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According to a study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics completed in 2008, the average American holds 11 jobs during his or her lifetime. The statistics vary slightly based on education, ethnicity, and sex, but not by much.

I got to thinking – whoa! That’s a lot of jobs. I decided to backtrack my life, not counting seasonal things like helping people with baling hay or walking beans when I was a youngster. Let’s see how average I am!

I got my first real job with a regular paycheck when I turned 16. I worked at Randall Foods, the same grocery store at which my dad spent much of his career. I worked there through high school, staffing the Christmas center and doing a little bagging before settling into life as a stocker. During high school, I also worked a couple days a week at the local bookstore, often spending my down time reading the comics I didn’t already buy!

When I left for college in Winona, I transferred to the Randall Foods there. I suppose that counts as a change, especially since I ended up in charge of the frozen foods department for a time while my boss was out on medical leave. After my student teaching though, the store had closed, so I finished my college days at Midtown Foods in the produce department.

And then I landed in New Richland. I’ve now been here 18 years and hope I can say this is my last stop on the job train. However, there are a couple of other things which probably count as jobs. I would say coaching has been another thing I’d put on a resume as an occupation; the hours involved alone make that a certainty. I could probably lump my other extracurricular activities (officiating, umpiring, announcing) as one more.

Finally, there’s my writing. I have made a small amount of money on the two novels I’ve written. Plus, I have the pleasure of providing this space with random thoughts weekly.  If we count writing as a separate job, that brings my total to eight. Could there be more in my future? I don’t really think so, but one never knows. If anything, I might eventually scale back. Of course, if I get to retire someday, I’ll probably find another job, so we’ll leave that number of eight jobs as pending.

Theories abound that the number 11 will rise with the current generation of workers. There are a couple of reasons for this. According to Jeanne Meister in Forbes in 2012, the average worker today only stays at a job for 4.4 years. Today’s young person might change jobs 15-20 times over the course of a lifetime! Why is this?

I love my job stability, but many of today’s young people will search until they find their “dream job.” According to the above article, that job includes a positive culture and interesting work. Think about yourself or your parents. How many times does coming home entail grumbling about the stupid people or the idiot boss or how dull the job is? Yet, onwards people go because of the steady paycheck. Apparently today’s generation is not in the same mindset.

There’s also something to be said for economic turmoil. I heard something recently on the radio about an increase in jobs for four consecutive months for the first time in about six years. When jobs are scarce, some people switch jobs not out of desire, but out of necessity.

I’ve been lucky to have some good bosses. From Duane DuBois at Randall Foods to Sheldon Rieke at the book store, I’ve developed friends as well. I haven’t had many principals or superintendents during my time (three each), and most of them have been enjoyable as head honchos.

My other “jobs” have had a number of people who might be considered a boss. Among Ted Pelzl, Mindy Sparby, and Dan Stork, I’ve been given a lot of latitude and opportunities in coaching, officiating, and announcing, which always makes those things seem a lot less like a job. Being given the chance to write for the paper by Jim has been a true pleasure. Again, he gives me chances to write what I want, whether everyone likes it or not. Plus, nobody else has given me a chance to attend the Home Run Derby; thanks, Jim!

If you examine your job history, I hope you can find some interesting tidbits, just as I have. Have you had fewer jobs than I have or are you helping to meet the average by going above and beyond? Whatever it is, I hope you have or will have a job that brings you as much fulfillment as my myriad hats have brought me!

Word of the Week: This week’s word is autodidact, which means a self-taught person, as in, “Michelle, upon the occasion of her birthday, realized that she had become an autodidact at her job, figuring out many means to an end.” Happy birthday, my love! Impress your friends and confuse your enemies!

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