Stylized line drawing of mark playing the flute

College jobs

I was fortunate that I didn’t have to work in college since my parents covered most things. I did have a series of part-time jobs for extra money.

IT Helpdesk

I worked phone support for most of freshman year. The worst call I ever took was from the vice-dean of the college. She had accidentally deleted a giant paper without saving first. She lost her mind when I had to tell her there was no way to get it back.

I also worked the actual helpdesk in the library. I spent most of my time helping people print or trying to help people who had their thesis on a single floppy drive that they’d just spilled coffee on. I left that job after being accused by the head of IT Support of installing a keystroke logger on several of the shared library computers.

Lifeguard/Swim Instructor

Teaching swimming lessons was my favorite. I taught the preschool classes (3–4 year olds) and it was so much fun. It was all about getting them comfortable in the water and playing games.

I had one 3-year-old girl who was an amazing swimmer. On the last day of class, she asked if she could go off the high dive. We talked to her mom and she agreed. Ben, one of the other guards, walked up on the board with her. He held her hands and walked her out to the edge. I was waiting in the water below.

She didn’t hesitate at all, just went right up to the edge and jumped. It felt like she fell forever since she was so small. She went off three more times before her mom made her stop.

I had a private lesson for a couple of weeks. She was a 13 year old girl who not only couldn’t swim but was terrified to put her face in the water. The first lesson, her mom sat right at the edge of the pool yelling her the entire time. I finally told her she wasn’t allowed in the pool area during lessons Once the mom was out of the way, we made some progress. She wasn’t swimming but she could float on her front and back by the end of the two weeks.

Lifeguarding wasn’t as much fun. Mostly, it was just boring.

The indoor pool was OK because I got to go home by 2:30pm. The outdoor pool was terrible because it was summer and it was always super crowded. The Aquatics Department had started cracking down on unauthorized people coming to the pool that summer. I had to ask for valid student, employee, or alumni IDs and people weren’t allowed in without it. I tried to be lenient but I kept getting in trouble from my boss.

The low point was a family of alums who came with their two kids. They didn’t have ID and I turned them away. The kids both started bawling and I’ve felt bad about it ever since. I’d let them in in a heartbeat if I could go back and do it again.

The high point was the occasional exchange student from Europe who would come and sunbathe topless.


Jane worked at a daycare called The Children’s Garden and I did a few shifts there as well.

The baby room was my favorite. I always loved holding tiny babies and I was pretty good and getting the troublesome ones to calm down. The toddlers were also super fun.

Pre-K was less exciting. The daycare served a pretty fancy part of town and of lot the Pre-K kids were spoiled little monsters. There was a shocking amount of drama and cattiness.

Yard work

There was a family we adored who’s kids went to the the daycare. They had two adorable kids and Jane would babysit for them all the time. When we moved back to Portland after college, she nannied for them full-time.

Jane would babysit and I would rake leaves, pull weeds, mow, or whatever else needed doing.

She got $8 hour for babysitting and I got $10 for yard work.