This story, like everything on my blog (including those where my dog talks and trees taunt me), is entirely true. Also like everything on my blog, it doesn’t necessarily have a point.
In the days of old, your’s truly was working night shift, minimum wage, at a shit job. Nothing wrong with that. We’ve all got to start somewhere and I’ve never been (nor will I ever be) too proud for a shit job. However, minimum wage is not, as the lefties reflexively say, a “living wage”. I was struggling. I was “broke”.
I needed to fuel my car. This was essential. A man with a car may be broke but he has options. Lose the car and you might go from broke to poor. There’s a difference you know.
I did not want to be poor. Also, a car is not merely transportation, it is a storage unit and backup housing. Broke or not I was going to keep it fueled come hell or high water. One evening when the chips were lowest and the tank was on “E”, I scraped together every last molecule of money I could find. I really did sort through seat cushions and everything. (You think that’s a cliché? Well it isn’t!)
I scrabbled together something like $3.45. I can’t recall the exact amount, but I remember that it was the sum total of absolutely every penny I could muster and it wasn’t much. (Note: Younger readers may not understand the gravity of the situation. Back in the stone age you had to pay for stuff with money. The world where everyone and their dog has a credit card and will happily use what is essentially a bank loan to buy gas or groceries is a new idea. This was an older, and in my eyes more sane, world. When the money was gone, one simply had to walk. I have walked. It sucks. Everyone should have to walk once.)
I shoved my precious wad of change in a sandwich bag and stuffed it in my pocket. Then, with a car running on fumes, I headed for work. I completed my shift and left in more or less high spirits. As dumb as my job was, I always did my best and generally I had an OK time doing it.
I think now is the time to insert a Curmudgeonly Gem Of Insight:
“If you’ve got a shit job, do it well. I was excellent at my shit job because being excellent feels good. Being a slacker feels like crap. Regardless of the pay, don’t give in to sloth. Better times may come.”
Oh, by the way. You might be thinking that management would reward me for my hard work. Of course you’re only thinking that if you’re 19, an idiot, or both. If so; get that foolish nonsense out of your mind right now. Management generally doesn’t give a crap if you live or die. Don’t look there for personal validation.
Another reason to pursue excellence. It tends to lead to better jobs (no guarantees!). I sincerely believe this and think the mindset (if nothing else) is why the state of “broke”, for me at least, didn’t last forever. So if you’re flipping burgers or mopping floors right now, heed my words. Flip the ever loving shit out of those burgers and mop the floor like a powerhouse.
Tomorrow I’ll wrap up my little trip down memory lane.
When I was working my crappy jobs $3.45 would buy 19 gallons of gas. I spent most of it for water skiing and saved a little for the car until I landed my first full time job. That was in the early sixties.
How many gallons of gas did you get for your $3.45?
My personal basic rules of thumb for crappy jobs (kids, pay attention):
-Show up early
-Stay as late as needed
-Be available to come in at off hours
-Don’t just stand around, find something to do