That’s a great line by De Niro from “This Boy’s Life”. What a poor construct of a human being De Niro was in that flick. Fantastic!
I used to throw that line back and forth with my first wife a lot when one of us felt the other was getting a little too cocky in some way. It was such a shoddy defense it would make us laugh every time!
Ever wondered what the employment life for a guy like me looks like?
A dreamer, a big idea guy, an addict and a drunk, a guy who can’t find his true purpose, someone suffering with bipolar?
Well, I’m gonna show you. It will take more than one post to do it though. Yep. That many jobs.
Plus I’ll add a little background where appropriate. A lot of these jobs were special for different reasons.
I’ll present these as close to in order chronologically as I can but my memory only carries the day just so far.
Many of these jobs I wanted to forget the moment I clocked in, so recall is a little tough.
Besides the Marines and Dyno Nobel, which both lasted five years apiece, I never worked more than a handful of consecutive months for anyone.
The next longest was nine months. I utilized the Charles Bukowski plan. Ever seen “Barfly”? That’s Charles. So let’s begin:
- Stock boy in a tiny local store
My first experience with the eternal boredom found in most jobs I held.
- Clerk/Laborer Underground Records Storage Facility
All about moving shitloads of boxes all day long. I remember that every time we moved this one insurance company’s files all these papers would be laying around that had fallen out of their manila folders. People’s claims and legal papers. Once done loading, we’d just sweep them up and throw them out. After moving 1500 boxes onto a semi, who cared about a few papers? Now that I’m an adult and I look back on that – holy shit!
- Marines: Air Conditioner and Heat Pump Repair, Electrician, Mechanic, Laborer, Heavy Equipment Director, Dealer of Death
I learned all the basics of how to repair anything during these years. I also learned stamina and what working under extreme duress were all about. I learned how to lead people and communicate across cultural barriers. And I learned a lot of things my mother wishes I never had. Ooh-rah!
- Dyno Nobel: Mechanic, Electrician, Operator
This job is where I built up my mechanical knowhow. Most of our equipment was either ancient or we were trying to make it do stuff it wasn’t designed to do. Everything broke constantly. My life here was all about heat, oil, noise, frustration, and bloodied fingers. We made metal components for blasting caps. Everything was heavy and sharp. Most of my machines had tolerances for error measured in the thousandths and ten thousandths of an inch range. Just brushing your hand against an adjustment could cause the machine to fail. We were the start of the production line so the other 400 workers depended on us for raw parts to do their job. This is where I first learned about heavy duty, on the job stress. It was at the end of this job that I started getting an idea that there was more to life than this.
- Air Condition and Heat Repair Tech
A whole lot of learning for very little pay. There’s money to be had in this field but not at the level I was employed.
- In Home Appliance Installer
This was something else. The A/C company was run by a man so hated that the entire seven-man appliance team quit in one week. The next morning I was given a truck full of stuff to go put in people’s homes. I had no experience with this. Talk about stress! I learned to bullshit like the President to get this job done, as I tried to even learn how to do it. No two jobs were ever the same. I got good at it but I eventually fled. Some of my worst horror stories surrounding work happened at this job.
- Medical Records Adjuster
I worked with a LOT of women here. Except for being the best dressed and most fit man in the office (at the time) causing much lust to flow my way, this job was as dead end as it could get.
- Vending Machine Mechanic/Route Driver
This is the job that made me take up cigarettes (I’ve long since quit). My skills were underutilized and there was no future at all here. I hated my employer in a personal fashion. Funny thing, he was bipolar before I ever really knew what that meant. I was too but didn’t know it then. My one coup against him was to convince the truck fleet mechanic that he could do better. This poor guy had no self confidence but was a genius mechanic. Far beyond my skills plus he actually enjoyed it. I talked him into taking a test to become a store manager for a local car parts chain. He did so well they put him in charge of three stores. $10 an hour to 6 figures a year in one week! I always felt good about that.
I was only looking for relief from my bipolar symptoms as I developed this system. I ended up finding so much more!