The odd jobs of past and appreciation of present.
“The best way to appreciate your job is to imagine yourself without one.” - Oscar Wilde
As an adult I appreciate the fact that I have a job. Back when I was growing up I could care less. I think I was about 10 years old when I started my first job. It wasn’t a job like taking out the trash or mowing the lawn. It was an actual job where I used my social security number and such so that I could be taxed and paid for my services. It wasn’t a fun job but it was a job nonetheless and well, I asked for it so my parents hooked me up. So when I was ten my parents asked me what kind of clothes I wanted for the following school year. I remember telling them I wanted some Nike’s and some other flashy clothes but they just looked at me and laughed. They told me that if I had a job I could pay for everything I wanted. I responded with a smartass attitude and said that if I could do it over the summer I would do it. I remember the look on their face and the devilish smile.
“Well Richie, if that’s what you want to do then you can do what we did when we were kids.”
“Whatever it is I can do it and maybe even better than you guys.”
I was so confident and I could already feel the comfort of my Nike’s. Dreams of flashy clothes danced in my head. There was no thought of the job they had waiting for me. Nothing else was said about it until the following weekend when my parents woke me up Saturday morning.
“Richie! Richie wake up!”
I sat up and wiped the sleep from my eyes. I didn’t know what was going on and when I looked outside it was somewhat dark.
“What are you waiting for? Get dressed!”, my father yelled.
“Dad what’s going on?”
“You said you wanted to work so we’re going to work.”
“Work? Where are we going?”
“We’re going to go pick blueberries.”
It was about 6:30 in the morning when my parents woke me. I got dressed and ate breakfast. I watched as my mom stared into the fridge. We had run out of bologna and she was trying to find a substitute for our lunch. I could see the hamster running on the wheel within her head and finally it hit her. Instead of using bologna she took out a package of hotdogs. She cut each one of them in half and used them as sandwich meat. We joke about it now and she says that it tasted the same but it didn’t. We worked for 12 hours that day and I felt like I was going to die when I got home. I worked the entire summer and at one point I was having nightmares where blueberries were chasing me. After all the work I put in for my flashy clothes I didn’t buy them. I still got my Nike’s but the clothes came from outlet stores and flea markets. I didn’t want to waste my hard earned money on two shirts and a pair of pants so I went for the logical choice.
The jobs that followed were a lot easier. I mowed lawns, worked at a pizza/convenient stores, a local grocery store, Meijer, Wal-Mart and many others. When I worked at Wal-Mart I trained for a few hours as a cashier and then split. My trainer showed me a couple things on the register and left me high and dry. After a few hours of hell they sent me to go watch a video on liability. Instead of watching the video I decided to leave. It wasn’t the right job for me and there was no class in just splitting but there was also no class in the trainer throwing me to the wolves on my first day with no real training. Later on after I graduated from school I managed a couple stores and worked as a pizza delivery guy. It was probably one of the best jobs I had because of the people and how fun it was.
I think it was in 2000 when I got a job at Stanton Corners in West Olive as a pizza delivery guy. I had never done anything like it before and my sense of direction blew so I was surprised I got the job. My family and I were still new to the area and even though I told my employer this, they still hired me. I was happy I got it and I did my best. There are two incidents that I remember fondly. One really sucked and the other was more or less unbelievable. The first memory dealt with the murder of a pizza I was trying to deliver. It was a Saturday evening and we were busy. A customer had already called three times to see when he would get what he had ordered. The guy was pretty upset on the phone. A few minutes later his pizza was finally done and I hauled butt to deliver it. I had been sweating already since we were backed up and busy but now I was lost. I had that nervous feeling going on. You know that feeling right? It’s the nervous-pee-in-your-pants feeling. The one where if startled you may lose it or spray it for that matter. The guys house wasn’t marked and when I finally found it I slammed on my brakes and the pizza flew out of the carrying case and onto the floorboard. You would’ve thought I hit the brakes to avoid hitting a deer or something but that wasn't the case. I backed up and pulled into the customers driveway. As I walked up to him and his family I noticed his mask of anger.
“Well it’s about time!”
“Sorry sir, we’re really backed up. I apologize for the wait.”
As he stared me down I prayed that he would not open the box. His pizza had been murdered and I had no time to go back for another. In order for you to get a good picture of the pizza I can only describe it as a scalping. The cheese had been completely taken off and it was rolled up on one side. It was horrifying and this pissed off customer was about to pay for it and his rudeness.
“Well there you go man. I didn’t give you a tip either because you took too long.”
“It’s no problem sir, I understand.”
I took the money and I began a swift power walk to my car. As I pulled out I heard the customer yell,
“Hey! What the hell happened to my pizza!?”
I squealed off and surprisingly enough he never called to complain. He must have realized how much of a douche he was or maybe I was just lucky. A few days later I had a similar situation happen. A customer had waited for almost three hours before I got there with his four pizzas. Now, this time I found the house within ten minutes. We were just that busy and in the end this customer had other things in mind.
“Wow! I didn’t think you were ever going to get here.”
“We’re really backed up so...”
“Yeah? Well you’re ruining my party here.”
The guy was obviously drunk and he smelled like Natural Light and Basic Menthol’s.
“Since you took so long I’m going to do something to get back at the people you work for.”
I froze. I eyes widened and I waited to be shot or hogtied. At the very least I could hear the sounds of the Dueling Banjos in the woods. I was out in the middle of nowhere and during this time cell phone coverage wasn’t that great. My Nextel barely worked in the sticks so I waited to see what this guy was going to do.
“So what’s your name boy?”
“It’s Rich sir.”
“Well Rich, you are going to stay for dinner with my family and I.”
He cracked open another beer and offered it to me. I chuckled a little and told him no and asked for payment.
“No…no I don’t think so Rich. See, you took forever so I’m going to hold you here for a while.”
“Sir, I have other deliveries to make.”
“I understand that but I’m not going to pay you until I’m ready.”
I made a call to work and told them what was going on. All they could do was laugh and tell me to hurry up. Instead I was there for two hours. I ate pizza, spent time with this family and finally the wife spoke up and told her husband to pay me so that I could go. The guy was pretty trashed by then and I made out like a bandit. He paid for the pizza and I got a $20 tip out of it. When I returned to work they were pissed but what could I do? We had a second delivery guy anyway so it wasn’t all that bad. The place was pretty fun and my boss even carried around an AK-47 for those who might just break into his establishment. I remember an alarm we got at the ice cream shop next door. I was counting out change when my boss walked in and sat the AK next to me on the counter. I remember gasping and looking over at him.
"Um...I thought we had visitors.", my boss replied with a sheepish grin.
I laughed and was glad that I worked for him and not against him.
All in all my work history was fun and I experienced a lot . I learned that picking blueberries sucks so if you don’t want to break your back at a young age don’t talk smack to your parents. When delivering pizza always have your GPS going or bring a stupid map. If you happen to be held hostage by a customer just enjoy it and have a slice. If you happen to destroy a pizza just make sure to apologize as much as possible before the customer opens the box. You’ll have their sympathy and it will take longer for them to realize you ruined their food. Once you're in the car you are home free so haul ass. I have to admit that working at an early age did me some good. At the time I didn’t appreciate what my parents were trying to do for me but I appreciate it now. If it were not for them I wouldn’t have the work ethic I have now. I’m a workhorse and I have a lot of responsibilities. This is something I want to show my kids and as of right now I have already told my seven year old that he’s moving out at age twelve and getting a job. He knows I’m just playing but his mother and I are going to teach our kids the way we were taught. So what were some odd jobs you did in the past? What adventures made the job awesome and who had to deal with a horrible boss? Leave a comment and share a story. Cheers!