Employment Jobs: Appreciating The Jobs I Have Had During My Lifetime
It’s funny sometimes where ideas for articles come from. I was having an online conversation with a young writer friend Josh http://josh3418.hubpages.com/ (hey nephew) and I asked him what he did for a living. He told me and then wham! The idea for this article was born.
I have mentioned in earlier writings that I was raised by fantastic parents who were teens during the Great Depression. My dad dropped out of high school when he was a sophomore to ride the rails in search of work so he could help his parents with the bills. My mom worked in the shipyards as a riveter and held a variety of jobs so she could also help her parents during those tough times.
I grew up with an appreciation for hard work; my parents instilled in me early on a work ethic that has been with me for six decades and counting. Their words have been with me during every job I have labored at, quiet whispers in my ear as I went about the tasks at hand.
Appreciate every job you have
Do more than you are expected to do
Give your best effort each and every day
There is no job that is beneath you
A man can be measured by the job he does when nobody is watching
Take pride in your work; at the end of the day you have to live with yourself.
I am now sixty-three years old and I have worked for forty-eight years; not once have I forgotten the lessons that were taught to me. I thought I would share with you each and every job I have had in my lifetime and my reflections about each job. Shall we begin? Come with me down Memory Lane as I make an attempt to remember my work history.
IT BEGAN IN A BOWLING ALLEY
Proctor Lanes in Tacoma, Washington, was the site of my first job. Fifteen years old and I was hired to keep the pin-setting machines running smoothly. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. As an avid bowler in youth league I was being offered money plus free bowling. How could it get any better? I loved the job, loved meeting new people and had the opportunity to become fairly good at bowling.
By the time I was seventeen I was told by a neighbor about a warehouse job for a Fruit & Produce company. I ended up working there for four years part time, sweating like crazy during the summer months and freezing my butt off during Christmas vacation. It was hard, honest labor and it paid ten bucks an hour. What I remember most about that job is that I made more per hour than my dad did at a job he had worked for twenty years. I felt bad about that fact; I know he was happy for me but still, it wasn’t right that I was making more than he was.
COLLEGE AND BEYOND
During the school year at college I worked in the cafeteria preparing meals and cleaning tables as part of a work-study deal. I don’t remember what I made per hour; it certainly wasn’t much but then the skills required weren’t much either.
Dad died halfway through my junior year and when I finally graduated I needed to find a job quickly to help my mom with bills. I had two college degrees and for the first time in my young life I could not find a job. Finally, after a month of pounding the pavement, I got a job for a beer and wine distributor…in their warehouse…driving a forklift. I had to have been the only forklift driver with two college degrees, a source of much humor for my co-workers. I didn’t care; the words of my parents were with me. Appreciate every job you have and give your best effort each and every day. And I did, for five years, until my mom re-married and I went back to school to get my degree in Education so I could be a teacher.
THE NEXT CHAPTER IN MY LIFE
My first teaching gig was a part-time position at Tacoma Community College; I didn’t enjoy the college scene but it was a stepping stone and it led to my first full-time teaching position at Blanchet High School in Seattle. I loved everything about it and there is no better feeling than standing in front of your first class and finding out that you were born to be a teacher.
Marriage followed and with it a decision to try living somewhere else. Off to Vermont where my wife and I purchased a sporting goods store, partnering with a friend of ours. I found I enjoyed retail, talking with customers, building friendships, giving the best customer service I could, but in the end partner problems surfaced and we lost everything.
I learned a valuable lesson in humility as we boarded a Greyhound bus, no money to our names, and headed back to Washington State. I called up the old beer and wine warehouse company and, begging for a job, was given my old job back in the warehouse. We needed money, I was lucky enough to be working and I worked double shifts for three years until we had enough saved to buy another home.
For several more years I worked for that company, first in the warehouse, then driving a beer route and finally as a beer salesman. We eventually saved enough to buy a mom & pop grocery store in Gig Harbor and we owned that for five years until we divorced and I found myself out of work once again.
I finally found work for a lumber yard, driving lumber trucks and picking orders, a hard, physical job that led to a bulging disk in my back and a back operation. Flat broke and unable to do physical labor, I found myself at one of the lowest points of my life. Thank God for teaching!
I crawled out of my self-pity hole and renewed my teaching certificate and luckily got hired at a middle school in Olympia. My life was about to take an upswing.
STABILITY AT LAST
Twelve beautiful years followed, doing what I was born to do, interacting with middle school students and loving every single day of my time there. Awards followed, strong relationships were formed and it appeared I would be there until I retired.
Alcohol had something else in mind for me. I was asked to leave the job I loved in 2002. Transition once again! What to do? I finally formed a small elder care company but that failed when my mom fell ill and needed me to once again support her. I found a job working at a UHaul business, did that for several years, eventually ended up in Alaska teaching and almost died from my disease. It turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to me.
Back to UHaul for a year, then two wonderful years of teaching in Oregon followed by a half year of teaching in Olympia. By my own choice I left that teaching position and began a career as a freelance writer.
WHAT HAVE I LEARNED?
You do what you have to do to survive. There were times I wanted to give up; there were times I wanted to scream to the heavens about the unfairness of it all. Still, those words of my parents kept coming back to me.
There is no substitute for hard work. The keys to success, no matter how you define success, are never handed to you. The mistakes that were made were made by me and me alone. Conversely, the successes that I had were earned by me, through hard work and a willingness to always keep moving forward.
Today I realize that I am fortunate to have experienced so many jobs. Today I have a fine appreciation for having a job I love doing rather than having a job I need. There is a fine distinction between the two.
There are some jobs I left out now that I think back. I spent a summer shoveling coal into a blast furnace in the hull of a ship. I did lawnwork and scooped dog poop, mucked out stalls and pushed grocery carts. I even had a paper route for a year. Anything I had to do to keep moving forward I did, and each and every job was appreciated for what it was, an opportunity to earn an honest day’s dollar for an honest day’s work.
There are no shortcuts in life; at least there never have been in my life. I respect anyone who works hard, who gets by on their skills, sweat and willpower. I like to hang with people who have paid their dues in life and who understand the value of hard work.
People like my parents, who loved me enough to give me a philosophy that has stood the test of time. Nothing is free in life. If you want it, earn it, and if you earn it, appreciate it.
Thank you mom! Thank you dad! I love you both very much!
2012 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
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