1971ish, age 16- First job I ever had was a dishwasher at the Snack Shop- a Denny's type restaurant- in Corona Del Mar. That was at the intersection of Pacific Coast Highway and McAurther(sic?) Blvd. I ran into an acquaintance who worked as a dishwasher there and he asked if I was interested in trying it out. I gave it a shot.
I worked the night shift Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Work wasn't too bad and it was really neat being a teenager in high school with all that money.
I think I only had that job for about three or four months before quitting. Seems longer than that, though.
1973, age 17- A friend and I got a job through another acquaintance at the Costa Mesa Car Wash. I mostly vacuumed the cars out before they went through the washer.
Not much fun, that one was. What made it worse was I was pretty much living away from home for the first time so the money made was money that needed to be spent. I don't know that I lasted more than four or five months before getting out of there.
I quit that job for a job that ended up being my shortest held job ever: A maintenance gardener that I did for one day.
That job paid real well for back then. I think it was $5.00 an hour, over twice what I made at the car wash. Problem was...it sucked.
Had to drive north to the smoggy, more congested, parts of the county- places I'd hardly ever been to- meet up with the crew, and follow them around. Being the new guy I got the crappy job: clipping around the sprinkler heads with those hand clippers. That was back before string trimmers were around. Couldn't kneel and do it, either, like I did at home. You had to bend over, clip, and move on. Time was money.
My dog got loose and was picked up by animal control that day. I used that as an excuse to skip work on what would have been my second day. Told the boss I had to go to the dog pound and get my dog. Never went back after that except to the boss's house to get paid.
Moved to Eureka within a week or so of that.
Late 1973- Just an off and on type of work but did painting for Floyd and Ruth Squires who had numerous rentals around Eureka. They were my landlords at the time and often hired tenants to do work. We appreciated the work and the money.
Also worked for Floyd Squires Jr. at least once, doing painting. No complaints from me about Floyd Jr. He treated me well.
Later '73 or '74- The Scarpellino family took over Floyd and Ruth Squire's House of Squires, out on Pigeon Point Road, where I lived at the time. I forget who it was that asked. It might have been Dorothy that asked if I wanted to wash some dishes at Sabrina's. That was across from the Eureka Theater on F Street back then.
I took them up on it and ended up working there for three years, at least. I started out as a dishwasher and delivery guy (back then we were the only place in town that delivered pizza). Ended up as a cook and opening the place each morning. That was more than just a job. It was a way of life, since most my friends worked or hung around there.
I left there when I went to Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri for basic training with the National Guard.
1976- Came back from basic training and was jobless. The gal at the employment office said I could get my job back at Sabrina's if I wanted as they'd be required under law to hire me back. First of all, ownership at Sabrina's was in transition around that time, if memory serves me correct, and I had a suspicion the place wouldn't be open that much longer anyway. I was right.
Second, it was time to move on and see what else was out there to do.
Stan and Babs Francis recommended me to some friends of theirs who I was vaguely familiar with. The Pfannenstiels had a ranch of sorts out in Maple Creek and needed a caretaker. They offered a $50.00 stipend and free housing. No running water, electricity or gas in the housing, though.
Back then I was an outdoors guy so I jumped at it. Enjoyed it for most of a year. Got a bit lonely up there when my dog was killed so I moved back to town.
1977ish- Took a month or so to get a job once back in Eureka. Finally got a part- time job at the Texaco Star and Bar gas station, corner of 4th and M Streets in Eureka. This was in the middle of summer and, unlike now, there was no overhead protection there then.
That job was a toughie cause you'd be out in the sun and on your feet the whole shift, with few breaks, if any. I often wondered why I'd stayed at Sabrina's for so long. Now I knew: There were benefits to working at Sabrina's like free food, beer and good company. The only benefit to that gas station job was you didn't have to decide what to wear to work. They provided uniforms.
At one point Dave, the manager, was warning me about being fired. They were coming up something like $20.00 short- almost to the penny- every day that I worked. I told Dave I didn't know how we were coming up short and, if it continued, I'd quit.
Wasn't long after that Dave told me that the owner, Jerry Ruell, wanted to see me in his office. "This is it", thought I. I was going to get fired.
I go into Ruell's office and first thing he asks me is whether I'm good with numbers, or some such. "Yep, he's going to fire me.". Then to my surprise he tells me he's sending me to a full time shift at one of his other stations. I'd been working part- time all this time so this was a promotion!
So I end up being the morning open- up- the- shop guy at the Beacon station, corner of Myrtle Avenue and McFarland. Not only did I have a full time job, this place had a cover over the gas pumps to fend off the sun and rain. Not bad.
Right after I started at the Beacon station, one of the young guys I worked with at 4th and M stopped by and told me they were $20.00 short the day after I left. I think I know who was doing it.
1979(?)- I'd met a guy while working the night shift at 4th and M Streets. He was in a security guard uniform and that piqued my interest. He told me he worked at the Humboldt Bay Power Plant and he made something like $4.50 an hour. Nice pay for that time. I decided to put in an application there.
They actually called me, which was a surprise. Went to an interview with the then head of plant security, the late Gordon Busey, a former Captain with the Eureka Police Department. Surprising me even more, I got hired, although just as a relief guy to start. That meant I just covered for other people that were sick or on vacation.
But turnover was fairly high there back then and I got plenty of hours in. Finally, I seemed to get full time all of the sudden. I'd gone to annual training with the national guard for two weeks. When I got back, enough people had quit to put me in a full time slot.
That sort of attrition didn't make PG&E look all that good to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission- Humboldt Bay being a nuclear facility- so shortly after that they nearly double the pay and we ended up getting $10.00 an hour, very good pay for the time.
I stayed there for eight and a half years. Eventually they decommissioned the nuclear unit and most of the guards weren't needed anymore. I believe only five, plus the supervisor, would stay on. I had just enough seniority I could have stayed on as the relief guard, and they'd said they'd make sure the relief guy got enough hours to live on. I decided, once again, it was time to move on.
1988- Once again I was surprised to pass an interview and get hired as Christmas help for United Parcel Service. The job only lasted a month, but it was fun and payed well. They called me back the next year to see if I wanted to do it again but I had other commitments.
Sometime around then, either before or after UPS I ended up working full time with the national guard. Our full timer had to leave for training and I weasled my way into taking over for her for three months. Once she returned, we weasled a way for me to stay on for three more months.
Made good money in that time, but had really had enough of it. I was a real gung- ho guardsman back then. It was a fun hobby to me that paid well. I thought I might enjoy doing that as a career. Like anything else, once you do something all the time it gets old.
1988- The unemployment office really sucked back in those days. They had a system set up where they stuck you into certain job functions. If you listed yourself as a plumber, you could only look at job announcement for plumbers. I forget what I listed myself as but the jobs I could search for were limited. It was really dumb because there might be something out there you could do you'd never considered.
The College of the Redwoods job service, I forget what that office was called, was much better. Anyone could see all the jobs that were being offered. That's where I saw a flyer for Group Counselor, Juvenile Hall.
I thought that might be something I might be able to do and filled out an application. I actually got a job there as Extra Help, which isn't too big a deal, but I got enough hours in to make ends meet. I also volunteered a lot so got to know the ropes better than some of the help so staff would often call me first to fill an opening.
Then I got the Permanent Part Time position and eventually, Full Time.
Spent like three to three and a half years there before moving on.
1992- I think it was around '92, maybe '91, when I went on temporary duty with the national guard and flew off to Saudi Arabia. Spent four months there.
Then I came back and decided, since gardening was my big hobby at the time, I'd do something for a living I liked to do and started Fred's Yard Service. Big mistake.
Actually, I liked it a lot when I first started out. My time was my own to do as I liked as long as I got my work done. Then, when you get older it takes it's toll on you. I don't enjoy gardening around the house anymore, either.
A friend down south owns a software company. He told me once how he likes computers for a hobby as well as work. I told him, the way it works with me is if you try to turn your hobby into a job, you end up losing a hobby.
Time for a change. What will I do next?