Not too long ago I participated in a round robin white elephant gift exchange. Naturally I forgot about the gift exchange portion of the event until I was on my way there, so my gift to exchange was a “snail on a ball” (as described by the sign). I got to the party, the gifts started opening, and I found out that my little $3 snail was about as White Elephant as it got. The other gifts were actually pretty good: shamrock socks in a rose tin, animal print candles, a fondue set, a pretty black & white blouse. I felt really bad for whomever was getting my snail on a ball.
Then I got my gift. As I opened the beautiful bag, tinkly chiming poured out. A small peaked cap came out. Pretty soon the rest of the doll appeared: a creepy porcelain-faced clown popping out of a drum, all dressed up in 80’s pastels and gold. This wasn’t the worst of it: as the Theme From Love Story played, the clown danced, waving it’s arms all around.
It got worse: on the way out of the house, on the darkest of nights, in the completely unlit sideyard, the doll started playing all by itself while sitting on top of the car while I unlocked the door.
My first job was at a place called Ocean Drilling Program. I worked in the Art/Publishing Department, cutting up photos & pasting them back together (literally, with an exacto knife), checking that data in the computer matched what was on the scientists logs (& fixing it when it didn’t match), scanning in other documents, cleaning up documents that had been scanned, printing out sheets on the huge photo printers, etc. I worked there for the summer, but got called back in towards the end of the fall & worked there for another year and a half. I think I made something like $4.85/hour, which seemed awesome at the time (minimum wage then was $4.25). I really liked working there because I got to hang out with the artists and the photographers for the most part. They taught me a lot about graphics programs on both Macs & PCs (I’d never used a PC before). I also got to talk to the scientists from time to time, which was always fun, too. It was an excellent first job.