Jobs I’ve Had In My Life, pt. 1

Jobs are something that you have to do, except in rare circumstances. I’ve had a few. I’ve had quite a few that were intolerable. This is the chronological order the best that I can remember:

1. Lil’ Orbits

It was the summer of 1992. I was 14 years old. If you know me, even halfway, you know that I was born in the country. Southern Indiana. My parents were over protective and by then knew God. They really knew him. I never really understood how but they did.

Anyway, over protective…that’s what they were. On snow days from school all the kids would go to hole #12 at the Otis Park Public Golf Course to sled. It was a massive hill and a great reason to get out of the house and reach speeds of up to 30mph on a piece of plastic. When I say all the kids I mean just that. At least all of the ones that I knew.

I lived down the road from the Otis Park Public Golf Course. I wanted to ride my bike down the country road, where no one would be driving due to the 6″ of snow, and sled with all of my friends. Why not? was my argument.

“Ain’t no way you goin’ on Tunnelton road on a day like today. Yer libel to get killed.” Dad said this while making a bologna sandwich. It was topped with Velveeta and Miracle Whip. He told me this with a mouthful of the “salad dressing”. After every massage of Whip into the bread he would bring the knife, still heavy with the shiny white blob, up to his tongue and ingest it like a Popsicle. I would spend the rest of the day riding my bike through the snow in the yard.

I loved riding my bike. I would meet up with Rusty and we would ride down to an abandoned railroad track. Only the long, straight bed of gravel extended to the horizon. On each side a deep forest engulfed the untouched area in the middle of Bedford, Indiana. We rode until completely exhausted, only returning home with quaking muscles.

My life was my bike. I spent weekends in the garage shining it up. Fine tuning the cables and truing the rims. I had a helmet (a requirement from my parents), gloves, shorts…even a subscription to Mountain Bike Action. In all the ads the bikers, from World Champ John Tomac to Ned Overend, wore awesome sunglasses. I had no sunglasses. And I needed them.

“Get a job and pay for them.” Dad was sitting in his chair reading through the police log of the newspaper.

“Really?” Anytime spent outside of their house was exciting. Even a job.

“Luke Medley, from church, runs the donut shop from his truck. And…the Persimmon Festival is coming up. Maybe he needs some help.”

Done. Two weeks later I was at the festival in the back of a early-eighties F-150 getting donuts out of a conveyor belt fryer. The oil dripped through the slits in the grease ladle. The next step was sprinkling the cinnamon/sugar mixture over the simmering Os. “Make ’em sparkly,” Luke would say.

“I’m tryin’,” Luc would answer.

I saw the Persimmon Queen. I watched kids try to win stuffed animals. I sweat.

I earned my sunglasses.

I received a $120 check. I spent $110 on sunglasses.

I felt guilty and then returned the sunglasses for my money which I promptly spent on a Nirvana CD.

2. McDonald’s

An alarming statistic of young Americans at one point or another have found themselves donning a McDonald’s uniform sometime in their lives. Mine was in a surprisingly hot week in April, 1993. A classmate in German 2, Joe, said that it wasn’t that bad. He worked there so since we had fun in German class, we would have fun at work. The logic seemed to make sense.

They gave me an Arches uniform and a front row seat to the McVideo, and yes that is really what it was called. “Section Two: Fries. McDonald’s is world famous for its fries. To properly cook them, immerse the basket into the oil well…blah…alarm…blah…floor manager…”

They moved me from station to station. I couldn’t seem to do a single thing right. One might joke about working at McDonald’s, or the people that do work at McDonald’s, but it really isn’t that easy. A few questions I remember asking:

“How many shots with the mustard gun?”

“Which button on the microwave is for the Fish Fillet?”

“Where do I dump the litter from the parking lot?”

I worked the lunch rush once. I was running to and fro, being careful not to slip in the ketchup/pickle/grease-slick floor. I needed to retrieve the bun from the toaster. My knuckle touched the top of the quick oven and I pulled away involuntarily. A blister quickly grew, bubbling into a mini orb, and finally bursting onto someone’s Big Mac. I looked to the left and to the right. Everyone had head down and hands moving…sandwich madness. I finished up and served my signature edition sandwich.

On my lunch hour I left and never returned. Not even to eat.

3. Hickory Hill Buffet

Her name was Rhea Dawn. In the Bedford Free Methodist youth group, she was the slutty one. The one that kissed boys behind the youth building. The one that sprouted breasts before girls one or two years her senior. The one that, though she was pale and slightly yellow-toothed, the younger boys, like myself, pined and imagined touching in the most sacred places while hiding in the House of the Lord. (The upstairs of the youth building was a long hallway lined with Sunday School classrooms that were only used on Sundays. During the Wednesday youth meetings, the classrooms were dark and abandoned and perfect for hiding and playing the various pubescent, coed games. My first kiss was behind a temporary wall separating two classrooms. I remember opening my eyes after tonguing JoAnna and seeing the word SALVATION on the chalkboard. True words indeed!) She waitressed at Hickory Hill, so I became a dishwasher to be around her more and, hopefully, escalate my chances at fulfilling my masturbatory daydreams.

The rest of the guys in the dish room were made for the dish room. The steaming plates didn’t burn their hands as they stacked and hauled them to the dining room. As you probably know, every trip to the buffet warrants a new plate, for health code reasons. The average Hoosier can put away a lot of food, therefore the dish room was constantly moving. Scraping, nibbling off of other’s plates, spraying, loading, unloading, stacking, replenishing. Over and over. All night. After a few weeks, I wanted to quit. I talked to my manager, Junior, and he convinced me to change positions rather than quit.

I became the meat carver. The guy in the chef’s hat stationed behind two gigantic hunks of meat doling out customized slices to the line of seniors, principals, preachers, and other middle class professionals out for a “good meal”. It was a step up. I was taught how to properly sharpen a knife, carve various cuts of meat, and cater to the whims of mostly pleasant people. The best part was being on the floor watching the waitresses, namely Rhea Dawn, walk quickly in their burgundy polo shirts and khakis from their station to the numerous tables. Her and I began swapping glances and short conversations. I became less nervous and shy around her. She began to sense this and added casual physical contact (hand on arm, teasing/poking, etc.) to our repertoire.

Swim season began and I had to reduce my hours to only Sundays. They scheduled me for the After Church rush. My enjoyment of the job waned due to a) The constant, frantic pace, b) My constant, frantic slicing leading to numerous injuries (once the knife seemed to leap out of the ham and straight into my thumb, spraying blood over everything within 6 inches of the wounded digit. The customer waiting for her pink pig slice said, after waiting in line for for five minutes, “Great…he bled on the meat…”), and c) The lack of Rhea Dawn. She didn’t work on Sundays. She was at church, probably making out in the choir room with one lucky boy after another.

Needless to say I quit. No two weeks. No explanation. No call, no show.

Rhea Dawn joined the Drama Club at school. I inquired with the teacher and convinced him to make me the “sound effects guy”. After much persistence, I pulled off a flawless aural performance of the Odd Couple – and a sloppy make out session on the cat walk during rehearsal.

8 Responses to “Jobs I’ve Had In My Life, pt. 1”
  1. knucks says:

    i love this entry. i snorted at PInk Pig Slice

  2. yeah says:

    You dated Rhea Dawn after the Drama Club. After over a year of dating you started at Hickory Hill to be around her after she broke up with you. Your “first make out session (a kiss)” came six months after dating her. Surely all the bong resin hasn’t affected your memory that badly.

  3. Well, looks like you know a lot about my high school relationships. Who the hell are you and why do you think you know my life timeline so well?

  4. yeah says:

    relationships? you had more than one? maybe it’s not you i know so well……….. i believe you are one of three people Rhea Dawn kissed while in high school which makes me wonder, has bitterness altered your memories?

  5. Mmmmmm. The bitter tongue of a woman scorned.

    Yes, there are dramatizations. Embellishments. It’s not the goddamn evening news.

    I will agree, my memory is fuzzy…because a) it’s really not that important to me and b) a lot has happened in the 12-13 years since I fooled around with my ONLY HIGH SCHOOL GIRLFRIEND.

  6. You googled “Rhea Dawn” to get here?

    If it’s you…hello, Rhea Dawn!

    If not, are you a creep who googles their friends out of boredom?

    Please Advise.

    Mister Buckets

    P.S. Check your inbox. I’ve also sent you an email. I think it is your work email. I mean it ends in “”, after all. Your a teacher in Kentucky?

    Take care, M(r)s. Schiwitz.

  7. RD says:

    Lucas Samuel! Shame on you! If your gonna make shit up- don’t use my name and places I’ve worked… “the slutty one”? I was as pure as the driven snow. Slutty came WAY later… 🙂

  8. God, I don’t know how I missed this. If “slutty” came later then I’m sad I missed it. As I said this is not the evening news so I’m sure I have scrambled facts/dates. A thousand apologies to your teen memories. They should resume in a sec.

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