Wednesday, August 25, 2010
My worst job ever...
Current mood: amused
The worst job I ever had, I worked for one day. Didn’t even wait to get paid. I had begun my equitable employment when I was nine years old, working for my father. Every summer, I scraped windows, cleaned paintbrushes, hauled roofing shingles up ladders – sometimes more than one story, which is something akin to jumping off a ledge at the Grand Canyon for someone with my fear of heights – mixed mud, hauled hod, stacked brick, cleaned up, set up, tore up and filled up every manner of construction job imaginable. I did this for seven years, until I was old enough to get another job – any job, anywhere. I made two dollars per hour every year, which was one reason I wanted to find another job as soon as possible. I made a hundred dollars a week most weeks, which was the other reason I wanted to seek other employment as soon as humanly possible. This meant that the old man had worked me for fifty hours per week, which I would not dream of working today, unless the work involved processing high-grade cocaine or auditioning world-class strippers. The fact that my father bought my morning chocolate milk and mini-powdered donuts and hot lunch did not dissuade me from searching out another means of earning.
This was not the worst job I ever had, however. I learned a lot by working for my father – I learned a bunch of salty language and more importantly, I cultivated a strong work ethic, which has rightfully diminished over the years, but still managed to stain my character. The first job I found outside the family was being a busboy at the Scottsdale Hilton, located at Lincoln and Scottsdale Roads, the highlight of which was assisting the regular waitress to Forrest Tucker, to whom she would serve vodka on the rocks in a water glass, lest his wife and handlers find out he was imbibing. Apparently, he was not supposed to be boozing. To me, he was a legend for his work in “F-Troop” and I found it acceptable to serve up his hooch in a plastic cup and listen to his tales of the Golden Age of Hollywood as his speech began to slur in direct proportion to the vicious squeezins he was surreptitiously consuming. Looking back, I was amazed that he was never found out – at least not that I knew. Then again, who knew what happened in the penthouse of the Hilton in the Desert once they had left the dining hall. The only other memorable incident that summer was that Elvis died. It was odd to me to lose an icon – I hadn’t had the experience up to that point, but it would not be the last time, as it turned out. Still, I always connect the death of the King to the Scottsdale Hilton, right or wrong. Oh – and a lady answered the door in her lingerie when I went to deliver room service one time and asked me to come in and set the tray on the bed. I stammered, handed her the tray and bolted down the hall, not waiting for a tip, not looking back. I was seventeen. I have relived this memory countless times in the past, duly kicking myself in the figurative ass, wondering just what might have happened had I set the tray on the bed. Had this delivery been made properly, I have concluded, it would warrant more space in this writing. What a puss.
The worst job I ever had came shortly thereafter. I was recommended by my father – no doubt because it was known I would work cheap – and hired by one of Dad’s drinking buddies to work as a plumber’s apprentice. I was not adverse to hard work and the pay was decent – especially compared to that of the elder Ford character – so I drove to the office and hopped into a plumber’s van with Dad’s buddy Arnie, who was going to show me the ropes. I was put to the task of digging a trench in a yard of a home in the desert and I set about digging and wondering when we would break for lunch – all at the same time – even then a classic multi-tasker. I dug down to the PVC pipe that had been laid at some point in history, from which the problem apparently generated. At this point, Arnie donned his work gloves and knelt over the ditch I had dug and brought forth a coping saw, with which he began to cut through the pipe. I watched with eager anticipation, ever the learner, still wondering when lunch would come and whether I had packed enough sandwiches. It was hot and I was hungry – digging trenches had proven to be hard work. Arnie had cut through the pipe and separated the pieces and begun to assemble the replacement workings when there was a sudden rumbling. Arnie backed away from the trench and motioned for me to retreat. “Get back!” he warned, and I did. Water began to flow out of the pipe, followed by a couple of good-sized, praise-worthy turds and a lump of toilet paper for my viewing enjoyment. I nearly vomited and quit right on the spot, never being the possessor of a strong stomach – a curse of my hill lineage. This is no knock against those who toil in feces - more power to you. But given my delicate constitution and unrivaled sensibilities, I could tell immediately that this was not the career path I would be pursuing for the long-term. Nor the short-term. I don’t even remember how I made it back to the office, or my car. I never sought out Arnie again for payment, or further employment. In fact, when I saw him on the street, I usually crossed to the other side and sprinted for cover. I spoke poorly of him whenever given the opportunity – he and his family, with whom I had no acquaintance. That was my worst job ever.
Tomorrow – my BEST job ever.