Confessions of a Laid-off Lawyer

Just Your Average Joe Blogging Away His Debt—In One Year or Less

I Need a New Gig

with 2 comments

Total Black: $1,247.29
Total Red: $230,131.21

The temporary contract attorney position is nearing its end.  There’s a chance it could be extended.  A slimmer chance that I’d be one of those selected to stay on.  The Recession Art Sale has already ended.  So, it’s time for a new gig.  But what?

I’ve been trolling around Craigslist for the past few days.  I spotted a few interesting opportunities.  I could manage a Christmas tree lot on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.  I would love that job actually.  It’d be so quintessentially New York to watch happy city-dwellers taking their Charlie Brown Christmas trees home.  I could also get a job with the NBC store for the holiday season.  I just now submitted my resume to a few new temporary employment agencies, so that could produce a few leads.  And it’s possible that the same agency I’m with now could have another project.  I have a feeling this Year of the Blog will be very seat-of-the-pants.  Whatever gigs I get, I need to have more than one.

A few days back, I was telling the Woman Who Sits Next To Me at the temp job all about my previous jobs.  I don’t recall now how the conversation started, but she pointed out that I’ve had quite a few “odd” jobs in my day.  I’ve been a directory assistance operator, a Peace Corps volunteer, a porter on a cruise line steamboat, and now an art seller.  I’ve also worked in retail in a few different stores.  I started working as a kid when I picked up a paper route for a few years.  Both my mother and father had jobs when they were young, so I was encouraged to follow their lead.  I enjoyed the paper route: walking the neighborhood, greeting the older people, talking with them.  It was very Andy Griffith Show.  A few people back home still remember me from that job.  I don’t recall now if I wanted the newspaper route or if my mother strongly “encouraged” me to take it, but as with all my various gigs, I eventually though I grew tired of it because it became so monotonous delivering the newspaper every day.  Thinking back on it now I recall that what I looked forward to most was the computer print-outs that were included with the newspaper bundles informing me of additions or changes to my paper route: new customers, canceled customers, and so on.  I seem to thrive on change and variety.  So eventually the monotony of that job got to me—well that and having to get up every Sunday at 6am.  By the eight grade I gave up being a paperboy.  I was nearing the end of my grade school years and paperboy wasn’t something I wanted to take with me to high school.  I also didn’t want to have a job any longer frankly.

I think I spent a good two years as a paperboy, up every Sunday up extremely early, at least for a adolescent boy, to deliver the newspaper.  Understandably, I wanted a break.  Of course, my mother thought otherwise.  I can still recall a fight we had while riding in the car one day.  She started yelling at me because I didn’t have a new job yet and here I was already thirteen years old.  Thirteen!  You’d think I was growing up in the 1940s as the son of a coal miner.  Not quite.  I was the grandson of coal miners though and those brand of apples take some time to roll away from their trees.  So eventually my mother won out and she got me a job washing dishes at a local restaurant on weekend nights.  I’ve not hated a job so much as that one.  I worked there during the colder months, must have been December perhaps because I remember cold and dark whenever I went outside to get ice.  The ice machine was situated in a storage room under the restaurant behind this large and wide brown swinging door that stuck occasionally when it shut behind you.  One night I got an idea: I’d sit in the ice machine room and wait until someone came looking for me and then I’d pretend that the door slammed so hard behind me that I couldn’t get it open again.  I did.  It worked.  The restaurant manage at first was quite annoyed until he realized that this poor thirteen year-old boy couldn’t get the door back open.  As an aside, I suppose I should say that I originally wanted to be an actor.  Of course then, from that moment until I quit a few weeks later, it became a joke that everyone had to make sure I didn’t get locked in someplace.  All good-natured teasing, but I learned early on the lesson of short-term gain, long-term pain.  Once I did quit, I think the next spell of unemployment lasted at least a year until my mother, just as she did before, and as she did around this time last year—as I explained in my post A Day in the Life—once again got me a job, this time at a local supermarket.  But that position I kept for nearly three years.  And a supermarket is about the closest I ever came again to food handling.

I can’t explain why, but I just do not feel comfortable in restaurants.  I’ve never been a waiter.  Once, while working as a porter on the steamboat, I tried switching into a bartender position.  I figured it would be a great skill to pick up and I’d also get to meet a lot of interesting people.  Hauling luggage and garbage didn’t really provide those same sort of opportunities.  But the management made me work first as a drink server, effectively a barman among many barmaids.  I had the job for all of one night.  In my first attempt at serving a round of drinks, I couldn’t stabilize the tray and a bottle of beer tipped off the tray and spilled all over a passenger.  I apologized profusely.  He was good-humored about it and joked that if a spilled drink was all that happened to him that night, he’d be fine.  The next passenger it happened to wasn’t so nice.  I think I spilled a glass of wine all down her dress.  Again it just tumbled off the tray.  The other servers were quite familiar with her.  I guess she spent much of the cruise in the bar.  In a haughty and indignant manner, she insisted that she would send the dry-cleaning bill to the captain.  I still remember thinking that we weren’t on the Love Boat.  The “captain” wasn’t about to pay for anything.

It’s safe to say that me and food service gigs don’t mix.  But it’s also safe to say that I have had a lot of different jobs and other things going on simultaneously. Sometimes it was school and work, or school and various student groups, or work and professional associations.  I noted in Positive Thinking that a friend joked that I was the busiest person he knew and that was while I was still unemployed.  Thinking back on all this now, I see that I’ve been employed, in one way or another, since I was about ten or eleven years old, so it makes sense that I had mixed feelings of relief and terror when things came to a crashing halt last year.  Frankly, I welcomed a bit of time off.  But for some reason, I just didn’t think of turning to different sorts of gigs to help make ends meet.  The Recession Art Sale really revived that aspect of my personal history and I’m thankful for it.  Not only is it a great way to get extra money on the side, but it satiates a need I’d long forgotten about.

Now which gig to get next?

2 Responses

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  1. Is it ok if we call you Opie from now on?

    Larry E

    October 20, 2009 at 20:10

  2. Christmas lot may be romantic but NBC is warm!

    Larry E

    October 20, 2009 at 20:12

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