Over the weekend Scott Greenfield at Simple Justice wrote a post asking about the “strange” or “unusual” jobs people had before becoming Masters of the Universe. Applying that criteria, I picked the following:
Desk Clerk at a Hotel
Sporting Goods/Toys Salesperson at K-Mart
First Line Responder for the Worker’s Compensation Department of a Nuclear Weapons Facility.
There’s three stories associated with each that I didn’t go into detail there, because, well, that’s Scott’s blog, and this one is mine. Still, each has a few tidbits worth sharing.
Desk Clerk: This was where I learned the unreasonableness of people at a very early age. I was around sixteen when I took this job, and only got it because I showed up in professional dress with a resume. It was the fanciest, nicest hotel in a small town in Northeast Tennessee. I found out very quickly that with a bar present there would be people who would come back extremely drunk trying to re-negotiate the prices of their rooms or complain about something that would get them a reduced rate or refund. I experienced my first bomb threat when the hotel hosted a “steak and Jack Daniel’s tasting” even for Father’s Day.
I even got to meet the then-head distiller of Jack Daniel’s and got an autographed picture of him that I made sure hung over the toilet of the master bathroom of every residence in which I lived from that point forward. I wanted people who got stinking drunk and hungover the next day to “pray to the porcelain god” and see the face of the man who caused their drinking binge as soon as they looked up. That’s my kind of humor.
Sporting Goods/Toys Salesperson at K-Mart: This is where I developed my aversion to guns. I don’t mention this often, because I like guns. I like to shoot guns. I think that if people want to own guns, they should, and that’s a right we’ve had defined that shouldn’t be taken away. But I shy away from them, largely because I know outlets like K-Mart would often have clerks overlook the background check component required to make the sale, especially if “this fella looks all right by me.” We were also never supposed to sell guns and ammunition at the same time, but people often did in that department, and didn’t follow protocol on a regular basis.
People often laugh at Wal-Mart at the people who shop there. In truth K-Mart had just as many lunatics. They just didn’t come at the same volume or at the same quick rate as you see in Wally World. I clearly remember a woman who walked the aisles of the Sporting Goods section looking for golf clubs for her ex-husband, carrying a cup full of a mix of vodka, whiskey, and orange juice and smoking a cigarette. This was around eleven thirty during the day.
Eventually I got bored with the job and left.
First Line Responder at a Worker’s Compensation Department for a Nuclear Weapons Facility: Yes, for those of you who think otherwise, we still build nukes. We still have places that innovate weapons of war, and people who are in the Comp departments of those places get the brunt of every single disgusted employee’s complaint over free hearing aids or pain pills.
When we got a call someone was either injured or ill at the plant, that’s when I would get the directive to jump and actually get into the plant itself. There I would meet the “ill” or “injured” person and present them with paperwork to fill out. They would get a “physician’s panel” that allowed them to pick from three doctors to treat their illness or injury. They would get a “white card” allowing them to have their medications paid for every single day. They would eventually get a check, and usually something called “open future medicals” which in the facility’s terms meant that you’d get anything and everything paid for regarding your illness or injury for the rest of your life.
That led to the development of “Worker’s Compensation Reform” in the State, because the plant didn’t want to litigate any cases involving workers who were hurt. One of the Benefits Legal attorneys at the plant was afraid a trial because she was convinced in her heart of hearts that if a trial occurred, she would face the government’s wrath for allowing an employee to reveal confidential government secrets. That was unacceptable in her eyes, so it was better to avoid conflict than embrace it.
Another great story there involved a “paint overspray” I had to handle. One week a paint crew got tasked with painting the roofs of several buildings inside the plant. They used spraying mechanisms, and they did the paint job during a time of high wind conditions at the plant.
This meant several hundred automobiles and other motor vehicles got a “paint overspray,” which translated to “you go to your car and find it covered in a new shade of grey.”
My job there was to call each person, offer them a choice of how to get their vehicle repainted or repaired, and report back to the Dark Overlords.
It didn’t take long to find out that the “paint” was actually an adhesive substance that caused body damage to every vehicle when traditional repaint methods were used.