After a few weeks of hanging out after school every day instead of working, I was convinced that retirement must be a blast. Unfortunately, I couldn’t afford a tank of gas so I quickly scoured the Help Wanted Ads. Yes, that’s how long ago this was – the newspaper was still the best bet to get a job.

Finally I found a local flower shop in need of some temporary help during the Valentine season. Hometown is known as a romantic destination, so training at a flower shop – even for a temporary position – could give me the skills to be hired elsewhere.

I was hired on the spot and immediately started working on the divine art of flower arranging, which is more skilled than you would assume. The other young woman working there – as a “real” employee and not temporary – was learning with me and you could see the difference between our attempts which ended up with pockets lacking flowers and less artistic arrangements, and the florist who made it seem effortless.

As Valentines Day fast approached, I spent more and more time adding babys breath and fern-like leaves into upcoming orders and assembling the chocolate packages with six other girls. It soon became obvious that the owner had vastly overhired, since orders were coming in but not fast enough to keep us all busy. Soon it became a compeitition to see who would stay through the holiday and who would be let go.

When I was called into the office (read: the back fridge that held the excess stock), I knew I was screwed. The owner explained her mistake and told me it was my last day, with only two weeks of flower-arranging experience, I knew it wouldn’t help my resume at all. One by one, the owner called us into the office until all of us looked miserable – we’d all been let go. How could she let go of every single temp two weeks before Valentines Day??

Then we looked around the flower shop and saw the pre-made bouquets and assembled candies. That’s when we realized that our “competition” with each other had caused us to accelerate our work. So rather than keeping our jobs longer, we had effectively worked ourselves out of a job. Post-tax, I had enough to spend on gas to go to endless interviews where I consistently got rejected from potential jobs, until one day….