SHITWORKER at my dad's machine shop - this one is listed as ZERO because it does not count on the list of seven JOBS because it was family forced labor, it was mandatory, you can quit a job but the only time off from this work was when I managed to get any other type of job. Do I sound bitter? Well read on… The rule in my family, was when you turn ten years old for your birthday you get to go to the shop down in Watts with dad - wow exciting - then you get the news that you have to go every Saturday and most of your holidays and summer days - extreme buzzkill, and the work there is running a lathe, drill press, milling machines, make a part, make another part, no creativity, sort nuts and bolts, no variety, crap like that, hated it. My younger brother loved it, took to it like a duck to water and now he runs the machine shop. I couldn’t stand it. The only good thing about the job was discovering, at about age 13, the hundreds of porno magazines in the employee lockers, that was the only respite - along with knowing that I never wanted to be in a dead-end situation like the poor fuckers trapped in their shit jobs there. Dad paid us a buck a day and I returned the favor by throwing tantrums and spending more time avoiding work and hiding than actually doing any of the drudgery. Got a raise to five bucks a day plus lunch at Tom’s Burgers #4 after a few years. Only day that summer I did not have a pastrami sandwich, french fries and a pineapple shake for lunch was when me and my younger brother spent all the money we saved going to Knott’s Berry Farm. It was like one day off from a prison sentence. I can laugh about it now but at the time it created intense resentment.
COOK at McDonalds on Beach Blvd in Buena Park - I lasted like three weeks on the grill there. They just stopped scheduling me. They had over seventy employees and I was number 74 and three weeks later I was number 73, so much for career advancement. While there, one day, I did eat three McRibs with double rib on each bun in a half hour lunch break without paying for them. Fuck you, Ronald.
COOK and MAINTENANCE at Movieland Wax Museum on Beach Blvd in Buena Park - Two and a half months, almost to the day. There was a restaurant at about the halfway point through Movieland Wax museum. It was cruddy overpriced food. One day the actor who played the preacher on Little House on The Prarie came thru and bitched us out over the cost. I said “Give me ten bucks and I will give you all the food you can eat with no receipt, I will cook it up for you right now, no ticket.” He got a paranoid look on his face and shook his head “NO” real stiff like he was terrified of being caught in some sort of sting operation. A kid got lost and with my high school Spanish I reunited him with his mom and some manager came in and thanked me and it turned out to be like the #2 in charge and the kid was related to the President of Mexico or something. One day I went around with a guy cleaning spit off of the wax statues. Mister Spock got it the worst and of course, this being Orange County, Aunt Esther from Sanford and Son was a close second. Then someone started yelling at the guy that they needed me in the kitchen and then they yelled at me. I said “I’m a team player here, let me know what you need” and the dude yelling suddenly stops and says “We need more of THIS attitude around here” and yells at everyone else. It was holiday help, January 3 almost everyone got laid off and that included the team player.
COOK at Carl's Jr. on Rosecrans Ave in La Mirada - I might have lasted five or six weeks. The day before I got fired every time they told me to do something I said “What?” even though I heard them fine, so it was about time. When they shitcanned me I had just clocked in and didn’t clock out so I got paid for eight hours and four hours of overtime. Seemed like a huge victory at the time. They let you eat anything you wanted so of course this was probably peak acne.
CASHIER at K-Mart on Beach Blvd in Buena Park - 18 months, still a record, stupidly quit for no reason, should have stayed as they closed the store a few months later and I would have gotten a nice severance. Most of my K-Mart memories are good ones. Grew a beard and a manager told me I had to shave it and was all “Dude, I’m trying to hide my zits so I can get a girlfriend” and the moustachioed pindick would not relent so I went to the store manager and she reamed him and then word got back that she was telling single girls who worked there “You should go out with Clock 57” like my guardian angel (everybody had a number with the word “clock” in front of it, I was Clock 57). One of the guys in the photo department would call me over as I went to clock in and show me pics of nudes that had come in. One time this guy had three hookers in a hotel suite. Crazy pics of a mini-orgy with joints, coke on a mirror, champagne, I see the guy’s name on the order. Next day of course he comes thru my line and says he has to pick up photos and says the name and I make the photo department call with a totally straight face but am shitting bullets that he knows I know. Dude was a classic 70s Eagles fan with feathered long hair, moustache, tank top. Manager says to me while we are waiting on the photo guy “Why are you blushing?” Terrified, I say “I think I’m gonna throw up.” She says “Go and I’ll cover” and I get the hell out of there. I could write a book… the day they caught the Night Stalker customers coming into the store started relaying the news - for the rest of the day everyone had the most happy look on their faces “They caught the Night Stalker! Did you hear?!?!” It was like the good vibes day of the decade. Seems so fun to reminisce about this one now…
CASHIER/STOCKING at Radio Shack in the La Mirada Mall - This one lasted like five months. This was right when everybody was getting cable TV and 99 people out of 100 who came in would want to know how to get cable on two televisions in their house. I would explain to them what to buy (a splitter and extra coaxial cable) and how to do it. I would draw out a map for each person like they were secret plans for a CIA invasion. A few times people offered to pay me to come to their house and do it. First guy offered me $50 and I was like no problem, easy money. Next day a guy offers me $5 and I’m all “I’m not allowed to, sir.” The first manager was cool and it was a fun job. Then she got transferred and the new guy was a dick. I waited until he absolutely needed me and walked out for good. My fifth grade teacher Sister Gustave used to come in with the coupon for a free battery every month. She would say “See you later, Gleason” each time she left. All the nuns called me “Gleason”. Then one day as she is leaving she turns and says “Nice knowing you, Gleason.” I quit the next day and I never saw her again. In 1987 one day a check arrived with a letter of a class action lawsuit settlement stating that many Radio Shack employees had been getting reamed on their pay, something about overtime and lunch breaks. The check was for almost a thousand dollars. That would be like a hundred thousand dollars today in my world. It all went right to my liver.
DELIVERY for Dominos Pizza outside the La Mirada Mall - Maybe three months, maybe four - I got to drive their brand new Nissan trucks to deliver pizza, that was fun, there were streets like Stage Road where I would get it up to near 100 MPH, crazy things teenagers do, right? Got offered a line of coke as a tip once. Turned it down. Every once in a while I would deliver to someone I knew growing up in La Mirada and the reaction was always the same: pained laughter. The manager of the store was a conniving Russian sonofabitch named Mikhail - he had a complicated method to try to steal some of our tips. I figured it out in like five seconds and he would rant that I owed him “respect” each night that I came in with my cash from the day and not have any tip money for him. The other drivers would give almost half their tips to this motherfucker who did nothing for them but smile as he took their money. One time I was hungry as hell going to work and had a friend call in an order for three pizzas to be delivered to a house where we knew the people were on vacation. Someone else delivered them and brought them back and the manager shouted “Crew Pizzas” and we all pigged out. Started doing that every few days, they never caught on. I would order one meat pizza and two all veggie pizzas and everyone on the crew would want the meat one and I would scarf a whole pizza with like olives or just tomatos on it and then take one cold veggie combo home and they would look at me like I was doing them a favor. I finally quit when the manager changed the way we counted our money at the end of the night to ensure he could get some of our tips. I said “I quit” and walked out with all the money. Dude was stealing from us so he could not make a scene. I called his bluff and it was a nice haul. Then I came back two weeks later and demanded my check. The guy there would not give it to me and he said, oh you have to come back when Mikhail is here. I told him I would give him twenty bucks for the check and he said no. I asked if it was in an envelope and he said yes. I said “give me the check leave the envelope there and he won’t know that it was you who gave me the check”. He did it. Then I explained to him how to get free crew pizzas and he actually got a pen and paper out to write down each step.
(big gap here is college where i ended up starting an underground newspaper that made bank in ad sales but it is not a “job” when you are working for yoursef, really now…)
COMPUTER GUY for some cosmetics company in Downtown L.A. - About a month... Okay this one has some intrigue. I had hooked up with a woman who had a mid-level position at this company. It was on Alameda, like two miles from my pad, it was basic computer crap, stuff I understood that people there had no idea about, simple databases, five steps up from an LED calculator. So she calls me asking if I want this job and I’m like “sure” and I go in and my three bosses are the wife of the owner and the sister of the owner and the boss’ wife’s sister. And I divide my time between the three of them. Basically each of them are terrified to touch a computer, like digital watches freak them out, and they have gotten me hired to do the computer part of their jobs. I did not get along with any of them though, they wanted complete control over my every move but did not know a thing about computers and resented that I might have “inside information” that they did not have. It was a weird spiral. Then they started making me go on inventory checks with them to their cosmetic stores in malls around Southern California. One day the HR rep calls me in and the owner is there, and the three bosses are there and the owner explains that he had insisted they all learn the jobs that I was assigned and they had hired me behind his back. I got a huge severance, thousands of dollars and it all came out of each of their paychecks. That helped subsidize some early issues of Coagula Art Journal plus I drank off that money for months.
Still have not passed that K-Mart record.