Tuesday, December 26, 2006


Some jobs are born odd.
Some jobs achieve oddness.
Other jobs have oddness thrust upon them.
I may have already written about the different odd jobs that I’ve had.
When I was going to college I worked as a cashier and stocker for a major retail food chain.
This job paid for my college education.
This was before any lasers scanned IPCs.
I punched the stiff keys of a large cash register.
I checked items quickly, and this is what management liked.
After graduating from college, and after leaving my job as a store stocker and cashier, I was a teacher for a short time in a small Colorado town.
The racial violence in the school and community made me resign after a semester.
I thought that I would never teach again, but this didn’t happen…thankfully.
I worked in three different restaurants.
I was a dishwasher at two restaurants, and a short-order cook in the other one.
But so far, these are not the oddest jobs that I’ve had.
The oddest jobs were the day labor jobs.
One time I went to clean a business that had burned down. Smelly, sooty and dirty!
Another time I spent the day picking up odd pieces of paper at a city dump. The wind was flying and so were those pieces of paper. But at $4 per hour I was all for the wind doing its job. It took more time for me to chase all those pieces of paper.
One morning I went to a house to find out where a sewer line was blocked.
It was the house of the writer and historian Forest Crossen.
He pointed out where to dig.
I found the blockage quickly. I forget what I did after I found it.
Mr. Crossen made me breakfast. I remember the very ripe red tomatoes that were sitting on his kitchen window sill.
One morning I went to K-Mart to work. The job was unloading bags of manure. I had on my nice coat and so I didn’t accept this job.
I worked in two factories for about three months each.
At one factory I sorted magazine subscriptions by city and state.
At another factory I dipped tips of wires into hot solder.
Menial jobs are good for thinking about your life. The repetitive actions give you time to think about all sorts of things. But sometimes you don’t do any thinking at all. It’s kind of liberating.
When I was in New Mexico I dug a hole in the desert for a girl named Mary. She needed an outhouse. For this job I wasn’t paid any money, but Mary made me breakfast every morning. I dug through what seemed like mostly rocks, but I finally had the hole dug. It was shaped like an upside-down T. I felt proud after I finished excavating this pit.
Another job that satisfied the vagabond side of my soul was being a garbage collector. Except for having to inhale diesel fumes, this was a satisfying job. The oddest part was seeing what people eat and throw away. I remember the boxes of empty wine bottles I would pick up at this nunnery. I guess the wine compensated for an otherwise strict and sedate way of life.


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