I’ve done some odd jobs over the years — some odder than others.

The first time I recall earning money, I wanted to buy a baseball mitt. I saw a small advertisement in a comic book and asked my parents if I could sign up to sell greeting cards.

We lived in rural Kern County, California, and I straddled my Stingray bike and headed out to hit up the area farmers. Honestly, I don’t know if they really wanted the cards, but it seems they couldn’t resist a little tow-headed kid on a bike. These same farmers also bought Kool-Aid and iced tea from the stand I set up at the end of our driveway.

Later, while living near Medford, my entrepreneurship continued. A neighbor up the street had a fruit stand, so I went out and picked wild blackberries and sold them to her by the flat.

The neighbor lady seemed to have the best end of the deal. She made a profit, while I toiled in the sun and got purple fingers. Instead of being the middle man, I later sold them myself.

My sales experience came in handy when some college roommates and I hooked up with a fishmonger in Newport. We convinced him to let us sell fresh crab on the street corner outside of Portland.

We picked up a load of live crab on the coast and the roughly two-hour drive home featured the sound of clacking claws. The little suckers seemed to know their demise was soon to come. But that was nothing compared to the first time I thought they were screaming when we threw them into boiling water.

I freaked out!

“They screamed, they screamed,” I exclaimed. “We’re hurting them.”

My friends, who seemed to know a little more about crustaceans that I did, said the high-pitched sound was merely steam escaping from their shells.

Having only eaten crab on one prior occasion, I wasn’t totally convinced we would be able to sell them. However, once we got set-up on the street corner, they sold like hotcakes.

Evidently, I was much more suited for sales than babysitting. I’ll never forget the time I watched a toddler and baby for the youth pastor and his wife.

This is back in the day when cloth diapers were the standard. Rather than merely disposing of a soiled diaper, you had to rinse it out so it could go in the washer.

Angie, an inquisitive 3-year-old, was right there watching my every move as I changed her baby brother’s diaper. She later gave a play-by-play to her parents.

“Tammy got sick,” Angie said. “She barfed, she barfed lots.”

Yup, I was 23 years old and married and wretched my guts out changing Chad’s diaper.

However, that experience came in handy when I worked in a group home for emotionally disturbed adolescents and later one for adults with developmental disabilities.

I became so skilled at dealing with a variety of body fluids, I could list it on my resume — now, that would be odd.


Tammy Malgesini is the community editor. Her column, Inside my Shoes, includes general musings about life. Contact her at tmalgesini@eastoregonian.com or 541-564-4539.

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