| All in a Day's Work |

All in a Day’s Work  

If you could work anywhere for a day, what would you choose? 6 Writers. 6 Jobs.  6 Adventures

Mommy Made Dinner

Erin Stiebel

Another day, another dinner to cook. So I decided to make pizza.

Rivka, my boss-for-the-day, greeted me with a huge smile and handed me my uniform — the coveted Jerusalem Pizza T-shirt and a blue apron — and introduced me to my new coworkers: Matt, Caleb, and Achilles. These poor men had been tasked with training me for the day and would be working with a novice pizza maker. Lucky for them, though, I regularly cook five different dinners each night because nobody will eat the same thing, so I’m a pro at multitasking in the kitchen.

Underestimating my skill set, Matt began to teach me how to fold pizza boxes. Baruch Hashem I was a quick study and soon graduated to removing yad soledes bo pizza pans from the oven with tongs. When the pizza made its way safely into the box, everyone breathed a loud sigh of relief.

Detroit is home to the greatest pizza in the world,* and Jerusalem Pizza is famous for its family-feel, where everyone is greeted by name and predicted pizza order. It also boasts an out-of-the-box menu with highlights like cholent pizza, BBQ chicken pizza, sephardic calzones, and veggie chili dogs. In this safe space I’ll admit that my kids prefer Jerusalem Pizza over my homemade version, so when offered the chance to spend a day working in a different industry, I jumped at the opportunity to up my pizza game.

It was Wednesday afternoon, which meant that things were relatively quiet. After getting a tour of the facility, asking a million questions, and observing the professionals, Matt suggested that I make myself a pizza for lunch. Umm, yes please. It was time to learn the tricks of the trade.

Matt pointed toward the various size pizza pans that had been prefilled with dough, and told me to take whichever one I wanted. I grabbed a personal pizza pan and got to work. As this was my debut in professional pizza making, I wanted my first pizza to be memorable. I used the spiked roller to get rid of air bubbles in the dough and carefully placed the crust preserver into the pan. (These are probably not the official names of the contraptions, but you get the idea.) I scooped half a ladleful of pizza sauce and, trying to mimic Caleb’s artistic flair, spread the sauce in circular motions with the back of the ladle. Gingerly and precisely, I shook out the cheese from the designated cheese sprinkling cup, (another technical term) so that it would be evenly distributed, but it clumped in the middle, requiring further attention. Minor detail.

I shifted my focus to the vast array of toppings, curious about an unidentifiable crumbly orange topping that I probably would never have tried from the menu. Feeling adventurous, I placed a handful of the orange crumble on my pizza, sprinkled the secret pizza spice that supposedly goes on all pizzas, and carefully placed the pan on the left side of one of the three giant ovens. I was eagerly awaiting my pizza when one of my coworkers made a passing comment about my choice of topping. “Love that you like kishke pizza! It’s my favorite, too.” Kishke pizza. Kishke. Pizza. How did I miss that? Verdict is still out on if I'll order the Kishke again, but it was better than I imagined.

After successfully making my own pizza, I felt invincible and was determined to try doing everything else. Extra well-done Jerusalem breadsticks, check. Preparing the soup, check. Taking someone’s order at the cash register, check. Slicing a giant pie of pizza evenly, check minus. Tuna sandwich… what’s the opposite of check? My humble apologies to the customer whose bread I hacked because I couldn’t cut through the loaf evenly. Hope your tuna didn’t fall out the bottom.

I learned to work the dough-flattening machine, attempted to toss aforementioned flat dough in the air, watched them refill the soft-serve ice cream dispenser, and discovered the biggest container of oil I'd ever seen. I realized I’d been so busy learning the ropes in the kitchen that I had yet to work the front of the store, something I’d been greatly looking forward to. As a teenager, I had dreamed of working as a cashier in a grocery store. Outside the self-checkout at Target, today was probably the closest I was going to get.

I hovered near the front of the store to help take orders and obviously, to socialize. What better place to see all crossroads of the Jewish community than at the checkout of the kosher pizza store? While people seemed confused to see me on the other side of the counter in my blue apron, they greeted me with a smile and placed their orders without batting an eyelash.

That is, everyone except my friend’s middle school son who obviously reported back to his mother that I was working at the pizza store. “I’m telling you, Mrs. Stiebel was working there!” She casually dismissed the possibility, explaining that I was probably just there hanging out. In a Jerusalem T-shirt and blue apron. He accepted it and moved on.

Around 3:45, my husband and daughter popped into the store. It’s unclear if their visit was intended to show support or to take incriminating photos , but either way, it prompted me to come up with the best idea of the day. Instead of returning home after a long day of work and having to think about what to serve for dinner, I would make dinner at work .

I used my newfound skills to enter my order into the computer, complete with all of the kids’ favorites, then swiped my credit card and watched as the order tickets popped up in the hot food prep station. I bolted over there to call dibs on the order before Caleb got to work, and began prepping a medium BBQ chicken pizza without red onions, a medium plain pizza, two orders of cheese sticks, and an order of cinnamon sticks, a treat reserved only for special occasions. While the orders baked in the oven, I skillfully folded the three pizza boxes that would house my masterpieces.

The pizzas were the first ones out of the oven, so I grabbed the tongs and carried the hot pans to the boxes, carefully transferring the pizzas. Two down. Next came the cinnamon sticks, which are essentially pizza dough covered in melted butter, cinnamon sugar, and an icing drizzle. Let’s just say I may have overdone it on the icing, but they were only more delicious. Lastly, out came the cheese sticks, which I painted with melted garlic butter, sprinkled with parmesan, wrapped in foil, and placed in a bag. Though it sounds simple enough, it seems from the multiple oil stains on the other boxes and bags that perhaps I was overeager with the garlic butter as well.

With my order ready to go, I returned my apron to the back and thanked my coworkers for their patience. They told me I could come back and sub anytime I wanted, though after being on my feet for so long, I think I’ll take a pass and give them the business instead. I grabbed my order, headed home, and walked in the door announcing, “Mommy made dinner!”


*Rivaled only by Nut House Pizza of Silver Spring, MD. Hometown loyalties, you understand.

Efficient. Sensible. Pleasant

Esty Heller

There is a special place in Gan Eden reserved for efficient, pleasant, sensible, and reliable cleaning help.

Last week, I earned myself a cheilek of their Olam Haba. (For being efficient, sensible, and reliable. Pleasant? Let’s not go there.)

Confession: I would never choose to live a day in the life of my cleaning lady, but if fate chooses me….

I step into my role late Thursday evening, the moment I receive my cleaning lady’s text that her “body hurts.” (Actually, not at that precise moment. I first call up every one of my sisters and friends to decry bodies that hurt, and only then do I get started.)

I tell myself it isn’t the end of the world. I really don’t have the energy to get worked up over this. I need whatever strength I do have to actually clean this house for Shabbos.

Out comes my vacuum cleaner (and a handful of chocolate pops. Why are you looking? You’re supposed to be sleeping.) Okay, channeling my cleaning lady, how does she do it?

She starts by stripping linen. I strip linen — by striking it through on my to-do list. Linen is just going to have to wait for my cleaning lady’s body to stop hurting. Wow, talk about efficient.

Next, she goes from room to room. Dust furniture, straighten up, clean windows, vacuum and wash floor.

Here’s where I hit the first snag. “Straightening up,” b’lashon cleaning help, means collecting all random items from under, over, and in between beds and placing them in a neat pile on one corner of the bed. It’s understood that the woman of the house will later come around and put the torn magazines and dirty socks where they belong.

Considering I am now she as well as the woman of the house, creating such piles won’t cut it. I actually have to do the decluttering to get to the cleaning. Well, turns out there’s a reason I hire cleaning help, and it’s not because I’m lazy. (Maybe also, but not only.) I have my duties and she has hers. Decluttering takes time. I find a roll of Scotch tape on a closet floor and bring it to the kitchen to put it in the odds-and-ends drawer, at which point I discover that my odds-and-ends drawer is a dizzying mess so I (sensibly) unpack its contents, shake out the pencil shavings, and sit down to carefully separate safety pins from paper clips.

Phew, done.

I should be going back to that bedroom, but I spy fingerprints on the table, so I quickly grab Windex and paper towels and wipe the table down. Then the baby cries, so I go feed her. And change her diaper. And answer a call that requires me to pull out four recipe books to look up a recipe I’d tried once, around five years ago. Yes, you do need to separate eggs, sorry.

Uh, where was I again?

The bedroom, right.

On my way back, I stop to pick up the towels the kids threw on the floor and take them to the laundry room. In the laundry room, I throw in a load because, efficient, right? So pleasant, wow.

Back to the bedroom. I can’t turn on the vacuum cleaner because there are kids sleeping in the room, so I decide to leave that for the morning.

Bathrooms are next. Unlike linen, those are nonnegotiable. I do a very thorough job. So thorough, I come across details that I wonder if my cleaning lady has ever addressed. That’s when the resentment starts building. I pay her top dollar, why was she skipping the shower head and door hinges?

You know what hits me then?

A wave of exhaustion. It hits me with a sudden crash, and I collapse on the hallway floor, tears leaking over all the shmattehs that surround me. It’s a wave so tall and foreboding, the only way to fight it is to abandon the Mr. Clean, take a long, hot shower, and retire for the night.

For the night?

I retire for good. Please, Hashem, make my cleaning lady’s body stop hurting. I forgive the dust on the shower head, I forgive the piles of clutter on the beds. This is not a job I can handle. My role is to love and nurture (okay, and cook). Hashem created cleaning help for a reason, and I will never take mine for granted again.

I know the mess won’t disappear while I sleep, but tomorrow is another day. I’ll run a vacuum cleaner over the floors, wipe down the sinks and counters, straighten up whatever and however, it will all be so… reliable. I mean, pleasant. I mean, zzzzzzzz….

Blessed sleep overtakes me — until, through the fog of my dreams, I hear the washing machine beep.


Oh, Baby!

Ariella Schiller

Ihave a list of jobs that I’m positive anyone would want; hospital nursery workers top the list, because, you know, tiny babies. Now, after spending the day working in Baby Boutique Israel, I’ve added baby-store owners to the list, because, you know, tiny clothes.

I shuffled into the store bright and early and left skipping (and possibly humming) just a few hours later. So between the shuffling and the skipping, this is how it went down:

Hudis Snow, proprietor of Baby Boutique Israel, was incredibly accommodating about welcoming me into her boutique. She’d shown me the ropes the night before, and we’d discussed how the 26-year-old got started in the business, three years before.

“I was that girl who always found the cutest items on AliExpress, so I finally decided to just make a huge order to sell to others. And from there, it kind of just bloomed. I started reaching out to different companies and selling their items wholesale,” Hudis explained.

The boutique carries all the trending brands, and I wonder what it’s like to be in touch with all of them — if it’s intimidating.

“That’s why email is great,” Hudis says, laughing. Yes, using the written word as a shield is right up my alley.

The next day, I parked my baby in the corner, davened she’d stay asleep, and entered the room in Hudis’s Maalot Dafnah apartment that serves as a storefront. It was beautifully done — white built-in cubicles and shelves, velvet hangers, gray suede benches, and of course, baby clothing and blankets tastefully hanging and folded all around.


I began by straightening the shelves, refolding tiny pajamas and hats that had gotten messed during store hours the night before. I gathered some plush blankets that had fallen —Winx to Blinx, Zandino, and some gorgeous Domani knit ones — trying to refold them the way Hudis had, perfectly square on their hangers. It was calming work, making things pretty, but with a purpose. Not like putting things away at home, when you know five minutes later it will look like a hurricane and a tornado had a wedding in the room.

We schmoozed as I organized; despite my assurances to Hudis that she could go do errands or take a nap, she wisely chose to stay and supervise.

A customer came in then to make a gift exchange. One month post-birth, and she was out and shopping in Baby Boutique Israel. I totally got it.

I helped her choose a gorgeous Lil Leggs tan onesie with berry-colored stripes on it.

She pulled out a henley pale pink. “Or this one?”

I pursed my lips. “I really like the striped. It’s different, and that ruffle by the shoulder is so cute.”

I was tempted to buy one for my own baby and then remembered I wasn’t there to shop. Oh well.

She was unsure about purchasing a pale-pink hat, but I showed her it matched a lot of different shades of pinks, and she bought that as well as the tan-and-berry onesie. Yay, I helped!

I waved her out of the store and rehung some of the items that had fallen down while she was perusing the shelves, secretly glad for a reason to organize again. I loved feeling the creamy softness of the tiny clothes.

Then Hudis pulled a large pile of baby products out of the corner. It was an order that an expectant mother had chosen but wouldn’t be taking home until after the birth; the boutique offers this service for those whose minhag is not to purchase items until the baby is born.

We needed to total and bag the order. It was basically the ultimate baby girl wardrobe: washcloths and towels, swaddles and burp cloths, undershirts, plush blanket, thin blanket, paci clip, onesies, and some gorgeous three-piece layette pieces.

“That is one lucky baby,” I said, fingering a Jaqueline & Jac swaddle.

Hudis went to attend to the orders that had come in via the company WhatsApp. I heard her voice-noting customers from the other room. Her assistant, Shana, snapped some pictures for an indecisive customer.

I was impressed with how hands-on their customer service is; I know how baby exhaustion can cause decisions like which velour stretchie set to choose to assume gargantuan proportions.

“She keeps telling us to choose ourselves, but I know she’d appreciate photos,” Hudis explained when I complimented them.

Another customer came in pushing an adorable baby boy in a stroller. “I’m buying him leggings for the first time,” she said, and you could hear the wistful note in her voice: Her baby was no longer a newborn. Ahh, motherhood and its ambivalent feelings.

She chose a pair of ribbed black leggings, and then we brought out the sale selection so she could grab a couple of rompers and onesies for Pesach and the summer.

After she left, we organized a large bag of items awaiting embroidery; most of Hudis’s online orders are for embroidered baby gifts that are delivered all over Israel.

A woman came in looking for a size five Lil Legs skirt. She didn’t end up purchasing it; she wasn’t sure it would fit her daughter, so of course, I almost did. But I managed to hold back and just straightened the shelf once she left, possibly my favorite part of the job.

There was something so calming about the store; I almost reevaluated professions. Or maybe it was just the lack of looming deadlines?

But Hudis shared that the job has pressures as well — choosing next seasons’ inventory, trying to gauge which pieces customers would want and which would sit collecting dust.

“There’s always that one piece that you invest in that no one wants, for absolutely no reason,” she says, laughing.

I guess it’s a matter of you win some, you lose some, but I do wonder what the secret formula is for picking inventory everyone will love. I’m not sure I’d be confident enough in my choices, although I guess the brand catalogues guide you toward what the customers will want.

My baby woke up then, reminding me that it was time for gan pickup.

I thanked Hudis and Shana for a fabulous morning, and even managed to leave the store without buying anything.

You know, this time.


Please Exercise Caution

Rachel Newton

I stared at the computer screen. Take over someone’s job for the day? Could be fun!

Hmmm. What might work that doesn’t necessitate a lot of training?

You can decide what you want to do. Taxi driver, sheitelmacher, teacher, cashier, whatever.

The uncomfortable realization dawned… I’m a Jill of all trades and master of none.

I’ve done short stints at a florist, sheitelmacher, gift store, shoe store. I’ve taught, done public speaking, subbed in a playgroup. I do makeup and fancy cakes as a hobby.

Now, taxi driving is something I’d love to do, but I don’t know any taxi drivers. Definitely not one whose insurance covers someone who can’t drive.

There went that.

I was going to regretfully decline. Sorry, can’t do this assignment, I’m a liability.

And then I was at the exercise class I go to on Friday mornings, and a little voice told me that yeah, I could do this! It’s a semi-private class in the fitness instructor’s home, and we’re just three participants. Can’t mess that up, right?

Miri Binke, private trainer extraordinaire, was more than happy to save the day. She agreed to let me take over the next week even after I told her that I was actually serious (for a change).

The beginning of the week was hectic, and I didn’t spare the challenge more than a fleeting thought. I’ve been going to exercise classes since 2005; I could give a class in my sleep.

But on Wednesday, I wasn’t so blasé anymore. It’s one thing to show up and do whatever you’re told to do in a class… it’s another matter to make sure there’s enough warm-up at the beginning and enough stretching at the end, and to plan a whole sequence of exercises that are challenging but not too challenging, and to focus on the right amount of time spent on each set… and to fill up 45 minutes… gulp.

On Wednesday night I came down with a heavy cold. First thought? Yippee, I’m going to cancel.

Oh, no, you’re not, chicken.

Luckily enough for the Family First team and readership, I’m too stubborn to turn down a challenge.

It’s Thursday night, my nose has stopped dripping, and the butterflies in my stomach are doing Zumba.

By Friday morning I’m wavering between laughing at myself and controlled nervous hysteria. They’re my friends! Tzippi is a very close friend, Yitti has become a once-a-week good exercise friend, and I’ve known Miri for a long time — since our daughters were in the same playgroup. Nothing to be scared of….

And then the next second those butterflies start up again. Why do I do these things to myself?

I arrive five minutes early and ask Miri if she was like this when she started out. She tells me that she has a certain amount of inner pressure every single time. It’s a good pressure, she reassures me. It means you want to do a great job… and the reason she’s really excited for my class this morning! It’s a fun vacation for her.

Tzippi and Yitti arrive. Lots of jokes about when I’m opening my own studio.

I’ve planned a fitball class. I’ve been going to one regularly for about ten years, and know I can carry through 45 minutes of exercise with that big ball.

We start off with great energy — I’ve decided to use Miri’s playlist for music. Personally, I enjoy music with no lyrics, or just music that’s “contemporary chassidish,” for lack of a better way to describe it. But all the participants besides me are Israeli, so it makes sense to stick with the Israeli/Mizrachi-style songs they’re more likely to know and enjoy.

After that, things go smoothly, baruch Hashem.

We do warm-ups — some bouncing and stretches. I keep an eye on the clock, grateful that there’s one hanging opposite me so I don’t have to look at my watch all the time. That’s one thing I’m sure comes with experience for personal trainers, to know how long everything takes in real time.

My friends are great! They really swing into things, and I find myself in a good rhythm. Once we start the actual exercise, all those neural pathways from years of exercise light up, and I’m just in another class, enjoying myself.

Except… it’s not just another class.

I constantly have my eye on the clock. At some point halfway through there’s a tiny needle of panic that I’m going to run out of things to do before time is up.

Another thing: I’m the one needing to count through the reps of each exercise. Five, four, three… breathe!

Most important is explaining what we’re about to do next and going around and checking that everyone’s holding form properly, using the right muscles.

Don’t forget the compliments, keep morale up, doing a great job! Hold that…

I look out to see if anyone’s energy is flagging, to make sure I’m not pushing anyone too far beyond her comfort zone. There’s a fine line between exercise and torture (nope, they’re not the same), and I don’t want to cross it.

Phew, I make it to five minutes before the end, and I haven’t run out of ideas yet!

Still great energy, we’re still having fun and joking around. Now we go to winding down, stretching all the muscles we’ve worked on, deep breathing. Streeeetch.

And I’ve done it!!! High fives all round.

“Well?” I ask them.

“Now we know who’s taking over when Miri has to take off.” (Tzippi)

“Now for real, you’re gonna end up in competition with me!” (Miri)

“You sure you’ve never done this before?” (Yitti)

I come home delighted with myself and also muttering about how crazy it is to have an exercise class on the shortest Friday of the year.

Nah, I’m not opening a studio any time soon. But I’m always up for another challenge.

Anyone know any taxi drivers out there with a taste for danger?

First Class

Penina Steinbruch

It’s the middle of the night, but our staff texting chat is popping.

Goldy — 12:59 a.m.: Ariella Schiller can’t come in tomorrow; she has the flu. Anyone have any ideas for something fun and creative that we could swing last minute, instead of her creative writing class?

Hmmm, well, I’m a teacher and a writer, though honestly, I’ve never tried to teach writing. But, c’mon — of course I could. My job here isn’t teaching — it’s logistics — but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t teach. But, if no one else thinks so, I’m not going to start waving my hand and volunteering just for someone to say, “No, thanks.”

Goldy — 1:04 a.m.: How about gardening?

Me — 1:05 a.m.: But they just did a hike today — lots of outdoors… do you think gardening might be too much?

Like, hello — I may have half the writing experience that Ariella has — but I am twice her age and I’m a writer. Okay, maybe Ariella is a Writer, and I’m only a writer, but I think I can do this. But if no one else thinks so, I’m not going to embarrass myself by volunteering.

Goldy — 1:13 a.m.: Doesn’t have to be gardening. Anything experiential would work: cooking, sewing, tire changing, any other life skill….

Tire changing? Not gonna try to compete with that….

Shosh — 6:49 a.m.: I think all of those would take longer than a 50-minute class period. Can’t we get anyone to do something writing-related?

Could we? Uh, hello? What am I, chopped liver?

Me — 8:33 a.m.: I can ask Ariella if she has a writing activity prepared that she could send in.

Leah — 8:34 a.m.: Penina, can’t you do it? You’d be a great fill-in for a writing activity!

Phew! I thought you’d never ask. Now where’s that modest blushing emoji?

Me — 8:37 a.m.: (blushing emoji) I think I could. If it’s okay if I leave the office for an hour at three?

Goldy — 9:07 a.m.: That’s such a great idea! Why didn’t I think of that? Penina, can we confirm?

I quickly send off a thumbs-up emoji. This is just perfect; Family First has asked me if I wanted to do someone else’s job, and here it just slid right into my lap.

There’s only one small issue… I have to be in school in less than an hour and get all my other work done an hour early, so there isn’t much time to plan a class.

As I dive under my bed to look for my shoes and stand in front of my mirror applying makeup, I try to come up with an idea that I feel comfortable explaining and can teach in less than an hour.

The opening line of any essay, I decide, the hook that gets you to keep reading. That could work.

At three o’clock I walk from the office to the classroom, asking Hashem for an extra dose of siyata d’Shmaya.

I start taking attendance, and the girls seem confused.

“Um, is the teacher coming?”

I look up and give my most confident smile — most of the girls know that I write. “She’s here. Mrs. Schiller has the flu. I’m taking over for today. What do you think makes a story worth reading? The story itself or the way it’s told?”

“Both. But mostly the way it’s told,” one girl pipes up. I see a lot of nodding.

Well, that was fast. So much for classroom discussion. Still, I’m here to do my bit, and I do my fair share of pontificating that a totally uneventful situation can make good reading if it’s told well.

Then I cut to the chase. “But even if you have a great story — the most interesting story in the world — you’ve got to hook readers in the very first line to keep them reading.”

I write a few phrases on the board:

eating breakfast

going to the post office

taking a nap

Then I tell the girls to take a few minutes to think of an opening line — a hook— that would make someone want to read more about any one of these very boring and ordinary things.

The satisfying sound of pens scratching on paper gives me a chance to glance at my watch, 3:20. Oh, boy, half an hour left and I’ve already taught everything I’d prepared to teach. What now? 

I ask if anyone has anything they want to share, and a girl raises her hand. She’s created a good hook for the nap option, but she isn’t done.

“I know you only told us to write the first line — but can I write the whole thing now?” she asks. “While it’s fresh in my mind, and I’m in the flow?”

I ask if that would work for everyone — would they like to keep writing? Most of them nod, and I’m relieved. I can let them all keep writing without letting on that I have nothing left to teach them. This will buy me some time.

When it seems like most of the girls are done, I ask if anyone wants to share.

The girl who had said she was in the flow before raises her hand. “I could read the rest of what I wrote about taking a nap.”

She reads, and I can’t believe it. It’s good — good enough to be published.

Another girl reads a really good poem.

Then a third one raises her hand. “I don’t mind reading what I wrote. But I think everyone else will think it’s really boring. I’m not a writer.”

“Well, that’s okay,” I reassure her. “We’re here to learn. Let’s hear what you have so far.”

She reads. About eating breakfast, and going to the post office, and taking a nap. She shares her thoughts while going about her day, and they are real and relatable and honest.

I look around the room feeling totally different than I did when I walked in to the classroom. Had I come here to teach these girls how to write? Or maybe I was here to learn that talent wasn’t for the rarified few. Everyone has talent.

I look around at the other faces in the room. I see I can trust them with the question I want to ask next.

“Did anyone here think that was boring? Even a little bit?”

There is head shaking around the room, a few “no way”s.

The girl starts to smile. She’s genuinely surprised — it never occurred to her she could write something people would want to read.

I walk out of the classroom, glad to have had the experience.

Sometimes you really do learn the most from your students.


Not This Intern

Hadassah Swerds

When my editor called to see if I would be interested in trying out a new job for a day, I was all in.

Who wouldn’t want to spend a few hours trying out something more fascinating than their usual daily routine?

Now the question was what to do.

Uber driver?

That’s basically my life right now, so we can take that off the list straight away.

For similar reasons, let’s also stay away from Chef, Ringmaster, Laundress, Referee, and Babysitter.

I thought about asking a professional makeup artist if I could have a go at a kallah on her wedding day, or asking a wig stylist if I could trim someone’s bangs, but then I remembered that the goal here was to not actually ruin anyone else’s day with this fun experiment.

Knowing my own personal exercise class disaster (I could barely make it through the class and then couldn’t sit for a week,) my sister suggested I revisit that experience and lead a class myself.

But did I really want the whole class to nervously debate calling Hatzolah as I gasped for breath for 15 minutes?

I think not.

Then I thought of Shiffy. My friend Shiffy Kish from Sky Media has a very, very interesting job. She is the creative mind behind a successful marketing company, doing branding and ads for what seems like hundreds of companies, including clothing, toys, food, and service providers. I could see myself loving the creative aspects of the job! Who knows, in an alternate universe, maybe I’d even choose this career for myself.

I called Shiffy to offer my services as a member of her team, and she graciously accepted.

Not only that, but it seemed that her project manager was on maternity leave, so technically I could fill her spot.

Amazing! I hadn’t even walked in the door, and already I was given a promotion. This was going to be a wild success, I could tell.

I arrived at the office and found everyone already busy working at their computers. It looked like 30 things were being handled at once, everyone juggling their own tasks while simultaneously communicating with each other and with their clients.

My keen observation skills told me this was a good time to politely decline the Project Manager position and to inquire if perhaps there were any intern jobs available.

I sat next to Shiffy for a while as she answered a client’s question, adjusted an image, fixed a font, reworded some copy, listened to a client’s concern, sent a handful of emails, booked some ad space, called the same client back again, tweaked the color of an ad, and accepted an emergency rush job to be completed in three days.

It was apparent that this job was equal parts creative brainstorming and incredible people skills.

After half an hour of observation, Shiffy turned to me and asked if I wanted to write a quick email to a client, asking him which changes he wanted to make to an existing ad. But written correspondence could so easily be misread, I told her. I didn’t accidentally want to alienate clients right off the bat on my very first day.

Then Shiffy asked if I wanted to review a finished brochure for a popular takeout store and look for any inadvertently added extra spaces.

Sounds easy, right?

Like the type of thing an intern could do, right?

Not this intern.

Based on my absolute lack of technological prowess, I was 100 percent sure that I would innocently attempt to fix an extra space and then the entire multi-page brochure would launch itself out of its current file, mysteriously align itself to the left side of the page, then morph into coded jargon that only the Pentagon could decipher.

Shiffy did keep trying to find a job that I could do. But with each of her suggestions, I had to explain that while I appreciated her faith in me and my creative abilities, it was likely that my input would cause the project to fly off the rails. I really didn’t want to undo weeks or months of her hard work.

It’s actually harder to turn down jobs than you would think, so I was working a bit more than I had anticipated.

All in all though, I had a great time and thoroughly enjoyed my time in marketing. I’d give the experience a solid 10/10.

I would definitely come back to not do work here again.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 823)

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