Most folks are probably glad they don’t end up where they started when it comes to employment.
A farmer and deacon at my church was my first employer. Mr. Buren must have been desperate when he hired my friends and me to haul hay. I suspect he lost money by the time he paid and fed his crew of hungry, lazy 14- and 15-year-old boys. And although I can’t remember what we did to make him mad, he was the first Baptist deacon I ever heard cuss.
Along with being my first employer, Mr. Buren was the first employer I quit. Hauling hay was OK, but cleaning out a chicken house with a shovel was more than I could take.
Two weeks after I turned 16 and became licensed to drive, Aunt Myrl hired me to work as a patient aide in the psychiatric unit of a hospital.
This was quite a worldly experience for a shy, naïve country boy. Most of my time was spent watching TV and playing cards with alcoholics and schizophrenics.
Often I was the victim of mischievous nurses who loved to make me blush.
“How’s it hanging, Hammer?” Nurse Sherry always greeted me.
At the time, I wasn’t exactly sure what she meant.
Or the time she sent me to central supply with a written order for “1 Fallopian Tube.”
I handed the order to the pretty young clerk, expecting to receive some type of sterilized rubber hose used for who knows what.
Rather than filling the order, however, the clerk burst out laughing. Then, feeling sorry for me, she explained a few details about the female anatomy.
I kept the job — and most of my sanity — in the psych unit for the duration of high school. In college I did stints as the campus mailman, gymnasium worker, chaplain’s office worker, wood reel assembler, copper plant worker, auto parts clerk and church youth director.
After graduation, I was a truck driver and restaurant manager before stumbling into journalism.
Now I work with students who train to be journalists and public relations experts, but will end up doing who knows what. I guess they’ll be like me: willing to do whatever work is necessary to survive until they find their place. Hopefully it won’t require hauling hay, cleaning chicken houses or fetching fallopian tubes.
My work life has included a stint as a general manager at Morrison Cafeteria, where I worked with some great folks like head chef John Knight.
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