Jobs I Have Had and the Lessons I Learned

Jobs are a great way to learn about the world. Luckily, I had my share. Here I share some of the poignant stories and the lessons I tried to learn.

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Artwork from the book - Jobs I Have Had and the Lessons I Learned by Mel Rosenberg - מל רוזנברג - Ourboox.com
About the Author
Mel Rosenberg - מל רוזנברג
I'm a writer, scientist, musician, inventor and lecturer. During the daytime I am advisor to the President of Shenkar College, a job I love. I write children's books, satire, and…
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Jobs I Have Had and the Lessons I Learned

by Mel Rosenberg - מל רוזנברג








Copyright © 2017

When I was about four years old, the Sagers would come to visit. Joel Sager and I would make drawings and would sell them to our parents for a couple of cents. This helped keep us out of their hair. This was my first experience as an entrepreneur. We had a captive audience, but no potential for scaling up.

1

The family used to pick delicious raspberries at an abandoned farm in Ottawa. Later I branched out and picked my own raspberries in the forest between our home and Hillcrest High School. I would jar them and sell them to neighbours. Once some kids held me up at gunpoint (ok, bb-guns but still mortifying) and took all my pickings from that day. Lesson: Distance yourself from unprincipled characters.

2

The Pacquets, our neighbours, gave me a babysitting job. They had a turntable, Simon and Garfunkel LP’s and they let me play them. I was in sixties heaven! And I got paid! Lesson: Work can be enjoyable!

3

Growing up, I had odd jobs at synagogue. Leading the Junior Congregation. Singing in the High Holy Day Choir (soprano). They would pay me an ‘honorarium’. Lesson: Worship can pay off in the present life as well.

4

I also sang in the Synagogue choir on the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The cantor was a rabbi, Mr. Rabin. I lost my job when my soprano voice began to, well, you know what. It took me another forty years to get another singing job!

5

Kenny went on vacation and let me replace him as paper delivery boy for a few days. It was in the Canadian parliament. The tips were very satisfactory and Kenny did not ask for a cut.  Lesson: Politics and money go hand in hand.

6

Tom Swadron hired me for his coin and stamp store one summer, down on the Ottawa Market. I thought I was going to be a salesman, but instead spent the week soaking stamps. He wanted to pay me in kind and I had to get Dad to go downtown to extract the $20 that he owed me for the week. Lesson: All that glitters is not gold.

7

One summer I was a secretary at a synagogue, with Maxine Robern. We helped ourselves (with permission) to left-overs from the bar mitzvahs and weddings. I gained weight.  Lesson: Perks are pernicious, and can slow you down.

8

One summer Dad got me a job sorting mail at Canada Post. It was the night shift. I must have misplaced hundreds of letters and packages. Lesson: Keep your eye on the final destination.

 

 

9

I spent the first half of the summer of 1969 as a garage hand. I didn’t fit in. One of the Gentile employees choked me and said “Too bad Hitler didn’t kill all you Jews.” The irony of it all was that it was the Bessin’s Morton Motors Volkswagen garage.  Lesson: Immigrate to Israel.

10

I was a door-to-door salesman for the Fuller Brush Company. A prospective client invited me to see her bedroom. I didn’t ‘get it’. Lessons: 1. Learn your customers. 2. Body language is important. 3. Be prepared for eventualities and expect the unexpected.

 

 

11

I swept concrete dust one summer for Moshe Feig’s construction company. The dust was heavy and horrific. But the pay of over $4 an hour (way back then) was persuasive. The guys I worked with (laying the floors after they were clean) are either dead of lung cancer, or still doing the same thing.

12

In the summer of 1969 I was a camp counselor at Camp Galil in Pennsylvania, replacing my friend Dan Kelman who had appendicitis. I got stopped at the Canada/US border at the airport in Montreal and they refused entry, since I told them I was getting paid ($50 for the summer) and they considered that employment (I didn’t have a work visa). I won’t tell you how I circumvented that, but I did.

13

During university, I worked for a while, playing piano accompaniments during ballet lessons. It was boring work (I was nineteen and the girls were six) so I started to throw a few syncopations into the classical music. The teacher said “I have good news and I have bad news. The bad news is that you’re fired.  The good news is that you must have an ear for jazz. Go study jazz.” So I did.

 

Back in Canada, I spent a week or two working as kindergarten assistant for my Mom, who was a superb kindergarten teacher.  The kids there are now well into their fifties. Benjy, what are you up to these days?

 

farmer on Urim

picker

pruner

sorter

tractor driver

beekeeper

irrigation hand

musician

piano salesman

movie actor and producer

inventor

writer

bad breath smeller

1973 jewish agency

 

 

 

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