Thursday, November 10, 2011

Odd Jobs Over the Years

Short on time after a nasty commute and I still have to run out in a bit. Had a thought in mind for a non market post, so here it comes.

Tomorrow night is Friday night, so get those requests in.

Odd Jobs Over the Years
I don't know why but I was thinking about all the different things I have done for employment over the years. Why not make a list and see how it looks? I go by grades because it's easier to remember a timeline that way for me. I am bad with years.

Railroad Construction and Repair - 4th Grade to end of High School
My Father was a Trackman and then supervisor for a large New England railroad. Not an office job. I started off bringing coffee and water to the crew when I was in 4th grade in winter and summer. A crazy growth spurt after 5th grade had me almost my current height in 6th grade so my dad let me loose on the work crew.

In winter and summers when my dad had weekend jobs I would work two 10 hour days laying rails and setting ties. I even got to drive the truck in South Boston to go get coffee. Fun times. What I remember most was it was the most time I got to spend with my dad (child of early age divorce, so sad bla bla). I also remember all the tools like clawbars, joint bar wrenches and jackhammers were all steel so in the summer they got really hot. Blister hot. In the winter they got very cold, the kind of cold that gets into your bones. Later in High School I stopped doing this stuff and in second year of College my father died. Great memories of this job.

In Sophomore year of High School I took a job at K-Mart doing stocking and floor work. My first glimpse at the corporate world. It was not too bad working out back with the inventory, but dealing with customers was sooooo annoying. We all had to be trained on the register and the ONE day I had to ring up (over Thanksgiving sale) this huge lady, well over 300 pounds, decided to both go bra shopping and come through my checkout. I had to take them off the hangers (lol) and fold them and stuff. Um, no thanks. I quit before the Christmas season started up!

Hospital Cafeteria Assembly Line
My mother (a nurse) got me this job at a large local hospital junior year of High School. This may have been the hardest job I ever had. We had to assemble, in assembly line fashion, 200-300 dinners in about 30-40 minutes tops. These meals were trucked up in carts to all the floors, then all was collected and washed before leaving for the night. It was very difficult. I hated it and lasted about 4 months before varsity tennis season started so I quit. Mom was pissed.

Convenience Store and Shoveling
Senior year in High School I got my first taste of the convenience store world. The lottery was the most annoying part. People buy insane numbers of all kinds of tickets and they all lose. THEY ALL LOSE. I saw the same people for months on end and would keep a tally. They all lost huge but kept playing. crazy stuff. During winter I would get up at 3am after snow storms to shovel commercial business areas. All by shovel, we had no equipment. Neither job was that fun.

After graduation from High School, I lucked out and got a job all summer rebuilding a three family housing unit in Lowell. My boss was amazing and taught me everything about total rebuilds. I did it all; sheetrock, plumbing, framing, stairs, siding, roofing, payroll you name it. On Friday's he had a pool business so we would go around going swimming while fixing pool pumps and liners and such. Maybe the most fun summer I ever had. My boss pleaded with me not to go to college, he wanted to make me a partner! I almost took him up on it.

More Convenience Store
After summer and the start of freshman year in college I got a job at a store across the street from my house. More of the same as before. How many sandwiches can you make before you go insane? 4,365 exactly. Only bright spot was that Micky Ward would come in every other week and grab a sandwich so I got to gab with him about the old boxing gym and stuff.

Grading Elementary Assessment Tests
The summer after sophomore year in College I got a job grading the science section of elementary school assessment tests for grades 5-6. This was a blast. We got in thousands of tests in science that had essay answers and were taught the points on which to grade them. If you ask adults science questions you get hilarious answers, imagine a kid answering! Simple science like evaporation or magnets in essay form were a gold mine of laughs. This was fun. Plus this girl I met working there, that was fun!

Breakthrough Pap Smear Company
Clearly no picture for this one!

Now do not laugh! I had the honor of working at the firm Cytyc (now Hologic) junior year in college that revolutionized the pap smear with their ThinPrep Pap Test. The science behind it was simple, but so smart! This screening has saved so many lives. I was in charge of making the slide samples used to train technicians that do the screening of samples (was very early in the products life). The job was very repetitive, but my first real science job exposure. Plus, the product was a life saver by early detection and correct diagnosis of various issues. I had to leave when my piece of shit car lost 3rd gear Chevy cavalier, only 4 speeds) and getting all the way out to the site was impossible.

Screen Printing
Ok, now a more wild time in my life. Late summer into fall of junior year in college.

I was hanging out with friends from the old neighborhood and I mentioned I needed a job. They set me up at a screen printing shop making T-shirts and other clothes with all kinds of ink printing on them. The main machine was like the one from the picture, all the heads put on another color (we had 12 colors). The huge oven that cooked the ink dry always kept the place so warm it was nice.

The crew was crazy! We would blast Cypress Hill and Beastie Boys all day and it was a great time. Some of the crew were big into the wacky tobacky (have tried a few times, not my thing) and one time I drive the company truck across two towns to deliver a shipment to UPS. After I unloaded the truck I walked to the front and saw that I drove the whole way with a 2 foot water bong, fully loaded, right at the front of the dashboard in full view behind the windshield. Not cool. After the summer I would swing by and clean screens for a few extra bucks which involved tons of paint thinner and gloves got in the way of taking off all the tape. No on wanted to do it but I would for the money and I could come and go as I pleased.

Last Call at Convenience Store
No picture as late junior year and all of senior year in college was not the best time. There was an issue at the store I worked at about "accounting fraud" and missing money. The whole crew was 12 people and it was agreed (by 11 of them) to blame me. Shit, I would tell you now if it had been me, who cares now, but it was not. I have never been anything but honest both in life and here since I started in 2007, no change now. Couple not easy to get to job, a crap car, and a crazy school schedule (I qualified to take post-graduate degree courses for full credit towards advanced degree) and I decided to let it ride best I could until graduation. This was the time when I ate 3 times a week and prayed to get a job after graduation.

But it all worked out. How many jobs have you had? What did you do to get where you wanted to? How hard did you try? How much did you lose, or gain? Important questions.

Have a good night.


David Batista said...

Hmm, you've lead an interesting life almost of Highlander proportions! So many jobs! It kinda pisses me off, actually, because I was like you as a youngster: just dying to get out and work! Problem is, I had absolutely NO connections. I tried and tried, but no one in my family or circle of friends knew anything about part time jobs for an adolescent.

Still, I had my fair share of crappy jobs. Eventually, we all do. Too much to write about here, but dang! You give me a good idea for a future blog post like yours.

Thanks, man! :)

EconomicDisconnect said...

David, you are the very best.

Anonymous said...


Well here is my request for Friday.

Jobs I have had over my life.

1. Neighborhood Lawnmower. Note this is how I afforded my first Rusty Surfboard while living in FL.
2. I then when into my own business ventures through middle and high school selling of all things... Chewing Gum. It got so profitable that I actually had a nice chunk of change for summer vacations. However, that went offline due to the High School Principal making an afternoon announcement about banning the use of gum in class and on campus... Thus ended my first business venture.
2. Sophomore summer I worked for a Department of Transportation Structures and Research Laboratory. My cousin got me the job as he was working on his PE at the time. Man let me tell you it was a blast! I got to setup massive bridge beams inside this building which had its own crane and smash things to bits while recording the data on a MEGADEC.
Least to say I was ahead of my peers the next few years as I also taught myself 3D modeling and animation.
3. After graduating high school I was hired as an intern at a Government Contractor Studio creating computer based training for all branches of the Military. Did that for 8 years full time finally making it as a Level 3 lead artist and even helped in the IT department in my free time. Oh yeah I put myself through college while working there for 8 years.... it was a PITA but there's nothing like being student loan free!
4. I started my own business venturing off on my own to do just about everything I learned up to that point in my life. It was the most personally rewarding experience in my life but it just didn't make my finances easier. Shut her down in 2007 and went into the service.
5. With a degree and half a decent brain I have become an Officer in the US Army. This could very well be the job I have for another 18 years unless something else comes up.

Because, you never know.


EconomicDisconnect said...

LT G!!!!

My man! Will figure out what to post. Do not be a stranger!

Jennifer Hillier said...

Awesome post, my friend. Nice to see you peek out of your Mr. Mysterious persona to give us a glimpse of the real you!

I've had so many jobs. Probably two dozen, in all. Here are the highlights:

My first "real" job (non-babysitting) was in a gift store called China Panda. I was 15. They sold knick knacks and other kinds of ceramic crap that would gather dust, and the median age of the customers was like, 85. After months of dusting them all, I decided I hated knick knacks, and now, if you ever come to my house, you will appreciate that I have no knicks or knacks of any kind.

I've had crappy jobs. I was a telemarketer (where people were mean to me), a restaurant hostess and later, waitress (people were mean to me), I did data entry (nobody was mean but I could have killed myself, it was so boring), and numerous retail sales jobs (where people were mean to me, but at least I got a discount on cute clothes/shoes/handbags/jewelry).

I worked as a Beauty Adviser at a large drug store chain, which was fun. Kind of wanted to be a makeup artist for awhile, but my dad would have killed me.

For three years during university I was assistant manager at a video store. I've got lots of stories about the dudes - and dudettes! - who liked to rent porn (a full 35% were women). I once got asked by a customer if I would be interested in being her husband's 40th birthday present - she had promised him a threesome. Yeah. No. But the job was cool because I could do my homework when I wasn't busy and watch movies all day (PG-rated only in the store) - which is why I can quote Grease, Princess Bride, and Dirty Dancing almost by heart.

I'm a Registered Holistic Nutritionist in Canada and spent two years in two different clinics telling people what to eat. Horrible school/career move. I learned that I despise telling people what to eat - nobody ever listens, and then they wonder why they don't feel better.

My last two jobs, prior to writing full-time, I worked in the post-secondary field, first in Admissions, and eventually in Financial Aid where I administered a $12M bursary fund. Gave away lots and lots of money to needy students - it was quite rewarding. Though I did once award $10k to an engineering student who then got arrested on suspicion of terrorist activity - he and his friends were building bombs in the basement of the house they were renting.

The past 4 years, I've been writing. Wrote my first novel while waiting for Homeland Security to approve my work permit.

I have the best job now that I've ever had. Ironic that it's by far the hardest, and pays the worst.

Jake said...

All this self reflection got me thinking about my first ever tape... Beastie's License to Ill. I think the video was one of the first I ever saw:

Let's see if I can remember all my jobs...

Lawn mowing, snow shoveling, race track concession

Teen / pre-college:
Snack bar at a swim club, Waiter at a retirement community, Waiter at a diner, Painter (this job ruled), Medical assembly line (this job SUCKED), data entry at a local college

Waiter at a restaurant, Video Store, intern at the NJ Treasury Dept, intern at Bloomberg

Finance at a telecom company, finance at a film (i.e. motion picture) company, sales and trading role, clerk on the NYBOT, investment management

GawainsGhost said...

Jobs. Okay, let's see if I can remember.

Lawn mower, grounds keeper, pool cleaner, house cleaner, watermelon picker, tutor (at high school, kept the offensive line on the field), fry cook, burger flipper, delivery boy (picked up statements at banks so the computer company could process them), dishwasher, busboy, waiter, barback, bartender, convience store clerk, shipping dock worker (temp job, drove a fork lift to load semi-trucks and handled out-going deliveries), substitute teacher, teacher, teaching assistant, adjunct professor, realtor.

Those are just the ones I can remember. It's been a long and laborious life.

Did it get me to where I wanted to be? Yeah, for about 10 years, I was a professional summer vacationer. But then, well, life happened.

My recommendation for Friday Night Entertainment is Pink Floyd, "Money."

GawainsGhost said...

Or maybe the studio version is better.

Sarie (@23aloha) said...

Wonderful post, amazing the lives we've lead and what we see looking back over time. One of my first jobs was working at MacDonald's ... got a raise the first day to almost $3/hr because they accidentally locked me in the freezer for a little while. A bunch of good stories from many different jobs come to mind and I'm smiling just thinking about it, nice way to start a Friday. Thank you for this post, for your tweets and for your friendship, my new friend - each much appreciated for sure!!

Dinosaur Trader said...

More on the railway job, please.

As for music videos, how about this one, by Purling Hiss, "The Hoodoo."\


EconomicDisconnect said...

All, the comments on this post is why I love to blog. Thanks for the great stories and memories of your jobs. I will respond to each of you via email or other channel to say thank you. Best readers anywhere right here.

GawainsGhost said...

This ought to scare the living shit out of you, GYC.

The most advanced robot ever? I have to believe it's a little man in a robot suit.

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