WORK A DAY WORLD
I have worked pretty much all my life. I delivered the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper and the experience was punctuated when I sat on my wagon in front of the Cleveland Trust Bank at 5am and watched the northwest corner of W117th and Detroit burn to the ground. Fanny Farmer’s Candy Store, the whole damned corner. After packing up my newspapers, much of my morning was taken up telling the story of the fire to each inquiring customer and passerby on my route. One day, returning home from my toil my mother advised me of the verbal thrashing she received over the telephone. The woman was irate, she had not received her Friday T.V. guide. My mother assured the woman all would be taken care of tomorrow as today was only Thursday. I went on to show business and became an usher at the Homestead Theater. I got some pals' jobs there and with free movies and a dollar an hour, we thought we may have maxed out on the career ladder.
However, my travels took me to Martindale Electric Co. where I assumed janitorial duties and heavy duty cleaning of some of the machinery. My next employment opportunity found me at Munson Bag where they printed bags such as potato chip bags etc. On my first day on the job, I was cautioned about breathing the fumes from the ink and told nothing would be said if I elected to go home at noon. To compound the matter, I was assigned to a small room where another employee, who apparently had been merrily ingesting the fumes for years. and myself cleaned the ink pumps. Being sixteen or seventeen, a boy and realizing it would be more noble for me to die on the job than show any weakness, I worked the whole day. That some employees had forty years in this gas chamber escaped me until I noticed the relatively young age of the dearly departed at their funerals.
All the aforementioned vocations were no more than a block from my home. At the seasoned age of eighteen and newly graduated from highschool I took a job as a cab driver on the other side of town. I enjoyed driving a taxi from 3pm til midnight and having tips in my pocket for beers after work. (legal in Ohio back then). Plenty of good stories went with this job, some of which I still can't tell. A young adult couple was sharing carnal knowledge one evening in the back seat, while seemingly ignoring my riveting tour of Cleveland. They tipped me with a marijuana joint that more closely resembled a Gran Corona, one big ass joint. Not being very familiar with the herb, I gave it to a fellow hack. He was a long haired, former Marine Corps Sergeant, not a year out of Viet Nam. The next day I wanted to ask him how it was but he didn’t show up for work. The following afternoon, he came to work looking disheveled, only wanting to know if I could get some more.
Bartending filled my idle hours for a couple years, between Lake City Michigan and Squeaky’s on W117th in Cleveland. It was subsequent to pouring drinks that I found my true calling. Imagine if you will, being a twenty one year old fella, being paid, paid mind you, to fight convicts at a Michigan prison all day at the princely sum of $4.38 per hour. A broken nose, several stitches, yes this was the life. I fell into a few promotions over the years until being in charge of the security of said prison. If I could change anything over all that time, it probably would have been my underwear..