Today is a milestone day. Today, I have a job. I am once again employed. (cue the hurrahs and confetti)
Well, not today, exactly. I don’t really have to show up until 0800 on Monday morning, but close enough. Today I know that I have a job again. This has been the most nerve-wracking and stressful time I can remember in years, decades even.
I started working at a young age. I can’t really pinpoint it, mainly because I don’t remember exactly how old I was, but to the best of my memory, it was around the summer of the year I finished third grade. (for those of you that are unfamiliar with the American school system, that would have made me right about 8 years old)
Now, certainly I wasn’t “gainfully employed” at that age. Besides being very dangerous, it would also be highly illegal! There is a loophole to be found, however, in the fact that I worked with my family in a family business. Since I wasn’t technically employed, I could work as much as I was allowed (or made to). It wasn’t a “brick and mortar” type business. As a matter of fact, over the years it became several different businesses. While I was young, I was enlisted into helping our family remodel and clean up rent houses. My grandmother (by marriage of mother to step dad) owned seven rental properties. There was almost always one house empty. The area we lived in was the “in between” neighborhood. On one side of us was a very scary neighborhood that frightened me even when we had to ride the school bus through it. The other neighborhood was East St Louis, which isn’t really as bad as it is painted by the people who I live around now. There were really bad parts of town and then there were the other parts of town. People end up in trouble because they don’t pay attention to the surroundings and venture into bad territory. (not so different from the rural areas here, to be honest). All of that aside, the homes were usually pretty trashed out when people moved out of them. It was a process of at least a few weeks to (even) a few months at times to get the homes rehabilitated and ready to house new tenants.
This wasn’t always the easiest work, but really, when we were younger we started with the easy tasks and “gopher” duties. If you don’t know what a “gopher” is, that is the person that has to “go fur this and go fur that”. As my skills became more improved I got to move to more difficult tasks. As much as I didn’t care for the working when I was young, I value the experience now that I am grown. I can fix most things myself, so I usually don’t have to call for a “handyman” to take care of anything. Cheap and self-sufficient, I like that idea.
As we got older, things changed and my parents decided that we would get into the produce distribution business. I think that this is where I learned a lot of my customer service skills. We did this when I was about 13 until I was in high school. It was early hours, crazy downtown neighborhoods, and a lot of moving boxes and bundles, but it was still really something that I enjoyed. I learned a ton about vegetables and how to take care of stock. I learned how to rotate stock before I learned how to drive our old 4 on the column pickup truck.
When I was in the last two years of high school, we ended up doing odd jobs again, but we also mowed yards. We mowed a lot of yards. So there I learned how to maintain equipment, sharpen blades, change oil, filter, spark plugs, you name it. We were always busy, busy, busy. When I was finally old enough to legally get a job, it was such a shocker to me when I saw how lazy other people are! I didn’t realize for a few years that the reason that others seemed lazy to me was because they simply hadn’t been conditioned to work in the same way that I did. In some ways, it isn’t such a good trait, because I tend to become a workaholic, but at the same time, it does make me an extremely productive employee, and who doesn’t like productive employees? Amirite?
All of what I shared above comes down to this: I have never been without a job (except for one summer) for more than a day. I have always had an occupation, even before I got paid to have one.
The only thing I know right now is that it has been 31680 minutes since I had a job and I am more than ready to tackle this one.