Having once again entered the ranks of the blissfully unemployed, my thoughts turn to the notion of work and day jobs and such.
I recall a long car trip with my two oldest kids (when they were really small) where we killed two hours by me listing and summarizing every job I ever had up to that point – and I was about 40 then.
We all have to start somewhere, right? I started at age 14 with not one, but two jobs during that summer. See, I had already gotten into music and there were basses and amps and concert tickets and albums to buy.
So by night I was a dishwasher at a restaurant where I had some friends working already. By day I was a produce department go-fer at the nearby supermarket. My best friend was hired into the produce department the day after I was. This wouldn’t be the last time that working with friends didn’t end well….
At the restaurant, they wanted me to wear whites, so I stashed my street clothes in a room near the dish washing station. I got really really behind mainly because the other dishwasher was a crashed-out 20-something speed freak. He spent the night flipping silverware at me when he could raise his head up off the table long enough. When it was time for the owners to close for the night, we found that my street clothes were now locked in the room where I’d stashed them. My apartment keys were in my regular pants, so they said I could wait for the janitor who would come at 6 AM – he’d have the keys to free my clothes. And I was told I could help myself to whatever was behind the bar while I waited. Didn’t end well.
The supermarket job lasted longer for me but ended badly for my friend. He had started tossing cases of beer into the dumpster by day, then retrieving them by night. Finally, he contrived to get himself locked into the store by hiding in the men’s room at closing time. Naturally it was a while before he got through to the manager on the phone and even longer until the manager and the cops came to let him out. He, too, was told to help himself. But his days in the produce department were done.
My next few jobs were all summer jobs as well and all with my Mom’s bank. My Mom was high up in Personnel (now, of course, Human Resources), but a lot of bank Moms had their teenage kids working at summer jobs at that bank. Mainly in the mail room. But my last bank job was at a local branch within walking distance from home.
It was strange at first, that I should be hired to do nothing else but type teller’s checks or cashier’s checks and nothing else. Then I found out why. On a certain day of the month, all depositors had the interest applied to their savings accounts. This bank branch was in the middle of one of the most populous centers of Hasidic and Conservative Judaism anywhere in the world outside of Israel. On interest day, the line for tellers check’s went out the door, down the street and around the corner! All the good supporters of Israel would have the amount of their accrued interest drafted into a check. I thought that was awesome! What a communal sense of purpose! What organization! The part that got to me was all those last names had an average of 15 letters and hardly vowels! Lots of “C”s and “Z”s, hard to type. I’d get one wrong and the customer would yell at the poor teller and I’d have to re-do it, sometimes checking the spelling three times. Torture!
Immediately after high school I worked briefly for a huge multi-national chemical company with its own office building on Park Avenue. I was second-in-command of the 9th floor mail room. My boss was a chain-smoker with emphysema who coughed more than he spoke. Indoor smoking in the workplace (or anyplace) was not even a thing back then.
My next job after high school was while I was actually residing in a neighborhood park. A nice, late 2 PM start time, cleaning a small family bakery. I still managed to be late a little too often. I had another job after that – one for which I had an actual residence. It was at a sandwich shop near the central New York Public Library. Lots of craaaaaazy stuff was happening in that place. All morning and afternoon, it was a cat-and-mouse game pitting the prostitutes and the drug dealers and the cops against each other. But at lunch time they all sat and had their sandwiches together in the shop and had a good old time. I lasted in that job right up until I went into the Air Force.
We’ll mostly skip over the Air Force part for now. Suffice it to say I spent almost as much time in tech school as I eventually spent fixing radars on F-4 fighters. In the end I would up being the guy near the end of the runway who emptied jet fuel out of wing tanks into a little 4-inch port in the tarmac that went down to an enormous underground tank. There I sat, alone in a little shack atop all that jet fuel, with my guitar, hair way longer than regulations would allow, and my electric heater and my IAFPP (improvised aluminum foil pot pipe).
I got out of the Air Force at age 21 and still didn’t have a driver’s license. So I got a few local retail jobs and some messenger jobs. First as a foot messenger, then as a bicycle messenger. As a bike messenger, my bosses bought me the bike (way too small) and took out the cost of it from my pay. When they’d recouped the cost, they stole the bike back and fired me! Thus began my time as a chimney builder and all-around home improvements contractor.
At that point I believe I got a drivers license and got involved in HVAC work followed by the flower business. There is some very crazy stuff going on in the NYC flower business, too!
I think we’re up to at least 20 jobs now.
After the flower business (5 years of it!) I got back into home improvements contracting again for a few years, then a final Corporate Floral Sales job. Suit and tie and everything. Here I did really well. So well my boss asked me if I had any Brooklyn friends who needed a job. I did! That was about the end of that job.
Soon after that I left New York for Vegas and delivered flowers again, then it was more HVAC and a temp job in an automated warehouse that was under construction. That gig saw me become a Dad for the first time and also led directly to my unintended software career.
1995 I started working with the software guys for the Engineering firm that designed the warehouse automation. Before too long they hired me! I took care of all the parts and tools from 6 am to 3 pm, then learned software during system testing from 3 pm to 8 pm.
5 years later, after doing software for Nike and Levi Strauss, I was brimming with confidence and had what I thought was a great resume and more savings than I ever had before. So I quit to play more music and look for a better IT or software job. 9/11 happened a few short weeks later and I didn’t see another tech job for 4 more years! Recruiters at job fairs were laughing in my face! So, more home improvements contracting and my foray into coffee-slinging and being a waiter.
Then I went out to Los Angeles and did political petitions. I was supposed to be there to set up a tour with a folk band, but…..nope. Political petitioning was lucrative, but seasonal.
I returned east and was on a framing crew out of Asheville, North Carolina building custom homes in the mountains, then was involved in the used furniture business in Johnson City, Tennessee. Then finally back into the software business again.
And here we are, five software jobs later! Don’t ask me why I never became a bartender…it is still a mystery.
So, one possible future is a full-time music future. Doesn’t that sound great?
I have a friend who did it – and also did it after 20 years in software. But it isn’t going to involve a recording contract, that’s for sure. It will involve direct involvement with fans! That’s YOU.
So what do you want to see more of from us? What channels do you want to see and hear us on? Like more live videos? Singles instead of CD releases? Vinyl? Get in touch let us know!
Here’s the new CD for those of you who might not have it yet: