Since I wrote a blog entry the other day with a topic that covered one of my job duties as a teenager, I been cruising up and down memory lane with respect to all the other jobs I held. The following is basically my teenage resume. I think you’ll find it very impressive.
Baskin Robins 31: I started working when I was fifteen years old. I would ride my bicycle and park it in the back room of the ice-cream shop. I was scooping ice-cream for a paltry $2.10. The minimum wage at the time was $3.55, but the child labor laws did not seem to bother the owners of this fine upstanding community business. The crooks that owned and ran the place paid me in cash and a free cup of ice-cream after every shift.
Taco Bell: Later, I landed a job at Taco Bell. When I was on break I would alter the foil disposable ash trays (yeah, it was that long ago) to read “Taco Hell”. It’s fairly easy to change a “B” into an “H”. I actually got “fired” from this wonderful position after only a week and a half. You see, when I was filling out the application there was a line for stating your age. The required age for the hours that they wanted me to work was sixteen. I was still only fifteen at the time. When I filled out the application, I fudged my “15” to look like a “16”—a sloppy five looks like a lot like a six.
So this blatant lie caught up to me as they were filling out the required tax forms for a new employee. After working a full week and half, the manager informed me of my dismissal and actually said that he wasn’t sure he could pay me for the hours I already worked.
I told him I was sure they could. And they did.
Arby’s: I once refused to clean a bathroom that was covered in barf. I’ve cleaned the bathrooms a zillion times before, but on that one particular night I took a stand. I informed my manager that I don’t get paid enough to deal with that mess. I was willing to resign my glorious position and go work at the McDonald’s down the street. The manager (a nice guy) actually agreed with me and he cleaned the mess up himself.
Thing is, he didn’t make enough money for that task either. I’m not sure anyone does.
For the record, it was the girl’s room.
Best Warehouse: This job was only available to me during the Christmas seasons. I did two tours of this duty. There was this electronic store that sold televisions and other large bulky items. A small team of four people and I would be working on the storage side of the warehouse which was located on the second floor. There was this tiny little dot matrix printer that would kick out an “order” for some customer that was somewhere down at the bottom of a conveyor belt. The “order” would be a brief description of what the item was, which aisle held the item, and finally which shelf would I find the item sitting. My job was to grab the order, run to the location of the product, carry the product to the top of the belt, put the product on the conveyor belt, send it down, and then grab the next order and go again. This conveyor belt ran down from our nasty warehouse to the beautiful showroom down below. Our customer’s were always beaming with smiles as they would see their product moving swiftly down the belt into their arms.
Well no one told me how to properly place a twenty-seven inch television on the belt. That was a “huge” television back in those days. The proper way to place it on the belt is to make sure a corner of the box is pointing down the belt. Doing it this way, the box won’t flip and roll down the conveyor belt.
You should see the look on a customer face when their brand new television comes rolling down the conveyor belt toward their happy little face. The expression goes from joy to horror in an instant. The customer at the bottom looked up at me a politely asked me to retrieve another one. I reversed the belt and brought the television back up. I properly sent down a different television—correctly angled this time.
I put the “rolled” television back on the shelf for the next customer that ordered one up.
Balloons To You: I held a position as chief balloon inflator—a title that I gave myself. This job’s duties were exactly what you think they are: Blow up balloons and deliver them to the address that you’re told. Most of the deliveries were to weddings. Letting go of balloons just after getting married symbolizes your previous single guy freedom escaping your grasp. Oh relax. I’m happily married and if you ask my wife, she’ll confirm that.
Anyway, the interesting aspect of this particular job was the major balloon launches for grand openings of large businesses—thousands of balloons. This is accomplished by starting at 10 pm. You enter the bottom of what can best be described as a very large bounce house. Ours was shaped like a giant hot air balloon. There is just enough room inside this inflatable structure for four people to stand shoulder to shoulder in a small circle. Once situated, you start blowing up balloons from a helium hose that has four nozzles. When the balloon is fully inflated, tie a super fast knot and let it go. It comes to rest on the inside the ceiling…and then you do the next one. And the next one. Until finally, there are no more balloons to inflate. This usually takes all night. Typically the finally balloon would be blown up somewhere around eight in the morning or so. This job is an all-nighter.
You finish, wait for the business to give you the nod, pull the cord that opens the top of the structure, and all the balloons float away. Ten complete hours of effort, for what? If the breeze is typical, you can see the balloons for about ten minutes. Yeah, that’s worth it.
Revco: See blog entry here.
Man Tech: Not much to say about this position. I sat at a computer and typed in numbers all day. I don’t even know what the numbers were for or why they were on printouts that they handed me. All I know is that the company wanted them typed in and I was rather fast at punching numbers.
Firestone Mastercard: Aside from the night shift of blowing up balloons, this position was my only experience at working third shift. The purpose of this job was to open credit card payments sent in by ever so happy credit card holders. There was this real cool machine that would advance a line-up of envelopes past a blade that would slice open the bottom of the envelope and then the side of it too. From there it would use these tiny little arms to pull and hold open the envelope. All of this was controlled with a foot pedal. You tap the pedal and the assembly line of envelopes would progress. The goal of the line was to sort the mail into three piles: a payment in full, a payment less than the total amount due, or other. All night long the machine would present you a held open envelope with its tiny little mechanical arms. You grab the contents, make a determination on full payment or not, place the check in one of the three piles. Absolutely fascinating—not.
My biggest memory of this mind numbing job was how often individuals would write horrible things on the memo line of their checks. People would actually write things like “go to hell!” on that line (or worse). That, my dear credit card user, is not the intend purpose of the check memo line. Was it actually me that these people wanted to see traveling to hell? I was just an envelope opener trying to earn a dollar. And I wasn’t the one who bought a ton of crap that I couldn’t afford. I would usually put their checks into the “other” pile to increase the possibility of it being marked as a late payment. Screw you Mr. Surprised-By-My-Balance.
By the time seven am rolled around, I felt like I was in hell. Odd, those people kind of got their wish.
Wolf Systems: I worked for a computer company that would put together customized computers and networks for other small companies. I had this job just as Windows 3.1 was gaining a lot of popularity. I liked the graphical nature of the wild new “Microsoft Windows” thing, but I was totally convinced that the “mouse” would never catch on. “I wouldn’t buy stock in this company until they realize that the keyboard is the only input device you’ll ever need.”
I may have been on the wrong side of that innovation, but you should have seen all the crazy keyboard shortcuts that I knew.
College: And then I went to college so that I can get “real” jobs.