Jack of All Trades

Oh my gosh, I’ve done it all.  Job-wise, that is.  It dawned on me while reading – of all things – Facebook memories.  You know, posts from the past, exactly one year to the day? Or two years, and so on?

I was reading a “memory” about one job in particular.  I was a Signing Aide for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program at an awful middle school in San Diego.  I remember it being, without a doubt, The Worst Job I Have Ever Had.  The worst. I hated it, hated it, hated it.  More on this one later.

But it got me thinking: I’ve had so many jobs in the past.  So many.  More than any human being should.  I figure why not reminisce and take a stroll down memory lane?

Let’s get started.

My first job was as an aide during summer school between sophomore and junior years. I was 16.  The job was special because it was only available to a select few students, me being one of them.  But my main reason for applying was nothing short of salacious: Mr. Mehrtens.  I had the biggest crush on Mr. Mehrtens.  He wore the tightest jeans.  His arms were bulky and covered in dark hair.  His glasses were dreamy.  And his laugh….sorry, I got distracted.  I got the job, and though I wasn’t swept up into Mr. Mehrtens’s arms and seduced as I’d hoped, I did actually enjoy the gig.  Tutoring, grading papers, running errands.  It was nice.  And to have a first paycheck of over $300?  At 16??  I was rich.

I worked at Sears for about six and a half minutes.  Awful job.  Awful boss.  Awful customers.

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I worked in a family-run sandwich shop for many years, on and off.  It was a good job, I guess, for what it was.  Serving sandwiches to the masses, such fun. The owners were a husband and wife duo of shady origin – the wife was once the husband’s mistress.  You wouldn’t know it to look at her, poor thing.  A mannish-looking woman.  She could be a P.E. coach on the side.  Cold, rigid.  The husband was nice enough. Whipped, that’s for sure. The wife and I got into an argument one day regarding my schedule, and I was adamant that I deserved – after 17 years – to work the shifts I needed.  She walked away.  The next day the husband approached me outside with my last check, a handshake, and a trite quote: “It’s probably for the better.”  The rigid wife was right inside, couldn’t be bothered to say goodbye.  That’s fine.  I found her on Facebook recently; she looks like an older, less attractive version of Nicolas Cage.  Coach Nicolas Cage.

I once had a job for exactly thirty seconds.  The meat department of a big chain.  I wore the apron given to me, walked behind the counter, took one look around, and left.  As I walked away through the parking lot the manager came out yelling after me.  I never went back.

I was a bartender at a gay “club.”  Not so much a club as it was a dump.  The bathrooms were disgusting, and the “food” we served looked like it could have been prepared in them.  Tips were good, but I was so young and inexperienced.  If I’d had a few more years’ worth I might have appreciated the job more.  The owner was a horrible woman.  Older-trying-to-be-younger, and coiffed within an inch of her life.  Hair bleached and done like Marilyn – but she was no Marilyn.  Her husband had money, and she spent it, which is the only reason she owned the club.  She kept trying to turn it into a straight bar.  Hard to do when her limp-wristed husband was a giant closet case himself, rubbing up against the male patrons every time his wife disappeared to fix her shitty make-up.  I was there for 7 months and I still have no idea how I managed to last that long.

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I’ve never had a job at a fast food restaurant, so I guess I have that going for me.

Barnes & Noble.  This job I actually enjoyed.  I’m a reader, a writer.  It seemed to fit what I was looking for which, at 20 years old, was pretty much any job. Customers were often idiots, pronouncing my name – Sean – as “seen.”  People who’d never read a book outside of school were the best.  “Um, I’m looking for a book I heard about.  About stars or something.  I think the cover is blue.”  Yeah, sure, the blue-covered star book, I know the one.  I got burned out at the 3-year mark and quit one day when I’d forgotten to bring fresh socks after a grueling walk from the bus station in a fierce downpour.  I was 23 and life was getting a bit tumultuous by then; being dramatic was my calling card.

I was a sign language interpreter for several years.  No comment.

I was a bus boy at a lake resort restaurant.  The Quaill’s Inn.  The place where octogenarians went to die.  Gibsons, martinis, and Bloody Mary’s flowed like slushees at a 7-11.  I once had to take someone’s meal and blend it because, well, he was about 117, had skin like rice paper, and no teeth to speak of.  I was promoted to service bar bartender, which I enjoyed – I dealt strictly with the servers.  Those guys and girls busted their asses.  My boss was – big shock – a wretched woman named Renee.  Dumpy, frumpy, and sleeping with the head cook.  She would smile to your face one second and talk shit about you the next.  More faces than a deck of cards.  She had been there for 15 years and acted like a fucking princess.  She got fired weeks after I quit.  Several years later she was my server at a casino buffet.  A casino buffet!  The look on her face when she saw me was worth every backstabbing moment I’d had while working for her.  I had her refill my soda more times than was necessary and left her a 37 cent tip.  Bitch.

I worked for Starbucks for a few years.  “I’ll have a triple grande, two percent, decaf, extra, extra hot, upside down caramel macchiato with not three, not five, but FOUR ice cubes, extra whip cream, and a dusting of cinnamon.”  And that’s all I have to say about that.

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GEICO.  Oh god.  Claims Department.  Oh god.  Tremendously awful.  “Hi, thanks for calling GEICO, my name is Sean and it is my goal to provide you with excellent customer service!  What can I help you with today?”  Every call.  For 8+ hours.  Every day.  I felt like I was being gaslighted.

Overnights at Target.  This job.  It actually wasn’t so bad.  I worked with two sisters who were Target veterans.  One sister was more masculine than Mike Rowe.  The other was stupendously fat.  Even her hair was fat.  Biggest (no pun intended) pessimist you’d ever meet.  Zero joy.  I think she laughed twice in 9 months, and that was at her own jokes.  I gave a proper notice but didn’t see it through.  Didn’t feel bad about it, either.

Lastly – for this post, anyway – let me get into a little more detail about The Worst Job Ever.  It was excruciating.  Essentially, my job was to act as support for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing students.  A lap dog, basically.  My position was absolutely useless.  The students were teenagers; the last thing they needed besides an interpreter was a damn shadow, a guy to follow them around with a proverbial sign that reads: THIS KID IS DEAF AND I’M HELPING THEM!  The teachers – my god.  Two of them in particular.  Wendy and Lisa.  And no, not of Prince fame.  Lisa, bloated and obnoxious.  She’d say things like, “Oh, don’t worry about them, they’re deaf, they can’t hear us talk about them.”  And Wendy, uptight and stiff as a flag pole.  She’d tell me to do something one way then reprimand me the next for doing it just that way – always in front of the students, and staff.  One day I just let her have it.  “If you talk to me one more time like I’m a five-year old being punished for pissing in his bed, I’m going to walk right out that fucking door and report you for harassment, do you understand me?”  She huffed, and puffed, tried to backpedal – I held up my finger five inches from her face.  “I’m not kidding,” I added, blood racing to my face.  “You are an insolent, rude, stark woman who shows zero respect.  We work with you, not for you.  I am serious when I tell you I will file harassment charges.  I will.  Because you deserve it.  I’m surprised you’ve made it this long – you are entirely unqualified to teach children.”  I was not being impetuous; this came after months of dealing with her horrible disposition.

I did file harassment charges, on the same day I quit.  I was assured – more out of fear that I might go further than a harassment charge – that I would be welcome back whenever I wanted and that they’d give glowing references.

So, there you have it.  There are more, of course, and I’ll get into them again someday.  Don’t get me started on Uber and Lyft – those require a post of their own.

Until then, CHEERS!

 

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