Thursday, May 22, 2008

Where We Worked



Most of my friends' parents worked manual labor or trade jobs of one kind or another. Some worked for the telephone company; some were electricians; some were plumbers; some painted water towers. My mother worked in box factories until she had to go on disability in the early '70s for health problems. She hated not working and even tried returning to her job until she realized she couldn't do it anymore. My father was a roofer for most of his life, though he took about seven years off to try to make it on his own cleaning rugs and washing walls, but he eventually went back to the roofer's union and stayed there until he retired in 1989.



Growing up in Burbank, you had to be industrious. In grade school, I walked dogs and sold things. I sold knives (yes, knives), concert T-shirts, bootleg cassettes...whatever I thought I could sell. My first "real" job wasn't until my senior in high school when I worked as an usher at the Orland Square movie theater. Mostly, as an adult, I've been a teacher, but I've also worked shipping and receiving for a small electronics company, worked in a cafeteria, scored standardized tests, worked as a file clerk (or something like that...can't remember my title), did data entry, greeted people at a new mall (the most humiliating?), gutted buildings for surplus, worked in a library (mostly processing books and, once again, doing some shipping and receiving)...and on and on.

What did (do) your parents do? What do you do? And what jobs have you had -- the good ones, the bad ones, and all the ones in-between?


1970. Me and my father. The photo-booth at Zayre's.


2008 (this morning). Me and my father. My backyard in Winston-Salem, NC.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

My father was a TV repair man, worked for Zenith, then RCA. He became ill while I was still in grammer school.

My mother worked at the snack bar for Zayre. When my father became Ill, she had to have a better job to support the 8 of us so she drove a bus for Valley Transit which is now First Student bus company where my sister worked.

I babysat, then worked at a Wendy's across the street from my house. I went to Florida for a short time and when I came back I waitressed at the Panama Restruant, then Burbank Rose/and Baccarat. After a while needed a real job with insurance so I worked for Auchan, the hypermarket which became Omni superstore. After that I went to work for Cornell Forge, was there for 13 years, and now work for Nuclear Security Services. I still live in Burbank.

YellowRose said...

Let's see, my dad was a mechanic so he worked for some trucking company's, can't remember off hand which. My mom worked for Wanzer Dairy, she was the secretary of the President. My grandfather also worked for Wanzer, he was a Manager there. Later, her job moved to the Southland Corp. when her boss moved and still later when my dad was laid off, she got transferred to Texas with Southland, and he found work in Texas. This was after I moved down here and got married of course! ;)

I babysat a lot, made good money at it too! Then before my 16th birthday got a job at Franks/Marc Allen Shoes at Ford City Mall. Also worked at Thom McAn. Junior year I did a short stint at McDonalds, which I hated!! Senior year, I worked in the nurses office at Reavis, got to hear all the fake excuses everyone made to get out of class! ;) Also did cold calls for a State Farm Insurance office.

As an adult, I've been a party planner, florist, office manager, but my most important job has been wife and mother. Nowadays, I enjoy being a kept woman! ;)

John McNally said...

I worked at McDonald's, too, but for only one day. The manager was taking the job way too seriously. "Sear those burgers! Press down and sear 'em, dammit!" Oh, boy.

cardiogenesis said...

I work as a cashier at the Chicago Ridge Mall.

My mom is a printer. She mainly prints business cards and stuff or that nature.

YellowRose said...

Hey John, the whole time I worked at McDonalds I never worked the grill. I always worked the counter or drive thru. I hated that job! I remember the Assistant manager there was a jerk, and if I had known then what I know now, I'd have slapped him with a sexual harrassment suit! I didn't work there long.

Anonymous said...

My dad worked at Rheem Manufacturing and my mom was a 4th grade school teacher for 6 years before having children. She then stayed home to raise the 5 of us. I started babysitting at age 11 and also made money walking kids to school. I applied for many jobs in Ford City before my 16th birthday because I wanted a "real" job as soon as I could. I ended up at JC Penney and that worked out well for 3 years. In my adult life I've been a Branch Manager for various banks, a Product Manager and Accounting Manager.

Chico said...

I worked at the Golf Range around 85th and Harlem on the Bridgeview side of the street and the El-MAR Bowling Alley (winter 1969). Also other notable places were Burger King (79th and Nottingham) in the summer 1969 for $1:10 per hour making Whoppers that cost 38 cents as a 15 yr old.

I remember I came there a little tipsy after drinking a few bottles of Boons Farm Wine before shift. I got really hungry shortly after being on duty there and hide a Whopper down my pants only to seek it to the bathroom to eat it. I was really hungry as I recall. Other funny things went on the duration of the shift too.

I also worked across the street at R&B Pizza, (In 1971, this was a Fun place!) and Geno's Pizza (This Place was also fun and a lot of girls use to come up to visit us!) at 79th & Central Ave. (1972). I worked at the Sheridan Drive-In (from 1966-1968 ( As a 6th grader thru 8th from Maddock) picking up the trash people left behind and money) and High Low Super Market in the Southfield Shopping Plaza the fall of 1969. (That Place sucked!)

A few of the local trucking companies in the area as a summer job working my way thru college.

I had a lot of fun! (I felt like Beavis and Butthead working at Burger King though!)

Chico From Maine, 1972!

DMcCarthy said...

When I was in high school and was asked what my father did for a living, I said he worked for a screw company, because well, that's what he did. What I learned is, never say the word "screw" around teenage boys in any context. Say, "fastener".

My mother worked at the Tootsie Roll factory for almost ten years until we moved to Elk Grove Village in '76.

My first job was at Taco Bell on 79th St. After that I worked for Fotomat, in those little drive-up booths in parking lots. I liked it because I could read and look at people's pictures.

Other jobs included:

Maid for the widow of a New York congressman;

Flight scheduler for a private airport;

Public Relations Coordinator for Texas Golden Gloves boxing;

Secretary to a rabbi;

Hospice social worker;

Personal coach and psychotherapist.

Strangest advice ever given to me at a job was from a short-lived manager at Taco Bell. While slicing up olives from a gallon size can, she told me, "It goes a lot faster if you eat every other one."

I'm sure that can serve as a metaphor for something.

Anonymous said...

I worked for Coyne Motor Service as a helper on Wednesdays after school and on Saturdays, delivering bundles of The Economist to the carriers. I also worked for the City of Burbank Streets Division for 2 summers during High School. It was a dream job. A lot of fun. I also worked for Clark Equipment for several years (State Road and Cicero). Other jobs included Bates Abrasives in the industrial park south of Central and 77th, and Uniforms to You.

Anonymous said...

My dad worked at the American Can Company at 60th & Western. Part of the reason we lived in Burbank is my Dad didn't want to live in the city but still be close to work. My Mom didn't work until I went to high school. My parents are still in the same house in Burbank - down the street from the Reavis driver's ed course. 41 years and the only family to live in that house.