I decided to steal a blogging idea from Christa and write out the whole of my employment history. For the sake of manageability, I'll only list jobs for which I paid taxes. There are a number of odd jobs, volunteer jobs and internships/work experiences that I'm leaving out. Also, I have a ridiculously faulty memory, so there may be some tax-paying jobs that I have left out.
1) Cart rustler. I made minimum wage collecting shopping carts from the parking lot of a nearby supermarket. The company has since equipped all its employees with color-coded polo shirts (red for stock, green for cashiers, yellow for maintenance -- it's got a sort of Star Trek quality to it), but at the time we were expected to show up wearing dress clothes and a tie. A tie. I wore a dress shirt and nice trousers and a tie whilst pushing shopping carts in the heat of summer.
Adding to my joy was the fact that I was required to be union, despite the fact that as a part-time employee, I received no benefits. The union dues were taken out of my check as a lump sum, and I was never able to determine when it was going to happen. As a result, on more than one occasion I worked upward of 20 hours but wound up with about $7. Usually this would happen on weeks that I planned to go out with a girl.
I was eventually encouraged to leave the job. I had become rather fond of attempting kung-fu moves on the pads that lined the doors of the docking bays in the back of the store.
2) Cashier. The next summer I was back in the employ of Cub Foods, this time up front, where I couldn't easily sneak away to attack the docking bay pads. I still remember the key code for bananas: 22. Most of my time was spent flirting with the other cashiers (I was one of only two guys) and the attractive customers.
I left after deciding to go crazy when my girlfriend broke up with me.
3) Music store clerk. This ranks up there among my favorite jobs. The now-defunct store was a massive warehouse of music; we had everything. Pretty much all I did was wander around, occasionally alphabetizing music and listening to whatever struck my fancy. The store had some corporate playlist of music that we were supposed to be following, but it was mostly ignored because no one in the store could tolerate Mariah Carey or Jimmy Buffet. The manager had no qualms with just pulling a CD from the shelves and putting it on.
There was a little candy dispenser at the front of the store and I compulsively chewed little tart pieces of candy throughout my shifts. To this day, when I hear the Cranberries, I get a sort of sickly dry and sweet taste in my mouth.
I was eventually laid off due to the fact that hardly anyone ever came into the store. Although, I can't help but notice that my dismissal came shortly after a co-worker and I had spent the day playing Store Olympics -- a series of competitions that involved hurdling displays, throwing CDs, and sprinting the length of the store with the life-size cardboard cutout of Mariah Carey.
4) Sam's Club. For some stupid reason, I was actually excited to turn 18 years old so that I could work at Sam's Club. In my defense, I hadn't yet realized the evil of the Sam Walton empire, the job paid better than my previous jobs, and it gave me the opportunity to hang out with cute girls like Beth (who needs to update her blog).
I started out as a cashier but was moved to work in the freezer-cooler after I thrice failed to remember some procedural element to accepting a personal check. The company lost no money in these mistakes, but a little green piece of paper was placed in my file folder nonetheless. I can no longer remember the procedure nor the significance of the little green pieces of paper.
And as it turned out, freezer-cooler was more fun. 15 degrees below zero is surprisingly comfortable when there's no wind, and I built a little space for myself on a rack where I could lie down amongst the frozen chicken and nap.
I left to go to university in another city and because the fun people like Beth and a guy named Dan Burns had already left. This is one of the few times in my employment history in which I was not hustled out in some form or another.
5) Theater bitch. Actually, I'm not sure I earned enough to pay any taxes on this job, but I'm mentioning it to make myself feel cool. I was an extra in a Guthrie Theater production of Shakespeare's "As You Like It." Because I was young and able and willing to do a lot of running around, I was featured in every scene under a number of guises -- guard, servant boy, member of duke's entourage, etc. I even got two lines: "Out, old man!" and "Aye, he did, sir -- weeping and commenting upon the sobbing deer."
John Carroll Lynch gave me my first beer. It was a bottle of Sam Adams.
The gig also helped me score with a girl from my high school that had been out of my league. Suddenly she was all over me after having seen me on stage.
I left when the production's run ended. If I had been smart, I would have tried to get into another production.
6) Annoying son of a bitch. I spent a month canvassing for Clean Water Action, giving it up because I got sick of pestering people for money when they were sitting down to dinner. Also, I became suspicious of whether any of the money we raised went into doing anything more than sustaining the system. I consider myself an environmentalist but I contribute to no environmental groups because I fear that too much of my money goes into paying the salary of the person who is asking for money. Paying people to ask me for money doesn't seem to have preserved any wetlands.
I have a higher opinion of the Sierra Club, but refuse to give them money because they put me on some sort of liberal whacko mailing list that saw me receiving tons of mail from the Democratic Party, the Green Party, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International and on and on and on. I was not happy with the irony of my giving money to save the environment and receiving more dead trees (paper used in the mailings) in response.
7) Warehouse worker. Easily the most tedious job I've ever had, I was a jack-of-all-trades in a Holiday distribution warehouse. Among my tedious tasks: putting things in boxes as they rolled by on an assembly line; removing old cigarettes from their packets, counting them, and placing them in a larger container; collecting cardboard, loading it into the cardboard crusher, and then waiting for the union guy to come push the button on the crusher.
I was encouraged to leave after the following events occurred on consecutive days: I fell asleep whilst sitting on the toilet, napping for a full hour; I got into a fistfight with a co-worker in the parking lot, after we had clocked out for the day; I and another co-worker used forklifts to sumo wrestle, ramming the two lifts into one another and trying to push one out of a circle.
8) Conus Communications. I can't now remember exactly what I did for the now-defunct Hubbard Broadcasting venture that was Conus. I do remember fooling around with the video archivist. She drove an MG and had a delightfully dirty mind.
I left to return to university in another city.
9) KVLY. Amongst the myriad useless advice I have for any damned fool that would undertake a career in television is this: expect to do a lot of different things. In my happy time at the self-proclaimed Valley's Choice I ripped scripts, operated the TelePrompTer, operated studio cameras, ran audio, edited video, operated Chyron, wrote stories, and did whatever else there was to do. Indeed, it was a happy time -- I really enjoyed working there. Pretty much everyone I worked with was a lot of fun, and some of them were damned attractive. Unfortunately, the station was located in Fargo, N.D., which I was desperate to flee.
I left to save my soul.
10) Tourist trapper. I've written a handful of columns in which I mention my time at the now-defunct Ponderosa Ranch because it was there that I met my wife. When I wasn't falling over myself in pursuit of the hot Mormon girl, I was a gunfighter. In some performances, my wife-to-be got to kick me in the crotch. The highlight of my daily performance came when the head of my gang of bank robbers tossed a stick of dynamite into the outhouse in which I was hiding. The walls of the outhouse collapsed and I stumbled forward with my trousers around my ankles. Hilarity ensued.
I also took sepia pictures of people dressed in Old West outfits. This was after I had been scrapped as a cook for being allergic to smoke, scrapped as a bartender for putting too much booze in people's drinks, scrapped as gold-panning host for putting too much gold in the panning stream, and scrapped as a carpenter's assistant for not being able to drive a nail.
I left when the height of the tourist season ended, which was long after I came to terms with the fact that I am not of the right mindset for manual labor (arguably, I am not of the right mindset for any type of labor).
11) KOLO. Remember what I said about working in television? During my years as a member of The Team You Know and Trust I served as a video editor, tape operator, photographer, writer, associate producer, producer, and web editor. Things ended horribly, so it is sometimes too easy for me to forget that I actually enjoyed working there. When Rachel and I were married, we had no money and no real concrete idea of what the hell we were doing. The newsroom collected money and helped us stock our new home with things via generous gift certificates to Target and Wal-Mart. I formed friendships that would sustain me for years to come and worked with a number of quality journalists.
But as I say, things ended horribly. I was fired for threatening to kill the sales staff.
I would like it to be known that I did not threaten to kill the sales staff; I simply said that they should all be dead. And I did that in a personal e-mail to a co-worker. Yes, I was that guy -- the dumbass who used company e-mail for personal use and got fired for it. The general manager had been looking for a reason to fire me after I totaled a news jeep, kicked a hole in the wall, told an assignment desk editor that a masturbating monkey could do her job better, and referred to the sales staff as "lying weasels."
Because I was fired, I could not get unemployment from the state of Nevada. When I appealed the decision, a state worker called me and said she had the offending e-mail in question and that was enough to reject me. Knowing that the e-mail used the word "fuck" 27 times, I asked her to please read the e-mail to me.
12) New reader. This job actually came and went during the time I was working for KOLO. KKOH AM 780 is one of those beloved old giants of radio that can be heard for hundreds of miles around and I worked there just to be able to say that I had. For 20 cents over the minimum wage, I read news at the top of the hour during the Art Bell show. In between my newscasts, I would usually sleep -- Art Bell was broadcast from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m.
I left because I was sleepy.
13) KUSI. I know it's not wise to trash a former employer, but I don't care in this case. Working for this station was the suckiest suck that ever sucked. I worked with two great guys -- Jim Landrith (with whom I had worked back at KOLO) and Steve Weakley -- a handful of attractive women, and a fleet of incompetents. Hate hate hate hate hate. That is all I have for this place.
I was brought in to produce a noon newscast but when that newscast finally started up, I wasn't even a part of it. I was consistently told that I would be doing one thing and then shifted to do something else. The news operations manager was fond of randomly switching people's shifts and not telling them (keep in mind that no other newsroom even has work schedules. You are hired to work a specific show and that's your show and you show up and leave as that show allows). The general manager there told me (and apparently still believes, judging by their website) that the Internet is a fad. I was there for only four months before I walked out and I could write a whole other blog about how awful that place was.
I left after a huge row with a producer who was trying to sabotage me. I know it's a crazy-person thing to say, that someone was trying to sabotage you, but really, she was.
Shortly after I walked out, the news operations manager reportedly announced to the newsroom that I would never again work in Southern California. Six months later I was working in the No. 1 station in the market.
14) Web editor The now-defunct Combio, Inc. was located in Carlsbad, Calif. Oh what a happy job this was. What I do now in 15 minutes I did there over the space of a whole day. We were provided with unlimited quantities of free soda and snacks. We were given silly little toys and encouraged to play basketball in the parking lot. We all listened to intelligent music at our desks. I had the free time to discover and start learning Welsh. I was paid relatively well and treated with respect.
I left when the company declared bankruptcy.
15) The benevolent employer. It's not hard to figure out who has been signing my paychecks these past four and a half years, but something tells me that they would appreciate it if I not make such an easy and direct connection between this blog and them. Additionally, I'm sure you won't be surprised when I say that I have no major qualms with my benevolent employer -- some things could be better, some things could be much, much, much worse.
They have given me a column that will one day make me rich and famous. They manufacture gorgeous women. They have given me two coffee mugs, two shirts, a hockey puck, a handful of toys, and the opportunity to perform a James Brown standard at the Christmas party. What more can you ask?