Letter J entries coming up! And, no, one is not Jennifer. 🙂
The one constant throughout my elementary school years was this one kid who was in my class each year from first to fifth grade. Jason Hensel, a scrawny boy who sported a blonde flat-top, was super smart and we competed for grades all the time. My number one goal in life was to be better than him. It was a bit of a crazy obsession. I had to be the best, and he was the only thing standing in my way.
As an adult, I was embarrassed to find a book of poetry I’d written in the third grade. The About the Author page was a fill in the blank worksheet, and nearly every statement had something to do with beating Jason Hensel in some way. “I wish I could swim as fast as Jason.” Did I even know how fast he could swim? “One thing I can’t do is spell as good as Jason.” I actually was a pretty good speller, but apparently I wasn’t Jason-level good. “I want to run as fast as Jason.” Wow, I was insufferable.
In second grade, our GT class, consisting of me, Jason, and some other guy I can’t remember, had to research a country and present a report to the group, along with bringing in a food from the country. I chose to present on China (coincidentally…who knew I’d end up moving there 20 some odd years later?), much to my mom’s dismay. Remember this is before the invention of the Internet…it was difficult to find information. I chose China because I could bring in fortune cookies. Imagine my shock when I moved to China and realized they aren’t even Chinese. Mind blown! Anyhow, Jason researched and presented on Australia. While I wouldn’t come to realize it until years later after much reflection, that was when my obsession with all things Aussie was born. I can distinctly remember proclaiming from the age of 7 that I would one day become a teacher and live in Australia. Spoiler alert: I did it. 🙂
Looking back, I realize I must have had the biggest crush on him that my younger self didn’t realize. Whether it was a crush or something else, I was definitely unnaturally obsessed with him and being better than him. I’m so glad I’ve grown out of that phase of my life.
After elementary school, Jason’s family moved to a neighboring town and we never saw each other again. It wasn’t until college, when I was at a friend’s party and introduced to a guy named Jason, that I saw him again. I didn’t make the connection that it was him right away though. I remember thinking, This guy looks really familiar, but couldn’t place him. After seeing him a few more times at various functions, I heard someone call him Hensel. Lightbulbs went off! I know him! We laughed about the good ole days and became friends for a bit. We lost contact when I moved abroad, so I’m not sure what he’s up to, but I hope he’s doing well. I’m glad I no longer feel the need to compete with him. I now compete with myself, as it should be.
Over the past 20 years, I have worked continuously in a variety of jobs, not counting my babysitting gigs when I was younger. During high school and university, I had at least one job at all times. My first job was a skating carhop at Sonic, one of my favorite jobs ever. I still reminisce about that job and secretly want to do it again for a summer. The only job I was ever fired from was Schlotzsky’s, where I manned the registers. I was fired for attending a Garth Brooks concert instead of going to work. My dad got me and Andrew front-row tickets at the last minute, and while I protested that I had to work, he made me call in and go to the concert. I cried and cried when I was fired, sure that my life was over and I’ve never work again. I was so dramatic!
After being sacked, I got a job at Cinemark, where I worked in the concession stand, as an usher, in the gameroom, and in the projection booth. I’ve sold Cutco knives door-to-door…maybe not the best choice as a young girl, but I was pretty good at it. If you haven’t heard of Cutco, they are really awesome knives. I still have a bunch of them and use them all the time. I also worked as a carhop again, helping train newbies at a brand-new Sonic. I was meant to just work there a month, but ended up staying about a year. I also held jobs at two different HEB grocery stores, worked at my church’s Mother’s Day Out and Nursery programs a few days a week, and babysat for the Foster family in the afternoons.
My first full-time, grown-up job was when I was worked in a call center doing tech support for a free ISP. Just so you know, I had no technical knowledge, but somehow I got the job. They trained me, and I did okay. Most of the time, all people had to do was restart their computer and the problem was fixed. I even had a few callers who couldn’t get their computers to connect to the Internet, only to find out they hadn’t turned their computers on yet. Face palm! The hours at that job were pretty crazy, especially with my school schedule. I was 18 and a freshman in college at the time. I would attend school Monday to Friday 7:45-11:30 am, then rush to work Sunday-Thursday 12:00-9:00pm. Seriously, what was I thinking?!?
Right after graduation, I moved to Sydney where I was a nanny for a family of three kids. I also worked part-time in a bottle shop (wine and liquor store) in order to pay taxes so I didn’t get kicked out of Oz. I returned to Texas after 6 months, where I began working as a fourth grade teacher at Hall and Bay Elementary Schools for the next 6 years. During that time, I had part-time jobs off and on to make ends meet. How sad is it that teachers need to supplement their incomes?? Anyhow, I worked at Bath & Body Works and Coach in the mall near my house. As I mentioned in Letter I, I was a camp director for iD Tech for three summers as well.
Since moving abroad in 2010, I’ve worked as a teacher, literacy coach, principal, and head of primary/PYP coordinator at three schools in Shanghai, Tirana, and Bangkok. I’m fortunate that I no longer have to have part-time jobs to make ends meet. I now fill up my time off by traveling and going back home to visit family.
Whew…writing it all out makes me realize I’ve worked a lot and in a variety of settings!