“Everyone has been made for some particular work, and the desire for that work has been put in every heart.” – Rumi
Any idea of what this short list of activities has in common?
— Police visits in the middle of the night
— Reading Dr. Seuss books out loud, with full animation and enthusiasm
— Checking heads for lice
— Playing hour upon hour of fuse ball and cards (and learning “the bridge” style of shuffling them!)
— Knowing which colors and clothing styles were for which gang
Any guesses? No? Unless you’ve known me for a long time, you probably wouldn’t know that this is a list of common ‘duties’ or on the job activities of one of my very favorite jobs, one of my first out of college.
Yep. You read that right.
One of my favorite jobs involved checking kids for lice. (and no, I’m not a mom!)
I was a Youth Care Worker for a runaway shelter for kids ages 11-17 for just about a year. And I loved it.
I started out on the overnight shift, where local law enforcement would regularly pick up kids off the streets in the middle of the night, and if the kids refused to tell them where they lived, they brought them to us. Part of the intake process was a lengthy interview of the child, and yes, checking their hair for lice. Admittedly, this was not my favorite part of the job, of course, simply a necessary one.
I didn’t just have to do ick jobs there – I got paid to play, too. When I wasn’t dealing with crises or incoming kids, my job was mostly just to supervise and hang out with them, build relationships and keep the peace. Thus all the recreational stuff – I used to rock at fuse ball!
I liked most everything about that job not because I got paid to play basketball in jeans (though that didn’t hurt), but because I was helping kids in need, even though it meant hearing heart breaking stories, working many unplanned extra hours in times of crisis, and surviving the time I almost set the kitchen on fire (that’s a whole different story, though!)
What I loved most, though, was my co-workers and supervisors. It was one of those special, rare confluences of just the right people, personalities and attitudes that blended together like a symphony (or in our case, more aptly, a hot hip hop rap the kids would have taught us!). We were all in sync, in rhythm.
Does this sound, in essence, at all like your current work place? A place you would like to work (details of duties aside)? If not, please also check out the post Write Your Own Job Description and The Nature of Work for some guideline questions to ask yourself to figure out what YOUR favorite job would look like.
We all 100% supported each other, even if we didn’t always agree on a consequence for a kid with bad choices of behavior, or on their treatment plan. We backed each other up in public, and then discussed it respectfully in private later, coming to a joint solution as needed.
What was especially awesome about this was that this was true across levels of authority as well – the Counselors, senior in training and experience to the Youth Care Workers, truly valued our input and opinions on the treatment and discharge plans of the kids, as they recognized and respected that we spent 8 hours a day to their 1-2 hours a week with the kids. Our supervisors likewise created and supported our team environment, and mentored those of us like me, just starting our careers and wanting to learn and increase our skills and responsibility levels.
The Staff Disco Party, circa 1996. That’s me, far right. My friend to this day, Amanda, is far left. We just had a disco party on the back porch on the 4th of July with her children in keeping with this day!
Honestly, it was somewhat utopic for a workplace, especially for one where all of us fairly regularly got called choice four-letter words by our less than compliant or grateful kids. We had synergy, and all loved our jobs, and each other. We socialized together, too, in small and larger groups. We laughed all the time. Honestly, many days, it felt like I was getting paid to play. But not all days; we cried a bit, too, we were, after all, serving broken families. It was tough sometimes for sure. We all learned from and taught each other, and the kids, too. I’d say pretty equally. I’m still friends with one of those co-workers, actually. I was in her wedding.
Wouldn’t you love to work in such an environment? (minus the four-letter words!)
Like I said, I loved it. It was one of my best work experiences. And yes, lice checks and all, my favorite job.
(Note, my current business is a business, not a job exactly. But I do often do this work in jeans, too, and as for police involvement, well, I have written a law enforcement resume, but no more police ride-alongs like I did back then for me!)
What about you?
- What was YOUR favorite job?
- What did/do you love about it?
- Does your current job enable you to do work you love?
- What would feel like “getting paid to play” to YOU?
- Do you love the people you work with (clients, co-workers, managers? Company mission/vision?)
I’d love to hear from you all about what your favorite job is or has been and why!
Share your story in the comments below!