Saturday, September 1, 2012

How Do You Labor?

Doug:  Happy long weekend, everyone (at least here in the States -- other countries?  Fill me in!)!  We'll have no new content tomorrow -- I'm out-of-state for my son's freshman orientation at college, as well as his first two soccer games; Karen has family in to her home so is tied up as well.  But rest assured that even though Monday is a no-work day for most of you in the U.S., our next installment of Man of Steel will run as regularly scheduled.  In the next two weeks we're also hoping to get in a couple of more comic reviews.  And many of us are excited that Andrew Wahl is making a return with his Comics Bronze Age blog, with new stuff appearing beginning Monday.  Life is good!

Doug:  So, about today's question -- let's rap about how we've earned a dollar over the years (or a pound/peso/franc/ruble/yen/euro -- whatever).  Let's talk first jobs, worst jobs, dream jobs, jobs you got fired from, promotions you've received -- anything to do with the means to support that comics buying habit of yours (well, and feed yourself and keep the lights on, too).

Doug:  First job for me?  Working at Brown's Chicken.  I-hated-it.  I got hired in the summer and it was hot as Hades, the humidity was high so the floors were always slippery, closing the place at night sucked when the friers had to be cleaned...  Add all that in to the fact that I was an immature 16-year old and had quit football to get the job and it was just a train wreck from the start.  I was dismissed after 30 days, and deservedly so.  You'd have fired me, too!  I wasn't "unemployed" for long, though, as my then-girlfriend's brother hired me at another restaurant.  Totally different experience.  I'd matured quickly after the first incident, the work was better, and I was able to get flexible hours.  And eventually I met my future wife, and that is of course the stuff of fairy tale legend (or whatever).

Doug at the USHMM, July 2012
Doug:  Now I teach at the high school from which I graduated, and it's for the most part been a fun ride (although don't believe all that the politicians say about our education system... I have my own theories, so if you ever have a couple of spare hours I could pontificate).  I coached the first 11 years I was back, and had the wonderful experience of coaching in a state final in three different sports (mostly as an assistant coach).  I stopped coaching when my sons got to be Little League-aged, and started coaching their teams.  That was very rewarding. 

Doug:  And I've mentioned the highlight of my career has been as a Regional Educator for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.  The opportunities that have opened through that have been tremendous, and humbling.  I now balance that work with my full-time job as social science department chairman at my school.

Doug:  So how about you -- tell us about your labors!


humanbelly said...

Ha-- again with the dangerous invitation for long-winded posters, eh, Doug? This is a bit of an amusing game for you, isn't it? Tomorrow's (or Tuesday's) topic: "The Creation of Existence: Discuss". . . (heh)

First job: As a completely inexperienced, 16-year-old grunt worker for a tiny local family-operated construction company. Horrible family, horrible conditions, many unpleasant memories (several stories, though).

Following summer: Working as part-time farm-hand on the small pig farm owned by a guy my mom was dating (and run by his two sons, who were friends of mine). Near the end of the summer, was attacked by an enraged sow, and spent a week+ in the hospital with badly infected wounds in my arm. (The nurse's aid became my girlfriend a couple of months later--)

During my college summers I did mangage to get summer theater jobs (one historical theme park; and two summers w/ a touring vaudeville tent company). A couple of later summers & months were spent juggling work at a factory, a sawmill (one week-- having a toothless 60-year-old boozer with a 2nd grade education delightedly scream at you about how stupid you are doesn't really cultivate a lasting relationship), an ice cream parlor, McDonald's (surprisingly fun, in its way), a GNC, and delivering for Pizza Hut.

Before I was finished with grad school, I was working steadily at a local tavern in NE DC, and getting regular dinner theater work. After doing a national tour in 87/88, have pretty much been a theater professional ever since-- primarily as a tech director (more than as a performer).

I've been at a small/medium professional theater in the heart of DC since, gosh, 2004. HOWEVER, my primary responsibility since '94has been more or less as the "daily parent" parent of our two kids. My wife is our primary bread-winner, and my schedule's far more flexible. . . and heck, I seem to have a knack for it. As often as not, when people ask me what I do, I find myself about to reply "I'm a Dad"-- a badge I wear with much pride. With our oldest starting college, and our younger starting high school, I may in fact be in for a role-shift very soon. . .


Garett said...

I worked a couple night jobs during my summers off from university. One was as night watchman, where I locked myself out one night after ordering a pizza. I could see my keys inside, sitting on the I sat outside at 2am, ate my pizza and pondered. I didn't want my boss to show up in the morning and see me there. I managed to break back into the building by using a straw to poke through the door's crack, and unlock the hinge--no wonder they needed a watchman!

A second night job was out in Jasper at Maligne Lake, sweeping up at the chalet. Beautiful place where I stayed with my girlfriend who was waitressing during the day. Wonderful job where only a few hours work was needed during an 8 hours shift, so I could draw and listen to music the rest of the time. During the day I'd hike the trails around the lake, and remember reading Ghandi's autobiography that summer.

A bad summer job was with a local painting company that ripped people off by not painting 2 coats when they'd paid for it, not painting places the customer wouldn't see, etc. It started out ok as they trained us--then the award-winning boss, best sales in western Canada, started teaching us the dirty tricks. Save time, make more money. I quit in disgust and luckily found the Jasper job right after.

I also worked a summer job for many years planting and pruning trees. Nice quiet work in the sunshine. I now teach art and do freelance art projects, as well as performing with my band--and I have a gig this afternoon, so time to go!! : )

Anonymous said...

We have Labour Day in Canada too (notice the spelling ;))

Dream job? Writing, but that would be a labour of love (and pretty hard to make a living at), so in the meantime I've done a little bit of everything: Painting, general handyman stuff, yard work, etc. Just yesterday I helped a guy fix his lawn tractor...whatever I can find to make a little cash.

Mike W.

Dougie said...

There's a local holiday in this town on Monday but, since school only went back two weeks ago, we won't be taking it. However, this is the most rewarding job I've ever had. Anyway. we have two weeks off in October- what they call The Tattie Holidays in these parts. ( So called because kids were expected to bring in the potato crop)

humanbelly said...

So wait, Dougie-- where are you, exactly? Also Canada? Ireland? (I mean, with the potatoes and all . . . )


david_b said...

Befor I wax some work tales, Garett, tell us about the band and gig you're in...? I haven't performed lately, but have done a dozen gigs with different bands, some I put together, some I joined.

Graham said...

My first job involved pushing a lawn mower....first cutting various yards in my town, then helping my dad cut grass, mow greens and tee bases at the local golf course. Then I worked in the town's grocery store for five or six years while in H.S. and college as a stock boy, bag boy, and occasional cashier (where I once had a $1,200 discrepancy in my register after only a three hour shift, still a local record).

After college....I majored in petroleum engineering just as the oil boom busted...I worked as a substitute teacher, then as a cost analyst at a local chicken plant. I didn't eat chicken for nearly six months after I worked there.

For the past 25 years, I've worked as a civil/materials engineer with the D.O.T. in my state. I design pavements for new roads and try to figure out how to fix old ones. I also run my district's materials laboratory, where we test soils, concrete, and asphalt.

In my spare time, I teach Sunday School, write reviews of blues CD, and operate a weekly blues blog.

My dream job has always been to be a DJ, but unfortunately, I sound like Gomer Pyle on helium when I talk, so probably not much chance of that happening.

Tony said...

Labour Day here in Canada. Notice the correct spelling :)
My first job was in a bakery at a national grocery store. After that, I worked as a parts counter person, mostly in GM dealerships. Currently, not working right now.

Garett said...

Hey David, I play guitar and sing in a band called Where's Lula. We've been together for about 4 years as a duo, and just added bass and drums in the last year. Here's our page with some songs:
Our biggest gig was opening up for the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and this year we were finalists in a Battle of the Bands contest. We play pop music, have one CD of original tunes out, and are recording again possibly this fall.

I used to play in a rock band called The Cage in university, and when that broke up I spent years playing here and there. Chemistry is so important in music, and I finally found it again with the girl who sings with me--beautiful voice, and our songwriting styles compliment each other. I'm more a rhythm player, but I like finding unusual progressions so it's not the same old pop song. Having music come back into my life was unexpected and a joy! The two of us played a little cafe today called Arcadia, and there was a farmer's market nearby so the place was packed. It's been a busy and fun summer of gigs with the full band.

What do you play David, and what are some of your bands?

Fred W. Hill said...

Aside from the time I sold tv guides door to door when I was about 9, my first real job was in a pizza restaurant when I was 18 --I didn't even have a driver's license yet. Yeah, I was a shining example of a stereo-type of a comicbook geek: skinny, socially awkward, not interested in sports at all and too shy to even attempt to ask any woman I was attracted to out on a date. It was a Friday afternoon, my first week in the San Jose area, staying with my dad in the Chief's barracks in the base in Mountain View and he had driven me around to several places to apply for jobs when we stopped at a place called The Brothers' Pizza Galley in the middle of the Silicon Valley, Sunnyvale, CA. Siggy, the owner, asked me when could I start. Anytime, I answered. "How about right now?" "Uh, sure." And so I wound up spending most of the next 10 hours washing dishes and learning the busboy ropes and, the next day, the morning prep routine. I worked hard but also had some fun and made some good friends there, which was more than I did in high school or even college, where I remained too introverted to even try to get to know anyone. I suppose working side by side with people, sharing gripes and enjoying the hard rock tunes in the back room helped make me more sociable than I usually was back then. Later, I worked part time at K-Mart; started as a ocok at a Bob's Big Boy and was promoted to assistant manager; became a security officer; spent 7 and a half years in the navy as a Yeoman; and have spent the last 12 working at the county courthouse where I'm due to become the acting supervisor of the Probate Dept. when my current supervisor retires. I've also been writing articles and putting together a newsletter for the First Coast Freethought Society here in Jax, FL, for the last several years. I'll never get rich, but I keep myself well occupied and I do get out a lot more than I did back in 1981. I've even got out on a few dates, not that any of them led to anything serious, but that's another story!

vancouver mark said...

Worst job I ever had was the full day assignments I got a couple of times doing slug detail, in November in Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. It was my first job after high school, at a nursery with acres of potted plants, and as the owner didn't seem to like me much I got this true shit job.

It was pouring rain each time, cold British Columbia November rain. I had a used plastic rain gear to wear, that stunk of mildew and pesticide and it's previous user.

In the morning I was given the raingear, a little can of gasoline and a heavy plastic garbage bag. I set out across the nursery to the "back terraces" and went to the end of an endless series of rows of potted trees and shrubs. I knelt down at each one and checked each pot thoroughly for slugs and snails. I found them, more and more of them, and mindlessly plucked them from the pots and slowly filled the garbage bag.
The highlights of each day came when the bag was full enough to justify a walk over to the burn pit. I'd dump the load of molluscs in and squirt them down with gasoline as I had a smoke. When my smoke was finished I'd flick the butt down and watch them burn.

Then I'd sigh and head back over toward the the back terraces, to kneel down in the icy rain and slowly fill another bag.

Those were the days.

William said...

My first "real job" was at t 12 years old working at a dog kennel cleaning up after the dogs and such. Needless to say, I wasn't to wild about it. Did I mention I was 12, it was summer in South Florida, and I was scooping up dog crap?

In high school I worked as a bag-boy at Publix Supermarket for a while. Didn't love that job either. Mostly because of the cleaning up after closing and the fact that I usually worked every Friday and Saturday night while my friends were out having fun.

After high school I joined the U.S. Coast Guard for four years. I didn't make a career of it, but It was mostly a rewarding experience that I'm glad I did and am very proud of.

After the Coast Guard I worked a season as a school photographer. That was a pretty fun job, but I got sick as dog from being around all those little germ factories. Shortly after that I started Art School and worked as a bar tender for a while and then at a Specs Music Store in the mall. While attending art school I met my wife, Cathy.

After art school, I started working as a graphic designer for a printing company. I had always wanted to be a comic artist (since I was 10 years old), but things don't always work out the way we plan. Meaning that, I can draw better than the average person, but I'm no John Byrne.

In 1999, after working as a graphic designer for several years for two printers and a catalog company, I went out on my own and started doing freelance graphics work. After a couple of years of that I guess I got burned out, because I took a job at the County Jail as a CSP (Corrections Support Personnel) which is basically a control room operator. I did that for two and half years and I must admit I hated every single minute of it. Pretty much everyone there was miserable (both the staff and inmates). In fact I used to call it "the unhappiest place on Earth".

After I couldn't stand another minute of being a jailer, I quit and started my own graphic design company (BC Art & Design) with my wife in 2005. (I'm the "B" she's the "C"). And I am happily still doing that to this day.

I would still like to get more into the entertainment side of art like doing a comic strip or writing a book, or something along those lines. Meanwhile, I scratch that itch by doing my action figure comic books and posting them on my website.

humanbelly said...

Man, Vanvouver Mare, I do think that "Slug Detail" wins the thread for "Worst Job Ever"-! That sounds almost surreal in its awful-ness. . . nearly primitive, in fact. William, though, your gig as a jailer comes a fairly close second, IMO, though.

Busybody that I tend to be, I've been thoroughly enjoying this thread-- adding a bit of background and persona to the familiar names. . .


Redartz said...

HB- you're right; it is nice getting a bit of personal detail to flesh out some of the names we see here!

Graham- cool to hear you write a blues blog; blues is another cultural mine full of stories to excavate.

William- Congrats on your graphic design company. Like you, I went to art school; soon realized I wasn't skilled enough for a shot in comics.

As for my job stories, McDonald's started me out. My 16th. summer; one hot day I had been out playing tennis and got a bad sunburn. Had to work the grill that night; I got so sick from the heat I'd go back in sit in the freezer every 15 minutes or so until they finally sent me home.

After college I worked in art galleries and as a picture framer for many years, eventually went back to school for a degree in electronics and now work for a medical equipment company. I still try to keep the creative juices going, though, doing illustrations and greeting cards as the opportunity arises.

Karen said...

This is cool, reading about everyone's background. First 'real' job for me was at the comic shop, which I've discussed before. In college, I worked for a veterinarian and it was one of the best experiences I've ever had. It taught me so much about life, the beauty and frailty of it all.

After college, I worked for a year in a biotech pharmaceutical lab, then switched over to a genetics lab, and moved up the chain there for 14 years. I made a lot of friends at that place that I still keep in touch with and see when possible.

When we moved to Arizona, I discovered biotech companies were as rare as unicorns. I've had to restart a career here, as a research analyst at a university, which means I try to figure out what sort of science the government will fund and how we can get it. It's not ideal, but it's better than being unemployed -which I also was for a period of time out here in the desert.

Garett said...

William, what's your website with the comics?

Dougie said...

HB, I live and work in Elgin in Moray. That's the North-East of Scotland between Inverness (home of Dr. Who's Karen Gillan) and Aberdeen.

I grew up in Sth Lanarkshire- a similar rural environment but spent the last 25 years of my life in Glasgow.

My first jobs were clerical ones with the Herald newspaper and the University of Glasgow but I went professional as an actor in 1990. After a very short, inglorious career of almost perpetual poverty, I worked for about seven years in the Call Centre sector. Then I was made redundant and wound up working in Easterhouse, a very deprived area of Glasgow, as an employment advisor. That experience spurred me to train as a teacher.

The worst job I ever had was a part-time one during my probation period- working for Santander's call centre: soul-destroying.

I've also been a theatre usher and more recently worked in a community centre, where I did everything from buying food for the cafe to mopping up urinals- not at the same time, naturally!

Dougie said...

Also, my dad went to Glasgow School of Art but dropped out. So I can draw a bit better than the average person too. I started by copying Kirby figures as a little kid then later, the likes of Perez and Byrne. The kids in my class often saw I should be teaching Art rather than English. Ha!

William said...

Garett, here is a link to my action figure comic website.

Garett said...

These are great William! The layouts, posing, and even backgrounds! Very cool.

Garett said...

I just read through Batman First Knight--fun William!

david_b said...

Greetings All.

Just got back from a few days up northern Wisconsin, a cousin of mine got remarried after his 1st wife died young a few years back from cancer.. Didn't bring the laptop with me.

As for work, always been the workin' stiff it seems. Starting with a LARGE paper route, riding my 10speed on country roads, interstates.., the newspaper office never realised just how dangerous or long my route was until I quit. As but it was time on my bike, and I liked my my time alone delivering papers.

Then came working at a canning factory for Green Giant, in steam 12yrs a night during summers for college, hard work but great cash.

Worst job..? It was dishwashing at a supper club. When the boss hates you, you don't want to be there, and you're cleaning out large soup pots 2am in the morning.. Eh, it wears on ya. It was close to where my parents lived and did provide money for models and Galactica stuff in '78..

I continued to work the 12hr nights in steam at the Giant processing plant for the next few summers while attending college. That wasn't too bad at all, you get mischievous with unsuspecting workers for some innocent gags on long nights.

I'm just glad I picked the military 26yrs ago, so wherever I went in the job world after college, regardless of what I did, I'd always draw a paycheck and led to lucrative public sector work. Having spent the last few years of the cold war in Germany with the nuclear-tipped artillery guns for Fulda Gap protection was swell.

Garett, sounds super, I'll have to check out your page. As my profile'll show, I do a cross assortment of musical styles, even played some piano for my wife yesterday.. Primarily pop and blues, the most fun was learning jazz chords for some old standards (like 'Autumn Leaves' and 'Fly Me to the Moon'..). Will have to share more on gigs, but I like having the standing with some local folks to actually pick/choose some guys I admire to put together some gigs with limited prep time, just few practices, then play! Was most proud of doing a duet at church of 'Jesu, Joy of Mans Desire' on classical guitar, backed by this woman on piano. Worked out quite well.

Thanks for sharing all.

William said...

Thanks Garett, glad you're enjoying my comics.

You've have some pretty interesting job stories. Your "night watchman" story sounds like something that would have definitely happened to me. :)

That painting company you worked for sounds pretty messed up. Nothing lower than unethical businesses that people put their trust in. My wife is a professional mural artist and she also does a lot of faux finishes and other types of painting, and she is extremely honest and conscientious (almost to a fault), so I have no sympathy at all for crooked painters. Good for you for walking away from that job.

Garett said...

David, our first song at the gig on Saturday was Fly Me to the Moon. : ) Sounds like you have a good variety your playing.

William, I've done some mural work as well, at our local Italian Centre. It's an interesting challenge, the size and working on a specific wall/ceiling, taking the surroundings into account.

vancouver mark said...

I did labourer jobs (like the afore-mentioned slug detail, and two years in a sawmill) until I finished college.
Since the mid-80's I've worked with children and youth, as an outreach worker with street kids, in schools, correctional centers, treatment programs and transition houses. Now I work mostly as a counselor with youth from violent homes.

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