My First Job

With the new job, I completely missed last month’s “First Friday Flashback” I have been so busy with learning the new job, getting dinners cooked, taking care of the kids, working in the backyard, and trying to get my runs in that I really haven’t had time to sit down and write blogs. It really sucks, I love this blog, and I like writing. But keeping up with the mortgage is a good thing too.

I figured for August’s First Friday Flashback, I would talk about my first job. My first job, really, was working on my parent’s farm, cleaning the barn, feeding the animals, that sort of thing. My first real job, one that took taxes and social security out of my paycheck, was working as a dishwasher at the local pizza restaurant.

It was a place that had been in my small town pretty much since my mom and I moved there (going on 35 years ago). The pizza is still the best in the world, and pretty much anybody I take there will agree. They have managed to expand to have about four (maybe five) restaurants, the menu has changed slightly, but it is still the best pizza ever.

I applied to work there the summer I turned 16, right about the time I was going to get my driver’s license, and July 4th weekend, I got a call to start the following Friday. I was making minimum wage as a dishwasher, working 5 to 6 hours a night. But they fed me dinner, which my mom was excited about because their food budget dropped nearly in half that month.

Washing dishes is not a fun job, especially because the dishwasher also is responsible for dealing with any issues in the bathrooms, dealing with spilled drinks outside, and mopping the floors at the end of the night. But it was a job, and I learned how to do the dishes right. First the glasses, than the plates, than the silverware, then the pots and pans. Change the water and do it again. I had perpetual prune hands for about 5 months.

Eventually, I was promoted to the food line making pizzas, and eventually onto the oven. We had two gas ovens running at 600° F (315°C) that held a total of 11 pizzas. You could get six small or medium pizzas in the lower oven, but it was a pain to get them out. Working the ovens with that many pizzas going at once taught me time management, and endurance. We would get a 15 minute break for dinner, where you would eat your food as fast as you could just so you could have about 3 minutes to take a breath.

I had a blast at this job, and a couple of the other guys were a blast to hang out with. We never did anything bad to the food, at least not for the customers, but we did pull some pranks on each other. The other thing was the owner. His name was Frank and he was a swarthy little Italian man who was a Korean War veteran. Frank didn’t take guff from nobody.

Frank was one of the toughest bosses I ever had, but I think one of the best. He rarely yelled at you, but you knew if he was upset. He also taught me several things.

A chef knows his recipe, and it changes constantly. (I watched him make sauce and his dough 100s of times, and I counted how many scoops of stuff he put in. It was different every time).

If it is your job to get done, you don’t have to like it, but you still have to do it (like chopping 5 gallons of onions)

It is better to do it right the first time, because, otherwise, you will have to do it again.

He told me that there were things in the kitchen that could seriously injure or even kill me (the 600 degree oven, the industrial mixer with its giant dough hook, the meat slicer with its 600 rpm spinning razor blade, etc. Be careful, know the dangers, and don’t get hurt. Note: all this equipment had the adequate safety guards appropriate in the early 90s.

I worked at this place for about a year and a half, and it was definitely one of my more memorable jobs. Plus I learned lots of good skills: I can still quarter and peel onions pretty quickly, I have a decent tolerance for touching hot things and not getting burned, I can use a pizza cutter really well, and I think I am still pretty fast a folding pizza boxes (my record was 100 medium boxes in 2 minutes).

Since that job, I have worked in a convenient store stocking shelves, a different pizza place as a delivery driver, astronomy lab instructor, toy store, tuxedo shop, bus driver, scuba shop, post office as a mail sorter, door to door security sales (that sucked), waiter, limo driver, jewelry store, and as an archaeologist.

What was your first job?

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