In a recent Monday Confessional, we asked you to tell us what you wanted to be when you grew up. We all had dreams of fame, glory, or wealth, and I suspect very few of us are currently doing what we aspired to do when we were young.
On the flip side of that, even fewer of us are still doing what we actually did when we were younger. And I think I speak for most of us when I say, thank God! We’ve all had some wacky jobs, but I’d wager the many professions of E Dagger register impressive readings on the Weird Shit-O-Meter. And that’s why we’re here today.
If you’re a working professional and lucky, you’re doing something related to what you studied in college. I happen to be doing almost exactly what I studied in both college and graduate school, and that’s a welcome change from the cockeyed bullshit I did en route to graduation. Because that’s the thing about your first jobs: You’re not the least bit prepared for them, and you likely suck dick at them. The only reason you remain employed is because they almost certainly don’t pay you shit, and you’re too young and stupid to know any better.
I certainly didn’t know any better, and it’s been a long, weird road of employment leading to where we are today. So without further ado, here are the Many Professions of E Dagger laid out for your amusement. How many of these jobs have you had? I’m willing to bet not many.
Job: Worker in the bindery of a printing company
Duration: 3 hot ass summer months
What I did: This was factory work, baby. I stood up for 10 hours a day pushing a palate jack around a warehouse, loading big reams of paper into pockets of large assembly lines, catching finished products and stacking them on palates, shrink wrapping goddamn everything, and turning my once delicate hands into big calloused bags of aching walnuts. Also, the rest of the factory called us “the bindery cunts” because the bindery is traditionally women’s territory. Having a grown man call you a cunt when you’re 16 is extremely disorienting.
Weirdo fucking lunatics I worked with: I’m almost sad to lead off with this job because it definitely had the wildest collection of nutbags on this entire list. Where do I start? There was Kandi (and yes, it was spelled all white trashy like this) who had about 5 teeth, talked about how much she loved Korea and wished she could re-enlist in the Army if her eyes were better. There was Nate who missed a tooth right in front and stuck his cigarette in there. I also often gave him a ride home where he’d often cash his check at the liquor store and spend the remaining money not spent on booze on concert tickets or getting his shit out of the pawn shop. I could go on and on… Jack was a fat Hispanic who was as tall as he was wide, Phil stuck his tongue out the whole time he worked, Charlie sounded just like John Wayne, Joe was dark-skinned, wearing tattered clothes, always covered in ink and smoking so he looked exactly like a Warner Bros. cartoon that just got blown up, Sylvia had the biggest tits I’d ever seen… It was a real freak show.
Suck factor: Extremely high. I worked my first week from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. five days per week and then switched to 2 p.m. to Midnight four days a week. The work was back-breaking and horribly monotonous, and my boss was a total dick. His name was Darold and one time when one of the pockets wasn’t loading correctly, he comes up to me and says, “Show me the guides.” I thought he said, “Show me the guys” so I pointed at a picture of the executives on one of the pages of the Lucent brochure we were making and said, “Well, there are some guys.” His lip quivers like he’s going to split my skull open right there, and then barks out, “The GUIDES-AH! GUIDES-AH!” Being the smartass I was, I said, “Oh, why didn’t you say that then?” and noted that yes, the guides weren’t functioning properly and we should fix them. He made me sweep up the whole fucking factory after that.
Overall: As a first job, I don’t think I could have asked for anything harder. It was a real working factory filled with assorted yahoos, boring and difficult labor, and a full 40 hours. Tearing tickets at the movie theater this wasn’t, but I realized why my dad and Marty (yeah, the In-Between Times Marty – he owned this company) hooked me up with this job when fat Hispanic Jack chatted me up my last night there. He said, “When I found out you were 16, I thought, ‘Man, that kid’s dad must be smart.’ You’re never going to quit going to school now, are you?”
And not that I was a risk for that anyway, but getting a taste of the tough fucking real world while I was still that young and impressionable was certainly eye-opening. So here I sit 11 years later with my two degrees and my own office. Thanks, bindery cunts!
Job: Selling free painting estimates door-to-door
Duration: 1.5 truly excruciating hours
What I did: A friend of mine who was off at college became a crew chief for one of those college painting companies and recruited some of his friends from high school to sell free estimates door-to-door to help him drum up business. Guess who was the only one dumb enough to actually sign up for this thankless task.
Weirdo fucking lunatics I worked with: Only the goofy cast of characters rattling around inside this tin can I call a brain.
Suck factor: Off the charts. You haven’t known humiliation or the look of fear until you’ve sold something door-to-door. And it comes like a downpour. You start off your Saturday afternoon with your little clipboard, sun shining, light breeze, happy you’re outside. Then you see the look on the faces of people as you approach their door unsolicited. Pure abject fear. Everyone hates being bothered at home, and suddenly you’re the asshole doing the bothering. And you hate yourself for it because you know how they feel, but c’mon, you’re just trying to make a few extra bucks.
Overall: I couldn’t handle it. So I worked for an hour and a half, hit about 50 houses, got 8 leads (do the math on this, that’s $20/hr. – still not worth it), and called it a career. Everyone should have to knock on doors for at least an hour once in their life (I had a follow up performance during a House of Representatives campaign in California in ’06). You’ll never be unnecessarily shitty to anyone ever again.
Job: Field worker and scorekeeper for City of Golden
Duration: 4 glorious summer months
Wage: $9.00/hr. (!)
What I did: This is a tough thing to explain because I could describe for you our supposed duties, but that’d really be only about 10% of the shit we did. In addition to prepping fields for baseball games of all levels (t-ball all the way to beer league co-ed softball) like we were supposed to, we also played home run derby on the fields, invented ball madness in the batting cages, raced the truck around the outfields, broke three chalkers, did Vietnam rolls off the moving truck going 30 mph, slept on the job, and generally behaved like a group of just-graduated assholes.
Weirdo fucking lunatics I worked with: Well, there was Senor Limon who busted a spray paint can on a dumpster resulting in getting paint on the back of his neck and threw a claw hammer at our friend Brett. There was Brett himself who chalked foul lines best when he was drunk, Carson who is a certifiable wildman, Dave who was the whitest black dude you’d ever met in your life, and “the meatheads” who were as dumb as they were ripped in the shoulder area. It was a zoo, and our boss, a former meathead himself, couldn’t even hope to control it.
Suck factor: Zero. To this day, this is the best job I’ve ever had. Despite my explanations above, we did actually do quite a bit of work, and some of it sucked (no one likes taking out the trash or cleaning a public bathroom – Oh, and for the record, the women’s bathroom was always 10x grosser. Just saying.), but by and large, you work in the sun, you hang out around the best game in the world, and you get to goof off, ride in a truck, and listen to music with your friends. What could be better? Plus, for a high school kid in the year 2000, that pay was ridonkulous.
Overall: I wrote about this job fairly extensively here, and there’s not a whole lot else to add. My favorite regular breakfast happened that summer with Fierce Lime Gatorade and Dunkin Stix, but I have neither the metabolism for that nor does that flavor of Gatorade even exist anymore. Such is life.
Job: Building maintenance worker for property management company
Duration: 1 hot ass summer month
What I did: One of my dad’s friends owns several buildings in the neighborhood I grew up in. As I found myself without a job early in the summer between freshman and sophomore year of college, my mom grew pissed at my constantly sleeping in and general not-giving-a-shit attitude and called him up. So, the very next week I had some polo shirts, a mechanical claw arm, a bucket, and I was picking up cigarette butts in parking lots, pulling weeds, and doing more of the manual labor I fucking hate.
Weirdo fucking lunatics I worked with: My least favorite supervisor of all-time still works there as I had a doctor’s appointment in one of these buildings recently, so I shot him an icy glare and threw a cigarette butt at the ground near him. This guy needled the shit out of my job performance whenever he could because he thought it was funny and once held a box cutter to my throat as a joke. Ha ha, Rick! That’s hilarious. What do you do for an encore? Fart chlamydia in my mouth? The rest was your usual collection of manual labor Joes who liked trucks, NASCAR, and mustaches. Except there was one stoner guy about my age who explained to me the three levels of Insane Clown Posse fandom are, “Ninja, Juggalo, and WICKED Clowns!” and that he was indeed a “WEEEEECKID Clown.” His voice would go high when he’d say “wicked” and I’d have to stifle laughter every time he’d explain it. Needless to say, I made him explain it to me 10 times that month we worked together, and it never stopped being funny. Hell, I’m laughing now just thinking about it.
Suck factor: High high high! Most of the guys who worked here had been there for a long time. The job paid well, the company had profit sharing, and once you were a supervisor, the work wasn’t all that hard. The rest of us had the shit work. I once spent an entire 9 hour day carrying buckets of rocks between a truck and a job site. If that doesn’t strike you as hellish, then clearly you’ve never done it in 100 degree heat while wearing jeans.
Picking up garbage in a parking lot is prison work. Shoveling gravel into buckets is Satan’s work. And pulling weeds when your allergies are off the charts is dumbass work. I had to be at work at 6:30 everyday with that job, and had a girlfriend who liked to stay up until 1:00. She’d get mad at me for “choosing sleep over her” when I’d pass out from exhaustion, so in addition to the shitass work, I got nice healthy dose of guilt on the side.
Overall: I hated this job in all the ways one could possibly hate a job, so as soon as I could, I got the fuck out. I was grateful for the decent money, but money isn’t everything and when you blow your nose and your snot comes out black like you’re a goddamn coal miner, money’s the last thing on your mind. So I called up my buddy Conor, took a small pay cut, and trudged off to the next job.
But you’ll have to come back Tuesday for that and three other professions that mark the history of E Dagger as a gainfully employed wage slave. Enjoy Happy Friday, answer this week’s Confessional question, and we’ll pick this up then.
28 May 2009 E Dagger