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will work for food, fun or money
a resume of sorts
by robert a. melos

I admit to being 44 years-old and having never had to really seek a job or work. My work history was a bit scattered, but not too unlike the work histories of many people my age.

My first job, high school and part of college, was at Fotomat. For those of you not familiar, Fotomat was this store where you brought your film to have it developed overnight.


Oh. Film is this stuff you put into an old fashion camera to take pictures. You would shot a roll of 12, 24, or 36 exposures and take the film to these stores where it would be shipped out to a main plant and developed and returned the next day to be picked up by people anxious to see their photos.

Yeah. I know. I’m old.

Anyway, my first job was at Fotomat. I entered the store, pointed to the help wanted sign, and was hired on the spot. I was 18 and didn’t even know what minimum wage was, or care. I had a job and was getting money. My job entailed customer service, dealing with the customers who dropped off film and picked up photos, filing the photo packets alphabetically, answering the phone (this was before automated phone answering devices that annoy the hell out of me), and generally managing the store while the actual manager and assistant manager were out. The job didn’t last all that long. It ended in ugliness.

I returned to college and got an education that by today’s standards is practically useless. I studied Occult Sciences, Journalism and Photography. There was a flirtation with English major, but in the end the most useless of degrees was settled upon for reasons I don’t even remember. Oh yeah, it was the math requirements. There was none for photography.

Moving on, I got my real estate license, and did nothing exciting with it, instead taking a job in a furniture store for a steady paycheck. That job came about because I walked in, filled out an application indicating I had essentially never before worked at anything and had spent my youth becoming edjumacated. I received a call before I returned home telling me I was hired.

The job consisted of more customer service, acting as a salesman, unloading the weekly shipment of bulky and very heavy crappy furniture and the occasional hand carved wooded cat lamp. My work was very unfulfilling, but I was earning money enough to fill my gas tank and eat and spend a lot of money on junk I didn’t need.

Yield House, the furniture store which specialized in Shaker style furnishings (read plain, ugly, sticks of wood glued together to look like tables), went out of business. I needed, or felt I needed to work immediately, and went to Amboy Multiplex Cinemas where a friend of mine was an assistant manager. His superior saw me walk in, asked me if I wanted a job and that night I was standing behind the concession stand servicing customers by handing them popcorn, soda and stale candy. I quit after one day.

My next job was for a theater as an assistant manager. The pay was the best I’d made to date, and the job wasn’t terrible. Well, that’s not exactly true. The job consisted of 80 hours a week and quickly wore thin. Customer service was part of the job, and sitting in the office counting money, ordering the ushers and concession workers around and trying not to stand still to long or you would stick to the carpet.

After that job I decided to throw myself into real estate. I figured if I was going to end up in sales I might as well do it for the highest commissions possible. Now real estate was just as easy when it came to getting hired. I’ve worked for 5 different brokers in 6 different offices. The first time I applied for a sales position I walked into the office, filled out an application and was hired on the spot. I thought that was pretty cool. I thought I was pretty impressive. I was naïve.

After almost 25 years in real estate I’ve been hired by every broker I approached for a job. The interviews usually go as follows:

Me: Hi. I’d like to move my license to your office.
Broker: When can you start?

It’s a sad fact that no matter how much you may think you’re an invaluable asset; the plain fact of the matter is brokers want realtors, the more the better, because more realtors mean more money for the broker. Real Estate comes down to one thing; money. Now real estate is more complicated than any of my other jobs. It requires more skills than just customer service, although customer service is a big part of the job.

My other job skills include knowing a little about a lot of different things. I know how to handle zoning issues, planning board issues, builder issues, home inspection issues, buyer issues, seller issues, lawyer issues, termite issues and issue issues. These are useful skills of sorts, I suppose. I learned all I could about a career I really only went into for the money. Sadly, I’ve never made a fortune at real estate. I’m an average salesman. I’ve never wanted to be thought of as a salesman.

My dream job is one I’ve unfortunately been doing for free. I write. That is the job I aspire to more than any other job I’ve had. I’ve self-published three novels. Now self-publishing is a lot of work because I essentially did it all. I created an original idea, put it to paper, rewrote it twice, did my own copyediting, read and reread my own work until I got sick and tired of reading my own work, and approved artwork (I designed the covers but didn’t actually draw them), and have designed and approved much of the promotions for my works.

Did I mention I attended the Bartenders Academy and have a certificate of Mixology?

I’ve gained a lot of life experience and work skills throughout my time in and out of the workforce, and yet I still find myself looking for a good paying job that will get me through the rough times to come. The perfect job doesn’t exist, but there are jobs out there, somewhere, that will fulfill my monetary needs as well as my emotional needs. I just have to keep searching until I find what I’m looking for.


Robert is the author of the novels Cool Mint Blue, Melba Ridge, and the recently released The Adventures of Homosexual Man and Lesbian Lad; and the creator of the on-line comix Impure Thoughts found at his web site Inside R.A. Melos, as well as having been an on-line staff writer for QBliss where he had a monthly humor column, Maybe A Yip, Maybe A Yap. In his non-writing time, when he's not studying the metaphysical or creating a tarot deck, he sells real estate in Middlesex County New Jersey, hangs out with his dog Zeus, and spends time at the Pride Center of New Jersey in Highland Park, NJ, where he is on the Board of Trustees.

more about robert a. melos


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robert melos
10.2.07 @ 2:55a

After posting this I realized I forgot several other job experiences I had including substitute teaching, which offered me the job skills of learning to deal with fear and intimidation. There was no sense of customer service in that job, it was all about control. I quit after two 5th grade girls had a knife fight in my classroom.

reem al-omari
10.4.07 @ 10:06p

Ever since I graduated from college in 2001 with a BA in Journalism, I've been wandering aimlessly looking for a "real" job. When I say "real", I mean one that has a specific, self-explanatory title, and one that isn't temporary. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons I haven't had a "real" job since I got laid off in 2004. Since then, it's been a series of temporary contract work, mostly doing things I hate, and there was even a bout of retail for a year.

I haven't self-published anything, but I am pretty much in the same boat as you in that I find myself only wanting to write for a living. Hence, my freelancing gig now. It's the best job I've ever had, even though, I have yet to get paid for it.

robert melos
10.4.07 @ 10:54p

Reem, I completely understand. Temporary services are my next line of recourse if I don't find something. In many ways I'm looking for that self-explanatory title also. I've discovered reading the want ads in the paper and on-line at Monster.com and Craig's List, and even the jobs offered on the local college web sites, that either the descriptions or job titles themselves make no sense to me. I've read some ads multiple times and have no clue what the job is.

Writing is truly my dream job, but I even wonder if it would be what I expect. I'd love to work from home, sitting on my porch, or lying in bed, writing a column or chapter of a novel, or a short story for a magazine, but I keep remembering the saying "be careful what you wish for, for you may surely get it."

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