Scroll To Top

Gobs of Jobs

Gobs of Jobs

Stand-up comic and Jen Kober regales us with tales of her multitude of jobs from Starbucks Barista to gay bookstore clerk to being a not-so undercover lesbian at Campfire camp.

Before I made money as a comedian that could sustain my consumer lifestyle, I had a lot of jobs in various fields of interest.  I spent 3 weeks as a bread baker, waking up at 3 a.m. to knead giant vats of dough and then shove them into hot stone ovens.  I spent a year as a nanny, taking care of a 4-year old and a 9-month old from 9 a.m. until 8 p.m., and smoking pot with their mom in the basement during naptime. 

I worked at the gay bookstore in Dallas for a few months; back when it was the hub of all things gay in the heart of the thriving Oak Lawn neighborhood.  I would sell endless copies of The Well of Loneliness to young freshly head-shaven girls with holes in their jeans, tattered t’s and rainbow suspenders.  I taught Improvisation and Theater History at a community college in a posh Texas suburb where the kids drove nicer cars than I did.  I sold cancer insurance for a month or two in East Texas. I was relentless in following my leads.  I actually sold a policy one time in a pasture and had the farmer sign his contract on the ass of the horse he rode in on.  No joke.  

I spent a summer as a counselor at a Campfire camp. One of the questions on the application specifically asked if I was homosexual.  I checked the “no” box, then proceeded to wear my rainbow pride rings around my neck all summer.  I giggled each time a counselor or camper would comment on how cool my rings were and how badly they wanted a set of their own.  

The next few years included a quick stint at several retail giants including Tower Records (I would actually take a Ripped Fuel and smoke 2 joints with the manager before each shift), Lane Bryant (The music loop that played in the store at holiday time made me want to kill myself. To this day I can’t hear Jingle Bell Rock without getting really angry), Starbuck’s (All the lattes I could drink, plus I would get to take home all the day-old pound cake each night. F yeah.) and Noah’s Bagels (I adore Asiago cheese bagels with sun-dried tomato cream cheese, so it was a great way for me to feed my addiction). 

more on next page...



These jobs were all crappy. Though there were moments of fun (slap happy silliness tends to set in for me at about hour four of an eight hour shift) and I met some cool people (Drake, the manager of the Tower Records still comes and smokes me out when I’m performing in Dallas) none of these money makers gave me any sense of self worth or fulfillment.  And every time I met someone who had been working there for like nine years, I wondered what sort of tragic turn my life would have to take for me to relish in a rut. 

Then it struck me -– sometimes routine is just easier.  Doing the same thing everyday can be liberating, familiar, even comforting.  My Uncle John gets up and goes to the same chemical plant job he has had for the last 32 years.  He eats two scrambled eggs and two pieces of wheat toast everyday for breakfast.  He takes the same coffee break every morning at 10 while he reads the local paper.  It is just who he is.   

And as someone who finds job commitment a dirty word -– I am starting to understand just how much redemption and relief lie in establishing a routine.  Doing your job at a certain level and working within the confines of the routine can lead to some amazing revelations.  I have been challenging myself to find more of the regularity in my irregular life –- working smarter and not harder -– and learning that my odd jobs have helped “normal” me up!

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

author avatar

Jen Kober