My first “real job” came when the Days Inn opened at Interstate 75’s northern most exit in Georgia during my junior year in high school. Donning a red and white striped shirt along with several friends, we kept the hotel’s Tasty World Restaurant going for a while.
The first paycheck from this part-time, $1.60 per hour dishwashing job paid for my Ringgold High School class of ’74 ring. The good job also allowed me to drive a slightly damaged ’69 Pontiac LeMans and have enough pocket change to keep an always-hungry, male teen reasonably well fed.
Eventually, with hard work and limited competition, I became a cook and started bringing in the big bucks of $2.35 per hour.
By “real job,” I mean receiving a paycheck with income taxes and Social Security withheld. Prior to that, my various odd jobs were simple cash exchanges that usually involved a lawnmower, shovel or rake.
Like many of you, I held a variety of good, bad or odd jobs. Summer work was especially interesting.
Though strenuous, mixing mortar for bricklayers would have been a good job if not for wondering each morning when the bricklayers would make it to the job site and what level of sobriety they would exhibit.
So I moved on, joining a friend to work in a carpet mill that pressed sheets of carpet into proper shape for automobile floors. The longest tenured worker I found there was a prison trusty. When my carpooling friend’s job was cut, I left with him.
The least desirable job I dabbled in — between long tenures in the restaurant and selling menswear in a department store — was installing fiberglass insulation. In the attic. In the summer. In Georgia.
Whether drawing the equally enjoyable task of actually spraying insulation into a 140-degree attic or pouring the large bags of loose insulation into the hopper inside the 130-degree truck, the night would be spent soaking in bathwater in hopes that some of the millions of particles of fiberglass embedded in my pores would be released.
Of course, all these and other jobs along the way brought me in contact with interesting people, helped me see the vast array of skills needed to keep the world going and cause me to be appreciative of them on this Labor Day weekend.
However, the most consistent lesson reverberating in my mind throughout each of these early employment episodes was: Stay in school!
What was your best, worst or oddest job? And what did you learn?
Executive editor / publisher at Good Faith Media.