My Lousy World

How to land the big job

Posted 8/22/19

Should I claim a strong work ethic, many scoffers would surely exclaim, “You can not be serious!” That just shows once again how badly I’m misunderstood.

Granted, recent decades …

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My Lousy World

How to land the big job

Posted

Should I claim a strong work ethic, many scoffers would surely exclaim, “You can not be serious!” That just shows once again how badly I’m misunderstood.

Granted, recent decades have proven nearly impossible to get me on a roof before noon, but that’s merely an indicator of sleep appreciation — making me more efficient late in the day. And it’s indisputable that in my formative years, Dad found a great degree of difficulty procuring my help in his garden or anywhere else, but only because my strong  athletic ambitions had me peddling my bike to town to play baseball during peak garden hours.

My best high school buddy, Sam Shields, loved telling the guys how he got to my house at about 10 one morning and asked my dad, “Is Doug up yet?” He imitated how Dad snorted in disgust, “Are you kiddin’? He’s good till at least 12 or one.” Pop never did understand my style of energy conservation.

Following, though, is a revealing peek into my early work history, which I hope might inspire recent grads on their quest for meaningful employment.

In the fall of ’73, I had just returned to Pennsylvania from another summer in Cody, and Dad was again misunderstanding my style and insisting I get a job. That same Sam buddy and I spent an afternoon getting applications in the shopping district of Richland and took some from the big grocery/department store, Gee Bees, to Burger King to fill them out.

In a particularly jovial mood and still fond of that great Shields laugh, I had a little fun with my resume. As past employment, I listed such thing as astronaut, dentist and carnival barker.

“Any special skills?” I answered, “One hell of a shortstop.”

To “Have you had any diseases?” I wrote, “Polio, Tuberculosis, Acne … you name it; I’ve had it.”

All laughter aside, we returned to the boss’ window at Gee Bees and a big, pock-marked man named Pete gathered our applications and said, “OK boys, if we need you, we’ll call.”

I spoke up boldly enough to surprise even me, “Hey, don’t just shove them in a drawer with a hundred other applications.” Seemingly impressed, Pete said, “Oh yeah? OK, let’s have a look,” as he picked them back up and put on his cheaters.

“Gulp,” was my initial thought as I recalled some of the haphazard things I had written. When he stopped reading and glared over his glasses, I mused, “Should I just start running?” To our surprise, he didn’t throw us out, but admonished, “Listen here, fellas: If I were to hire you, it’s not a big joke. The grocery business is hard work.”

With renewed vigor, I reassured, “Oh believe me, sir, I know all about hard work. I just came back from Wyoming where I worked all hot summer stacking boards at a sawmill.” I wasn’t lying; I had indeed worked at Cody Lumber five days a week before baseball practice.

Pete hired both of us on the spot.

So young people, remember that if you want a job bad enough, you have to be aggressive during interviews and think outside the box. I was so far out there, I went to work the very next day. And actually, quite a few days after that — over a month, I’d guess.

Sadly, the application process was about as serious as I was willing to get, and one day after digging into my Mom-packed lunch bag with the boys in the breakroom, I yelled, “What, Spam AGAIN?” and violently threw that Spam against the wall. It was the mayonnaise that made it stick, and in retrospect, signing my name underneath it was critically ill-advised. But again, the sound of laughter was too intoxicating for me to resist at that young age.

I was soon “let go,” but Sam moved up in the job and I would often visit him in the produce section, after getting up at noon.

So you see, I really do have work ethic oozing from every pore, but ethic doesn’t always translate to performance. One might say I’m a work in progress.

My Lousy World

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