of the stores, once pulled me aside and gently explained that my boss had serious drug problems in her past. She intimated that my boss had brain damage. I had already figured this out.

4. They used to keep the store open late for this crazy lady who would come in and blow her slot machine winnings on whatever struck her fancy. This happened more than once in a three-month period.

5. I became a total badass at changing watch batteries and cleaning fancy rings.


@MmeLibrarian Ooooooh, what's the best way to clean a fancy ring? I have a Tanzanite ring that needs cleaning like nobody's business, but no matter what I seem to so, I can't get it clean.

I wish there were a post on How to Take Care of Your Fancy Jewelry.


@CurlsMcGirlypants A toothbrush, some toothpicks, and hot, soapy water usually takes care of a dirty ring. If it is not coming clean for you, my best advice is to take it to a jeweler and hope they have someone hanging out in the back, cleaning rings. They should do it free of charge and sometimes they have special machines for ring cleaning that can do more than elbow grease.

Girafe Francaise@twitter

@MmeLibrarian i worked in a jewelry store and was told to never put the Tanzanite rings in the cleaning machine (the ones that have jewelry cleaner inside and sends pulses). These vibrations can break down the tanzanite which is considered a soft stone. So if you do take it to a store, tell them to not use the machine ;-)


@MmeLibrarian Alas, I've tried a toothbrush and toothpick, but it couldn't get into the really tiny spaces at the back. I've even tried letting it soak in a warm soap solution for a while before cleaning it. Like Girafe Francaise@twitter, I was also told not to put that ring into cleaning machine.


@CurlsMcGirlypants Does this help? http://thehairpin.com/2012/02/ask-a-clean-person-this-valentines-day-say-it-with-jewelry-cleaner


@Verity Alas, not really. I remember seeing that before and getting super-excited before actually seeing the chart. The main problem is that on the back of the ring, there are really tiny holes to the stones that I can't get to and clean with anything, so the Tanzanite still ends up looking cloudy. I'll probably just have to take it to a jewelry store to get it cleaned. I just didn't want to spend the money. :/


here to show some Provie love! Also, Belinda! I would love her backstory.

alex hart

From the beginning of this story, I was excited it might turn into the movie "Secretary."


@alex hart Eeep! But she was 16 in this story! Eeep, I say, EEP!


My first job was at a jewelry store & I quit after only 2 hours. My boss then called my mother to tell her I was ungrateful & hoped I had fun working in fast food, because that's surely where I'd end up! (Helicopter boss??) Thankfully, I got a job a month later that paid 3 dollars more per hour than that assbag was going to pay me. So I win. Fin.


Minimum wage was $4.15 or something when I started working. How much would it have been underpaying you at $5 an hour?


@Brunhilde It was $5.15/hour for a long-ass time(7-10 years, I think... #toolazytogoogle... and only went up to $7.25/hr in 2009 or so.


@whateverlolawants Some states have had higher minimum wages for quite a while though, the 5.15 to 7.25 is the federal requirement.

I'm 23, and when I was in high school (graduated 2007) my state minimum wage was like 6.25 I believe? I made $7.00/hr at my first job when I was 15 working as a clerk for the city, and $7.50 at my second job working at Noodles and Co. from ages 16-18.


@Brunhilde: I know it varies state to state, my example was from 1992 California. If where she was living at the time in the year that this happened the minimum wage was $5.15 and he offered her $5.00 under the table, I don't really see that as particularly insulting, considering she could have kept more money that way by not having payroll taxes deducted. If it was today in Washington where I know the minimum wage is $9.04 now, yeah, fuck that guy.

I mean, aside from all the other batshit crazy stuff about this situation.


I was that weirdo who went to summer school for fun.


@anachronistique I did that too once. I took art classes!


@hopelessshade Me too! It was the only way I could get into photography class. I learned to use the darkroom! And I also got to take Constitutional Law with my neighbor, who was one of the school's best teachers.


@anachronistique Three words: Junior Great Books.

(OK, it was middle school and I was too young to get a real job, but seriously, I went to the library and talked about books with other geeks all summer).

sarah girl

@anachronistique I was that poor weirdo who wanted to go to summer school for fun but couldn't afford it. :(


Gasp! I LIVE IN PROVIDENCE. It's like being in England and hearing someone with an American accent. I KNOW THAT PLACE, I say to myself.


@TyrannosaurusWreck I used to live in Providence, and ditto! (Though my reaction to being in England and hearing someone with an American accent was "ugh, is THAT what I sound like?!")


Gillian, on your Tumbler...here?

I think that's goose sex, not goose bullies.

:(-face at horrifically rapey goose sex.


@wee_ramekin What does it say about me that I clicked on that link? (I think most animal sex is pretty close to, if not actually, horiffically rapey.)


@wee_ramekin LOL i agree!


Actually geese have really complicated mechanisms to make sure that they don't get raped! I know it still looks like rape, but actually the vagina of ducks and geese is mulch-chambered or in a corkscrew shape. The male's penis is in an opposite corkscrew, and he will not be able to get it in, or into the right chamber if the female isn't relaxed and willing. So basically female ducks/geese can choose if they want that male's genes in their babies, and if they don't there is not a thing he can do about it.

Still looks awful, I know. Don't even get me started on cat sex. THAT shit is terrifying.


@The Kendragon Yeah, I know about the corkscrew vag - some great videos on YouTube involving spiral test tubes and duck wangs. I'm with you on the cat thing, though, having seen it happen (turning the hose on barn cats is fun for the viewer, not so much for the female cat).


Ugh I just shuddered SO hard

Harriet Welch

Man, My teenage jobs were AWESOME
1. Victorian tea room in the ghetto. I got to dress up in crazy clothes and serve tiny sandwiches to people who had never been to the poor/historic side of town. Business closed...duh.

2. Print marketing/direct mail place. I started doing one job and as people got fed up and quit I just learned how to do other things and my boss would pay me more. I got a legit paycheck (and workman's comp) and then a HUGE amount more on the sly. When I was 17 I was making $25 an hour working 40 a week. My dad got pissed because I didn't do my chores so I got a maid. A FUCKING MAID!
That business also closed. I decided I wanted to work at Boy Scout summer camp and no one would do 4 people's jobs.
3. SUMMER CAMP- is 100% the absolute best job in the whole world. Boy Scout summer camp at the weird camp that had all the gay/punk/lazy+generally awesome boy scouts. Also being the only girl pretty much all the time.

Grown up jobs suck.


@Harriet Welch THIS IS THE GREATEST THING. You were 17 and hired a maid. Holy shit.


@Harriet Welch You win. Seriously. If we'd been friends in high school I would've asked you to get me hired on at all of those places.

Harriet Welch

@Kira-Lynn@twitter The best part was that my dad got PISSED and tried to send the maid away. He was all uppity about the principal of the fact that if I lived there I had to contribute. My mom in a rare putting her foot down way was like oh hhheeeeeelll no (you know, except in a mom way). It was shocking to me. She made the case that if I was making $25 an hour and the maid was making $10,then it cost me $15 an hour to clean instead of go to work.
I later found out that she was slipping the maid an extra $5 an hour to do other things, plus my dad slipped her an extra $10 to match his socks. Everyone did this without telling each other. This chick made out like a bandit!

Veronica Mars is smarter than me

@Harriet Welch Hi. Can we talk about BSA/scout camp? Because yeah. BSA was my high school life. What did you do/what region of the country were you in?


I spent my high school summers lying in bed playing computer games and watching torrented anime until 3am. Was this....abnormal? It certainly didn't feel like there were a lot of other options available.

Veronica Mars is smarter than me

@hopelessshade Probably not abnormal, just great at making me feel old. When I was a teenager, there was no such thing as torrenting! When I was in school, the Western world was just learning about DiC-ified Sailor Moon! When I was a teen, no one ever got in bed with a computer!

Theresa Borkowski@facebook

My first job was as a historical weaver girl at a living history museum. The actual weaving fun, but my bosses and the woman the occasionally sent in to "assist me" were terrible, and I worked in a snake-infested barn. ug.


@Theresa Borkowski@facebook DREAM JOB i want to work somewhere where i can wear historical garb and preferably knit or spin or something of that nature.


@LeafySeaDragon I've always wanted to wear historical clothes and give tours. I still think about it. Maybe I should look into it.


@Theresa Borkowski@facebook I was a docent on the C&O Canal in Maryland and I got to wear a straight up BONNET and play with colonial-era toys (Jacob's ladder whaaaat). It was awesome. I did not get paid or anything but I was like 12 so I basically didn't care. Also I learned a lot about locks (the water variety).


my mother was a florist so i worked in flower shops from the time i was 11 or so? florists are notorious for hiring underage/cheap/illegal/whatever labor. i washed A LOT of scummy buckets and hauled a lot of gross slimy floral trash. valentine's day at a flower shop is like working in the salt mines. you come out with WOUNDS. i swear i once cleaned longstemmed roses for 10 hours straight. upside: i love love loved working weddings and pinning bouts on the all the hot groomsmen.


@LeafySeaDragon Ooh, can I Ask A Former Floral Worker? I have a need for floral consultation from within the industry. A friend of mine is getting married next May and trying to not go into debt forever. Getting the bridesmaids together and making our bouquets (pretty chill/relaxed/rustic/whatnot, not a super formal and fancy wedding here)--suicide? Or totally doable?


@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher doable!!! i can write you a long email with step by step instructions, email me off list with what her list is (ie bouts, bouquets, wreaths, centerpieces, motb and flowergirls, etc) the mark up for flowers is 200-500%. if you want something colorful and happy and relaxed than you can do tons of flowers for well under $500. sillyboho@gmail.com


@LeafySeaDragon Aahhh, you are the best! I will ask her for her list (I think it's just bouquets for the girls and a couple centerpieces for the church, plus bouts, maybe?) and email you when I get it. Thankyouthankyou. :)

(Also 500%? Egad.)


@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher It really is doable! When I was 8, my mother re-married and totally had a bouquet making party--it wasn't terribly hard (even I got to help) and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.


@CurlsMcGirlypants That is reassuring! I actually did some bouquet-arranging at work last fall (farmer's market fundraiser type thing) and had a good time doing it, so I'm assuming that if I'm doing it with people I actually like we'll all have a great time. Especially if there aren't as many spiders, and more cocktails.


Probably not the right reaction, but I was kind of disappointed she didn't take the job. The thing is, that if you didn't have helicopter parents you would be stuck with a summer job very much like this one or worse.

Mr. Kitty

Helicopter parents? I'm a latchkey kid (lumped in with millenials) and the only time my parents over involved themselves is when it comes to the person I'm dating. Jobs? Bills? Horrible bosses? Nada.

My first Real Job was working for a wholesale book supplier who used drug references in every single work analogy. He took a liking to me and another girl around my age, constantly calling us into his office to shed his wisdom. Unfortunately, I was 18 and living alone and needed the $12/hr.

Also! Everybody knows that the only time you should accept money under the table is when you are receiving unemployment benefits during a recession.


My first ever job (aged 15) was as an assistant in a bridal shop. We had to wear uniforms, which included desperately frumpy calf-length pencil skirts.

One day I was assisting with a dress fitting, and the supervisor asked me to hand her something - pins or tape? But we were fitting a dress with a spectacularly long train - like, this thing covered 60% of the shop floor - and I was on the opposite side of the train to my supervisor. There was no room to walk round, and even at 15 I wasn't stupid enough to WALK ON SOMEONE'S WEDDING DRESS. So I backed up a few steps, and took a running jump OVER the train.

As I glided gracefully through the air (hmm), I heard a r-r-RIIIIP!!! noise from somewhere in the vicinity of my personage. The back seam of my pencil skirt had burst open mid-flight, and the evil garment was held together only by the button at the waistband. Fortunately 1) I was wearing tights and 2) I had walked into work wearing jeans, and could change back into those.



@OwlOfDerision My mental image of this is fantastic. Did the bride flip out?


@OwlOfDerision You should write a Personal Best about this and elaborate. Seriously.


i worked the fashion jewelry counter at my local nordstrom. HELLO, CRAZIES.
a. this one woman came in while we were doing inventory and inquired about a watch. we didn't have it in stock, no big deal, we could get it transfered from another store after inventory. she acted totally fine and excited about it. the next day, the store manager received (and read aloud TO ALL OF THE DEPARTMENT MANAGERS) a complain about me from this woman. apparently my assistance was not to her liking? to this day i don't know why.
b. the aforementioned store manager (who is probably still in this position) only wore black, and generally disliked every human being that crossed her path. we used to joke that she drank virgin blood after closing every night.
c. i was transfered to the active wear department, and, because i had some experience playing and watching sports (swimming and water polo...) my new department manager thought it was okay to refer to me as "butch" on multiple occasions.
d. i put in my two weeks and got my ass out of there. on my last day of work, nordstrom cashed out my paycheck (standard practice there). a week later i received a phone call from my jewelry manager, who was worried about me. my bitch of a crazy manager had told everyone that i didn't show up to my last day of work (even though i was cashed out?), and i am now black listed from nordstrom. as if i would ever go back.

so basically, don't work at nordstrom, if you want to feel sane.

Harriet Welch

@bisou UGH I worked at the fine jewelry counter at Macy's and had a very similar, very yucky experience. Department stores are awful.


@bisou I have such a deep hate for Nordstrom's after reading that employees were writing "Thank You" notes to customers and making deliveries using their cars ON THEIR OWN TIME. I wouldn't eff Nordie's with George Bush's dick.


I worked a half dozen different food service jobs all through high school and college. I started when I was 14 or so? Definitely illegal. But the upside of being that young was when I'd finally reach my limit of how much sleazy flirting/harassment I could handle from coworkers or customers, is I could just go "I think you should know, I'm a minor. Below the age of consent. Which means you're soliciting a minor. Isn't that a felony?" And then smile sweetly and say something about how I couldn't meet up with them after work anyway because my dad and four older brothers were taking me to a gun show. Worked like a charm 90% of the time. I always walked home (to my single mom and one baby brother) really fast with my mace out because of the other 10%.

It will be so hard not to helicopter if I have a daughter who has to work in food service some day. I'll make her carry mace and a flamethrower.


@DeathPenguin It is legal to work at 14, at least where I live. There are a lot of restrictions on hours and whatnot. And yeah... people are very sleazy to young women (or pretty much any woman) working in food service. Not cool.


This was so great to read, and now I'm inspired to write more of my own absurd experiences. Thank you ma'am!


The funny thing is that even at $5 an hour, you would've made the same or more as some other teen working minimum wage with taxes taken out. But I can certainly see why you didn't take the job!


Someone may still see my late to the party post. I had a job when I was 14 where we were taken out to a barge in the middle of a bay. It was there because of the smell of rotting herring. Our job (child laborers all) was to squeeze the rotten herring until the egg sacs popped through the thin flesh, then remove the two crescent-shaped sacs without tearing the ends off. Oh, and we were soon covered with maggots, which we began throwing handfuls of at each other. Topper: the brine solution wasn't right, so the whole mess spoiled and we weren't paid. So, yeah, that ice cream gig sounds pretty nice. I win!

Homestar Runner

@Myrtle I know this reply is months late, but I couldn't just let this story sit here without some sympathy. OH MY GOD WHAT. WHY. NO PAY. How did you get roped into this? Were you an orphan from a Dickens novel?


Why, hello Runner. I'm going to guess the reason we weren't paid is the adults weren't able to sell the herring. Also, we were pretty young and we didn't have guns?
I'll put it in the Movie, but thanks for the Internet hug.


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