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It Was Easier to Wear Many Hats Than Grow More Heads

THE CHALLENGE

My close bud, Steve, is forever dumbfounded by the ambitious number of various jobs I once performed in my youth. Over the years, we’re not long into a conversation when some aspect of the topic relates to one or more of the many hats I once wore.

Many Hats - It was easier to wear many hats than grow more heads by Orange County Headshot photographer, Mark Jordan

Just last week Steve and I were talking about defunct department stores when it occurred to me that I had been employed by several of them. And once again, Steve was astonished.

On this occasion, though, rather than simply expressing his amazement over yet another litany of work citations, our talk gave Steve an idea. Well, it wasn’t truly a fresh thought, as he’d previously asked me if I had ever thought to itemize my past positions.

This time was different, however, in that Steve challenged me to actually consider making a comprehensive inventory of every one of my jobs.

Nonetheless, I merely laughed and said I would have to put it on my to-do list, someday…

PANDEMIC

Shortly after our last chat, an insidious affliction gripped the world – a pandemic: COVID-19.

It wasn’t long before Coronavirus swept the land, shattering lives throughout the world. In its wake, it also closed business doors, including my own, Orange County Headshots.

Suffice it to say, with the sudden surplus of free time thrust upon me, I found myself looking for activities to keep me busy. After completing one long-overdue project after another, and seeing that the depletion of my Netflix queue was swiftly approaching, I began to feel desperate.

Then it hit me – what about Steve’s charge to enumerate the many hats I wore in my youth? Why not? Not terribly exciting but it was something to occupy my mind.

Seeing I didn’t have much else on my plate, I then set about to ransack the recesses of my memories.

It was more challenging than I anticipated.

No sooner had I racked my brain, squeezing what I thought was the last of the many hats on my list when yet another nine-to-fiver would come bubbling up. In fact, this percolation keeps occurring each and every time I proofread this post.

25 hats turned into 50, then 75, which eventually inclined to over 100 hats. I was stunned.

For the first time, I think I better understand Steve’s preoccupation with my many hats. It was mind-boggling to even me! Yes, of course, I had some idea of my background but I had long forgotten the expanse of my work experiences.

Along the way, I also recalled a song I once wrote in my early teens, Occupations. Do not fear, I’ll spare you the melody and full lyrics. I’ll only mention that the one repetitive line, which is revelatory of my awestruck heart: Occupations, I want to try them all.

DAYS OF OLD YOUTH

Youth ends when egotism does – maturity begins when one lives for others.”
Hermann Hesse

Now then, before I deliver my job-list, I think it’s relevant to keep a few factors in mind.

FIRSTLY – the vast majority of my jobs were performed between the ages of 10 – 24. It was after this period when I launched my career as an elementary school teacher (2nd Grade). Subsequent to teaching, my primary “work” has been as a photographer.

SECONDLYnot every new job entailed a new hire. Several of the companies for which I worked moved me around within the company – considerably!

THIRDLY – my budding “aptitude,” it appeared, was building upon established foundations. I had a talent for improving systems. Whether the department to which I arrived was in shambles or in blue-chip shape, within short order I’d have it operating at a greater level of productivity and efficiency.

This knack for improving my surroundings not only came naturally – I loved it.

FOURTHLY – on top of this flair, my parents raised me with a strong work ethic. This is an understated way of saying that I was assiduously conscientious – like a ball of fire.

There wasn’t a department I took-over where I didn’t dedicate myself to turning its head. And while this attitude was embraced by my superiors, it wasn’t unusual for my arrival to be not so enthusiastically welcomed by my fellow laborers.

Many Hats - It was easier to wear many hats than grow more heads by Orange County Headshot photographer, Mark Jordan

FIFTHLY – fortunately for all concerned, monotony set in quickly. For my bosses, this meant blithely relocating me to a new battlefront. And for the worker-bees, seeing the departing backside of their taskmaster was not too soon.

So, why the all, all-too sudden boredom? Once my work was done, I simply lost interest – I had to move on. Youth! Right?

This, in turn, led me down the interview road – ordinarily, soon after taking on a new position.

Looking back, it’s uncomfortable to admit that more than one job lasted all of a week. Some, a single day. Typically, I wore the bulk of my many hats one to three months.

At the time, I believed the reasons for my active “retiring” were rational. Sometimes, feeling that I had “mastered” the job and it had nothing more to offer, tedium set in, overnight.

On other occasions, a promising offer “magically” presented itself. Rarely, I hated the work.

Most of the time, however, the allure of a new challenge beckoned me away.

LASTLY – right about now you’re probably asking yourself, “Why would employers risk hiring someone with such a consistently abbreviated job history?” Maybe not in those exact words, but I’ve got to think the question has got to have occurred to you.

The answer is twofold. It lies in a combination of interviewing well and receiving stellar references.

Genuine enthusiasm for the task at hand is always appealing. Hiring managers are naturally inclined to trust people they like, are convinced they can trust, and whose preceding supervisors rewarded them with energetic reviews.

In other words, even though I typically was not long for any one job, the quality of the work I performed and the influence I left behind, seemed to outweigh the brevity of my tenure.

AND FINALLY – with all this thrilling information behind us, we are now ready for THE list.

However, first a short word of caution.

In case a sensation of nausea or eye-rolling overcomes you (exasperation? disbelief?), simply walk away.

I won’t know and won’t be offended in the least. My only request is that you might consider that for me, it was easier to wear many hats than grow more heads.


In Alphabetical Order

FOOD & BEVERAGE

  • Barboy
  • Bartender
  • Busboy
  • Cook – Fast Food
  • Cook – Fine Dining
  • Cook – Short-Order
  • Counter / Cashier (e.g. Toco Bell, Pioneer Chicken, etc.)
  • Manager – Fastfood
  • Trainer – Busboy/Waiter
  • Waiter – Family Dining
  • Waiter – Carte Service
The many hats of Orange County Headshots | Mark Jordan-Youth-Painting
Nascent stages of my stint at painting. After finishing painting our house, I was rewarded with painting the new trellis. Since the summers in Riverside frequently hit 100+, it necessitated a hose-drenching in-between applications. 1963

CONSTRUCTION

  • Furniture Assembler – Sofas/Love Seats/Chairs
  • Painter Homes – Interior / Exterior
  • Plasterboard Wall Installer – New Homes
  • Wall / Ceiling Insulation Installer

MUSIC / MUSICIAN

  • Guitar / Bass Church Services
  • Guitar / Bass Coverband – Neighbor Gigs
  • Guitar / Bass Nightclub Gigs
  • Guitar Studio Musician/Recording
  • Guitar Teacher
  • Songwriter (without pay…)

PHOTOGRAPHER

  • Board of Directors
  • Boudoir
  • Children
  • Commercial
  • Headshots (my favorite genre!)
  • Family
  • Pets
  • Product
  • Theater Production
  • Weddings
Orange County Headshots | Mark Jordan-Youth-Egg-Route
The three brothers (Dale-6, Bryan-12, and Mark-13), filing our red Egg Wagon for our weekly, door-to-door egg route. 1966

SALES

  • Air Conditioners
  • Auto Audio Systems
  • Automotive Parts
  • Backpacking Gear/Tents/Bags/Packs
  • Bagboy – Grocery Stores
  • Bathroom Appliances
  • Bedding/Sheets/Towels
  • Bicycles
  • Books (thought it would be fun to work in a bookstore – wrong!)
  • Building Materials
  • Camping Gear/Tents/Coolers/Cots/Cookware
  • Carpets & Rugs
  • Christmas Trees & Decorations
  • Clothing – Men’s
  • Cookware (Pots & Pans)
  • Cutlery
  • Dinnerware/China
  • Doors – Home Interior
  • Draperies & Curtains
  • Eggs – Door-to-door Egg Route
  • Electrical Supplies
  • Exercise Equipment
  • Fireplace Mantels, Screens & Tools
  • Fishing Gear/Licenses/Worms
  • Flatware
  • Flooring – Wood/Linoleum/Tile/Stone
  • Furnaces
  • Gardening Supplies
  • Gifts
  • Guns/Ammunition (ask me about the one-way mirror)
  • Hardware
  • Home Furniture/Furnishings
  • Housewares
  • Hunting Gear/Clothing
  • Indoor Plants / Planters
  • Kitchen Appliances
  • Landscaping Materials/Plants
  • Lawn Mowers (read the directions before assembling!)
  • Lemonade (Stand)
  • Liquor/Cigarettes/Chewing Tobacco
  • Luggage (not be confused with baggage)
  • Musical Instruments & Gear
  • New Homes
  • Paint, Interior & Exterior
  • Patio Furniture
  • Picture Frames/Folios/Easels/Albums
  • Playground Equipment (Swings/Slides)
  • Plumbing Supplies
  • Pumpkins
  • Roofing Materials & Supplies
  • Screen Doors
  • Shoes & Boots
  • Sound Systems – Turntables/Amplifiers/Speakers
  • Sports Equipment
  • Stationary (where I met the Prince of Ghana)
  • Televisions
  • Tires – Autos, Bikes, Wagons, Carts
  • Tools – Garage
  • Toys
  • Unfinished Furniture
  • Used Cars
  • Vacuum Cleaners
  • Video Games (1st home video game, Pong, by Atari)
  • Wallpaper & Supplies
  • Watches
  • Water Heaters
  • Window Shades (loved cutting shades to exact size)
  • Wood & Woodworking Supplies/Tools
Orange County Headshots | Mark Jordan-Youth-Mowing-Lawns
While my lawn mowing days were spent behind a push mower, this is a rare opportunity where the homeowner allowed me to hop aboard their riding mower. 1964

SERVICES

  • Auto Detailer/Washer
  • Babysitter
  • Butcher (too many close-calls in losing fingers)
  • Carpet Layer (another 1-day job – too hard on the knees.)
  • Cashier (when counting change was a thing)
  • Counselor (Men & Couples) Pro Bono
  • Customer Service Representative (stories galore!)
  • Delivery / Driver (enjoyed the independence)
  • Docent
  • Florist (2-years of fun in design & fragrance)
  • Gardner
  • Grocery Store Stockboy
  • Liquor Store Stockboy
  • Mowing Lawns – Push
  • Model – Ramp Walk (too self-conscious to be good)
  • Newspaper Delivery (thank you, mom, for all your help!)
  • Picture Framer
  • Pool Cleaning (1-Day of pure boredom)
  • Produce / Manager (never got used to frozen fingers)
  • Recycler
  • Screen Door Repair (it’s all in having the right tools)
  • Security Guard – New Homes (late-night patrol was unnerving)
  • Security Guard – Art Shows (summer job at Festival of the Arts)
  • Sheep Shearer (One Very Long Day)
  • Weed Puller – Neighborhood (today, I pull weeds for free…)
  • Window Glass Cutter (today, I design stained-glass window as a hobby)
  • Widow Screen Repair
  • Window Washer (one of the least enjoyable of all work)

TEACHER

  • 1st Grade Public Schools
  • 2nd Grade Public Schools
  • 3rd-4th Grade Combo Public Schools
  • 4th Grade Public Schools
  • Master Teacher (where I met my wife, my student teacher…)
  • School Board
  • Student Instructor
  • Tutor – Mulitple Subjects

As always, should you have questions regarding any aspect of It Was Easier to Wear Many Hats Than Grow More Heads, no concern is too small.


Orange County Headshots | Mark Jordan Photographer

It Was Easier to Wear Many Hats Than Grow More Heads


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