My parents were always amazed at some of the jobs I landed in no short order cooks:
Lake Simcoe Ice: ice cube making racket where I ran the vertical and horizontal planing buzz saws cutting and chopping two foot by two foot by eight foot long cylinders of ice. All was abuzz in the summer months but cold as hell in the winter. One had to be very careful here as chapped lips were a huge disadvantage but a badge of honour. Our heavy parkas, our toques, our mittens and our boots drew many a stare in mid July. Mild winters were killers for this industry. Brrrr, I quit.
Macdonald’s Tobacco: Good pay! I was their chain smoker. It was an easy job for I quit at least a thousand times. Then I really quit.
AC Wickman: factory that produced diamond bits for drilling operations. My job was to smooth out the flat end of these bits removing any irregularities using a grinder. A thousand bits to a box and when that box was finished, another one miraculously appeared, then another, and another, and on and on it went, bit by boring bit. I quit.
Intercity Truck Lines: my future here could be measured as seen from the back of these 40 foot trailers. I had to reactivate my Teamster’s Union Card though with this particular job. Many of my colleagues were Maritimers with all the verbiage or lack thereof that one could handle. I couldn’t understand my foreman. A co-worker of mine would continuously rant about his 13 year old bride. I wondered if he had any roofing experience. After about a 14 month period we went on an ugly nation wide strike. Ugly in that our promised strike pay never materialized with negotiations being conducted through physical skirmishes, vandalism and fraudulent activity by the union executive and the union’s hard core members. Faster than one could say “comrade,” I was out of there, vowing never, ever to be a member of a union again. I haven’t. And I quit.
Kodak: the Eastman Kodak family had a huge plant in our city. I managed to acquire a good paying but menial job in that plant: the very bottom of the employment rung there but with a promising future nevertheless if I wanted it or, as fate would have it, so I thought. It wasn’t just a plant, more of a campus really with a number of buildings housing an array of activity from a huge storage facility where cleanliness and humidity from the elements was essential, my job, to a paper cutting floor, research labs, administration wing and recreation and messing halls. They treated us all like family there. It was the picture perfect job for someone like me. Not too physical or demanding too much intelligence. Right up my alley. I could make my rounds in record time so much so that I had a number of hiding places where I could read the paper or catch a few winks.
Funny what one remembers about working in places like this so many years ago. Not so much the job but other things. CCR was huge at this time, “Green River” was all over the airwaves and it was the 25th anniversary of the D Day landings. One of my colleagues at Kodak was a Canadian vet, not from WW2 but from the Vietnam War, which was still raging at the time. He wanted to go back! Something about male bondage, er bonding, I think, camaraderie, a hard to describe feeling as he put it. I don’t know. Perhaps the chemicals at Kodak may have been playing havoc with his mind, or he was suffering from something else. No matter. Suffice to say I gave him a wide berth. I quit because I just couldn’t picture a career at this place!
Dow Chemicals: making paint. A chemical job. And I was good in chemistry. I don’t remember too much about this place except that when I came home from work on my first Friday I soon fell asleep and didn’t wake up until Monday morning. Fantastical dreams in kaleidoscope. I think I quit!
Milkman: not too long after receiving my drivers licence, I applied for and received my chauffeur’s licence which allowed one to drive commercially. I then applied for and was accepted as a driver at Moo Miller’s Milk Emporium. They, the owners, felt that “Emporium” had a fancier ring to it than “Factory.” I kind of felt that wow: “Moo Millers” kind of said it all but they didn’t agree with me.
I had this neat little truck with open doors, a long stick shift and with a canopy of wooden cartons all filled with milk bottles, milk bags, eggs, and juice cartons of various sizes and shapes. I had a route to follow and a regular delivery pattern but then I was required to cold sell any of the inventories outside of my normal rounds. I had to be a salesman and an entrepreneur as well as a delivery man. Housewives were our target audience.
Eggs were the worst. Little did I know how hazardous this job could be. Not just with horny housewives but those nasty juvenile delinquents in the burbs. As I was delivering a load of milk, some of these young turds would enter my open air truck from my blind side, grab some eggs and start pelting me or my truck with egg whites. This was no yoke as, in addition to explaining the shortfall in product and profits to my superiors, I also had to clean off the truck before I returned to the factory. I mean, emporium. As anyone who has had their house egged during Halloween can tell you it is extremely difficult to clean dried egg whites and yokes off of any surface. While there may have been some fringe benefits to this job, I quit.