A Temporary Situation

Work, Work, Work. Even in the toughest economy, I’ve always managed to keep myself employed.

…Okay, I drew a few unemployment checks shortly after graduating high school; back when I gave little thought to anything beyond finding where party central was. That’s almost a story in it self, so I’ll include it here as a sort of prologue…

During my senior year in high school, I started to party rather heavily. Because of this, my performance at the garage I worked at began to seriously slip. So much so that shortly before graduation, I ended up getting fired. That didn’t bother me much since I had earlier decided that despite taking three years of auto shop, and getting my state certification for engine rebuilding and brakes, I really didn’t want to be a mechanic. Being as I was now an adult, I decided I would never again work at a car wash, wash dishes, or pump gas (all past occupations of mine). Nor would I flip burgers or fry chicken like some of my friends did before graduation. That stuff was for losers…or so I thought. It wasn’t until I had to stand in the unemployment lines waiting for the government to give me a check for doing nothing, when I was healthy and totally capable of working, that I realized what a loser does for a living. I felt like a leech, sucking blood from the heart of society. Shortly thereafter, I got a job at a KFC in Warren. It wasn’t very long before I got fired from there as well. I was having a bit of a hard time partying all night with my friends and trying to be functional at work while burnt out and hung over. The problem was I didn’t know how to get out of the party mode I was living in.

You see, during the latter part of my senior year, my dad took a temporary job transfer to Tennessee. At first, he came home on the weekends, but eventually he convinced my mom to move down there with him until the job was finished near the end of summer. Somehow he convinced her that my 19 year old sister would be able to watch over me. Yeah. Like that was going to happen! She had her boyfriend (eventually psycho husband) move in soon after both mom and dad were in Tennessee, and I soon learned that a little blackmail against my sister could give me free reign to do whatever I wanted. My house soon became party central almost every night for me and my friends – and suddenly, since I could provide party central, I seemed to have more friends stopping by quite often. I didn’t realize how out of control it all had gotten until it was almost too late. I knew I was in a nosedive; but I had no idea how to pull out of it. Fortunately, my parents did. They had certain neighbors and relatives giving them periodic status reports on the happenings at our house. One day they just showed up and told me I was either moving out or going down to Tennessee with them. It was an easy choice – I was glad to get away. I needed to. While in Tennessee I was able to clear my head and get my priorities in order. I decided to change the direction I had taken in my life. Just before returning to Michigan in September, I signed up with the Army.

…Okay, so that was a story in itself. So sue me…

Faced with more than three months between when I signed with the Army and when I actually had to ship out, I needed some kind of income. Although I could have, there was no way I was going to take an unemployment check during that gap. I needed to find a job; something short term. I looked in the “help wanted” section in the local newspaper and one of the first things I saw was an ad for Kelly Services – a temp agency. Through them, I got a job helping to organize the warehouse for a local advertising agency. After that I worked at St. John’s Hospital in Detroit where I had to sterilize the medical instruments and put together sterile operating and emergency room prep kits. They really liked me there and actually tried to buy my employment permanently from Kelly Services. I had to let them know that Uncle Sam already had dibs on me. I stayed at St. Johns all the way up until a couple days before I left for Army basic training.

When I got out of the Army I applied for work anywhere I could. My sister helped me get my first job after the Army. She worked in the main office at the St. Clair Shores ice arena. I was hired to drive a Zamboni to resurface the ice rinks in between events. That was a lot of fun. I also had to clean up the locker rooms after the hockey games. That wasn’t so much fun, but it was part of the gig. That was only a part time position, so eventually I took on another part time job as a janitor at a blueprint duplicating shop. A short while later, I was offered a part time courier position at the same blueprint shop, making me a full time employee. I was putting in 12 hour days there, so I decided to leave the ice arena. I left the blueprint shop a few weeks later, when I accepted a position as a CNC machine operator at a small factory in Mt. Clemens. They made parts for the big three auto makers. They ran two 12 hour shifts there. I worked the graveyard shift. A couple months after starting there, I got a call from General Motors and started working on the assembly line two days later. I felt bad leaving the machine shop on such short notice like that, but GM wouldn’t wait two weeks for me to start; it was now or never. I guess you can do that when you’re the big dog on the block.

I felt like I had made it. I was working for one of the big three. I finally had a job I could make a career out of. Maybe in a few years I could move into skilled trades or management. Life was good. Sure, the mundane work bored me out of my skull, but I had to admit, you couldn’t beat the pay. It would take about four years or so, but eventually I would realize that money wasn’t everything.

As time rolled on, there would be a couple more periods where I would find myself needing to take on whatever job opportunity that presented itself. During those periods, I worked as a sales clerk for Honey Baked Ham, assistant manager of a men’s clothing store at a shopping mall, a bike and furniture assembler for department stores, a loading dock hi-lo driver, a jackhammer operator, bobcat operator and dump truck operator for a construction company, a marketing/PR assistant, and a home alarm installer. In short, I did whatever it took to earn my worth; and I always will. If I could give any piece of advice to my kids, or anyone else, as they grow up and make their way into the workforce, it would be this: Have respect for anyone who works for a living. Don’t ever think you are above doing any legitimate job that’s available. Even if it’s not what you want to do for a living, do it until you can find something you like better; and do that until you find what you’re looking for. In the end you’ll respect yourself more, and people will respect you for it……Oh, and stay away from party central.

Copyright © 2014 Mr. Flying Pig

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