Making it work

Stories of the odd jobs Team Coast held down while putting themselves through school.

I was a cash counter
The summer after third year was the first time I spent a summer in Halifax. And I was broke. So I worked three jobs, lived off Reese's Puffs cereal and slept for five hours a night in a damp-ass basement apartment. One of my jobs was at the casino, locked away in some back room carefully counting bills bills bills and daydreaming about how good it would feel to pay my tuition in cold, hard, cash. Dressed in very Orange is the New Black one-piece jumpsuits, the count room team (me and a handful of endearingly grizzled men) would empty the slot machines at the crack of dawn, before retreating to said windowless room so that, together, we could try to make it all balance while Big Brother-esque cameras looked over us and a security guard guarded us---or maybe he was guarding the money. Regardless, the cell-like cement room, the limited banter, the buzz of the bill counting machines---it felt very Ocean's Eleven and badass at times, like some secret operation. Despite the fact we couldn't leave until the numbers added up, it was a pretty chill work environment. And, hey, at least we were making money and not losing it like everyone else seemed to be. --Allison Saunders

I was a mail carrier
I worked in the campus mailroom. Every day, the post office would dump a gazillion letters and packages, which four of us would sort into those little wooden cubbyholes you see in the movies, and then hop on our various vehicles to deliver them. The other three mail carriers got boring electric carts, but I drove an honest-to-dog mail truck, with the driver's seat and steering wheel on the right. I got to go to off-campus sites, and no one really worried about how long I took, so I'd stop and flirt with the receptionist at the campus farm, play the tables at the pool room in the back of the dive bar on Route 99 and, on hot days, skinny dip in the creek behind the radio station. The best thing about the job was we had to open up all the packages of the weird shit being delivered to campus, to make sure it was all there---various body parts, hearts and partial cadavers delivered to the biology department, test rats to the rathouse, computer gizmos and crazy Tesla stuff going to physics. At the end of the day I delivered all the outgoing mail back to the back of the post office, where the Rush Limbaugh-listening asshole would tell me I'm going to hell. --Tim Bousquet

I answered the Beefline™
During my first year of university I had three jobs, which explained why I made no friends at all (that must be it, right?). I taught children how to swim, worked at Sam The Record Man (RIP) and answered the Street Cents Beefline™. Twice a week I would sit alone in the Street Cents offices in the CBC building (and I lived in Bedford, so this was a very glamourous job), read from a giant stack of teen magazines and answer the phone with "Hello, Street Cents™, what's your Beef™?" Too often the Beef™ was "Yur a B!tch!#!" (sic), laughter and a hang-up. Less often, but more preferable, it was my friends who were attending university across the country calling me because of the free long distance a 1-800 number provided. Sometimes it was actual kids with actual Beefs™. Like why didn't they make toothpaste that didn't taste like mint? They did! I'd say. Not good enough, they'd say. You just want to get on TV, don't you? I'd ask. YUR A B!TCH, they'd answer. Exeunt. Sometimes THE Andy Bush would sit in the office and kill time while waiting for the bus. Near the end of my time there, a security guard used to come up to the office, stand in front of me while I was working and call me sexy. He found a loophole in the system 'cause, like, who was I gonna call? I joke about this job a lot but it was the first time in my life I had worked for cool, ambitious young women that I looked up to, like Jen Adcock and Ivy Ho. Thanks, guys! --Stephanie Johns

I was a speculum janitor
For the better part of four years I worked in a health clinic answering phones, checking in patients and sanitizing speculums and other doctoring tools---yes the metal contraptions doctors like to shove up ladies' hoo-has in order to better inspect their cervixes. Science! If you think being on the receiving end of pap smear is bad, imagine being the vagina tool janitor. I mean what? How do people even get this job? I got it through a friend and it's surprising that I still call him that. There's nothing quite like relaxing at home after a hard day of scrubbing the period blood off of kits that facilitated recent IUD implantations. I'd be lying if I said it was all a hemophobic's nightmare, I also organized patient files (snooping wasn't encouraged but like that stopped anyone, ever) and once accidentally assumed a larger lady was a late pregnant patient we were waiting for after hours. Plus, I got a catalogue of things our local docs fished out of human holes---tapeworms, months-old tampons and Jolly Ranchers (not an oral sex tip you want to share) were just a few real-life stories I really wish were myth. On the plus side I was paid above minimum wage and got to wear scrub tops, but let's all take a collective sigh of relief that I never went into health care. --Lindsay Raining Bird

I was a potato masher, and a tire maker
None of what I've done in the past would give future me any indication that I'd be working at The Coast. I seemed to shift gears quite quickly from working in the kitchen at Camp Kadimah to making tires at Michelin. I did thoroughly enjoy picking the meat off of 40 turkeys every Friday though---nothing like being elbow-deep in meat. My favourite part of the job was definitely making the mashed potatoes for 4,000 campers. Fast-forward a year or two and I was making tringles at Michelin. What's that you say? You know when you burn a tire and all that's left is the wire? Yeah, I made that. I used to wear steel toe boots, ear plugs and old pub crawls shirts to work. By the end of the season I was covered in wire scratches and had hardly any skin left on my thumbs. Keep fast-forwarding and you'll find me working at a nursing home as a personal care attendant. I showed up for my first day shadowing what I thought was a "recreation coordinator" position but quickly learned that it was 100 percent not that. I've seen what tattoos look like at various locations. As crazy and unrelated as these positions were, I don't regret them. I've learned that I don't like shift work, not wearing jewellery to work, working primarily with men and prunes. --Asheley Ramey

I was a construction worker
I used to work as a construction labourer right after getting out of school. It wasn't pretty. But I've got some fond memories, like pulling down a plaster ceiling in 100-year-old, rat-infested home. The rat feces poured down on my face and body during the most humid day of the summer. Turds glued to sweat essentially. Or cleaning out a basement in an abandoned south end home---instead of taking the garbage out, the tenants preferred to "hoof" it into the basement. Luckily, it had been there so long that it had gone through it's rotting process and stopped smelling. Or working an overnight shift tearing down walls and having a random man steal our gear. We had to go hunt him down and get it back. Being a woman on a construction site I felt the need to prove myself. (That was probably the last time I felt the need to do that.)  --Jess Tasker

I was a doorman at The Split Crow
Let me first tell you a little about myself---I'm a normal-sized dude. I'm not some hulking scary beast that you'd probably picture when you think of a doorman/bouncer. I'm pretty ordinary, besides one defining feature, and that's my grey hair. If you see some dude who looks pretty young and handsome with a shock of grey hair, it's probably me. Working at The Split Crow was the bee's knees, pretty much everything about that job was awesome. The only downside was dealing with entitled kids. There is one day that I will always remember. It was your normal Saturday power hour, kids were lined up at the door before I got there to open. This girl came in, she did something stupid, like really stupid, so I banned her for three months. She went on this tirade about how I didn't have the power to ban her, "this is so unfair" blah blah. I brought a manager over to also tell her that I could ban her. After that she went sulking up Duke Street, I went back to my usual business of checking IDs and changing kegs. The next day I had found out from mutual acquaintances that she had made a Facebook post about me, and I quote "[Redacted] is giving a massive F*#% YOU to the splitcrow [sic] and the grey=haired LOSER who has no life and ruined my Saturday." When she came back three months later, I told her she was banned for another three for disrespecting me, she claimed she never wrote that status and I told her I had photographic proof. She went on the same tirade, the same manager backed me up again, so off she went, joining the long list of sad individuals who had been banned at The Split Crow. Lesson here, kids, is don't disrespect the people who work on the door---they are the gatekeepers to your fun. --Ryan Chisholm

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