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Tue, Jan. 28

The things we do to put food on the table

I assume that many of those who read my blog are retired folks. Retirement means different things to different people. Some people actually seem to work harder after they leave the workforce.

I am not one of those people.

I actually know people who worked at one job for most of their lives. One, even from the time she left high school. Just the one job lasting for over 30 years. I, on the other hand, had many jobs over my 40-plus years of working. Those who chose to have a career instead of just a job, usually went to college. Once you invest that kind of money in a career you pretty much better like what you are doing.

My very first job was at 14. I fibbed about my age and told them I was 16. It was easy for me since I looked much older than I really was. I was a phone solicitor, and worked after school for Fred Astaire dance studios. I would call people up from a random list and tell them they had won three free dance lessons! If they actually showed up for the free lessons, the company of course would try to sell them more lessons.

I can't say that I loved all the jobs I had, but if I really didn't like what I was doing, I looked for another job. Some of the time my jobs took me 12 hours a day to work an eight hour shift. One in particular, I had to get up at 5 a.m. just to get to work at 8:30. I lived in Imperial Beach, California, and my job was in La Mesa, California. For those not familiar with these areas they are pretty much from one end of San Diego to nearly the opposite end.

I had to walk to the bus stop, take the bus to the trolley. Take that trolley to the downtown station and transfer to yet a second trolley. After getting off the second trolley, I still had to walk another five or six blocks to work! Somehow I always made it there on time. Looking back now, it just seemed so simple. I had that public transportation down to a science! Wish I had that kind of energy now.

That job was not one of my favorites, but it was not about getting there and home, at all. I did not like the boss. He treated the employees like crap.

One lady in the office he picked on even more than the rest. Imagine my surprise when I found out she was his sister! The work was easy enough. It was a finance company, and I mostly logged in payments that came by mail, and sent out the monthly statements. I stayed just until I found another job.

When you are a single parent you often take jobs just to pay the bills. I have quite a list of those kinds of jobs. From waitress, bartender, secretary, thrift store manager, and the list goes on. If someone were to ask me, "What was the worse job you ever had," I would have to think on that for a while.

Working in collections was certainly not a fun one. Threatening to repossess people’s furniture was just not me. Then, of course, there was being in store security (store detective) at the Navy Exchange.

Having to detain and arrest active duty military was difficult. Knowing they were throwing their careers in the toilet to steal a $5 item.

I think it is easier for me to remember the jobs I did like. Being a bartender at the Chiefs Club on a couple of military bases was fun for me. I was young, single, and enjoyed the polite company of the navy personnel. They were great tippers, too!

Managing a 31-Flavors ice cream store was fun, also. They provided uniforms so I never had to worry about what to wear to work every day. I also got to bring home whatever treat I wanted for my son every evening. While I was there, I learned how to decorate cakes and actually did that as a second job on my own.

I have had many jobs over my working career. That is how I see it. My "career" was just spent working. I probably could have been one of those who works at only one job their whole life.

But had I done that, I surely would have missed meeting people from all walks of life. Do I regret not having gone to college and gotten a degree in something? Never. I learned a long time ago to respect how people make a living, no matter how menial it may seem. An honest living is still an honest living. My dad was one of the smartest people I ever knew, and he drove a taxi.

So I asked a few other people about their worst jobs. One of them was a telemarketer trying to sell people additional phone services. On about his third day of work things came to a screeching halt. When he got to his place of employment, everything was gone! Just an empty office and he never even got paid!

Another said that he briefly worked at a place that made grinding wheels. It was dirty, and the work was extremely physical. Not for everyone. To this day he still says, "That was the worse job I ever had." Even though he stuck it out until a better one came along. When you are raising a family, that's just what you do.

One of my family members quickly recalled having worked for a trash disposal company, before the trash had automatic compactors. When he stepped up to where the cans were being emptied they told him to make sure and "Put the heavy tape around the cuffs of his pants." This would help to keep any rats from crawling up under his clothes! Now there's a happy thought.

Another interesting one was a lady who had taken a job as an on-site apartment manager. The day she arrived to move onto the property one of the gang-bangers let her know that it was "their building" and they hoped she was not going to make any problems. Needless to say, she never unpacked!

I actually don't know a whole lot of people who work, anymore. The ones who do are counting the months and days until retirement. I hope they are at least not hating the jobs they have. I can't imagine dreading going to work, day after day, to a place you don't want to go.

People often accept a job only because the money is good. I can understand that. Sometimes, you just do what you have to do. I once worked nights as a dancer in a rather seedy downtown bar. Whoops! I think I shall save that for a whole other blog.

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