Friday, September 6, 2013

Chapter Four - Life is a Bowl of Toilets and I Feel Flush - #humor

Take This Job And Shove It!

If I were to fill out an application for work today that required listing all my previous jobs, I pretty much think someone would request a psychological evaluation.  My first job:  working for the US Air Force as a secretary for the Missile Safety Program.  I left that job to take a job closer to home with the telephone company as a Service Representative.  That was back in the day when you got actual service from a human being and didn't have to go through an automated attendant who asked a zillion wrong questions before you got to the one you wanted.  Can you actually believe they hired other folks just to listen in on conversations to make sure you thanked the customers, and also timed you to assure you weren't off the phone for more than ninety seconds without excusing yourself a second time?  A board hung in our office charting our "delays" our manner discrepancies, and other faux pas. To inspire us, we were pitted against other offices to improve our scores.  Now that I think about it, that was a pretty sick way to get people to be nice.

I left that stressful environment to accept work at a nearby University acting a secretary for the English department.  I put emphasis on the "acting" since that stint last about three weeks.  Shortly after accepting the job, I discovered I was pregnant and couldn't stop throwing up.  I didn't think it was fair to get paid to lay in the employees' lounge all day, and I'm pretty sure the department wasn't thrilled with their hiring choice, so I graciously resigned.

After my son turned two, I decided on a part time job as a school bus driver.  What was I thinking?  I left one kid with a babysitter to spend my days with 70. Not by best idea, by far, but the experience created some lasting memories which you may have read in my first "Toilet" book.  I think the only incident I omitted was getting my boob caught in the bus door and having to write an accident report on how I did it.  I didn't know then, and I'm still not sure.

From bus driving, I went to work part-time in a landscape/nursery gig as a bookkeeper.  The job turned info full-time in two days, after the owner and his wife got into a big tiff and she quit and left me the job...even her husband if I wanted him.  As it turned out, he was quite the ladies man and I think she'd had it.  At the time I didn't know much about sexual harassment, but I think I might have a case simply based on the fact that he called me "Chi-Chi," which I late learned meant "titties" in Spanish.  Somehow my boobs got me into trouble again.

I won't mention the employer's name, but I can tell you he was quite the charmer.  He came from Spain, spoke fluent Spanish with a really broken English accent and had killer blue eyes and a smile that melted women. BUT, It didn't take long to see why his wife got fed up.  Oh, I admit, at first I was dazzled by his attention, but after noticing he fed the same line to every woman who came in the place, he quickly lost his appeal.  I think the killer for me was when I heard him repeat what he'd just said to me to an elderly woman with a mole on her nose bigger than a quarter. Beautiful, my butt!

 I didn't blame his wife.  Some things should be reserved for that special person in your life, and trust me, he didn't reserve anything.  Still, stupidity kept me there for longer than I should have stayed.  What started as three days a week immediately turned into five plus.  I was supposed to be the assistant bookkeeper, but despite keeping the same crummy wage I was hired at, I quickly acquired everything his wife did except sleeping with him.  I'm pretty sure I could have shared his bed too, If I was so inclined.

 I wised up and quit the day he had me hauling five-gallon trees to their designated place in the nursery.  I didn't quite see how that and cleaning the toilet had anything to do with bookkeeping.  Color me brilliant.

I was only one of hundred who came and went, judging from the number of W2 forms that arrived via mail the day before I departed.  Mr. Charming hired illegals, and faster than INS could snag them back, he'd have another truckload delivered.  The last thing I needed was trouble with the "feds."

From there, I tried my luck at another university job,starting as a Senior Clerk Typist Clerk, advancing to a Principal Clerk, and eventually working my way up to a management position.  In all my years there, I never could figure out what a Principle Clerk opposed to a unprincipled clerk?

I spent twenty-three years there and have lot of happy memories and one not so great, but I might have to write a book about how I was driver from my job by a fellow disgruntled employee with an unfounded grudge.  Anyhow, we kept a running "funny file" to document the wacky things that happened everyday.  When you work with diverse groups of people trying to adjust to new cultures, you're bound to experience some amusing situations.  Now, I'm not lying.  These are real names and in their home countries I'm sure they don't even register a chuckle, but the first time Semmah Dong came to see me, I had a difficult time keeping a straight face.  However, that was a mild day compared to when I first met Fok Yu at a student orientation.  Oh my God, how would you like to have that name?

I'm sure there were lots of amusing things that happened while I was there, but unfortunately, my long term memory has joined my short and gone on hiatus.  That's just another plus of getting old.

For some strange reason, I always felt like I belonged in the medical field.  Each time I visited a doctor, and believe me, after chalking up the cast incident, there were more than a few to count.  I always had an eerie sensation that I'd been a nurse or doctor in a previous life.  If I could stand the sight of blood or vomit, I might have tried the profession in this one, but I'm afraid I'd have  horrible beside manner.  Joining your patient while. they throw up in a little kidney-shaped tray in the hospital probably would be frowned upon...but that's just a hunch.  I decided to stick with jobs I knew I could handle.  Of course I have this uncanny knowledge of medical info, and for some reason, know more about car engines than I should.  My husband is convinced that in my previous life, I worked my way through medical school while working as a mechanic.

I retired at an early age because of the aforementioned incident, and made a leap of faith, leaving California for the southern charm of Tennessee.  Unfortunately, we researched everything but employment and wages.  The town we elected to call home was filled with empty buildings of failed businesses or ones moving to Mexico, so I found myself having to find a job while my hubby searched for something lucrative.  Considering his previous $25.00 an hour wage, the twenty-six cents per mile truck-driving job he acquired after paying $5000 to go to driving school should have been a harbinger of things to come.

I visited an employment agency and filed out a generic form.  Imagine my surprise when they sent me to the local Sheriff's Office for an interview.  I assumed it was a clerical job, but I was questioned about my ability to serve as a Correctional Officer.  I was sure they were kidding.  I was almost sixty, had no training in dealing with inmates, and have a bad knee.  I assumed I was wasting time, but out of curiosity, I sat through the interview.  Heck, in California, you have to attend an academy to even apply so I was stunned when the called back and hired me.  Of course with I realized I'd just agreed to work for $7.55 per hour among the incarcerated, I questioned my sanity.  The jail housed state inmates as well as the locals...everything from larceny to homicide so I couldn't understand why they found me qualified.  I figured it out.  I was breathing, I could walk, talk, and agreed to work for peanuts.

Every other position in life had no equipment requirements except maybe having a good writing pen, but now I found myself wearing a uniform, utility belt, handcuffs, and an empty holster.  No guns allowed in the jail, which was a great idea, but I did have pepper spray, a flashlight and a glove case...all of which I was required to purchase myself.  In order to be a C.O. you must have a gun, so I used my ex-husbands service revolver.  I'd never even shot a weapon, so finding out I had to be certified was a shock.  I remember how nervous I was, then stunned when I shot 83/100 on my very first attempt.  I was so sore the next day, I could hardly hold up my arm, but I proudly displayed my target silhouette riddled with accurate bullet holes.  I never imagined hanging something like that on my home office wall, but I was pretty stoked about doing so well.

In order to use the pepper spray, I had to attend a special class.  What they failed to mention was that I also had to "experience" pepper spray firsthand.  After the textbook instruction part of the class, we all assembled in the Sallie port, stood in line and had out choice of being sprayed or swabbed.  I elected the swab thinking, "how much can they put on a q-tip."

I'd never seen a swap that huge.  It resembled a mini-mop, which I guess is the reward for being a wimp.  If they instructor wanted me to see what fire really felt like,he achieved his goal.  My eyes immediately teared up and my cheeks flamed.  I was forced to remain standing before I could "decon" the situation, but I soon discovered there really isn't anything you can do to make the pain go away.  Following instructions, I splashed cold water on my face, but forgot that rubbing it exacerbates the effect.  After about forty-five minutes, the agony dissipated.  I thought that concluded the class.  Wrong!

The instructor pulled the three ladies aside and gave us "personal instructions" pertinent only to our gender.  He warned us about any hand to nether-region contact without thoroughly washing ones hands first.  I found myself a tad embarrassed  having a total stranger instruct me about yeast infections and the like, but when I glanced at my still-red cheeks and eyes in the mirror at home, I seriously considered sending him a thank you card for his hygiene lesson.  All. the way home, I sat in front of the air-conditioning vent aimed at my face, and later thought how ridiculous I might look trying to cool the part of my body we had discussed in semi-privacy.  That'd be a site no one should see.

So, I survived the pepper spray experience, certified with my weapon and had been handcuffed to learn the use of them.  When they showed me the taser and asked if I wanted to be certified to carry one, I passed on the offer as soon as I learned I had to be tased to achieve the status.  The phrase, "help I've fallen and can't get up" kept racing through my mind.  I was just thankful I didn't have to be shot in order to carry a firearm.

I could probably write a whole book on my experiences in the jail because I learned so much.  Most people who are locked up are unfortunate souls who made mistakes and are paying for them. Many are repeat offenders who never learn or maybe just like the food and shelter.  Some are just destined to be mean.  Luckily, I didn't meet an inmate I couldn't handle.  I was a gun-toting, pepper spray and cuff-carrying granny, and I think the inmates either pitied me or didn't want to mess with a bitch going through menopause.

Just a note:  I've updated this a tad, and since have written a book called First Degree Innocence, a fictional accounting of the claims of innocence I heard on a daily basis.  Made me wonder if some might be true. The books I shared in the jail library made me feel popular, but then I think books with sex are a hot topic there, even if most of mine were sweet romance.

As is the norm...I have to end with a joke:

Ethel and Mabel, two senior widows, sat on a park bench, watching folks pass by.

"You know, Mabel," Ethel said, "I've been reading this "sex and marriage" book and all they talk about is mutual orgasm.  Mutual orgasm here, mutual orgasm there--that's all they talk about."  She turned serious eyes to her friend.  "Tell me.  When your husband was alive, did you two ever have mutual orgasm?"

Mabel though for a long while before finally shaking her head.  "No, I''m pretty sure we had State Farm."

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