…City Construction Worker: jackhammer. Man oh man I cannot begin to tell you or show you how a crew of jackhammer artistes act while taking a break…off the job. Stammering…you, you, you, you, you bet. Conversation was torturous. One thing I learned very quickly. Never, ever buy hot coffee during stand easy, or break time. Hot soup was definitely a no-no during lunch. I qu,qu,qu,qu,quit.
Worm Picking: I am not kidding. I did this for two nights. It was backbreaking work, on a golf course, starting at midnight. Equipment? Miner’s cap with an attached lantern, which was oriented down to the ground but at an oblique angle as one looked to the ground. Just enough light to catch a glimpse of an earthworm before it slithered back down into its hole and into the earthy bowels of the earth. There, on each fairway, a long line of pickers in line abreast inching their way from one end of the fairway to the other, lights flickering as heads bobbed up and down in comic unison. Two one quart pails: one tied to each leg. One pail was full of sawdust while the other was for the captured worm. The sawdust was required to counteract the slitheriness of the worms themselves. There was a definite knack to this. The majority of workers were Chinese I think. They were really adept at this kind of work. One that I was unable to grasp. Needless to say I squirmed out of there and quit.
There were many, many other jobs to speak of. Office worker, construction, transit, retail, you name it I did it. It was so bad, or good, depending on your perspective that I accumulated 13 tax statements in one year. It was sort of a competition between the “ner do well” friends of mine. I also had a very close literary relationship with the classified ads of the local newspapers as well as with the local government employment agency. I do believe the tax gurus red flagged my file. My parents were so worried about me. Being products of the depression, they could not understand how or why I would give up on what they felt were career worthy employment opportunities. I just could not help it. Most jobs were soul destroying as far as I was concerned. I wasn’t lazy for I was never out of work. How did I get by with new employers given my track record? It didn’t matter. Most employers were only too happy or none to the wise to have a new employee in their midst as manpower turnover was a huge problem in those days.
There was one job I had that really took the cake. While working for Moo Millers, I noticed a help wanted sign at a factory not far from the milk emporium. I took note and at the end of my shift, around 2pm, as we started very early in the milking business, I drove up to the factory in question. It was called “Sherriff Confectionary”. They were looking for an operator of some sorts in their factory. I applied and on the spot was hired. No experience required. We will train. I accepted their offer but told them I couldn’t start until Monday as I had to clear up some loose ends…quit my other job. This I did in short order and left the milk emporium to a chorus of shouts, curses, arm waving and one finger salutes. I gave them back five of the best of mine.
I was somewhat relieved to be free of that place as I couldn’t stand starting at 6 am in the morning, which meant I had to be up and about around 5. For a young buck like me this was not good. I quit always thinking that the employment grass is always greener on the other side. Often times it wasn’t…