All in a Day’s Work

I blew through four cashiers this afternoon!

It’s straw bale time at my house – I’m doing the conditioning of the bales right now, which means I need to add fertilizer to the bales twice a day for six days. This morning I used the last of the bag of fertilizer so needed to stop at Bachman’s on the way home.

Just one bag of fertilizer. The first cashier was clearly just starting out and got hosed up trying to enter my “frequent buyer” number, so enter cashier #2.   When I handed her my Bachman’s charge card (yes, that’s what I said), she looked at it a bit and then swiped it.  The register clearly didn’t like that and I commented (nicely) that for the Bachman’s charge, they don’t swipe it.  This didn’t help so she called over a third cashier who took the card.  I mentioned again that it doesn’t get swiped, but he swiped it several more times but this time pushed some other buttons and got a completely different error message.

All of this was combined with profuse apologies from all three, who appeared to be high school students. Finally they called someone on a walkie talkie.  An older woman came over and immediately said “Oh, with the Bachman’s charge, you enter this here and this here… you don’t swipe the card.”  More profuse apologies.  I was not in a hurry and wasn’t really bothered by the wait and the confusion, although it was really hard not to smirk and say “I told you so” about the swiping of the card.

What was YOUR first job?

55 thoughts on “All in a Day’s Work”

  1. My first full time job was running a nasty machine in a silk screen processing plant. After the screening crew put design on a shirt the workers would dump a handful of flock fibers on the wet paint, then run the shirt over a bar that put a magnetic charge on the fibers to make them stand up on end. That produced a shirt with a fuzzy design, but a shirt also covered with loose flock. My job was to suck off the loose flock.

    The machine was (literally) two Hoover vacuum cleaners mounted face to face with a small gap in between. I would grab a sweatshirt from a huge box, fold it lengthwise, then pull it tight while I ran it around between the two Hoovers to let them beat and suck flock from the shirt.

    It was a horrible job. It was insanely boring. It was exhausting. The heat in the plant was such that my shirt would be drenched with sweat at the end of a shift. The Hoovers were so loud I couldn’t converse with anyone or hear a radio.

    If my attention strayed the tiniest bit, the black rubber belts on the Hoovers would pluck a stray fold of a shirt, yank it in and spoil it with a black skid mark. Then I would have to tell the screen crew they needed to set up another run with that screen just to make one shirt or two I had ruined.

    Nobody else would do that job. People hired to run the other machine generally quit after a day. But because I was “the boss’s son,” I felt obliged to be cheerful and exemplary at all times. I Hoovered dusty sweatshirts for three summers.

    Liked by 3 people

        1. I was mostly thinking about the covering of dust on you every day when you’re done with detasseling. I’m assuming you were covered with flock at the end of every day as well.


        1. At the college, the Steinway grand piano has a ‘Damp Chaser’ unit on it. (A thing to keep the humidity relatively stable through use of either a heater or humidifier). One of the jobs of my work-students is to ‘water the piano’ as needed. Leah, My current Student Worker, has put “Watering the piano” on her resume. And someone asked her what that meant. She told them she waters the big piano and it makes little pianos.
          She got hired.

          Liked by 4 people

    1. The flocking job reminds me of a summer job (not my first one- that was as a grocery store carry-out) that I got at the shop where my father worked. It was the sheet metal fabrication unit of a heating and air conditioning company and metal ductwork was what we fabricated. Some of that ductwork was lined with fiberglas insulation and that insulation was glued in place. My job was to stand at a spray booth (unvented) and spray black adhesive from a spray nozzle onto the ductwork parts. Needless to say I went home very sticky each day.

      As bad as that was, I remember once, in my advertising days, when I visited the manufacturing facility of a client that fabricated large fiberglas components like hatch covers for barges. The facility was a large, open, hellish warehouse space. There was cherry-picker-like equipment that let the workers hover over and all around the forms for the hatches as they sprayed a slurry of chopped fiberglas and resin onto the forms. The air was thick with floating particles of fiberglas and the smell of the resin. Neither adequate ventilation nor proper protection for the workers was apparent. Now THAT was a bad job.

      Liked by 2 people

        1. A friend worked for about two years in a hearing aid factory. The work area stank of exotic plastics used to cast the hearing aids. My friend was challenged each day to keep from vomiting until the noon break, and on good days she’d sprint for the parking lot to unload. On bad days she wouldn’t get that far before throwing up.


  2. Rise and Go to Work Baboons,

    In 1970 I was a Car Hop at Tony’s Drive in. I made 65 cents per hour, with tips. I got a $5 tip once, which was thrilling, and obviously never forgot it.

    Liked by 2 people

        1. The owner often said to him, in broken English “Why you do such s### job on floor?!!!” She never fired him, though, and even tried to recruit him to work in her sister’s restaurant in Fargo when he moved to Fargo-Moorhead for college.


      1. Not sure I’m following you here, Steve. Why do you think that being a busboy in a Chinese restaurant would be harder work than a busboy in, say, a Mexican or any other restaurant?


        1. That’s a fair question. I’ve often noticed that workers in Chinese restaurants seem quietly desperate and concerned about being as efficient as possible. They feel economically fragile, as if they were being run on thin margins. Many restaurants have scary margins, but Chinese restaurants I’ve known felt tight. I’d contrast that with the sense in Italian restaurants that often feel happy and more relaxed.


        2. In the small town of Plainview, near the theater was a Chinese Restaurant. We called it the “How Many” restaurant because as soon as you came in the door, she yelled at you “How Many!??”
          They had a pretty good buffet. But there would only be 5 or 6 pieces of any particular food. If you took 3, she’d put 3 more back in.


      2. My daughter and I visited a Chinese restaurant last week, the one generally called the best Cantonese cafe in this area. While we talked to the owners they continued to work, never lifting their eyes, and it was clear that profits are so slim in that operation that people pretty much work nonstop through the day.


  3. My first job was pressing suit coats, vests, and pants for Andersons Formal Wear. Similar to PHSteve, it was hot and sweaty. It only lasted the 2 months of the wedding rush season and they never called me back. And that was OK too.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Other than the obvious babysitting jobs which I had a fair amount of, my first “real” job was the summer between my junior and senior year of high school. It was a factory job at an electric iron factory: Flamingo Strygejern. The factory was located in some ancient buildings that have since become part of the Danish National Museum. The buildings were some of the oldest buildings from the time of industrialization, a fact that I didn’t realize at the time. Quaint old buildings were something that I pretty much took for granted.

    My first assignment was to cut a thin, light blue plastic hose to the required length. The hose was used for sprinkling the clothes, before or during ironing, with water. It was a job I had to stand to do, and my hands got awfully dry and dusty from doing it. That lasted a couple of weeks, until I asked for a different assignment.

    My second assignment was to cut thin, glass rods into small beads. These glass beads were part of the thermostats that controlled the heat of the irons.This was a job performed sitting down, but because cutting glass produces tiny slivers of sharp glass, my hands were a bloody mess for a couple of weeks until I once again requested a different assignment. I recall my supervisor commenting that I was ambitious, and inquiring what my future plans were. I was careful not to tell him that I intended to return to school.

    My third, and final, assignment was mounting the plug onto the electrical cord. It involved stripping the cloth covering from the end of the cord, fastening the legs of the plug onto the cord, and securely seating the whole mess inside the plug with tiny screws. This was my favorite job. I loved to sit around the long table and listen to the chatter of the other women who were doing the same thing. It was a pretty mindless job that required nothing more than good manual dexterity, so it was a good place to learn about the private lives of my coworkers.

    By the end of that summer, union representatives were pressuring me to join the union. It was at that point that I told them I was returning to school and gave management notice.

    Out of curiosity I went online to see if Flamingo is still in business. They are not, but apparently some of their old irons have become collectors’ items:

    Liked by 2 people

  5. My first job (like PJ, post-babysitting) was being assistant in the laboratory of a really old hospital. Mostly I washed, in hot soapy water, bloody glass test tubes from blood tests, etc. I loved wearing the required white nurse’s uniform (and I don’t mean a pant-suit) but it was hard to keep clean with all the fluids I came in contact with.

    I also got to wheel patients to x-ray, and I learned to run the ancient elevator, which had an inner gate to close as well as a lever operated door. They also eventually taught me to develop the x-rays – while I was waiting for them to develop, I’d look out the 3rd-story windows and try to find the roof of the house of my current crush (who didn’t know I was alive).

    Liked by 2 people

  6. A friend in Saint Paul was a black guy who grew up in Mississippi. He once told me about the one day he worked picking cotton. The story was long and extremely funny, although the experience was apparently hellish. Apparently just about any job on earth is more pleasant than picking cotton.


  7. My first job was a waitress at the old Sambo’s restaurants (like a Denny’s). I was an absolutely horrible waitress. I got flustered easily, forgot what customers told me, got the prices wrong on my hand-written order pad, and was usually shaking as I poured coffee as it was so nerve-wracking for me.

    Fortunately, the boss/owner liked me (like, really liked me!). As he went over all my mistakes, he knew I was trying hard. So he made me hostess. That went well and I enjoyed that. I also vaguely resembled his wife, Janet. She was tall, thin and brunette as well and on occasion, people mistook me for her even though she was 15-20 years older.

    Several years ago, my brother gave me a little something he had found. He said, “if you ever get discouraged, keep this in mind to see how far you’ve really come”. It was an old Sambo’s matchbook, which I still have carefully stashed in my purse. Love it!

    Liked by 4 people

  8. I painted houses for College Craft Painters the summer after Sr yr in high school. Only had two days off due to rain the entire summer. 1973 was pretty hot too if I recall, and it wasn’t uncommon for the temps on a dark roof or a deck blocked from the wind to reach 115-120. Ten hour days and we worked slow but got paid a flat rate for each house based on the crew chief’s estimate. My worst payday averaged out to $2.02/hr.

    Had semi-permanent paint stains on my hands, arms, face, hair, and neck. I was too stupid to be afraid of setting up three-tiers of ladders and scaffolding to reach the peak of a three-story house(including walkout basement) with a brush tied to a paint stirring stick some 40 feet off the ground. It was like painting while balancing on a tightrope . . . with no safety net.

    But I survived and still found time to play Connie Mack baseball and hang out with my “harem” (5 friends who happened to be girls–I was a weird HS boy) until 2:00 a.m. some nights. One member of that harem became my wife. 🙂 I don’t know if that summer sealed the deal (she must have figured I was a real go-getter–hah, was she wrong!) but we celebrate our 40th next month. 🙂 Go figure.

    Chris in Owatonna

    Liked by 6 people

    1. When I was fourteen, dad paid me 50 øre to mow our lawn. I in turn hired a neighbor boy to do it for 25 øre. It, too, was a push mower, we never had a motorized lawn mower.


  9. Last day of classes here. Commencement tomorrow.
    I’m responsible for lighting.
    Monday I drove up to Fridley and picked up rental equipment. Tuesday I got it hung and cabled and made sure it all works. Today I’ll program and add “up lights” on banners and whatever else I can do to add “ambiance” (ambiance in a gym is tough).
    But I’m in a better place than the AV guys. They got a different screen and different projector and are on day 3 of trying to get it all hung. I just stay out of their way. And don’t joke with them; they’ve all lost their sense of humor. 🙂
    The lighting will all come down tomorrow night and Friday I return it to Fridley again.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. i mowed and shoveled for neighbors
    had a couple routes and at age 13
    loaded 8 kids in a big ol cadillac and headed to different neighborhoods to sell magazine subcaxriotions door to door
    beginning of sales career

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I actually jumped right into secretary at a legal office for my first job. Of course, it was my dad’s office, but I was qualified since I was a very good typist and knew how to use the little recorder that my dad and his partner used. I did this during my first long winter break from college while my dad’s long-time secretary was on a leave of absence after some surgery.

    I never had a job in high school. My dad thought that school was my job so he never encouraged me to work. I had enough money for what I needed due to an incentive program he set up for my younger sister (money for grades) that benefitted me greatly (her, not so much).

    Liked by 1 person

  12. First job was for a Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise. This was when they still used the name Kentucky Fried Chicken, though not long after that the marketing people wanted to de-emphasize the “Fried” part and changed the name to the acronym KFC. In my era, it was unapologetically Fried. I worked there about nine months or so. Ate a lot of chicken during those months. I still remember the smell of the flour mixture they headed the chicken in, redolent of cloves.

    Liked by 3 people

        1. Not really. It’s the backside of a metal tape, about 5/8” wide, with the tape case in the hand on the right.


  13. “Chunky” tapes are much better for many applications, if not most, because they are stiffer. If you are measuring the width of a cut on the table saw, the tape is not against anything and might bend and ruin the measurement where exactitude is vital. A chunky tape is a surer measurement in that application. Strange it took so long for them to become chunky. I have thought about doing a blog about things that were not obvious but should have been or things that should be obvious but are not, such as it should always be clear in public doors which side is the hing eside.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks everybody for clearer eyes than mine on the photo. I chose it because it spoke to me of “work” which was my topic.


  14. First job was farm boy, as I said at the top on an Ipad that refuses to keep me logged in. Next job was odd job employee at summer camp. Then hockey rink flooder, then school janitor, then locker room attendant, then laborer in taconite plant, then lab tech, then milker. Quite a range I think for first few jobs.

    Liked by 1 person

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