I’m probably high-fiving Mickey Mouse as we speak, or at least walking outside at night without two pairs of socks, a winter coat and my Gryffindor scarf. Although the scarf would come in handy, should I decide to go to Universal Studios tomorrow. That’s right. These are the decisions I’m making these days. Or, this week. And in the meantime, I want to welcome yet another trusted blogger friend of mine – Eli from Coach Daddy. We’re friends. We share cookies and sandwiches. By email. We’re so high-tech that we can share cookies and sandwiches by email. And yet, we’ve both been through a slew of bad jobs to get to this wonderful cookie and sandwich place of writing and photography and other wonderful things. Since I love talking about the bad jobs I’ve had, I was so excited to hear Eli talk about his. Take it away, Eli. And thank you.
Are you at work?
It’s OK. I won’t tell.
Most of us spend a little time on blogs at work. It frees your mind up to do the stellar work you do. Give yourself a pat on the back. Not too hard.
It’s just a job, right? It is, unless you love it. Then it’s kind of sacred. If you make tons of money, you might love it. Even if you just make a pittance, it’s sacred, too. You can’t buy much caviar – or Ramen noodles – without the J.O.B.
We delight in complaining about our jobs. It’s a grind. Back to the salt mines. It’s time to make the doughnuts. (Wait, what? That would be so cool.)
Unless you’re LeBron James or a Kennedy, you’ll have a crappy jobs story to tell. I have some, just like the next dolt. Thinking about them gives me great appreciation for how far I’ve come. (Sitting on a charter flight to Cancun for work kind of reinforces that sentiment).
Some of my jobs are too crappy to believe. Are they all believable? Tamara Bowman’s life reads like Forrest Gump – if he wore knockout sundresses and had fantastic hair. She inspired this post.
I present the crappiest jobs I’ve had. No one would lie about something like this, right?
Tell us about your crappiest occupation. And try to be truthful.
1. He Who Smelt It …
I worked for a man who often began instruction to me by saying, “if you were smart, you’d have …” Yep. I had mop-up duty, steamed lobsters to death, or organized seafood spices. I seasoned shrimp and doled out salmon like a champ at the A&P seafood counter.
“Make me another batch like last time, Eli?” the charming mommies would ask. “I loved it!” They’d smile over their shoulders as they sauntered to the produce. (She’s so getting extra shrimp.)
Sounds all kinds of clam chowder gravy, right?
When you work with mackerel, you don’t talk or walk like mackerel. But you sure do smell mackerel. The odor invades your pores and infests your clothes. No lava soap can free you. Cats love you, but charming mommies are better off on the other side of the counter. It took two full weeks to smell nice again.
2. No Rest For The Poverty
You kids won’t remember this. Back in the day, some newspapers published in the afternoon. (What’s a newspaper, dad? Oh, never mind).
I nabbed the Carolina Panthers/Charlotte Hornets beat right out of college. I rubbed elbows with the heavy hitters. It’s a childhood dream until you factor in high school wrestling meets in BFE. And you get to write 40-inch boys basketball previews. And a sleep schedule straight out of Guantanamo Bay.
It went like this.
• 7 p.m. Cover a Charlotte Hornets game, or epic battle in Boone at Watauga High.
• 1 a.m. Finish lengthy game story on a word processor.
• Sleep from 2 a.m. to 5 a.m.
• Bring typed-out story to the newsroom for scanning.
• 1 p.m. Wrap up layout on the afternoon edition.
• Sleep 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
• Drive back to BFE for that epic volleyball match.
• Repeat, for a hellish eternity, or three months. Whichever comes first.
It wasn’t soul sucking – but it sucked the marrow right out of my soul. I took a job offer for $5 more a week just to escape that fresh hell.
3. The Dead Beat
I dreamed of covering the Denver Broncos or Denver Nuggets for the Denver Post. I’d write right alongside my boyhood idol, Woody Paige. I even sat next to him at the Final Four when I was a college reporter. Well, I could have. Woody was a no-show. Or maybe he got a better seat.
To reach this level of excellence, One must endeavor from the bottom. Enter the Dead Beat. As a metro clerk at the Charlotte Observer, my domain was the land of the dearly departed, and the weather. Some nights were heavy with obituaries. At least I had a chance to report on partly-sunny skies, too.
You develop a morbid sense of humor on the Dead Beat. “Folks are just dying to get in the paper,” we’d say. “Man, 120 inches of obits! At least the traffic won’t be as busy tomorrow.”
It wasn’t always so crass. A woman visited for extra copies of the paper one night. Her husband’s obit was in it.
“How much do I owe you?” the pretty woman with sad eyes asked as she scooped up a dozen editions.
“It’s on the house,” I said. She put the papers down and hugged me hard.
4. Customer Disservice
I was a Walmart cashier for two excruciating weeks. I dove into the River Styx so I could pay my past-due tuition at UNC Charlotte. They called me College Boy. It wasn’t my undergrad status. I was just haughty enough to wear clean pants and wash my hair.
My efforts didn’t go unnoticed. Back in those days, Walmart cashiers had telephones at the register. Almost every day, she’d call, all sultry. “Love the new sweater,” she’d purr on the phone. “It brings out your eyes.” She’d compliment me on my pants or hair or smile. “I’ll see you tomorrow …”
She never revealed herself. I’d look around now and then. Maybe a Sharon Stone type would leer at me like I was an 88-cent box of itch cream, but, no. My coworkers gave Ms. Stalks-a-lot my work schedule if she called on my off day. She might have been the best part of the job.
So, what do you think? Which one sounds the least believable?
And what is YOUR crappy job story? (I’m hoping one involves enormous shovels and elephants).