I was tagged 2 or 3 weeks ago by blogless_troll, or as he's now known blogful funny and seemingly nice guy (sorry, dude), for a 6 random things meme. I naturally put it off until virtually all of my regular readers had disappeared from the blog in my continuing attempt to destroy my own blog readership and online relationships. (OK, I have the hots for pjd.)
But I'm back! [To woo pjd and] do the meme. However, I've converted it into 6 former jobs.
Lawn mower, sweeper, and ant killer! This was my first paying job. I think it was illegal. Starting at 12 or 13, I worked in the family hardware and building material business over summers. I think the first summer I only worked in the morning, and since I had no knowledge or skill, I swept the lumbershed, poured poison on fire ants, and mowed the lawn. I used to think I was incompetent because it would take me an entire morning to mow a 3 foot wide by 10 foot long strip. But then I grew up, owned my own house and yard (by which I mean I regularly paid interest on Chase Mortgage's house and yard) and let my own yard's grass grow too long. Apparently, push mowers just don't go easily through 3 foot high bermuda grass. You have to mow a bit with the mower on an angle, so it just gets the first couple inches. Then a second pass, doing the next few inches. Then it clogs up anyway.
McDonald's!Yep, I did my own stint at MickeyDees. It wasn't all that bad, actually. I got a nice green shirt with a logo and a paper hat to wear. I mean, what more could you want? My favorite thing to do was man the frier. That way you didn't have to speak to annoying customers or worry particularly about their food. Just wait until the machine beeps and then pour as much salt as you can on the things. Yum. I did realize it wasn't my life's pursuit when the manager and assistant manager each corrected me -- differently -- about the proper direction for my mop. You see I was was going parallel behind the counter, and the assistant manager was sure I needed to go perpindicular. The manager begged to differ.
Shoney's! For those not from the South, Shoney's is kind of like a Southern Denny's or Perkin's. A cheap family restaurant where you get a tough steak for 10.95 and a patty melt. I can't remember if this was a summer stint in college or a winter stint. My college, which was in Minnesota, took 6-7 weeks off for winter break, from T-giving through New Year's. I actually think it was in the winter. This is remarkable because their turn-over in waiters was so high that after 6 weeks there, I was training new waiters and they even gave me a going-away party.
Victor's Ristorante! Notice a theme in my early jobs? Yes, I can carry food and refill your sweet tea. Just try me. I kept trying for jobs I thought would be cool, like a ooh video rental place or music store, but I couldn't get as much as an interview, much less a job. Anyway, Victor's was the job during my master's program. I don't think I learned much. Here are some things: Suprisingly, a white pizza with greek olives, pepperocinni peppers, and feta cheese is good; You want to work during the football games, or strictly speaking, right after -- tips through the roof; Oh, and Socrates is pronounced Soh-Krah-Teess in Modern Greek. The Greek restaurant owner and I had nothing in common, so we talked about Socrates a lot.
Square Books! Hey, now this is a job some people would actually want. Square Books in Oxford, MS, was and I believe remains one of the nation's premier independent book store. I wan't a super employee as I don't read fiction all that much, but I showed up on time and worked relatively intelligently. I did get to meet John Grisham. This was around 1991 or something, and he'd just become big with The Firm, and he still lived in this big house outside Oxford. He'd come in every few weeks or so and sign stacks of books for us. There were two or three other writers who popped by regularly, including Richard Ford, I believe was his name. Some book of his won or was nominated for a big literary prize. I also remember that they once tried collapsing their African-American lit section into general lit or Southern lit, but they got tons of complaints because it was harder to find stuff, and so they separated it back out again. Another one of the guy I worked with later that year started the lit mag Oxford American, with a lot of funding from Grisham. I used to see it in bookstores all around the country. Wonder if it still exists.
Graduate Assistant! This GA-ship was also the first time around between 94 and 96. The chair of the philosophy department had developed this course called University Studies that was required of all Ole Miss students. It was not a favorite. I think I graded papers maybe and carried large stacks of things from one place to the next. Most of the course was taken up with boring though innocuous material that I barely remember. Things like plagiarism discussions or various procedures. Then there were a couple weeks that dealt with some of the history of the university, racism, and sexual harassment, and these were the sections that had people screaming that the university was indoctrinating its students into liberalism or some other evil. I do remember one question from a test that was something like: How many memorials or statues on campus celebrate the achievements of African-Americans in Mississippi or the nation, or refer to the tough process of integration at the University (The National Guard had to provide protection when the first AA student enrolled at Ole Miss). The answer is, naturally, zero.