Then, at about six to seven years old I started working the very small dairy farm for my stepdad’s dad. I would fetch cattle in, help mending fences and by the last part of seven years old I was running a tractor to run a line of fence.
I worked the yards, garden, farm, firewood from then on all through school. At age fifteen Pawpaw John, my stepdad’s dad came to me. “Son, I’m sorry to ask you this but you need to step up and do what my son is not. You need to work away from home and help your mom.” He signed the state’s “permission slip” to let me work at fifteen, we need a “worker’s permit” it seems if we’re starting out young.
I went to work for oh about six months at a Hardee‘s restaurant. And with my worker’s permit Pawpaw also signed off to let me use the roast beef / meat cutting machine. They usually wanted people over eighteen to use it. After that six months I wanted more money and so went to the poultry plant for the first time.
Worked there for a while and even pulled double shifts a bit. Then, OSHA started catching wind of that and fussed at my bosses. So, I got denied to do it any more. It was around this time I learned to shackle live chickens at 58 birds per minute. That was both legs shackled too. So yes, I learned to “MOVE!” It was only two of us back there working.
Then, I drifted and went to a nursing home. I did the dish washing. This is when a cute male nurse, gay as hell, came to me one night. He brought me down to my great grandmother’s room. She was making ready to shuffle off the mortal coil. I held her in my arms as Nicky went on and kept everyone else “in the dark”. So, yes I’ve held a loved one as they die.
After that I went on to get my CNA certs. I worked in another “home” for adults. There I was a janitor/custodian and in a pinch could help with nursing. After this I went to a retail store where they needed “extra” hands for a quick “one off” job of laying out the displays/racks.
From that I got hired into the store’s abutted restaurant. I was cook, bus person, janitor/custodian, dishwasher, inventory controller. The older lady managing the place would have loved if I taken over as manager, she knew I ran it good.
After that I went and served in the Navy. Unfortunately a medical condition I had all my life and really had no great issue over cost me that spot. I had planned to do 20-40 years there.
Sometime before this I had worked a Burger King for a bit. Did the dishes and some cooking, inventory, cleaning. So then after getting discharged, went back to Burger King, worked at two stores doing the same stuff.
Then at about age thirty I went back to the poultry plant. Things were fully different. There was eight to ten guys in the live hang area now. I only needed to do 12 birds per minute. Could not switch gears to do it and scared eight to ten guys by doing 58 per minute. The guy I worked with earlier in life just chuckled.
Had some incident there and was terminated for just saying something dumb while angry. Can own up I ought not have said what I did but it was not anything directly threatening, yet it still was a snafu for their policy. After that I wound up rebuilding apple transport bins with an apple processing place. Found out I could face strokes if I didn’t manage blood pressure, stress, frustration.
Still struggle with those. Take the highest dose blood pressure medicine but at times it still gets deadly high. It is an issue of not suffering stupidity too well. That and working as a six man crew all by myself. Just how I’m geared. I’ve tried doing less, tried going slower and they just don’t fit. Caring less regarding the “work” isn’t a good fit either.
Now, I’m a string along “as needed” substitute custodian for our county public schools. Not happy in it by a long shot but my wife says to hush, it’s a cushy job with a lot of room to find time setting doing nothing. I condense 4 hrs work into 1.5 hrs and 8 into 4. Again, just how I go. I do good work, the work gets done. I offer to help others but no one ever “needs/wants” help. We all go “our own pace”.
Wednesday night I was an hour ahead at one school and had to go to another. It was a “split” shift. Got to the other school and the “Rat Pack” at it was also an hour ahead of their usual time. They said it was because they felt me, “the boss”, was an hour ahead so they needed to keep up. We had no contact, the schools are physically about 20-30 miles apart.
Everyone knew they had done the work, had done good too. No one shirked. We just got it done effectively, efficiently. So we all sat doing nothing for about another hour until we could “officially” leave and go home.
It’s “work” you move dirt Monday, Tuesday you move the same dirt. *shrugs* No one cares much what you do as long as you show up, do the work. There’s no advancing, nothing really “challenging”. No room to “grow”, no way to really feel “fulfilled”. It’s just “work”.
I think knowing I’ll never sire my own natural children to attend these schools, limits my perspective. By that I mean I don’t feel any joy in keeping the schools clean and safe for children. I do but it’s not at the same level of what someone who could have kids would feel it. I feel proud of my work but it’s not a great sense of pride. “Yay, I can move dirt.” … “Yeah? So what? I fix cars, or build nuclear power plants.”
Again, to me it’s just “work” and I don’t mind it but it’s not anything I’m finding any joy, benefit, fulfilling purpose in. All I get is the paycheck and eventually a retirement, maybe. Yes, that’s lovely and am grateful for it. But really, “that’s all”? And then I’m left with all the depression, anxiety. I feel useless, wasted. Anyway, yeah, just work.