I get asked quite often if I feel my height has helped me with my career. I definitely think it has assisted me a little bit because as Darcy alluded to in his Tall = Dad Blog, sometimes people perceive him as a father figure strictly based on his height. Well the same applies with my job but in a different way. I’m definitely not looked upon as a mother figure however in most jobs that I’ve been lucky to have held, particularly in my financial career, my height is seen as authoritative. This is good when you need to make a decision, fire an employee, voice your opinion, etc. This is bad if you are a caregiver or you need a soft touch. There’s definitely a fine balance that can be difficult to achieve.
BUT, that’s not exactly what I intend to talk about in today’s post. I think I’ve led a fairly interesting life and my choice of jobs prior to my current career choice have been distinctly made better because of my height. I’ve been in the Mortgage Servicing Industry for 13 years now but the real fun and interesting jobs came before this.
1. Picking Rock/Walking Beans—Okay, these aren’t normal jobs that you can walk into Unemployment office and apply for. These are two of those ‘special’ jobs that fathers give to their daughters and then pay them 25cents an hour. Picking Rock entailed the 3 of us sisters (Hilleri was too young) walking in front of dad who was on the tractor with a loader attached to the front. We would throw rocks into the loader. This was to rid the field of rocks, particularly the bigger rocks (keep in mind, we were under 10 years old). Walking Beans entailed all of us sisters essentially weeding an entire beanfield, row by row.
Now unfortunately I don’t have any actual pictures of us on the jobs but I asked my mom to send me a picture to show how tall we were back then. My sister actually sent me this shot and the bad part is, we are all so tall, you can’t tell. My cousins are included and so is my dear Grandma Payne.
2. Detassling Corn—For anyone who grew up in the Midwest, this was the way to make quick money. You went into the Pioneer Seed Corn Place and signed up for how many acres you thought you could complete in 3-4 weeks. Let me step back and explain what detassling actually entails. You walk a cornfield and take the tassel out of every corn stalk in your designated row, one by one. The sign up was by the acre and the pay was $125-$150 per acre. For a high schooler (and poor farm girl) back in the 80’s, that was big money.
Our family usually signed up for about 5 acres. The 4 of us girls would work from 6 am until dark every day for about 2 full weeks. Of course we usually had softball practice during this time or driver’s education classes but you figure out ways to get the job done. This money was going to pay for our school clothes so this was important. I’m so thankful I was TALL. The corn usually came up to my hips or so, depending on the rain and heat that summer. I don’t know how shorter people do this job. It’s not only hard work, but you have to pull this tassel out and if it’s too tall, it breaks your rhythm.
3. Porta-Potty Cleaner—Yes, it’s true. I’ve cleaned Porta-Potties or Porta-Johns or Honey-Buckets…whatever you want to call them. My dad was part-owner of a company back in IA and I would help whenever they needed it. You had to carry big hoses to suction the waste out of the porta-potty and then you needed to clean them out with sanitizer and water. I’m SO glad that I was TALL because I had the strength to carry the big hoses and the height to keep them from dragging in any potential wetness on the ground. I think that’s all I need to say about this job. Thankfully…no pictures, but plenty of stories.
4. Meat Cutter—Oh, my favorite job! I worked at Fareway Stores in Waterloo, IA in the Meat Department. Not only did my height help me with seeing over the counter it helped to support my gravely attitude. I worked with 23 men and if I wasn’t able to stand up for myself they would’ve smeared the place with me. Thankfully I have some wit and I was able to keep up. In fact, sometimes some of the male customers would give me a little guff. I’d like to provide you with a true scenario so that you can envision this for yourself how my height totally helped me. Oh keep in mind, there was more to this conversation and this man knew me and one of the guys working at the meat counter otherwise I would never have been so ‘fresh’:
Man: I’d like 2, 8oz filet mignons but I’d like Bud to cut them for me.
Me: Sir, I can help you. I have the ability to cut filet mignon and I even have my own knife.
Man: But you’re a woman. You belong in the kitchen and you’re from Manly, IA.
Me: Sir, I’m more man than you’ll ever be and more women than you’ll ever have.