The Fifty Cent Tour

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Working History

I've noticed that certain parts of my history are becoming history...
My working history in particular.
This is a bit of a time capsule, something to remember before the bulldozers have their little way.

My very first job, at 16, was cleaning the public interiors of an old three story apartment building. I got paid $20 to mop hallways, vaccuum floors and scrub a 16 step marble staircase every Saturday morning. It was hard work, made harder by a woman who made it her duty to sit in the hallway outside of her apartment to supervise my mop skills. "Hold it straight!... Push, don't drag!" She never introduced herself, but I noticed that she wore green saddle shoes. So I called her Green Shoes. Green Shoes was always watching.
She taught me that while a good job doesn't always receive praise, a bad job never goes un-noticed.
I noticed that the apartment complex, my first job, is now for sale.

Altamont Court Apartments, Morristown NJ ~ Up For Sale

My second job, a year later, was a lot of fun. I was a runner at a popular resort/hotel, The Govenor Morris Inn. I had to make sure the buffet was stocked, the bar had everything they needed ( I used to sneak shrimp to the hungry bartenders) and I had to carry huge steamer trays of lobster up a really long narrow staircase from the kitchen to the dining room. It was high energy all the time but there were plenty of opportunities to sneak in a little goofing off. Sometimes celebrities and sports figures would be staying at the hotel. I've met Bob Hope, Susan Lucci and Mackenzie Phillips. I'm sure they don't remember me.
The waitstaff was a mixture of older "professional" servers who wore tuxes and spoke in classically trained voices, and drama students from nearby Drew University. Always cool and collected on the floor, they would let loose in the kitchen with the most filthy, vile and disgusting diatribes about the guests. I learned much of my colorful language from those starched collars. And the cooks, well...let's just say that there is nothing that you could say that would shock me. I thank them for that.
From The Governor Morris I learned that you don't have to like your guests, but you sure as hell have to love them.
The Governor Morris Inn that I knew is all gone, it's now the swelligant  "Westin Governor Morris".

The Westin Governor Morris


My next big career was working as a bank teller. It was during a time when banks changed their name every Tuesday. If you were in the sign business you cleaned up. I loved that job because I only had to deal with whatever was in front of me for no longer than five minutes. Unless what was in front of me had eight tube socks of unsorted change. I developed a bit of a following after I unintentionally gave a few customers some extra cash. I was actually put on probation for that. Jeez, it's not like a bank could run out of money...
I learned from being a bank teller that you really have to mind the details, the little things like "please, thank you, my pleasure and eat it, dirtbag" matter.
Also you should make sure the drive up mic is off before you say something like "those lycra shorts make him look like he's carrying an ass full of grapes."
Word.
Fidelity Union Trust Company is long gone, my free cash give-aways may have contributed to it's demise. The office it once inhabited is now a medical test lab.

What remains of the drive-up of the now defunct Fidelity Union Trust Company


My last stop on my disappearing resume is that of my favorite job...ever. I was an office manager for a podiatry group. Foot doctors. Ewww. Why do people always get skeeved by feet? They're truly wondrous things! Try walking around without them!
I needed to wear many hats working at the group. I had to be a mother, a daughter, a wife, a shrink, a judge, a referee and sometimes a fireman, for three doctors, all at different stages of their careers.

Decaf, Regular w/ cream, and Red Bull.

Decaf loved to putter around with the bubbies, housewives and diabetics. He'd smooth their callouses and corns and listen to them go on and on about local politics, healthcare changes and the lack of good theatre. He was a master of small talk. You could count on running twenty minutes late with him, always. I had to referee the waiting room and move him along with not so subtle hints..like putting the patients shoes on their feet. He was a take your time guy in a hurry up world. And probably the first person most of his patients had a conversation with all day.

Regular w/ cream.
The funniest podiatrist ever.
Sorta chunky but cute as a puppy.
His favorite word was snot. "all snotted up, that's a bunch of snot, this file is full of snot".
His patients ran the gamut from blue collar broken toes to Wall Street bunions.
 I loved working with him the most, the office was always loose and full of laughter; just a regular guy, one you'd have a beer with.
But honest to Pete he was a slob.
He could wreak havoc in a treatment room that would have us scrubbing for months.
Ditto for the bathroom.
God did him a ginormous favor by making him so damned loveable, otherwise, as his wife put it, "you'd just want to tie him to your bumper and take the long way home"
His wife called the office constantly.
There was always some home renovation project drama happening, a toddler going to the ER for stitches or else she was in labor. I think she was pregnant for the three years that I knew her. So besides the office, I sorta managed them. I loved the Mrs. She had our backs because she knew what a handful the Mr. was.
I remember seeing her patented "you are shitting me" face appear as he handed out Lady Stetson gift sets to the staff one Christmas Eve.
By New Years Eve corrections were made.

Red Bull. Single, just outta school, high octane. Very Jersey Shore. Ladies loved Red Bull. Young ladies. I found him a bit arrogant but sensitive at the same time. Couldn't be bothered with Decaf's reschedules. He wanted big ticket operations and sports medicine. And dancers...bring him the dancing girls. He yelled at me one time for littering his schedule with "nip and chip" (geriatric footcare) I then scheduled him all community care patients ( folks living on the street) I felt that would be a little more exciting for him. I thought Decaf was going to have a heart attack from laughing at my doing that. Some days I flat out hated Red Bull's guts. But when his mother died and I saw him sitting in the dark, crying in an unused treatment room. He looked twelve years old.
Hard to hate that.
How could I not console that?
I stopped hating him and started mothering him.
And I still gave him smack-downs when he got too big for his britches.
I think that is what his mother would have wanted.

It was difficult to leave the podiatry group. I didn't want to, but my husband's company was relocating from NJ to NH. And so was I. I cried like a baby the whole way through New England.
It was sad to that learn the group is no more. Each doctor went off in their own direction, joined a bigger group...I heard Decaf has retired.
What did I learn there?
God.
What didn't I learn there?
I learned that it takes all kinds.
All kinds of people, personalities, situations, stories...coffee...to keep an office running smoothly.

The storefront of what used to be the podiatric practice, it is now a dancer's shop.
 Red Bull would have loved this

All of this that once was...all of this I am now.

Peace~Rene

14 comments:

  1. I love the analogous lessons. Wonderful stuff. Thanks for that. I'm afraid most of what I learned at most jobs aren't quite as profound. I might go that list though, that was a fun read.

    Thanks,

    Casey

    ReplyDelete
  2. Not exactly sure why, but this post really touched me. It was funny and informative about your life, but it also said something about the passing of time.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I guess we are all of what or CV's have brought us to be, I remember the apartments and the Governor Morris Inn.

    ReplyDelete
  4. enjoye the trip through you disappearing memory...a lot could be read even in just you time at teh chiropractor about human relationships...nice...

    ReplyDelete
  5. Somehow, that Salvador Dali painting "Persistence of Memory" begins to make sense after reading this post.

    This is great stuff. Memoir, slice of life and a few teaching moments, all with a very human touch. I like it.

    ReplyDelete
  6. For good or bad, we are the sum total of all our life experiences.

    FWIW, all the places I worked went out of business, either while I worked there or soon after I left. Connection? *shrug* Maybe.

    ReplyDelete
  7. actually, the pattern here is:
    first, you departed.
    then, they slid downhill.

    you can be a little smug...
    you've earned it.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thank you for sharing a trip through your working life and the gems of wisdom, laughter and lessons gathered along the way. I really enjoyed this post- it's the highlight of my day.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Love learning more about you.

    "The Funniest Podiatrist Ever"

    Sounds like a great reality tv show contest.

    xo

    ReplyDelete
  10. This is my favorite post of yours, ever, Rene.

    ReplyDelete
  11. OMGosh, this is all so funny. thank yo. i seriously laughed till tears were in my eyes an my face hurts from smiling. I can;t decide which bit i like, but perhaps this take the biscuit...although that open mic entry is pretty darn funny too:

    "I developed a bit of a following after I unintentionally gave a few customers some extra cash. I was actually put on probation for that. Jeez, it's not like a bank could run out of money...
    I learned from being a bank teller that you really have to mind the details, the little things like "please, thank you, my pleasure and eat it, dirtbag" matter."

    ReplyDelete
  12. I love this post. It's true that who we are is made up of all the different experiences with those who cross our paths.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Lots of good lessons. I don't even want to venture into my job history. It's hard enough to put that crap on my resume. Good on you for finding the heart in your history.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thanks for coming by and commenting on my life in resume.

    Currently I am a kindergarten aide...in case any of you are wondering :)

    Rene

    ReplyDelete

Please drop a penny in a poet's hat :