Saturday, August 31, 2019

Old Jobs

So now that I am out of the normal, hamster-wheel "work force," I have been able to look back and reflect on the old "odd" jobs that I have had over the years. There have been a few.

My first job was cutting lawns when I was in high school. I got ten bucks a yard, no matter how big the yards were. I remember one time , I was cutting my aunt's lawn, and her sister, my mom, was inside visiting with her at the time. My aunt was like, "And Jim is gonna do a little extra today, some weed eating and pulling weeds." And my mom was like, NOT FOR 10 BUCKS, HE ISN'T! But I didn't care, I liked the anonymity. I like nobody bothering me. I understood at a young age that having a boss or having someone looking over your shoulder really sucks. Just tell me what to do and leave me alone.

And then I worked at a gas station my senior year in high school. Adelphi, Mobil. Is Mobil Gas still around? I worked all day on Saturdays, 13 hours. I actually liked it . The only bad thing that I remember was when this old dude, I guess he helped out in the garage or something, was ordering Steak and Cheese hoagies on the phone from Pizza Oven for all the workers and he demanded my money up front but gave all the others credit towards the meal. I wanted to snatch his ears off of his head. But I let it go.

I had never dealt with the public before, and that was an eye opener. I quickly found out that people, in general, suck. They really suck. They want more than they paid for, they treat people that they think are beneath them like crap, and they are so unhappy. I remember wondering, what the hell is wrong in your life that you have to take it out on a gas station attendant to feel better about yourself? and let me tell ya, I had no idea how to do stuff,  If they paid cash, we had some rule where we subtracted something like 4 cents a gallon or if it was credit, we didn't. Hell, I can't  really remember. All I remember was that nothing was digital, you didn't have a cash register telling you the change (I think it had a crank on the side that you had to pull to open it) and you better get it right or you were gonna catch some hell. And then after work, I would go home, put my workout clothes on and run to my girlfriends house, a few miles away. Then I would go down to her basement and squat. She didn't have Olympic plates at the time, so I'd squat on the little standard weight bar. I remember doing 395 pounds on it one night, with all the little plates spread out to the end of the bar.

I also worked as a bus boy for a couple of nights. I walked out when the snotty manager yelled at me. Just went and got my lettermen's jacket and left. Boy, my mom was pissed about that one. She was a little disappointed, "You mean you just walked out?!"

Then I worked at an equipment room at the University of Maryland in the Kinesiology Department, and that was cool. I folded towels and washed clothes and stuff. One time , the Dean (who was also my uncle), came in and said, " Jim, I want you to take apart some lockers," I was like, "Okay, Uncle George."He said, "Just take this wrench, it should only take you a little while," "No problem," I said. He walked me to the locker room.

Well, you know how some people are just naturals with their hands, they can open up a hood of a car and be like,, "it's the transmission and it's your left ventricle by this piston and you just need to tighten this up and she will run good as new?" Yeah, not me. At all. I can barely turn a screw driver without breaking something or getting frustrated and throwing the screwdriver across the room.  So I was assigned to this task: Take the lockers apart. About 50 of these little cubby looking lockers. NO problem. And I tried. Swear to you, I tried. I couldn't take one locker apart. I don't know if it was the wrong tool or if Uncle George was messing with me, but I could not figure them out. So I sat there on one of the benches in front  of the locker. I knew that If I went out there then and told Uncle George that I couldn't take the lockers apart that he would  tell me to go try again.  But I knew it was of no use to try again. It was too soon to go out to him, so I made a decision.  I decided that I would take a nap!  That would give me enough time would go by that Uncle George would think that I gave it my best shot. But the funny thing is that I did give it my best shot, I just couldn't get it done. So after a while, I went and found Uncle George. "I tried, Uncle George, but something wouldn't work with those lockers." "OK, Jimmy, how many did you get done?" "Uh, none." I said. "Give me the wrench," he said. Later that day, I asked what he did about the lockers. "Oh I got a kid to do it and he had them all taken apart in about 30 minutes". Then he walked`away. What the hell!?

Then I didn't have a job again until I started coaching college in North Carolina. I was the assistant defensive line coach and assistant strength coach. And I got paid the whopping sum of NOTHING. So I did other stuff to get by. I cleared land, I delivered pizza. I smiled a lot at the cafeteria girls and they would let me in without punching my meal card.  Pizza delivery was fun. Way out in the country, houses with no numbers on them, trailers way back in the woods.  Frozen crust though. Actually it was Tony's Pizza AND Dry Cleaners. How about that combo? Anyway, back to the frozen crust. That's a sacrilege anywhere from Maryland and up. Anywhere that there are Italians, I guess. Can't have frozen crust. But I drove all over, delivering this frozen crust pizza. I got lost all the time, and Tony would get all frustrated with me and bust out his non filtered Camels and smoke one after the other. There was no GPS! Tony would be like, "Go down to farmer brown's house and take a right and then go straight for awhile and then take a left at the big bull standing there and then go straight until you see Thompson's pond and it don't have house number on it, but the little bitty trailer at the end of the road is the place." Thanks, Tony. I'd be an hour late, the pizza would be cold. But I tried. Just like taking apart those lockers for Uncle George, I tried.

I did all kind of odd jobs when I was coaching. I had a friend who was a pharmacist and bought a bunch of land but it was wild there and he needed someone to help clear it and he was also building a house on the land so he needed little stuff done in there also. He'd show me what to do, and then he'd leave. Perfect. I'd get the job done, he'd come back and pay me, and I'd go to the convenience store in Cherryville and buy a can of dip and some gas.

I bounced some, but that sorta is no fun. You always have the drunks who want to ask how much you can bench , which is tolerable, but then you have the  real drunk people who want to fight , both men and women, and then you have the ass who stays until closing every night, even on like a Tuesday when nobody else is in there. Just to be a jerk. And we have all the chairs up on the bar and on the tables except his, and he never gets the hint and he's still there until the last minute.Hell, I was still working the door while I was a Head Strength Coach. I wasn't making much money at the time. But bouncing is no good because you can never tell when some asshole is going to come in with a gun ad start shooting for no reason because he was "disrespected".

I'd say my most enjoyable side job was being on the tractor when I first started coaching, and cutting the practice and game fields. I  could get lost in my thoughts for hours and nobody bothered me and I really liked it, just out in the country and the smell of the fresh cut grass on a beautiful spring or summer day.

 I also worked at a golf course, which was fun. Cut the roughs. My buddy and I got pulled aside by some old timers for working too hard. They said that we were making them look bad, but we were trying to get the day to go by faster. We were outside all day and that's what was best about it.

It's funny when I look back at those jobs, I smile. I liked all of those jobs. I remember at the time thinking how bad some of the pay was, but when I look back I don't even think about how broke I was , but of the good times that I had doing those jobs.

All About Being a Lifer

What's a Lifer? Someone who isn't in to something for just a day, a month, a's for life. Whether its training or your family or your doesn't matter. You work at it, you build on it, you see the big picture . You don't miss workouts because it means something to you. You are like a Shakespearean actor- no matter what is going on in your life, you block it out when it's time to train. You walk into the weight room and all else disappears. Worry about it later.