Thursday, April 5, 2012

Dirty Jobs

WARNING: This post is very long and very boring (probably). I think I'm on this kick about recording stuff for posterity (who will probably also think it's boring) so you are under no obligation to read and/or comment.

Dirty Jobs somebody's gotta do them.  I guess I'll leave most of it to Mike Rowe. Whom I have to say, is quite appealing. Why is that? He always seems to be covered in mud or slime of some sort. Anyway I digress...

I got to thinking about all the jobs I've had in my former life. It's interesting, the things I remember in looking back more than 25 years on some of them.  Here's quick (or not) recap.

House Cleaner - (I'm going with) April 1983 - September 1984 (I may be wrong, it could have been longer)
What I did: Cleaned the house, the yard or the cottage in this sprawling rambler

Who my boss was: Barbara Kievlan

The People: The members of the Kievlan family were very tall and quite imposing people.

Barbara: the wife, enjoyed being elegant. She was always getting her nails done, or her hair. She once told me the reason she liked to watch soap operas because it helped her keep up on the latest fashions. Really? How it came across to me was, she was an older woman who thought she was stylish but was really just outdated. She had bleached blond poofy, short hair (kind of teased into a bouffant-type style) who wore polyester and foofy slippers. She had some sort of ailment. I think it may have been arthritis, which she often used as an excuse (this is why I need someone to clean my house, this is why I have my hair dresser or nail lady come here to my house - But I tell ya, I saw her do some pretty strenuous things when she wanted to). She was a very nice lady (albeit a bit delusional). She liked to tell me exactly what she thought, "You're a Scorpio? No wonder you're so forgetful."

George: the husband. Owned Morgan Hill Glass. He spent lots of time out in his "glass shop" (a detached garage) in the back of the house.  He was a happy, nice man.  I always liked it when he was around.

Nelson: the youngest son. He was about 20 and lazy and messy and useless.  I rarely ever saw him, but in my opinion was on the fast track to nowhere.

Kelly: another son.  I may have met him once or twice.  He was married and didn't live at the house. But I always remembered him because his name was Kelly.

What I remember:
I hated cleaning the cottage. They used to rent it out but then Nelson moved in. He would put all of his greasy dishes and pans in the sink and fill it with water. By the time I got there the water was cold and greasy and stinky!!! It was soooo disgusting to put my hands down in that water.  I'm not sure I was ever able to get all the grease off of those dishes.  There were also greasy walls and lots and lots of grime.  I never felt like I made a dent.

Once I was cleaning their laundry room and picked up a sheet of glass (remember they were glass people) it broke in my hands and a large chunk fell on my foot it cut a deep gouge between my big toe and second toe on my right foot.  I had to get stitches.

Another time Mrs. Kievlan had me clean her antiqued brass lamps (of baby cherubs) I did such a good job I cleaned out all the dark color in the crevices that made it look antique... oops.

The only cleaner she let me use was vinegar. At first I hated the smell, but now when I smell vinegar I think of "clean".

I remember the individual, chalk drawn, family portraits hanging in the living room, over the fireplace. Being an artist, I was very intrigued by these. I also thought it was funny what a flattering spin they had compared to the real life subjects.

Once when I was over there, no one was home so I watched TV - oooo, I'm so daring.

Marie Calendars - Summer of 1985
What I did: Hostess/Waitress and Honey Butter Scooper (this is why I got paid the big bucks)
Who was my boss: Gaylen - Though I didn't see him much. I reported to the head waitress, whose  name I can't remember.

The People:
Marcia: another waitress that I was always happy to work with.

The Cook: Weirdly enough his name escapes me right now. He looked a little bit like John Oates from Hall and Oates. I liked him, we went out a little bit. I went to his house a couple of times. It was my first experience dating someone from "the world". We used to kiss in the back room at work (not scandalous, just to see if we could get away with it). I saw him years later when Brad and I went downtown to sign some papers to buy our first house.  He was a courier.

The Other Cook: He asked me out. We went. I didn't want to. I tried to ignore him all night. He asked me out again. I said no.

Melvin: (not his real name - we just called him that) - came in almost every day, usually after the lunch rush. He almost always ordered a BLT on wheat toast (he was always sure to tell us he didn't want the bread grilled he wanted it toasted) and a piece of lemon meringue pie. Every once in a while he would mix it up with banana cream pie. He usually asked, by name, for a specific server.  He looked a little bit like a cross between PeeWee Herman and Mr. Rogers. He walked everywhere, always had a newspaper and usually stiffed us. Looking back, we probably should have been a little nicer to him, I believe he had some mental problems. But we were young and he creeped us out a little bit.  I still see him every once in a while walking around San Jose (he looks exactly the same). I sometimes wonder if he still goes to Marie Calendar's everyday for his BLT.

What I remember:
Sometimes I got in trouble for not scooping enough little cups of honey butter. Apparently they didn't want to have to get the big tub out more than once a day. And I guess, after I left for the day, there really wasn't anybody on the evening shift qualified to to such specialized work.

I was the hostess in the mornings and through the lunch hour. Then I was a waitress until 5. People always thought they were so funny and original putting in funny names on the waiting list for their parties. I was always embarrassed to read out the name. If I had the job now I would yell them out as loudly as I could, clearly I've changed.

Miller's Outpost -- Summer of 1986
What I did:
Worked in the Men's Dept. Created displays, maned dressing rooms, helped customers. Sometimes I worked in the stock room and sometimes at the registers.

Who was my boss:
Barb Villanueva (manager) Bob (assistant manager)

The People:
Tawny: she was another college student working for the summer and someone I could totally relate to.

Barb: she was the manager but no one really liked her. She was kind of a witch. I remember her yelling at me once because I had created a display using "clearance merchandise".  I think she was a bit unbalanced.

Bob: I can't remember his last name but he's the one that actually interviewed and hired me.  I'm pretty convinced that if Barb had interviewed me I wouldn't have gotten the job. Bob was a good assistant manager, he was fun and silly and still got the job done.  I remember once he let us play the radio and sing over the  PA system. Bob was my first sustained encounter with a gay person (remember this was 1986). I guess that's one reason I didn't think it was too weird that he used to skip around the store. I have good memories of Bob.

Kevin Pena: Kevin worked the registers weekdays. I knew him from High School, or I guess I should say I knew who he was. He was a year older than me and had a girlfriend in my grade named Allison.  They had been dating for years. When I was working there, he broke up with her to ask me out.  I guess I should be flattered but in reality I was a bit annoyed. I did NOT like him, nor had I given him any impression that I did (other than that I was nice to him. I guess that's sometimes all it takes) He took me to a Giants game (he was a huge Giants fan). He tried to hold my hand. I told him to knock it off. He didn't ask me out again. I think he got back together with Allison.

What I remember:
I thought Miller's Outpost was awesome. I felt cool that I worked in a cool clothing store.
I always got good "secret shopper" reviews. I think it made Barb mad. I think she thought I was incompetent.
I probably spent half my money that summer on clothes.
I loved that it was only 2 miles from my house. This meant no commute and I could go home for lunch.
I liked working in the stock room. Unpacking boxes and seeing the new stuff was fun. It was a stinky, dirty job sometimes though.

Amdahl - Summer 1987
What I did:
A computer company, sounds impressive right? But what I really did was work in the mailroom. How cliche'. Isn't the mail room just about the lowest you can get on the corporate totem pole?  Luckily I wasn't trying to climb the corporate totem pole (hmmm, that little metaphor didn't quite work out).
I helped sort the mail coming into the company, internally and externally. Sometimes I actually got to deliver mail to the offices (only when one of the other employees wasn't there).

Who was my boss: Dave and Karen. Don't ask me why I remember their names. I didn't like them much. They were kind of "go-no-wheres" who made a career out of working in the mailroom. Not really on my list of people I wanted to get to know on a real personal level.

The People:
Dave and Karen: I think I already said all I really remember or want to say about them

Alice: She was a 40 something single lady. She was quirky and funny, sort of annoying and cleared a room when she passed gas. Ya, I'm telling ya, it was a very upscale establishment. Remember we're talking people who are making careers of working in the mailroom. I did pity her. She was pretty nice and really didn't have a great life, sad.

A Girl: Sadly I  can't remember her name. She was my friend. I know, I remembered the unmemorable bosses names but can't remember my friend's name.  We had nothing in common other than that we were girls.  We ate lunch together on the lawn outside the mailroom.  She lived with her boyfriend, who I suspect was abusive or at least did drugs, probably both. She wanted a better life, but didn't know how to change.  Even though I was very young she came to me for advice, I suspect because she knew I was religious.  I'd have to call my mom at my break to get advice on what to tell her.  One of the things mom told me has stuck with me until this day.  She told me to tell her to live the commandments.  Mom said the commandments aren't just for people who go to church and want to live them. They are for everyone. And we are promised happiness if we live them. My friend and I talked about the 10 commandments. I told her living them would make her happier. She believed me. In my simple, young and inexperienced mind I thought she would leave her boyfriend the next day and opt for a better life.  She didn't. I often wonder about her though and wonder if she ever did make choices to get the better, happier life she wanted.

BMW guy: This one is one of my funnest memories of my working life. Probably because it was so out of character for me.  As I mentioned my friend and I ate lunch on the lawn outside the mailroom. This patch of lawn was also by the parking lot. At some point I started noticing this cute BMW driving guy going by everyday at the same time.  I sat and stared at him everyday. Occasionally he would wave or smile. Then I got really bold and when I saw his car coming I would stand up on the edge of the grass and make it very obvious that I was watching for him.  Then one day he stopped and asked me to go to lunch with him the next day.  Of course I said YES!! We went to the Peppermill (maybe it was the Pepper Tree - hmm, which was it?) which was close by, and I got to go for my first BMW ride.  Alas, I can't remember his name either. I'm going with John, but I'm probably mistaken.  We never went out again.  I'm going to blame it on, soon thereafter I quit working there to go back to school (it certainly couldn't have anything to do with the fact that I was 19 or 20 and worked in a mailroom ;)

What I remember:
I cried (and not just whimper - it was akin to bawling)  every morning on my drive to work.  I hated it. I hated the people.
Looking back, I don't think that was the reason at all.  I think it was too early in the morning.  I think I started by 8 and had about a 45 minute commute.  It was too far away from home (all my other jobs were within 5 miles of my house) and I, simply put, DID NOT want to work.
I pretty sure of this fact because other than the satus of working in a mailroom it was right up my alley. I think sorting things is really fun.  I love it, even still. Also, I sometimes met Laura Lewis (Johnson) who worked out that direction too, for lunch. We liked to go to Sweet Tomatoes.  Plus there was BMW guy! That alone was worth it right there, don't you agree?
I would work there again.

Distron -  December 1987- February 1988
What I did:
Take orders from McDonalds franchises is the Northern California and Nevada Area. We sat in this small room, in 1/2 cubicles with a 10 key adding machine, waiting for the phone to ring. When it did, we took all the food (Pattys, buns etc) and supply (cups, napkins etc) orders from different McDonalds in the area. We filled out a form, added up their order, read it back to them and then sent the list out to the warehouse to be processed.

Who was my boss: I can't remember her name - but she was one I actually liked.

The People:
Larry: He was the other person who I mostly worked with there. I liked him he was easy going and easy to talk to. I had my mission call by this point, so he asked me lots of questions about it. I can't remember if I gave him a book of mormon or anything.  I hope I did. If I didn't I should have.

Warren: He was an owner of one of the McDonalds. He called in almost everyday. He must have had a busy store. I never met him, only talked to him on the phone.  He was very patient with me. He didn't get mad if I made mistakes. He had long, confusing orders so I was glad he was willing to let me learn. I think he even requested to talk to me sometimes.

Law Office - September 1989 - February 1990
What I did: It started out as a fill in job as a receptionist while their regular one was on vacation. When she got back, one of the attorneys was in need of an assistant.  He offered me the job.  It cracks me up. I was an attorney's assistant.  I know nothing about law.
I mostly ran errands, typed up dictated letters, filed papers and screened calls from angry or bitter clients (I didn't take offense since most of them were in the throws of a divorce or custody problems) Yeesh, kind of depressing really, to be in that line of work. This was when word processing was still pretty new. He had me creating a lot of files and I didn't really know what I was doing.  I'm sure he was cleaning up my mess for ages.

Who was my boss: Tom Kidwell, Esquire. Family Attorney

The People:
Tom was a super nice guy but a little bit cooky and disorganized. He wasn't old enough to have a combover but he did. One day he told me he was going out to get a hair cut. When he came back I just about made a observation out loud about his lack of a combover, and how it was about time. I refrained. Then he turned around to walk away and I saw the "combover" hanging off the back (this was actually typical for him) I am ever glad I held my tongue. He also drove a convertible Chrysler LeBaron. When he drove with the top down his hair (the combover part) twirled in the wind. Ya, I guess most of my memories of this guy involve his hair (or lack thereof)

Diane McKinley: a childhood friend that also worked as an assistant for a patent attorney that worked in the same office.

Bonnie Smith: Bonnie was my former Sunday School teacher. I thought she was a riot and so fun for an older lady.  She was the assistant for an attorney named Hap. This is where I learned that that was a nickname for Harold (can someone please tell me how that works out exactly?)

Tandem Computers February 1990 - sometime in 1991
What I did: Measured offices and rooms in the Tandem Computer Campus in Sunnyvale. Entered measurements in to DataCadd, a computer aided drafting program.

Who was my boss: Carolyn Bell

The People:
I grew up with Carolyn Bell. She is about 5 years older than me, I always looked up to her and one day she called me with a job offer. She was in charge of computerizing the entire Tandem Computer campus. That is, taking blue prints and building plans along with real time measurements and entering the data into the computer. This ranged from the measuring the entire length of the building to individual ceiling tiles and lights. It could be tedious, she needed a team. Right now Carolyn lives in San Jose and does cool artwork and has a Vizela.

I also grew up with Sheila Mitchell/Burgett. We lived parallel lives for a lot of it.  She was at our house a lot over the years and we had several of the same jobs and we were even in the same major at Ricks College together. We saw a lot of each other in those years. We commuted to work together, we got married around the same time and had our first 2 children within a short time of each other. She bought a Black Jeep Wrangler while we were working together. Right now she has 6 kids, lives in Mississippi and is divorced.

Daniel Townsend was also in my ward growing up, but he was just a baby. Ha, not really. But he was young enough that I didn't know him well, at least until we both started work at Tandem. Daniel had many "Daniel-isms" He loved the beach and surfing. He loved to have what he termed "Beach Hair". He would sometimes drive with his head out the window so he could have beach hair on days he wasn't able to make it to the beach.  He also had the term "KB'ing" that meant kicking back. He liked to swim at lunchtime. He was fun and funny and cute. He got his mission call to Tucson, AZ while we worked together. He loved The Smiths and Morrisey. Not really my type of music, but I like it because it reminds me of my friend Daniel.

All these years later, I think of Daniel sometimes when I'm sitting in traffic. I remember him wondering, "when a traffic light changes, why everyone just doesn't step on the accelerator at the same time instead of one car moving and then the next and the next and so on..." He was convinced that if everyone accelerated at the same time we would all get where we were going a lot faster.  I don't know if that is true, but I still think about it a lot. Right now he lives in Aptos and is an architect.

Brett had the coolest last name. Sharkey! Don't you love it?  I don't remember a lot about Brett except he fit in our team really well.  He was a cool guy. We liked him a lot.

Leon did not fit in our team well.  We tolerated each other for the most part. He had a bright purple VW bug with a huge stereo in it that filled the back seat.  He liked Asian women.

Gloria is Carolyn's mom.  She was also my piano teacher when I was young. Working with her at Tandem gave me a whole new perspective on her. When she was my piano teacher she seemed very proper and a little bit serious. I suppose she was/is. But I remember her laughing hard with us over dumb things and getting down on the floor, under the desks to measure or readjust cords etc.  I also remember she hated spiders. She told us once how she hated them so bad that when one was in her house she would get it in a Kleenex, put it in the toilet and then PEE on it before she flushed it down. We laughed and laughed over that.

Lisa Ott was in my stake. She was hilarious. But she had some difficult things to overcome in her life. She was a returned missionary, but was definitely on the wrong track. I hope she got some help and overcame some of her difficulties. She's a great person, with so much potential.

-People that weren't our our team but that worked in our building...

Buster: I probably remember him because of his name. He was a nice guy but a bit quirky. I mean wouldn't you be too if your name was Buster?

Scott and his wife: Scott was Carolyn's boss. His wife was his boss's secretary. They basically ruled the whole building. They ate, slept, breathed work. They had no children (by choice) and thought everyone else should be as committed as them. The wife (hmm, can't remember her name... maybe Judy) had huge, and I mean huge hair.

Sheila had a crush on this guy. He was tall and thin and a new member of the church.  He was such a nice guy!

Short, chubby, balding guy:
I forget his name, but he had all the symptoms of being a short, chubby, balding guy.  I'll just leave it at that... think George Constanza

I don't remember his first name (I'm not sure if I ever knew it), but Carolyn, who basically kept everybody's computers running, had nicknames for everyone.  Cache is a computer term and she gave it to this guy because it was a cool name and he was the best looking guy in the building.

A Guy: A name I should know and can't remember (it was a funny name, like Chester, or Melvin, or Wally or something): An older, really thoughtful guy in our office. He gave me the waffle iron, for my wedding, that I still use today.

Jimmy Treybig:
He was the CEO of Tandem Computers and basically a scroungy drunk.
I remember the story of him and his VP, after they had made their first million went out, drunk of course, to a Ferrari dealership and were hanging around (loitering basically) when the owner told the bums to leave. Then they both pulled out cash and each bought a Ferrari. I thought it was a funny story but needless to say, the guy didn't really impress me.

What I remember:
-Sleeping under the desk on slow days
-Everyone asking, when they saw us measuring, if their office was going to be switched.
-Getting lost in Building 1. That place was so confusing
-Measuring a gutted building.  It was huge!!
-Eating lunch in the cafeteria.  I always got a Hagen Das bar.
-Working out in the weight room at lunch
-Hanging out with Daniel and Sheila and Brett. I loved them.
-Beer bashes every Friday. Remember the aforementioned drunk? He made sure all of his employees were future drunks by providing them with beer every Friday afternoon. What did that mean for us? Free soda and the chance to leave early.
-Learning a lot about computer aided drafting. I enjoyed it.

So there you have it. The most exciting resume around. But it is what it is, and made up a lot of who I am today.  Some, ok well most, of the jobs aren't that glamourous but they taught me a lot. Probably one of the biggest things was the whole "crying on the way to work thing".  Sometimes we have to do things we don't want to do. Kicking and screaming isn't a reason for someone to let me off the hook. I'm glad my parents didn't. Weirdly enough, looking back, I really liked that job, I'm not sure what all the crying was about.

But if you think I had some interesting jobs you need to hear about my mom's jobs. Here's a short list of some of  those.

Spinach Sorter and Pea Floater - just making sure all the produce was fit to sell.

Weenie Wiper - opening packages of hot dogs that had collected too much moisture, wiping them down and repackaging them.

Chicken Chopper - taking out the liver, chopping the heads off etc. NASTY business.

So if you're ever feeling sorry for yourself because of your dirty job.  Just come back and read what I used to do and you'll feel better. If that doesn't help, read about my mom's jobs. That should do the trick.


Dianne said...

Other dirty job you've had: Setting up and taking down of Mustard Moon booths, prepping for booths, building props for booths, hauling boxes, and sorting paper. Whew!!!!!

Kristen said...

Great post Stef. I think I remember all those jobs. Hey, you didn't tell us about all the "dirty" jobs you have done as a mom...maybe that is for another day--haha!
ps. maybe you delivered mail to my future father in law at Ahmdal? : )

Lindseys said...

That was a fun post, Stef. I remember most of those jobs. Didn't know that many details, of course. I worked at Tandem Computers for a summer as well. I remember Jimmy Treybig and the beer busts. In fact, I met him at a beer bust one time. He was a little tipsy and I had no idea who he was . Later someone told me he was the president of the company. I wasn't too impressed.

karensumpter said...

When I saw the title, I thought of dirty jobs I've been doing around my house lately, namely; cleaning blinds and washing windows...yuck. This post is much more fun than that. I loved it when you worked at Miller's Outpost--they had the coolest clothes:)