First Job, Worst Job

There comes a time when we all get that first paying job. I’m not talking about the newspaper delivery or cutting the neighbor’s grass type job, but the first job where you had to show up at a certain time, dressed in a certain way, and expected to perform specific functions. For me, the first job that I can remember where I actually worked for a real company was the Westside Gift Shop down at Westside Shopping Center. I only worked there a couple of weeks not because I disliked the job so much but one of the owners, the taller one, had some ways that I didn’t like, that kind of spooked me, and I departed thereafter. The first job that I actually worked for a few summers was working with Mr. Murphy in his plumbing business. What I liked about that job was that each day we would wind up at several different locations, and I got to know the city and counties really well.

I had many other short term positions right around the time I was about to graduate from high school, and frankly, most of them sucked. Like several people in the neighborhood, I worked at Loudon Park Cemetery for a couple of months one year. The job itself wasn’t bad, but there was an old man there that kept giving me a hard time for no reason that I could decipher, so I had to eventually beat the shit out of him, or leave, I chose the latter. I also worked at Lorraine Cemetery in Woodlawn for a half a day. They had me wearing these steel boots and shin guard and the weed wacker was hooked up to a generator for cutting around the tombstones. The problem was that about every 15 seconds, I would get shocked. When lunch time came, the boss said you have an hour for lunch, be back at one o’clock. I walked down to the bus stop, and happily took the ride home. Don’t know how long they waited for me to return, but that wasn’t happening.

I had some other jobs that were right up there for being the worst. I worked for Simkins Paper Mill out in Elkridge for a few weeks the summer after graduating from high school. It was the kind of job where you had to work seven days a week, and often a couple of shifts. In the beginning they had me pulling and stacking the paper as it came off the the machine, but when it really got to be fun is when they nominated me to climb under the huge rollers and pull out the paper that had come off the rollers underneath. Not only was the paper heavy, and oily, but it was also about 120 degrees under there. After a couple of weeks of that, adios!

I also had some other interesting experiences working for temporary services like Manpower, Kelly and the real winner….Bay Labor. I recall one experience where they called me and it might have been Bob Mathers as I can’t recall for certain, but they needed us to replace a couple of workers who were unloading a liquor truck and decided to indulge themselves with some of the product. When we got there, they were bringing ‘Leon’ out of the truck and I recall that Leon was feeling no pain as the white’s of his eyes were completely red. After we got in there, I could understand the Leon effect as a big muscle bound brother quickly said, “hey, try some of this”, as he pulled a bottle of expensive liquor out of one of the boxes and we all took a swig of it. We probably went through several bottles of liquor, pulling one out, taking a swig, and putting in back, and considering that we were misled into believing we were making more than they actually paid us, I’m sort of glad it worked out that way.

There were quite a few other short stints that I did back then, and most were mindless jobs such as working on an assembly line, packing and other robot like positions. I don’t miss those jobs, although they did have their moments. If I had to do it all over again, I would have definitely done things differently, but that was a different time and we did what we could.

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