Sunday, September 29, 2013

JOBS: a new series

I'm going to start a new series on the blog: chronicling all of the crappy jobs that I've had. There have been many; it will be a long series. When it's all done I'll extract it into my journal so I can have it documented for posterity, at the very least as a cautionary tale for others.

I'm probably going to get the timeline here mixed up. There were several years where one thing just kind of morphed into another. But this series will cover, with any luck, all of it. And if it's a bit depressing, know that I ultimately survived, and all this insanity combined to make me the normal and well-adjusted gentleman I am today.

JOB 1: Stephen Wade Auto Center, St. George, UT


Somewhere from 1-3 years

My first jobs were just little odd jobs here and there. The very first thing I remember ever getting 'hired' to do was to help out in a lady in our family friend Jeannie's ward by doing some yard work. When I got there, she felt I was too young to do the work so she fired me and replaced me with a Mexcian, but not before paying me $1 and giving me a Sprite. 

But my first official paycheck job was working at a car lot that my Dad worked at. I was hired for $3.00 an hour to paint a long fence that led up a long driveway that got you to the lot. It took about 2 weeks or so, and I painted it in July in St. George. It was regularly 113 degrees or so, but I don't remember drinking much water while working. I did wear a black shirt on the first day, though, and regretted that. My Dad set me up with a radio to listen to, and I painted the whole fence and slopped white paint everywhere but didn't really know any better.

Lots of people at the lot complimented me on freshening up the fence, and when that project was over, they put me to work picking up cigarette butts off of the asphalt on the car lot. That lasted for 2 more weeks, after which point I somehow parlayed it into working in the auto detailing garage. Since I had finally made it to the show, I asked me boss for a $.25 raise and got it. I was making $3.25, and was just 13 years old. I think official minimum wage was $4 or $4.25 but at 13 I was grateful for anything, and it gave me some money with which to sustain my horrible music habit at the time, which consisted of the entirety of Paul McCartney's solo career and Broadway showtunes. 

It wasn't the best environment but several days a week my Mom would take me over after school and I would work for at least 3 hours with high school dropouts and garage rat-type guys, who told the world's grossest stories and jokes and listened to nothing but Pantera, and would clean cars. They often talked about philosophy and what it all meant, and I tried to get my supervisor to go to church with me once but he told me 'the pews would catch on fire' if he attended. Oh well, I tried.

There was a cool blonde guy named Jarren who worked there and who smoked like a chimney but was really nice to me and taught me how to use the pressure washer. We were just in a garage and there was a constant stream of new and used cars to clean. 

The new cars were the easiest since all you did was take the plastic off the entire interior, give it a proforma vacuuming, and send it on its way. The used ones took a lot more work. We usually shampoo'd the carpets on the used ones, which wasn't super fun since it was rough on your hands. Every other day we would wash all the cars on the lot via a long hose, and I would be voted the monkey to have to go in and Windex the interior windows. Which was great because the insides of the cars were only about 175 degrees and the Windex we had was, I think, made out of Agent Orange. Somehow I didn't asphyxiate in the cars as we went on for hours making our rounds.

The whole thing ended unexpectedly when I got a new supervisor and he cheerfully advised me they wouldn't be requiring my services anymore. I think it had something to do with the fact that I didn't have a driver's license and thus had a difficult time working at a job that required you to constantly move cars around. 

He made it seem like I would be welcome back when business required it, and I took him up on that offer sometime later when I had my license. But I remember nothing about that subsequent experience other than that I was required to occasionally shuttle people to the airport who were having their cars repaired by the body shop, and one time I drove a nice lady and her young sons to the airport and got them all laughing with some kind of humorous banter I was doing, and the mom tipped me $5, which to this day is the biggest tip I've ever received.

That you could be surrounded by a bad environment but not let it rub off on you. Also, that if Earth is ever attacked by an indestructible super villain, the best place to put him would be inside a 1992 Geo Hatchback in July in St. George, UT. He'll be dead within seconds.


Hillary said...

At the time, I was so jealous of that job.

Kevan said...

I hope you don't forget to tell us all about the "Wagon Monkey" job for a day at Plant World or cleaning up the construction site or the auto detailing work you and Hillary both did. Interesting stuff and probably funny now to look back at.

Christian said...

Hillary - what on earth for? Yeesh.