Saturday, February 13, 2016

Job Jobs 1: The Pizza Man always knocks twice

I started writing this history of my jobs in August 2015, and like any good modern hu-man, I posted on social media what I was currently doing. (Which of course I wasn't then doing, because I was busy saying I was doing it instead of you know, doing it.) 

But all I said online was that I was compiling my employment history.

This was less than a week before my yearly review at my current job.


 And that is my job history in a nutshell: No plan, no thought - Just boundering along like a 3 year old who just walked into a spider web. The vast majority of my 20 odd jobs were simply handed to me by important women in my life, and the only thing I've excelled at on these jobs is having sex while I'm on the clock.

I've never had a career, or even a trajectory. I've squandered my education, my intelligence and my energy on an endless series of entry-level cul-de-sacs. But in doing so I've had a hell of a lot of fun - and not just when I was banging the boss.

My employment history is laughable. Which is why we are here detailing my wandering journey......

First Jobs

I suppose my first job was to be a little brother. My Mother got me this gig (ahem), and it was pretty sweet. My brother and sister were both considerably older - I was the 'oops' on the end - and I got everybody's rooms when they moved out.

1982, age 17. Doing homework on that tendon-snapping
manual typewriter. Terrycloth Shirt from MayCo.
Lamp from the hideous 70's. Making the transition from
cars to girls, judging from the bulletin board back there.
Also note Almond Roca and "Highway to Hell" on cassette. 
While she was there, My sister and I had our moments.
       She once snuck into my room on a school night and curled my hair with a curling iron while I slept.
       For the next month, whenever we were driving anywhere in her convertible sports car, and a cute guy pulled up next to us at a stop light, I made sure to loudly call her "Mom".
       She then snuck into my room and tied my appendages to the four posts of my four-poster bed. (I have always been a very sound sleeper.) Then she snuck out and ran back in yelling "FIRE!"

My first employment was doing chores for cash. Mostly this was dusting. So I spent a lot of my childhood standing on chairs, staring at my Mother's endless collection of ceramic owls, and my Father's extensive collection of miniature bottles full of booze (he traveled a lot, but didn't drink).

Now I was a highly intelligent child, but that didn't mean I was smart.
So when I found it odd that the bourbon and whiskey minis were also filled with clear liquid, I did NOT go immediately to my older brother and blackmail him. Instead I just turned from my dusting and broadcasted my clever insight to everyone in earshot.
My brother didn't sit down comfortably for a week, and he hated me for far longer than that.

R.O.P. Jobs

By age 17, I could write a college-graduate level essay on any topic, of any length, in any given amount of time, but I was completely at sea with Pre-Algebra.

So I wrote passionate, longing poems about how much I hated math. Why are we so obsessed with X? What’s the appeal? X seems perfectly fine and self-contained as is. Why must be prod into into its private life and its relations with all the other letters and numbers? I think it resents being factored all the time. X is self-empowered and does not need ‘solving’ - leave it alone!

At the beginning of my Senior Year of high school, 1982, (when we were making the transition from clay tablets to papyrus scrolls) my endlessly patient guidance counselor, Miss Jacobs, showed me that at my current level of cobweb spazzing, I would not graduate on time.

This finally got through to me. My stupid older brother Michael, the Mycroft to my Sherlock of ineptitude, never did pass High School. My Sister, Joni, graduated a year and a half early, got her diploma in the mail and was already immersed in the business world. I was the last hope. It was up to me to go through the ceremony next June. FOR MOM.

Senior year ID. Apologies for the Native American
caricature; we were the "Braves". I'm also
sorry for the gold necklace I appear to be wearing.
Miss Jacobs then showed me another chart she had made that showed me if I took 6 classes both semesters of my senior year, AND worked after school for credit (through the Regional Occupation Program), I would finish with EXACTLY the number of credits I needed.

Gulp. For Mom.

So my first semester after school assignment, was, wait for it, at the Black Angus restaurant. I was the assistant sous chef, which is a froo-froo Frenchy-fied way of saying "Make me 400 hot dogs - its Monday Night Football tonight. Also, I need 5 gallons of blue cheese dressing in 10 minutes. But first bread this 55 gallon drum of zucchini. And before that the dishwasher broke - and Carlos is drunk again - so get in there and scrub 10,000 place settings."

5 nights a week, and my 'pay' was 1 school credit each week. Plus 6 classes of homework, from classes I dare not fail.

For my final semester of school Miss Jacobs got her revenge on my years of cobweb flailing and moved me from the Black Me restaurant to Carl's Jr., where I became the deep fry cook. I wasn't very good, but I could eat all of my mistakes, which I did. (Between the texas toast drawer at Black Me and the onion rings at Carl's I gained 20 pounds that year.)
At the time the French Fries at Carl's came in half gallon cartons, like milk. Inside were frozen, snow-white balls, like arctic bunny poop. You poured this into the top of the machine, which warmed up the rabbit pellets and formed them into a french fry shape, where they were then dropped into the frying medium below, which would then splash on me and burn my skin.

I was living the Devil Card - complete with my tail being on fire.

But on June 9th, 1983, my 18th birthday, my parents attended my High School graduation - and I didn't eat at Carl's Jr. until well into the 90's.

After the considerable effort of my Senior Year, I decided to take the summer off before attending community college in the Fall. My Father, however, who was paying for the gas in my car, had other ideas and got me a job delivering pizza.

Sal's Pizza

1983: A new era: Disco was dead, Reagan was selling off all the National Parks to afford our new Space-based missile defense shield, ONtv brought soft-corn porn right to your TV, and Adam Ant was going to have hits forever and ever.

My first real job job: Pizza delivery driver. Sal's was an independent parlor in a strip mall in Cucamonga, California. From the front door you could literally see Pizza Hut, Dominos, and a Roundtable.

Watch out for flying pinballs.
Sal's survived because his Sicilian grandmother made the spice concoction for the sauce (and only divulged the recipe in her Will), and because Sal was fanatical about his toppings.

The ham, for example, was imported from Romania. It came in spam cans that were about a foot long. It took 5 minutes to open, with a little key that you slowly unwound the metal zipper around, and then another 5 minutes to get the meat out, which you accomplished by holding it over the sink and listening to it make farty/porno/Nine Inch Nail noises.

There wasn't much to see in the parlor. 3 tables and 5 chairs (because 4 tables and/or 6 chairs qualified you as a "Restaurant") - an Asteroids game and a pinball machine. The pinball wasn't very good, but it was missing its glass top, so that made it hilarious to watch other people's reactions when the pinball suddenly shot out and flew across the room.

Speaking of shot, Sal's was robbed a lot, but they used a shoebox instead of a cash register, so that made the process quick and efficient. Here ya go! Wanna pie with that?

What did I see in my travels around Cucamonga? A LOT. I had a spotlight that plugged into the cigarette lighter, and while searching for addresses, I inadvertently peeped on a lot of couples having sex in their living rooms while they watched the ONtv porn.

I once delivered a sizable order to a non-descript tract house on a cul-de-sac. From the front door I could see across the livingroom, down the hall, and into the kitchen, where, on the kitchen table, surrounded by young men in dark clothing, I saw a mound of cocaine that was more than a foot high.

1982. Dancing with Cathy Osgood at my Sisters
wedding. Yes, white tie and tails.
Then all three doors slammed, bang bang bang, a nervous fellow grabbed the pizza,  handed me a $100 bill, pushed me away, and slammed that door too.

But blow wasn't the drug of choice for pizza. Pot was the coin of the realm. I received many a baggie as a tip, which I then sold to my co-workers. The only problem with potheads was that they often didn't have enough cash to pay for the pie.

So I came back to Sal's with collateral. Stereos, guitars, counter-top appliances. I once staggered into the shop with a surfboard the size of one of my cars doors. Sal had a special shelf high up along one wall that was just for collateral purchases. We called it "Sal's Pawn Shop". But everybody eventually paid up and got their gear back.

The funnest nights was when there was a storm. "Ah Honey, its really raging out there. I aint gonna set foot outside this door tonight. Its just too dangerous out there to drive. Hey, let's order a pizza!"

I quickly learned that bareheaded and bedraggled, with an umbrella over the pizza box = the best tips.

Also, Sal's was the only joint that continued to function when the power went out. The ovens were gas, the phones worked regardless, and our register was a shoebox. When the lights went out we just hopped next door to the Radio Shack and borrowed a bunch of flashlights.

Dominos, round 1

After a year at Sal's I got traded to Dominos in Upland, California, where my pay rose from $3.35 to $3.65 an hour. Plus benefits.
Yes, back in this era. I have never had any idea
what this ad campaign meant.
  • Benefit #1 was that they got robbed less often.
  • Benefit #2 was the Donut shop down the road. 1 Large pizza = a dozen doughnuts.
  • Benefit #3 was 30 minutes or less or its free - yes, back in those days. This made every shift like a car chase from a Quinn Martin production in the 1970's.
  • Benefit #4 was crank calling other Dominos 5 minutes before closing and ordering 15 extra larges with jalapenos and anchovies.
  • Benefit #5 was after closing, in the back room, out of camera range, on a bunch of flour sacks, with my boss.
And yeah, I was 19, so it was more like 30 seconds or less.


Angus McMahan

Booze Pic from, Black Me from, Sal's from, Avoid stupid, meaningless marketing gimmicks from Pinterest. All others from my camera and scanner.

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