Friday, November 2, 2018

Work, Work, Work

I have had a huge variety of jobs over the years. I wish I would have planned better for my old age but I am rather childlike in that my interests change and I move on. When I am doing something I become obsessive about it. Then my interest wanes and I move on. It is a character flaw.

I began as a child. I had lemonade stands. I do not remember selling any but it tasted good. I weeded gardens, both flower and vegetable. I shoveled snow. I even sold imprinted greeting cards.

The first job that I paid income tax and had social security taxes withheld was as a pinsetter in the bowling alley. I was 11 years old. We actually had four whole lanes in the bowling alley. However we did not have automatic pinsetters that are common now. But we were semi-automatic.

The pinsetter would sit on a perch between the alleys and up out of the pit where the pins and ball would fall after the bowler let loose. Then we would pull a rope to put the barrier down so no one would accidentally bowl and hit us as we did our work.

We jumped into the pit and gathered the pins and replaced them in the rack that would eventually deposit them in that triangular formation when we told them to. We picked up the ball and sent it rolling on the track back to the bowler.

On league night we were really busy. I always managed to get the lane where the chiropractor's wife was bowling. She was a "pleasingly plump" little ball herself. She wore heavy make-up and a tight corset. Her eyebrows were obviously applied using a stencil and solidly colored in. Yikes.

Because of her corset she could not move easily. Bending to release her ball was impossible. She would waddle up to the line then set the ball on the lane. Only the slope of the lane made it move towards the pins. I cannot tell you how many times it did not have the velocity to knock the pins over. It would just stop when the pins blocked its path.

Then I would have to crawl out through the gutter, ease the ball so it would not knock any pins over, and get back to the pit to send the ball back to her.

That woman ordered herself a personal bowling ball. I do not know what it was made of but it stunk so bad. We all hated to handle that thing.

Occasionally one or more of the pins would be slightly off center and it would jam the rack. The rack would not go back up until it had gone all the way down. So we had to find the faulty pin and dislodge it.

It was dirty and greasy back there. In the summer it was so hot. Sometimes we were allowed to prop the back door open to move a little air through. We made one penny per line. A line is one game per person. So if ten people each bowled two lines we made twenty cents. It was decent money.

Two of my brothers and I delivered newspapers. Practically everyone in town got the paper because that was our major news source then. We were kept busy.

On Sundays the papers were not dropped off in town. We had to drive about fifteen miles to the next town to get them. On the way back we delivered to subscribers who normally got them in the mail. With no Sunday mail we left them in the mail box.

We then went through our town to the next little town where we left a stack of papers for people to buy there. Then back to our town to fold the papers and deliver them.

Christmas mornings were like Sundays. We did all the Sunday things. Then we could go home and open our presents.

As I got older I baby sat. Twenty-five cents per hour was the going rate. I had regular customers who would leave right before supper and return early the next morning. For 12 hours I would make $4.00. It was good money then.

I also did some volunteer work. I worked as a candy striper in a nursing home. One day while I was walking to the nursing home I got caught in a downpour. I was totally saoked from the top of my head to the insides of my shoes. After clucking fo a while about how wet I was the nurses just put me to work answering phones.

I did some volunteer work at the local museum. It was in a small house and everything was piled on top of other things and dusty. We were trying to organize and catalog the historical items. The museum has moved to larger quarters twice since then. I still recognize some of the things from the first museum.

When I was in high school I worked at Christmas time ringing bells for the Salvation Army. I was one of those people you see on street corners ringing a bell and standing in front of the pots where you can drop in money to help the less fortunate. It was really good money. Minimum wage was seventy five cents an hour. That is what they paid us.

One night I was at my assigned corner. It was bitterly cold and the wind was blowing hard. Luckily I had on my winter apparel plus the cape the Salvation Army supplies. Those capes are super warm.

I was standing on a flattened cardboard box to help keep my feet warm by not touching the cement of the sidewalk. A big gust of wind came and caught the little sign on the stand that the pot hung from. It fell right over. No money fell out but I took the sign off so it would not happen again. Soon they came and collected me, my pot of money, and my lovely warm cape.

Fresh out of high school I had a job in the dietary department of the hospital. We made the food for all the patients according to dietary needs. It was all made from scratch. We also supplied the cafeteria so hospital employess and visitors could eat.

I worked the early morning shift. There were two older women who had been there since the hospital opened and each of them thought they owned the place. And they were so jealous of each other and expected people to take sides. I am not good at taking sides but I am good at agreeing to whatever they said then doing things the way I intended to do them from the beginning. I actually got along well with both of them.

I was assigned to serve pediatrics on the first floor and then go up to obstetrics on the fourth floor. We had heavy steam carts to keep the food warm and we pushed those to the floors we served. The individual trays had been sent ahead with name cards on each one so we knew what type of diet to serve.

For breakfast I went first to pediatrics to serve the children. There were toasters in each little kitchen on the floor. So I made toast and served the food onto plates. The nurses and aids took the food to the rooms. Then I would go to obstetrics and repeat. I made $240 per month. It was good money.

I have been a waitress both in restaurants and bars where I also tended bar. I managed a band. I was the assistant manager of a body shop where we repaired cars that needed body work. I did telemarketing (I know I hate them too) selling long lasting light bulbs.

I was a cashier in a major department store chain in the state. I was promoted to cashier in charge meaning that I was in charge of the other cashiers during that shift. Then I made it to the cash office where we counted down all of the cashiers' drawers to make sure they balanced and kept all of the financial records for the store.

I was secretary/bookkeeper for a man who conducted liquidation sales for stores that were going out of business. I worked in a fast food restaurant. I absolutely hated that job. It was the people I worked with not the job but it left a real bad taste in my mouth.

I worked in a factory making industrial shocks. We made shocks for rides in amusement parks like Disney World. We made the shocks that made Batman's cape turn into wings in the Batman movies. Eventually I was assigned to laser print the company logo and part number onto the shocks. Because of the laser I was in a little room that n o one could enter unless I let them in. I loved that job.

I ran junkyards. We took junk cars and scrapped them. That is another story altogether.

And I drove a truck. What kind? Any truck. If a vehicle has a steering wheel and gas pedal I can drive it. Eighteen wheelers, delivery trucks, cars, hi-los, construction equipment... I can drive them all. Again this is another story.

Now I am retired. I worked most of my life. I paid taxes for more than 50 years. I think no one should be expected to work that long.

Like I said I did not plan well for my old age but I am doing better than just getting by so I guess things worked out okay. I do however get really angry at those politicians who begrudge me my government payment every month. They call it an entitlement. Entitlement my Aunt Fanny. I paid into that for more than 50 years. The money is mine, mine, mine. I earned it.

Other than that life is good.


  1. You certainly have had an interesting work life. What fun you must have had. I have had seven jobs and stayed at most of them for 5 or 6 years. My longest one was 17 years and that is where I retired from. I enjoyed working, and sometimes wish that I had never quit. I keep myself busy doing volunteer work now, but it sure would be nice to get a paycheck again.

    1. I was at two jobs for at least 10 years each. I often worked more than one job at a time. I had 4 kids to feed.

  2. rainfield61November 3, 2018 at 3:58 AM
    You worked more than 50 years,which is slightly less than my age.
    A long time.

    1. I began paying taxes when I was 11 years old. That is also when I began paying my Social Security premiums. I deserve to collect the payments now.

    2. My first job was as a "soda jerk" behind the counter in a teenage combination hamburger joint/dance hall (no live bands, only a jukebox). I was a typist-stenographer for a while for Santa Fe Railroad in both Fort Worth and Dallas. After Uncle Sam trained me into being a computer programmer, that was pretty much it for the next 50 years, with side forays into technical writing and editing at IBM. AT&T paid me to stand up and train new users of our warehousing computerized systems. Oh, and I've been a paid church pianist and organist in many places. How could I forget those?

      I often think my life has been humdrum and mundane, but in reality no one's is.

    3. You have had a colorful work history. It is so varied.

  3. That is really impressing, Emma: so many jobs!
    If I count the jobs I had after A level (chocolate factory) and during my studies (working as a model), I only had one job - all those decades: as a vocational adviser (and columnist, and actor, and coach - but as part of that job).
    Now: translator (still) and author (still). And working as a silver model (still). I loved it all!

    1. Just the amount of time you have for travel is mind-boggling. That seems to be a job in itself.

  4. After reading about your working career, Emma, I started thinking about my own number of jobs. I didn't start out quite as young as yourself, but my first job at about 14 was at an S.S. Kresge in what back then passed for a hardware dept. and part of my cuties included making keys and cutting shades (remember when stores did that?). After a couple of years I went to a supermarket and worked in the deli, produce and dairy depts while in high school and during college breaks. Later jobs included weekly newspaper reporter and photographer, then working in various corporations in the writing and editing fields. my working career was shorter than your own - about 40 years as I retired after being downsized from my last position. Retirement is the job I enjoy the most now!

  5. Good grief, girl! You gotta write this all down. Seriously.