A Cautionary Tale…

I wish I had kept the letter I got from the Department of Philosophy and Religion when I changed majors to Philosophy (from Aerospace Engineering – I was an endless river of good decisions in my youth).  It read half like a sales letter, insuring me that companies LOVED Philosophy students because they knew HOW to think.  Try to guess if that’s true.  I may as well have been a fucking English major for all the good it did.  (Pipe down English majors, you know it’s true.)  But none of that mattered, I was going to go to law school or maybe get my PhD and teach.  Turns out, law school is expensive (who knew, right?) and grad school is very hard to get into especially if you spend your first two freshman years beating your GPA to a bloody pulp.

So plan B.  Get a job.  Ugh.  Well, step one was to keep my job washing cars at a rental car agency.  This was important because your landlord does not give a shit if you’re a college grad.  So that was fun, but I was raking in over $5.25 per hour.  No, no I wasn’t.  I was raking in exactly $5.25 an hour.

Obviously, I moved back home pretty quickly.  But I still needed a job.  And after a month of not, I finally landed something.  I was the new Lube Tech at Jiffy Lube!  It’s not as much fun as it sounds.  But at least I had to leave off my degree from the application as I had learned from previous misses that these low-end gigs aren’t gonna hire someone with a degree.  Now I was making a whopping $5 per hour.  Bit of a set back, but as my mother had set my rent at $0 a month, it worked out.

Four weeks into my position there, I was promoted to Assistant Manager!  You can’t stop the success train!  So with my 50 cent an hour raise in hand, I set out to take the rapid lube world by storm.  Of course, my alarm failed to go off the next morning and I was late too work.  No big, the manager was cool so I wasn’t worried.  Except that I got there, and it turns out he had quit the night before.  And some big wig was there with a truckload of management trainees so they could learn how to open a store.  From me.  Who was late.  And had never opened a store before.

Anyway, the best part of the job was that it was right next door to a liquor store, so every night, after everyone had gone and I was left to do lube-related paperwork, I would go next door, get 2 airplane bottles of bourbon and have a sit-down.  This was also the job that taught me customer service was not my bag.  After suffering the slings and arrows of an unjustifiably angry suburbanite, I snapped.  I looked her straight in the eye and said, “Ma’am, I need you to get the fuck out of my store.”  I left the rapid lube biz shortly thereafter.

What I left for was the fast-paced world of automobile recycling.  Which is to say, I took cars apart in a junk yard.  But, I was up to $7 per hour!  Cha-ching, bitches!  You start to rethink some choices when you are laying under a 1987 Ford Taurus in 35 degree rain and hoping that they guy operating the forklift doesn’t forget that you’re under there.  You start to rethink more when you get home, spend 30 minutes washing transmission fluid out of you hair, and then write your student loan check.

Nine months later, I got a call from a company I had sent my resume to the year before.  An interview for a management training program!  Which is code for warehouse labor.  But it was raise.  And indoors.  So off I went.  I languished in the warehouse for a couple of years, partly because I refuse to go work at the sales counter.  (Remember the suburbanite from Jiffy Lube?  If you think they’re bad, try a pissed off plumber who’s been standing in a septic tank all day.  They’re real good at cussing.)  Eventually I weaseled my way into a job in the purchasing department.  Truth be told, if it weren’t for my boss, a milque-toast of a wanker, it would have been a good job.  I bought shit for a living.  Sales people called me and kissed my ass and took me out to lunch.  All in all, pretty good.  Except for my boss, who didn’t like the fact that I would leave my desk to find out why the computer showed we had 1000 of something, but no one could find them.  He told me to stay at my desk.  Period.  Despite the fact that I could my job in about 3 hours a day.  He didn’t care, which led to me falling asleep at my desk several times a week.  He somehow managed to ruin a job where people had to kiss my ass all day.  Think about that.

My next job was back in a warehouse at a company called Frischkorn, I suppose because I lacked the aplomb necessary for a white collar position.  No surprise there, really.  Somehow though, I kept getting dragged into meetings with the president of the company, where my honesty was not seen as “refeshing.”  In fact, I do believe he had precious little appreciation for a warehouse guy who kept telling him his plans wouldn’t work.  (In my defense, I was right.  Which I think made it worse.)

Obviously, my career at that company was not going to go anywhere, so I interviewed with a company to do software training.  Hey!  Now I’m getting somewhere!  I get to use my brain!  And they offered me a pay cut of over $10,000 a year.  I actually laughed at the guy.  Out loud.  Pretty hard, too.  I was the picture of tact.  So back to the warehouse.

That was where I was when my son was born and I transitioned flawlessly into stay-at-home daddy-dom.  But more importantly, in one of my final acts at the job, I managed to convince the rest of the guys in the warehouse to pose for a “Boys of Frishckorn” calendar that I then distributed around the company.  It even made it’s way to corporate headquarters where someone hung it in the copy room for all to enjoy.  It may be my greatest job-related accomplishment.  I have included it below.  You’re welcome.



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