Wednesday, December 7, 2011

At least I don't sell funnel cakes anymore.

She’s long gone with her red shoes on
Gonna need another loving babe
--Nobody But the Baby, Allison Krauss, Gillian Welch, Emmylou Harris
This Insecure Writer’s Support Group post isn’t exactly about writerly insecurities, but about the decisions we make in order to be secure.  Because lately, most of my insecurities have to do with my Day Job, which isn’t writing.  Writing is my salvation, my dream--the highlight of my reality.  The Day Job is becoming less and less emotionally fulfilling for me.  The reasons I went in to medicine are incongruent with what medicine is becoming.
So I should quit, right?  Find a better fit?  Well here’s where that insecure part of me comes in.  Down deep, I am a practical gypsy.  A gypsy with a mortgage, and school loans, and health insurance costs for two little boys.  A gypsy that knows I am fortunate to have the security of any job in this economic climate.
I dedicate today’s post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group to being too insecure to give up security.  To embracing the jobs that put money in your pocket while you chase other dreams.  The jobs that you’d change in a heartbeat if the opportunity presented itself.
I have had a variety of craptastic jobs in my life.  I have been employed as the Wal-mart snack bar queen, forced to wear a smock and distribute liquid cheese.  I was a construction strumpet (see Vibrator girl for further info).  I offered my body to medical science as a guinea pig for an experiment on acid reflux.  When someone comes at you with a tube they want to stick down your throat, don’t believe them when they tell you that anesthesia is not necessary.  Unless you’re in to that sort of thing.
I was thumbing through an advertisement the other day when I was triggered to recall one of my favorite sucktacular jobs.  The good folks at Bed, Bath and Beyond have now made it possible to own--for the low price of $14.99--your very own funnel cake maker set.  Because families out there are so desperate for food implements that this will become a crucial part of daily food prep.  And heck, with the obesity crisis looming, why not support a chicken in every pot, a car in every garage, and a funnel cake maker in every pantry? 

Begin flashback to a sultry Nebraska summer in 1988, complete with acid washed cutoffs and explosion bangs as far as the eye can see.  
Setting:  The Dawson County Speedway concession stand.
Occupation:  Funnel cake maker.
For those of you who have no idea what a funnel cake is, think bastardized fritter.  It involves batter.  Not the tight pants and Skoal batter of baseball fame, but pancake batter.  Overly sweetened batter that still has the gritty texture of its powdered mix origins.  Put said batter into a device reminiscent of the Tin Man’s oil can.  Heat a skillet of fluorescent yellow industrial grade vegetable oil until sweat drips off your brow from the radiant heat.  Place a piece of circular metal into the pan--this is your funnel cake “mold”.  Now pour the batter in a frenetic pattern resembling something a schizophrenic spider might make.  This is out of necessity, not design, because quick movements are required to avoid splattering scalding grease on lily white skin.  The scars of the summer of ’88 will be with me forever, literally.  
The batter should puff up and turn golden brown.  If it resembles the last time your cat Mr. Snuggles had the runs, there is a problem with the mix to liquid ratio.  Flip the cake and cook the other side. 
Once both sides are complete, transfer the creation onto a layer of paper towels to soak up extraneous grease.  Or if you work at the Speedway, add a pound of powdered sugar to serve the purpose instead.  Because nothing says delicious like a powdered sugar/oil slurry.  Whipped cream is also your friend and can camouflage breakage and overzealous cooking.  Throw the thing on a styrofoam plate, making sure it’s still hot enough to melt holes in the pseudo-plastic and increase your carbon foot print two-fold.  Serve with a sprig of mint and a smile.  
The funnel cake was a popular item at the Dawson County Speedway.  Something about the sound of roaring engines and the smell of burning rubber makes a person crave oil saturated dough and things that are white and powdery.  Eau de Fryer was the perfume of the concession stand jezebel that attracted rotund Nebraskans from miles around.

Perhaps not the worst fair food, but I'm biased.  My kingdom for a deep fat fried twinkie.
Our motto was:  “Ignore the numbness in your arm.  That’s just saturated fat giving you a hug.”
Every morning when I get up without the stench of fried dough clinging to my hair, I feel thankful for my current job, even if it’s not exactly where I want to be.  

What’s the worst job you’ve ever had to pay the bills?


  1. I did telemarketing for I can't remember what. Back then they allowed smoking in offices. Every night when I came home, I would strip my clothes and throw them in the washer, then stand under a shower to get the smell off me.

    I lasted a whole five days. I wanted a full paycheck for my suffering.

  2. Hmmm, doctor or funnel cake maker, doctor or funnel cake maker? Yeah, I have to say I think you made the right choice for the day job. :P

  3. Yeah. You've got a great day job. Funnel cake maker sounds icky.

  4. I can't answer your question about worst job, because I've only had 2 and enjoyed them both. However I feel your pain!

  5. I put in a summer as household drudge/babysitter....too much like marriage.

  6. 'The reasons I went in to medicine are incongruent with what medicine is becoming.'

    Wow, Julie, that is quite the powerful statement.

    Love the motto of the funnel cake makers.

    My worst job, hmmm. This wasn't the worst, by any stretch-- I rather liked it in fact because it gave me the chance to read and read and read so long as I could find a way to prop the book. I worked in the University postal system, folding over announcements to go in every mailbox, book binging, that sort of thing. It was repetitive grunt work-- quiet and solitary and I loved it. One of the best books I read on that shift was 'It Came Upon a Midnight Clear' by William Wharton. For some reason, I've never forgotten that.

    Thanks for inspiring a trip!

  7. That would be book *binding.*

  8. You know those people you see in the grocery store aisles counting merchandise? Yep...that was me! :)

  9. Health care is a sad, sad world these days. So much talent, so many soul-killing money people. But I agree that being a doc beats the funnel cake gig, hands down. Good choice to stick with it. You've got skills! My worst job ever? The advertising salt mines of Manhattan. At least you can't get your soul killed there, though, 'cause you have to check it at the entry door.

  10. Hi Julie,

    I always find your posts so enjoyable and very interesting. I've never had a funnel cake, but the next time I go the the fair I have to try one.

    Keep up the good work.

  11. Worst job ever...? You probably have no idea the can of worms you're opening by asking ME that question. hehe. I've worked at the tip and at a recycling plant. I think I win!

  12. I worked in a fish and chip shop for a while. I think it took about three years to get the smell out.

  13. That funnel cake looks good!

    I've had a ton of craptastic jobs too. One guy said to me recently, "Doesn't your current job make you appreciate your education that much more? I absolutely have to agree -- because it's an extremely dull job for very little pay and no opportunity for advancement. But at least it's something!

  14. Great post. My worst job was cleaning the office at the GPO in Sydney Australia. All one could see for miles and miles was more grungy desks. I think I lasted 3 days

    Helen xx

  15. This made me laugh until I cried. I had never even heard of a funnel cake until this morning, now I have a bizarre urge to try and make one (what I'll do to avoid cleaning my house, eh?).

    My worst job was as a telephone market researcher. Panic attack inducing. And I do mean that literally.

  16. very funny post! I've never had the funnel cake , looks yummy!
    So true about unable to quit once you have mortgages :(

  17. I never saw the lure of funnel cake. But yeah, I can get behind a deep fried Twinkie. I can feel my arteries hardening just thinking about it.

    Ugh, I've had so many jobs - each with their own special set of bad things. Washing dogs, picking jalapenos, selling things over the phone no one in their right mind would want to buy. The good part of doing those jobs, though, is that I did get a paycheck. (Well, except for a couple sales jobs that were commissioned and I didn't sell a single item.)

  18. that was great! put a positive spin on sticking w/ a craptastic (awesome word) job and the necessity of funnel cakes! my son recently discovered their deliciousness =)

  19. The motto is so true.
    Yeah, at a certain age, we need and want that security. I'm blessed that I enjoy my day job.

  20. I chose the wrong career. I got a BA in Psychology cause I wanted to make a difference in the life of a child. My first job out of college (and I started late to begin with) was foster care. Yeah, talk about developing your shell. I realized I am a sap. I wanted to take all the kids home with me. Sap. Cry. Sap. It was an interesting two years for me until I decided to jump off and join the ranks in serving people with severe mental illness. Did I mention I chose the wrong career. =)

  21. Luckily I love teaching, and my summer jobs growing up weren't too bad. I guess the one I was least fond of was a photographer/greeter at a Six Flags. The only reason it was awful was that it was the hottest summer ever. and I was outside and sweaty all the time.
    We made funnel cakes in our kitchen a few years ago. Never again. The oil felt like it saturated every pore, every cell, every single thing in the kitchen. Grossed us all out!

  22. >>...Our motto was: “Ignore the numbness in your arm. That’s just saturated fat giving you a hug.”


    This post is a perfect example of why I so enjoy "Following" your blog. Intelligence, wit, a sense of "fun" - what more could anyone ask from a blog?

    Worst job I ever had? Hmmm... well, there are a couple that are in serious competition for that dubious honor, but I suppose I'd have to go with the three weeks I spent as a telemarketer, seeking monetary donations for a variety of organizations from previous donors.

    Oddly enough, despite the fact that I hated the job and that I refused to make calls on behalf of certain, uhm... shall we say... way "Left" of me, organizations (meaning that about one-third of my money-making opportunities were being boycotted by me), I still managed to do fairly well at that awful 3-week job.

    And I probably shouldn't even write this, as it could only make your mind-set worse, but if you ever REALLY want to get your "DISGUST ON" for the medical establishment, read the books "World Without Cancer" by G. Edward Griffin, and "Alive And Well" by Dr. Philip Binzel Jr.

    I can guarantee you'll never look at the AMA, ACS, or FDA the same way again! The crimes against humanity, oh, the horror! ...

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

  23. I was a long distance operator. I would talk to 600 - 800 people per day and many of them would get angry at me for being on their phone. It's almost as bad as being a telemarketer, which I was for 2 days. I'd rather jump out a second story window with roller skates on, then do that again.
    Funnelcake maker, sounds pretty greasy. :(

  24. That saturated fat line made me laugh, then cringe. Eww, a lipid hug.

    My worst job? Filing little tiny pieces of paper for a collection agency. My employers frightened me. Also temping. I stressed out about using fancy office phones. I was constantly hanging up on people.

  25. I have never had a funnel cake!

    My worst job: telemarketer. No, gas station cashier. No, wait, sales associate in a gift shop that sold nothing but little ceramic animals that needed constant dusting.

    Oh heck, they were all horrible.

  26. served them with mint. I've never seen any served with mint. Texans could learn a thing or two - LOL.

    Tastewise, I think think funnel cakes are disgusting. But there's always a line for them.

  27. ugh, my sister's in the same spot. She's trying to decide if she wants to give up the security of her emotionally draining shelter job to go to culinary school. I wish the decision was easier, or more black and white.

  28. I feel you so much on this. It's hard to leave a secure situation, especially when times are tough.

    I love funnel cake though, but yeah, being a funnel cake maker does not seem fun. I made some at my friend's house once, and while it wasn't as dangerous or gross sounding, it wasn't exactly easy-peasy either. Definitely would not want to make them for a living. :P

  29. It's not terribly bad, but I worked at a campus eatery during college. The only time a friend saw me at work was the moment during which I was changing a huge and gross bag of trash.

    Yes, I feel your pain too. My shock grows every time I consider the costs versus profits to this writing thing. Thus, I work in social services for a salary below the poverty line to support myself. The price we pay!


  30. I thought I was brave when I stayed awake during an endoscopy, but I could never have done it without some form of anesthesia! Did you channel Linda Lovelace to prepare?

  31. I love funnel cake, and it loves my butt. I probably eat it once a year. I worked at McDonald's as one of my first jobs. The manager made me a cashier because he thought I had a pretty smile. By the end of the third day he was still wondering why I wasn't getting it. I felt so stupid, but have you seen how complicated those registers are? No pickles, not onions, add mayonaise. Couldn't someone just write it down on a piece of paper? Just take the damn think how it's made. :) I quit after that.


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