Thursday, January 22, 2009

Crappy Jobs part 2...

Before I get into the life changing decision, I must have had a mental block because I left out one of the crappiest jobs ever. Somewhere between Sambo's and Brunswick bowling alley, I worked a couple months at a plase called the Casad depot in the "frog shop". A frog is the piece of steel that hooks 2 pieces of train track together. Our job at the frog shop was to get in old frogs and refinish them into new frogs. We got them in two different ways. One way was several hundred stacked on a pallet on a flatbed semi truck. They had to be unloaded by hand because we did not have a forklift big enough to lift the pallet. So 5 or 6 of us would climb up on the trailer and one by one we would lift and stack them on a new pallet on our little fork lift. Each frog weighed about 50 pounds and it would take a couple hours.

The other way we would get them would be used ones. I don't know how those got unloaded, but when we got them they had to be grinded down to bare metal with a grinder. After that it would come to my portion of the program. They had a jig that was made out of a 4 foot piece of train track with c-clamps on it. I had to place a layer of this plasticky burlap in the jig, then coat the frog liberally with the stickiest glue you have ever seen. I would place the gluey frog in in the jig on the plasticky burlap and clamp it tight. It then went in the oven for an hour or so. When they came out of the oven, I had to unclamp it, remove it from the jig and trim the excess garbage off the frog. Between the glue, the oven and the lingering grindings, it was a hot, dirty stinking hell-hole. Everything I would eat would tase like the gluey smokey inside of a building. I remember the boss always wore an orange hooded sweatshirt and yelled at us constantly. That job paid $4 an hour with no benefits.

Ok, thankfully the bowling alley called. I then had a better attitude about work... Like I said before Joe was a pretty good boss. Brunswick had a habit of changing managers every couple years, so I had me 2 other managers before Joe got there. He told me that the bowling alley business was actually a pretty good business to be in. He said I had a good aptitude toward it, and it was kind of nice actually getting a compliment at work instead of being yelled at daily. He recommended looking into Vincennes University, which at the time had the only bowling management major in the United States. It was junior college, and their record was 100% placement for bowling management graduates. Ok that was it, the most critical decision ever was to go to college for bowling lanes management in Vincennes Indiana.

Since I am discussing the crappy jobs I have had, I will not go into my schooling (for now), other than the fact that I graduated in 1981 with a 3.75 gpa thanks to instructor Jim Sullivan. I took a job in Garland Texas sharing management duties with fellow graduate "Rich". Rich and I were to manage both Fiesta Bowl and Bowlerland Lanes in Garland. During interview week, I was actually in Buffalo New York bowling in the college national bowling tournament. Needless to say, since we were bowling management majors, we had a kick-ass bowling team. (We came in 2nd). Anyhow my point is, I missed all the damn interviews except the Garland Texas one and an offer to run a bowing alley in Saudi Arabia on a military base. I took the Garland Job at $16,000 to start (1981).

Rich and I got an apartment together not to far from the bowling alleys. We got to know the owners, Bud and Marvin. A couple of eccentric fellows that moved here from Chicago to make their fortune. Rich was generally at Fiesta bowl with Bud, and I was mostly at Bowlerland with Marvin. Rich lasted a grand total of 3 weeks when I woke up one day and found a note and his keys to the bowling alley. So now I got to (learn to) run both centers. At that time, the county we were in were in was dry, meaning no alcohol sold there. And in my history, bowling alleys and beer were inseparable and since there was a Don Carter supercenter just across the county line, we were losing a lot of business. I was hired to build the business back up.

I spent weekdays from about 8 am to 4 pm out on the streets going to businesses and factories offering free bowling parties to the human resource manager of anywhere I could find. I would offer them 3 free games of bowling and 2 hot dogs to every person if they could get 20 or more people to participate. Then I would spend the evenings during the parties talking to everyone, trying to get them to sign up for a bowling league. Then I would tally up the day's earnings and make out the bank deposit and the cash drawers for the next day. I would lock the doors on weeknights around 2 am. Weekend around 3 am.

This went on for 3 months with not one day off. I expressed my dissatisfaction several time to Bud and Marvin. I asked for more money, but they said they wanted to see the results of my bowling party sales finesse to see if they could afford it. One beautiful 100 degree Texas day, I was scheduled to meet with the hr manager of St. Regis Paper Company in Garland. He was actually a nice guy and we got to shooting the bull about my plight. He said they were hiring at a starting wage of $6.92 an hour starting wage. I did the math and figured about $14,500 with just a bit of ot, but working only 40 hours and having weekends off was just too enticing. I was just plain wore out from the last 3 months, and asked Bud and Marvin one last time for a substantial raise. They declined so I resigned. It was a hard choice, after basing a lot of my life's goals around the bowling biz, but if there ever was job burnout, I was the poster child.

to be continued....

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