By Julie Dimas
Ever wondered what it would be like to work as a rat wrangler and train animals to be on television commercials? Or work at a mental asylum? Or travel to sell wine at a stranger’s house? How about work at a horse barn?
As bizarre as many of these may seem, they are just some of the jobs that teachers at Lane have had before they started their careers in education.
“I was a rat wrangler and an animal trainer,” said Biology teacher Mr. Hollowed. “I trained lots of rats for television commercials and movies and [my friend and I] also took many different species of animals to parties, shows, and lots of other places. It was a lot of fun getting to work with a lot of different exotic animals and I came to respect rats and have a lot of fun.”
Mrs. Mead, a math teacher, also got to work with animals but in a less desirable way.
“I worked at a house barn. I had to clean stalls and the horses…Cleaning up stalls is not fun. It was dirty and disgusting. You [also] had to feed and take care of the horses. There was one time I had to go and I had the flu so that was not a good time. [However,] it was also a lot of fun because I love animals, so it was interesting,” said Mead.
Other teachers also claimed to have had jobs that put them in uncomfortable situations.
“I used to sell win,” said Italian teacher, Mrs. Tacke-Pucylowski. “I saw an ad for telemarketing where you had to make appointments to give people a ‘wine party.’ The whole idea was to sell wine to the group of strangers. It was just really uncomfortable because you had to go to homes you don’t know and people weren’t interested in drinking the wine and then buying it.”
Other teachers described jobs where the people they had to work with was part of the problem.
“I was a groundskeeper at a trailor park. I had to cut the grass and fix people’s homes. [One of the cons was that] my boss was shady and he would tell me things like, ‘The pipe has a leak on it’ and I would say, ‘So you want me to cut the pipe?’ and he would say, ‘No, just put tape on it’,” said Math teacher, Mr. Elias.
Spanish teacher, Mrs. Alarcon, explained how she has had many bad jobs during the course of her career. One of those was shampooing people’s hair at a salon. Another was working at a fabric store.
“[When I worked at the Fabric store],the cons to the job were that it wasn’t interesting. It was boring and really hard to stay entertained and professional at the same time. [Also], putting all the little buttons and sequins away. I would never get done,” said Alarcon.
French teacher Mr. Polley has also had many bizarre jobs.
“In high school I weighed 95 pounds and I was five foot four at the time and I got a job riding a forklift in a Del Monte factory full of immigrants from Mexico,” he said.
“We cleaned and washed the food and then we canned it. It was a 120 degrees in there and we had to wear jeans, combat boots, and a hair net. [Since] my hair was halfway down my back I had to tie it into Princess Leia buns on both sides of my head and put a hard hat on top of that.”
“My second most bizarre job was while I was in college becoming a psychiatrist. I got a job working at a mental asylum. All of these people were quite mentally impaired… adults who couldn’t care for themselves so we had to brush their teeth, we had to help them shower, and we had to help them get dressed.”
Still, Polley insists that while challenging, the work he did at the asylum was very rewarding.
“Some of the best people I ever met were some of the people I helped,” he said. “They were really, really lovable creatures and I miss them a lot. There were two patients. One of the patients name was Florien. He was fifty four years old and he had an I.Q. of seven. He couldn’t really do much more than smile and draw. I loved Florien. He was a very loving person.
“The other [patient] was Eddy. He was a very low I.Q. person but he was also violent. [However], he had a good heart and nobody had ever really loved him. His family was still around and they just dumped him off and said goodbye and never visited him ever again. I felt really bad for Eddy. [Yet], he never hurt me and he never attacked me, [even though] he attacked a lot of other people because he was mentally ill. They both impacted me greatly and still to this day, I think about them both.”
Sometimes however, it is not the job that is bizarre but rather the experieces that are involved or the job location.
“I had a job working at a crystal factory where I was an apprentice,” said Mrs. Simanis. “Since I wasn’t very high up in the ladder of who was important, I had to do things like go and get the milk for the tea break.”
Mrs. Jennings, English teacher, explained how her job led to some bizarre yet interesting experiences.
“I was doing event planning and fundraising in the political arena. We had a couple big fundraising events, where one on them was in Milwaukee in the Bradley Center. The President of the United States [ President Bush, at that time] was our special guest of honor,” she said.
“There was a private event before the big dinner for the people who had been the big fundraisers and there was a photo opportunity…The younger people who were working on the staff got in and had a group photo. I stood next to the President and he put his hand around my shoulder. He said, ‘You must be the crew who put this together and you did a fantastic job’. Being in a room with him and knowing that he’s basically the leader of the free world and having him talking to you, that was probably one of the most bizarre experiences that I ever had.”
Moving through several jobs is common for many people before they find a job where they are truly happy. Several Lane teachers advised using these negative experiences to help find what really brings satisfaction.
“Some people are gifted that they have one path and they just go right away, but for many of us life is a winding path where we are making our way towards things,” said Mrs. Tacke-Pucylowski. “Have patience and remember to view [your job experience] as a stepping stone to where you want to go.”
“Realize that life is long and that you’ll probably go through a lot of careers or different kinds of jobs in your life time,” she said. “[Also realize], that the jobs that you have for a short period of time are the ones that will make you remember how lucky you are when you finally find that job that’s the right match for you.”