You would expect with some of the life experiences I’ve had throughout my time at various jobs that I’d be further along in my career. Alas, I am a corporate drone at the bottom of the ladder.
My experience in the working world started when I was 14. There I was minding my own business on a midsummer day when my mother, Susan, bless her heart, mentioned to the very understaffed local veterinarian clinic that her son could do menial tasks around the clinic. I was hired the next day as a first rate poop scooper, and I carried the title of “Kennel Maintenance” throughout all of high school. I think my olfactory system was permanently tainted due to all the poop and raunchy scents I had encountered over those 4 years.
Throughout the time I worked at the vet clinic I also worked part time on 2 farms. One coincidentally enough was owned by the head doctor of the vet clinic. I mowed grass and maintained the state of her horse farm. One thing to note is that lose horses are hard to round up in way out in the country. The other farm belonged to a long time family friend who bailed hay and straw. Of all the jobs I have worked that had to be the most labor intensive. The farmer, Ben, would cut the hay in the morning, let it dry throughout the day, and then starting at 5pm and going sometimes to 3am myself and some other unfortunate souls would walk through the field and pick the hay up to load on a wagon. Miserable. My brother helped us one day, and when we finally got done at 3:30am we went home to shower and sleep forever. Stephen couldn’t wait for bed and fell asleep in the shower and spent the night there. On the off season I would work on cars and trucks with Ben. That wasn’t bad at all. The shop was always warmed by the blazing heat of a massive wood stove in the winter.
After my high school years came to an end, I went off to college where, as a freshman, I would work in the food service industry at my college’s dining hall. That job was full of misery and under-respect. Serving food to hungry college student’s was no treat at all. I soon quit.
The summer after my freshman year I worked as a lifeguard at a local country club pool. My boss, Archie, was a 70 year old black man that grew up in NYC and made a few extra bucks working for the mob. He had more Italian in his blood than anything. The stories he would tell were crude enough to kill my grandmother. That job was the best. The country club was so exclusive that hardly anyone came to swim. My days were spent laying by the poolside and playing scrabble with the pool babes (a self proclaimed group of 60 year old cougars).
I went back to college for my Sophomore year and lifeguarded the whole year at my school’s indoor pool. Pretty sweet gig except that indoor pools always have and always will smell funky.
That following summer I went back to Archie to lifeguard at the pool again. However, that summer the country club saw budget cuts, and if the pools attendance was low before it was practically cricket chirps that summer. However, pool lessons were still taught by none other than the 70 year old Archie himself. Every morning he would do a front flip into the pool, proceed to swim 4 laps, and dry off in the sun and complain that he was hotter than me because his skin absorbed more sun. Things ended poorly when Archie had to lay off lifeguards and cut hours. Me being the ambitious fellow that I am asked for more hours and he let me go entirely. Thankfully that was the beginning of August and I went back to school at the end of August. Throughout my time at that country club money was practically given to me since guarding an empty pool is easy.
Upon arrival at school for my Junior year my mother (you remember Susan, the overzealous mom that made me work my first job when I would have rather enjoyed my summer? Yeah her!) reconnected with her old boss at a cookie shop where she used to work during her college years (we’re talking early 80s). The man was STILL alive and making cookies like no ones business. Apparently my mom talked good old Ken into hiring me for the year as a baker. You would’ve thought I learned my lesson working in the food service industry, but no I had to give it one more stab. However, that job ended up stabbing me. I’m being dramatic, but it was distasteful labor despite the tasteful cookies (lol). It seemed like a sweet gig from the start, but the boss and his wife acting as co-owner were vicious! I was reprimanded once by Ken’s wife for addressing him without the title of “sir.” I purposely left Tuesday and Thursday open on my class schedule (mistake), and I would start work at the cookie shop at 6am and leave at 4pm. Brutal I tell ya. To top it off though when my college let out for Christmas break on the second week of December, my boss said I wouldn’t have a job when I returned in January if I didn’t stay and work till the day before Christmas. I reluctantly did. I worked that second semester and gave a victory cry when I could leave the cookie shop. However, I can still make the best chocolate chip cookies you’ve ever tasted.
Here I am after my Junior year, and all of my professors and academic advisers said I “needed” a business internship. Well I don’t know if you’ve ever visited southern Delaware, but they don’t call it lower slower Delaware for nothing. Industry is lacking and farms abound. It took me a month before I could find an internship, but it was actually quite a sweet place when I did land the internship: an aircraft company that specialized in taking brand new Boeing 747 and installing aftermarket fuel tanks in the cargo bay for extended flight range. The company would also bid for doing interior work on those planes. They catered to wealthy heads of state and large corporations with money to blow on big planes. A plane once couldn’t take off due to the fact that the royal customer wanted too much gold on the interior therefore making it too heavy. I worked in Planning, Purchasing, and HR throughout the summer. Experience (and money) gained there was amazing. You hear a lot of life advice too when you work in close proximity with 50 airplane mechanics. The blue collar is such a wonderful thing.
After the summer, I arrived at college for one last year. We were Seniors baby! I got hired as a gymnastics coach due to my background in gymnastics when I was in elementary school (betcha didn’t know that). It was an excellent job. It was basically like playing all day with kids of all ages who wanted to learn recreational gymnastics. The only qualm I had with that job was a potential law suit. I know it sounds weird and you’d never think it for a gymnastics coach, but I had never been more scared of being accused of child molestation before in my life. As a gymnastics instructor you have spot the children so they don’t fall on their heads or break any legs whilst tumbling, and that involves supporting the weight of children like under their shoulder while they’re flipping through the air. I was so afraid that a child would go back to his parent and tell them that the coach was touching them. This scared me, and wanting to keep my reputation from being destroyed, I left the job. Ironically enough on my last day when a fellow coach was spotting a child he didn’t help the kid while he was doing a flip and the kid ended up breaking his nose. I left that night and found out later the parents were trying to sue the gym.
As another form of irony, I was hired next by a law firm. I was then in my final semester of college. I worked as a courier for the firm, so every day I would be out and about downtown delivering sensitive case folders and meeting with judges in court. Once I even served a subpoena. Boom lawyered! That job was so relaxed, and the firm was so generous it was perfect for a college student. Funny little tid bit of info: the law firm had 2 kegs in the basement for when tired and thirsty lawyers needed to unwind.
I graduated in May and started the legendary hunt for the elusive creature college students call a career job. I soon found work as a sales and marketing professional with an electronics manufacturing company. I am still here to this day with the title of “Sales Engineer” regardless of the fact that I majored in business and didn’t ever take an engineering class in college. I won’t complain though with the added respect it brings.
Throughout the 8 years that I’ve been working I have picked up so many useful skills, all of which shape who I am now. I poked fun at my mom earlier, but if it wasn’t for her determination I wouldn’t have gotten my first job and wouldn’t have developed the work ethic that I have now. Without the constant encouragement of my now wife, Jocelyn, I would not have stuck with the tough jobs. Even though I encountered hardships in a few of my jobs, I learned so much from every last one. I wish this post would fit on a resume, cuz I could get a job anywhere with some of the things I’ve had to do.
And so, here I am as a jack of all trades and a master of literally none. Despite the fact that I worked at a vet for 4 years, I can’t administer a needle to a dog. I still don’t quite understand the process of how to bail hay or straw. I would always spill food on the floor when I served it to the students at college. I never had to jump in and save anyone as a lifeguard. I would frequently burn cookies or get egg shells in them. I don’t know how to put parts on a plane or at the time didn’t know how to read an engineers drawing. I was not a spontaneous, energetic gymnastics coach, but rather a sleepy college student that tried to teach kids. I would mess up deliveries at the law firm and anger partners from time to time.
But here I am now as a Sales Engineer, and this jack is finally settling in and finding his trade.