Good jobs, bad jobs and odd jobs

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?


  1. Insulating attics (fiberglass and blown cellulose) in Memphis in ?1981, the summer we had over 30 days straight of 100+ temps.

    Must be God’s way of humbling men of the cloth.

  2. As a teenager, my best job was working in a candy wholesale warehouse (conveniently located next door to our house, literally). The warehouse stocked every type of candy, candy bars and gum you could imagine … as well as baseball cards! We were allowed to sample any of the candy, plus I could purchase baseball cards at wholesale prices (and sometimes much cheaper). Those were the days!

    My most valuable job as a teenager was working in the public library. That job contributed to my (already growing) love of books and reading.

    I also worked in several grocery stores as a teenager, and enjoyed stocking the shelves with cans and boxes of products. Maintaining neat looking shelves appealed to me, for some odd reason. To this day, I still like neatness and order in my office.

    In college, I worked in the campus pool hall / video game room (ah! the old stand-up arcade games). I earned my way through college shooting pool … literally!

    In seminary, for several years I worked as an attendant for a quadriplegic young man who quickly became a good friend. I can’t even begin to describe the many life lessons I learned from that job and friendship.

    Also at Southern Seminary, for one year I worked in facilities services driving a fork-lift, which was pretty cool. (I wish we had had a forklift at the old candy company of my youth. Instead, I had to unload those huge semi-trucks by handcart!) Working for facilities services, I was able to obtain, for free, copies of all the back issues of Review and Expositor. Sweet!

    Thanks for the opportunity to take a stroll down memory road for a few moments …

  3. Two summers in the Broad River Brick Yard, about five hundreds South of the Broad River on the South side of I-85 when you cross it going to Charlotte.
    Heard all kinds of stories there from “No-Talker” and Fitchu or Fitz Hugh I later figured out.
    Helped him do the Math one Monday morning when he tride to calculate his fine for leaving his car parked all weekend in front of the Gaffney Post Office.
    Conversation went something like.
    Fox: You goin to collich….From Six oclock Friday afternoon to six oclock Sat Morning that’s 12 hours; and from 6 oclock Sat morn to…….
    Summer before that became good friends with the son of one of the 20 richest men in America; gave more money to Nixon than anybody else in 72.
    Everybody has their memorable days.
    Good Blog

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