Dangerous Donuts, etc.

When you’re a writer, nothing goes to waste. No insult, no embarrassment, no foolishness. If I lived it, I can write about it. This has certainly been the case with my Maggie Dove mysteries, in which I’ve drawn on my experiences as a Sunday School teacher to help Maggie solve murders. But I’ve had other career experiences that have also been useful.    1. I helped compile the Fortune 500. Yes, that one. It was my job as a young reporter at Fortune magazine to read through about 1,000 annual reports (I’m not exaggerating; it might have been more). My job was to figure out which U.S. companies had the highest revenues, and in which sectors of the economy. It took months. Never in my life did I make my grandfather so happy as when that list came out and my name was on it. There are no Fortune reporters appearing in Maggie Dove, yet. However there is an economist! 2. I worked as a docent at Sunnyside, which is where Washington Irving lived. You have to know what I look like to appreciate the humor in this. Sufficient to say that on a very good day, if the wind isn’t blowing hard, I’m about 5 feet. Dressed in 19th century clothes, with an apron, and a bonnet, I looked a bit like a dumpling. And yes, there is a docent in Maggie Dove, but she’s gorgeous. I figured, why not? 3. One of my first jobs was as an obituary writer, which is probably perfect training for a mystery writer. It wasn’t a job I excelled at because I didn’t like prying into people’s lives at a difficult time. And how do you feel now that your husband’s dead body has been laid out? But I suppose it did give me various ideas, and my mother was very proud. For years we had a framed picture of a fatal accident in our kitchen, with my byline underneath. 4. My most horrifying job was at a donut store. I had to get there at 4 a.m., and it was my job to pluck the glazed donuts out of the boiling oil with my finger. I’m sure in the decades since I worked there, some governmental agency has stepped in, but I was just a teenager and my boss said, put your finger in the boiling and I said, Sure. I don’t know what I learned from that except that it’s good to question authority. How about you? Any horrifying job experiences? 

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