Labor day got me to thinking about all of the unusual jobs I’ve had in my lifetime. I’m the son of a workaholic. A man who never stopped working until the day he left this world. He taught me what work really meant…labor hard…learn…don’t complain…appreciate the aches and pains you’ve earned…get the job done and move to the next task at hand.
All throughout that time I realized that I was never going to be given anything in this world unless I worked my Irish derrière off to succeed (it’s important to understand that my friend Money and I are simply mere acquaintances that pass each other in the night like a shivering breeze down ones spine).
Getting It Done
This is what you do when you have a father who owns his own business and teaches you to ‘just do it’…just think of the millions he could have made if he could have expressed those deeds into words like that of our friend Don Draper. I have surmised that I will never get anything for free in this life…whatever I receive I will have earned. And that should be all of our responsibilities.
So time to get to work. Some of the jobs I’ve worked have been fun…some have been a royal pain…some truly I am glad I’ve only had to perform a handful of times and others become know as a hint of what may be the worst jobs I’d ever want to work the rest of my able years.
A little background to justify my position(s). I started working by means of an official paycheck which included a deductible that went directly to a guy named FICA when I was 13 years old…I haven’t stopped working since. Child labor laws didn’t exist in the small town of Kirtland, Ohio. This is the old Western Reserve folks…the place where the Connecticut land company lay claim to many an acre and where the first Mormon Temple of the U.S was built. Can you say ‘a strong work ethic’?
I literally started working much earlier in life then the age of thirteen painting fences, landscaping, babysitting, cutting grass and digging random wholes with a hand shovel (remember, I’m the proud son of a ditch digger which made me a ditch digger).
The Yellow Legal Pad
Move into the lovely teen years and start carrying railroad ties (fun when you are 80 pounds and barley five feet tall) and yes you and the tie are…well…tied, start earning cash prior to the concept of minimum wage (or in some cases for no cash…because you are told it is a chore).
When you wake up in the morning you are greeted by a list of work etched on a yellow legal pad detailing the expectations of your day such as: cutting ten acres of grass on a walk behind mover that weighs a half a ton, fixing lawn mowers when they break down every half an acre, planting trees with root balls four feet by four feet high and wide, painting that old cedar on that century home, mending fences, digging fence holes by hand(hmmm…let’s add something to keep the would be Tom Sawyer busy)…ok add painting fences.
Now take this excavators son…add in odd jobs and the attempt to buy a car as well as try to put aside a little college earning and you have the prelude to my list.
The Heavy Lifting Begins
Now start digging forty-foot long trenches by hand and shovel, laying bricks and pavers to create walkways, learn to put in a hot water tank and throw in a random plumbing job, hang drywall, hang wallpaper, find a summer to raise and build a barn (Yes Harrison Ford would have been so proud), drive around front-end loaders and bulldozers, dig basements, lakes and ponds…you name it I’ve probably tried it at least once. And many jobs I have performed dozens and dozens of times.
Where To Begin
So with all of these labours of love…how do you determine Cloonan’s Top 10 Worst Jobs? Surely he’s already named them…hasn’t he? Ahh…not even close my friends.
It’s important to know that the majority of these came prior to college or earning college keep. Add one really important fun fact to the mix…typically the equipment used was not state-of the-art (circa 1960’s and seventies)…in other words electricians tape and duct tape where used to mend those apparatus instead of using new tools, rakes, shovels, hammers and equipment.
Have you ever seen the movie ‘Major League’? Remember the guy taping the propeller of the would be Cleveland Indians airplane…yep…that pretty well sizes up the Cloonan family tool box. If you had a hydraulic jack (the old one that slips a lot when you have something really heavy on it and your lying under that heavy thing) and broken and cracked shovel blades…well then you get the picture.
Cloonan’s Top 10 Worst Jobs
Most of my Top 10 Worst Jobs took place working from dusk till dawn when you came home you knew you worked. You stunk to high heaven and your clothes were glued to you like Saran wrap on a turkey leg (Who’s the turkey now?). Insert blood, sweat and want to be tears… and I give you my Top 10 Worst Jobs that I have worked in my lifetime.
1. Spreading Asphalt – Imagine August weather like today…a 100 degree furnace…now put a shovel in your hands and walk next to a dump truck laying asphalt…shovel all the asphalt trying to sneak its way out of the spreader. Oh yeah and the temperature of that stuff melts on your skin like Lucifer’s hair gel. Hint: Hot is HOT.
2. Slinging Shingles – Yep…this cats been up on a hot tin roof. Grab a fist full of roofing nails a good hammer and do your best impression of Wayne Gretzkey as you try to keep balance or plunge to a not-so happy ending. Hint: Don’t look down…make sure you have thick boots.
3. Pulling Cattails yes cattails…throw on a pair of waders and walk into the pond…sink 18 inches in silt and muck and use your bare hands to reach into the water and grab the base of the root and pull. You have now uprooted one of the worst smells of your life. Prepare to get your hands cut-up. No way around it. Hint:When you load them in the back of a pickup truck wear a bandana over your nose.
4. Cleaning Horse Stalls – Cloth pin anyone? Enough said. Hint: Horses are big…and so is their manure. Make sure your wheelbarrow tires are pumped up.
5. Short Order Cook – Flipping burgers at the Dog-n-Suds when you’re only 13 and a half years old…not fun. Putting up with a guy named Ralphy who likes to sling hot fry oil at you…well…also not fun. You go home each night with more lard on you then any burger could ever dream of. Two showers and you’re still not there. Next time you pull up to the drive thru window know that their job sucks. Be kind. Hint: Don’t work with a guy named Ralphy. Ever.
6. Putting in Septic Tanks – Notice a stink pattern here? Replacing septic tanks and repairing leach lines and beds…well let’s just say this is the only thing that smells worst then pulling cattails and cleaning horse stalls. Human waste is well…not good. You may want to Google Septic Tank Leach Field…you’ll acquire a whole new respect for this work.Hint: Do not eat prior to doing this work. And you don’t want to eat after doing it as well.
7. Cleaning Heavy Equipment Tracks – You’re 15 years old…hand insert broken (spade) shovel approximately six inches wide and 18 inches long. Take an 11 ton bulldozer that has been churning up blue clay and swampy mud all day long. Now clean out the would be concrete debris, roots, clay and mud from the steel tracks. Try not to break a wrist our two when you slam that shovel into the tracks. Shovel until you pass out and hope they’re clean. Now load the bulldozer on the carry-all trailer and hope no mud or dirt falls off and hits the car following you too close while you bounce home on the highway. Fun, fun. Can you say…hello Sheriff. Hint: Little rocks break car windshields. Give these guys a little space next time you follow them.
8. Bailing Straw Insert: hot summer day…hay fever and prepare to have your forearms cut-up with hundreds of tiny paper like cuts filled with sweat. Inhale two pounds of dust and flailing bits of nano straw components…and you are bailing hay. Wahooee. Toss them on a truck…stack them a few stories high. Hope they don’t fall on your head. Then prepare to unload them into a hay loft maybe a story higher. Hint: Learn to wear long sleeves a good pair of gloves and use plenty of heave ho when you throw bails in the air.
9. Laying Concrete – Slinging wet concrete and spreading it before it sets keeps you hopping. You work fast and furious to stay ahead of that cement mixer as it chokes out gobs of heavy wet mix. Hint: If you want to have forearms like Jose Canseco spread concrete for a living.
10. Clearing a Forrest and Cutting Trees – Danger is your middle name. No exaggeration here sports fans. Your task is to clear two acres of thick brush and silver maples, ash, oak and pine trees to make room for a lovely lake. Introduce 35-40 foot trees to a D6 or a 955 front-end loader. Knock it down. Insert: old chainsaw in hand. Straddle the tree…cut the branches by swinging the chainsaw on each side of the tree as fast as you can to cut the branches because the heavy equipment is right behind you clearing away the fresh cut branches.
(Side note: Oh yeah…and for the trees that you need to knock down prior to the dozer getting there…hope you don’t get the chain stuck in the tree as weight of a forty-feet maples decides to fall on your blade. Fun…fun).
While using a chainsaw watch those pant legs young man…when a chainsaw catches the pant leg and the blade cuts its way through your pants directly into your leg…well let’s just say you remember the feeling as you’re brother now has to drive you to the ER. But hurry back to work…Dad expects you back after those stitches…who else is going to clear that other acre? Slacker! Hint: Don’t let your brother who passes out when he sees the sight of blood drive you to the ER.
That’s Why They Call It Work
Hard work is simply hard work. Labor is labour.
Respect the laborer. Appreciate what they do and how hard they work. Save money. Go to college and earn a degree. Then deal with the Ten Worst Jobs and the Ten Best Jobs you can have working indoors for the next 35 years of your life.
To Be Continued.