Jobs

April 5, 2017

 

Okay, I've had some interesting jobs in my life. Not too many, since I've worked for myself for the last forty some-odd years. But back in the day, I did some real work.

I got my first job at the age of thirteen. The mother of a friend of mine worked at a local private club in Sandwich called Rof-Mar Lodge. She arranged jobs as busboys for her son Bruce, me, and our friend Don. Every day I had to be at her house at 3:00 p.m. so she could bring us all to work. The first hour or so would be spent setting up tables, making salads, and generally doing whatever we were told. Around 4:30 we would get dinner from the kitchen. No choice of what to eat, but it was usually pretty darn good.

Rof-Mar was a very popular place back then, and Bruce, Don and I ran our tails off all night. Clearing tables, setting tables, carrying huge trays of food, and generally making ourselves useful was the order of the night. We would get a ten percent share of the waitresses' tips and split it among the three of us. I'm not sure, but I think that on a good night we could make four or five dollars each. That was big money for a kid in 1965, and we sure figured out how to spend it. I remember going to Friendly’s Restaurant with Don and Bruce. There was a young waitress there whom we were all drooling over. Don bragged that he could get her phone number, so Bruce and I sat back to watch his technique. He gave her a $5.00 tip on a bill of about $2.50 and waited for her to say something to him. She took the money, smiled, said “thanks,” and disappeared into the back room.

We never went back to Friendly’s.

After my busboy days were over I still needed to make money. In the back of a comic book, I saw an ad that promised you could earn money selling Grit newspaper. I could be my own boss and make a ton of money. I signed up, and a few weeks later, my first stack of Grit newspapers arrived. There was a problem, however: I didn't know what to do with them. My mother told me that I had to go out, knock on doors, and sell them. What? The ad didn't say anything about that. Not only did I not sell any of those papers, I had to pay Grit for the ones they’d sent me. It didn’t look like I was ever going to be a great businessman.

I gave the newspaper business another try, delivering the Cape Cod Times. Back then it was called the Cape Cod Standard Times, but it's still the same paper. I started with a route of about fifty customers in my neighborhood, and once a week I would meet with the guy from the paper to settle up the finances. Whenever I had papers left over, I would hand them out for free to people who weren’t my customers in the hope that they would sign on with me. It wasn’t long before I had over seventy people on my route.

I didn't mind delivering newspapers for six days of the week. But the seventh day was Sunday, and man, did I hate Sundays. Not only did I have to put the papers together, but I couldn’t carry them all on my bike. I had to make several trips to get all the papers delivered. Also, it was almost a certainty that I would forget to insert the comics in at least one paper, and my mother would get a call from an angry customer whose life wasn’t worth living without his weekly dose of Beetle Bailey. Off I’d go to make a personal delivery of the missing section.

In 1967 I needed extra money for Christmas, so I applied at a local department store called Zayres, and was hired as a stock boy. As you might guess, it was my job to keep the shelves filled with stuff for people to buy. I did pretty well, so the store manager assigned me to collect the shopping carts in the parking lot. A promotion! It never occurred to me that it was December, and freezing outside. I realized later that I’d gotten the assignment because I was the new kid, and I wasn’t going to be there very long. Pushing a shopping cart through a parking lot full of slush is not a lot of fun, but I did it anyway. The things you do to make a buck.

In 1968, when I was sixteen, I got a job working at a local motel that was owned by a guy my mother worked for. I started work at the Tidewater Motor Lodge while it was being built. I would go over after school and place insulation in the walls and do general clean up. No one warned me that insulation is fiberglass, and fiberglass will get into your skin and then refuse to come out. No amount of scratching or showering could cure this particular affliction. Give me poison ivy anytime; it’s easier.

Later on I was hired to work at the front desk. These were the old days, when there were no computers or even calculators. All we had was an old adding machine, and that’s what I did everything on. Once I had learned the front desk procedures and it was felt I could be trusted not to give the place away, I started to cover for the resort managers when they took a night off. There was a small apartment behind the front desk where they lived. On their night off, I would stay in the apartment so the desk would be covered all night. This was a great opportunity. Before heading to work, I would go to the store and buy dinner and snacks to eat. These were usually things my mother wouldn’t feed me, but I was on my own with no one watching! Wow, I could eat whatever I wanted and watch whatever I wanted on TV. It doesn’t really get much better than that. I also was getting paid to sleep!

The last job I’ll tell you about was at the Colonial Candle Factory in Hyannis, Massachusetts. At the time I had long hair, which I wore in a ponytail, and a full beard. They decided I was exactly what they wanted, and so, on my first day, they handed me a bucket and a garden hoe and told me to get started. My entire job was to walk around the factory all day. When I found spilt wax on the floor, I was to scrape it up, put it in the bucket, and then empty it into the dumpster out back. Once I had done that, I would go back in and do it all over again.

I made friends with two guys who also worked there, Ron and Les. They were freaks like me, and while we were working we would sneak down to the basement, hide behind the boxes, and smoke a joint. It did make the job easier, but I think I got lost twice trying to find my way back from the dumpster. It also took me a LOT longer to scrape the wax off of the floor.

Now you know why I work for myself.

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