September 16, 2015

Summer job rivalry

Now that the 3 oldest boys are caddying and occasionally babysitting, they are raking in money hand over fist.  It brings back memories from my high school and college years when my brothers worked as caddies.  Dinners were spent listening to their entertaining anecdotes.  The family would be in stitches as my brothers rehashed the day at the course and the antics of the interesting, wealthy characters who they carried bags for.  The tradition continues.  Last summer, Eddie spewed milk across the dinner table while Laddie described an unfortunate event at the golf course.  Eddie had witnessed the mayhem, but found it so entertaining that he busted up laughing while Lad described the situation.  Apparently a caddy became a victim of poor footing as he veered too close to the lake while retrieving a golfer's ball.  The initial stumble and resulting splash proved hilarious, but we enjoyed a gut busting laugh when we learned that that this poor kid actually ended up falling all the way in after struggling for a few moments and failing to regain his balance. 

Of course as a teenager anxious to score some laughs, I typically added my own employment adventures to the dinner conversation in our family kitchen decorated in blue and white gingham wallpaper with a red apple border.  My time as a teenager was spent juggling babysitting commitments and shifts at the local Burger King.  Laughs were harder to come by when relaying stories from my line of work when compared with eventful loops.  I still gave it the old middle-child try.  I recall being rewarded with at least one muffled chuckle when I described a coworker who shoved an entire slice of pie in his face just before the manager appeared around the corner.  Drive thru instructions that included phrases like 'please back up' instead of 'please drive thru' seemed funnier in the moment than they did at the table.  Not surprising, the family tired easily when I insisted on sharing how tiny tots often said the darnedest things.  I guess my babysitting material was not considered original enough for the comic standards of our kitchen. 

My brothers and I would often argue about who had the tougher gig.  I made a fraction of what they made despite the long hours I devoted to babysitting jobs and Burger King labor.  While they worked outdoors, built an impressive farmer's tan, and enjoyed ridiculously generous tips, I slaved away in a greasy kitchen, made minimum wage, and clogged my pores.  Of my two jobs, babysitting typically proved more lucrative for me and while it allowed me to soak up the sun on occasion, it was not always a walk in the park.  These cocky teenage caddies claimed that I wouldn't be able to lift a golf bag and therefore suggested I stick to babysitting and burgers.  Imagine my frustration when I learned that a couple that I babysat for paid my brothers an enormous amount for carrying around their clubs.  That same afternoon I watched their two young children.  I kept the tykes safe, happy, and fed while their folks were out playing 18 holes while my brothers toted their bags around.  I was paid well, but I discovered that caring for their two children was not nearly as lucrative as lugging around a bag of their precious clubs.   

I learned the hard way that physical labor was appreciated in our home.  The caddies were worshiped for their service on the golf course while I was banned from sitting on any upholstered furniture after spending 8 hours in a fast food restaurant.  They were encouraged to nap.  I was ordered to shower.  They enjoyed the added perk of having Mondays off.  I was frequently informed that a desperate mom had called to request my sitting services on my day off.  While the course was closed on Mondays, my brothers and their caddy friends shot a free round of golf.  The friendships I made while flipping burgers frightened my parents.  I learned not to share some of the extracurricular activities with my folks that this questionable teen group engaged in.   

Location, location, location.  My Burger King job application process was initiated by my parents.  I was required to work once I turned 15.  Burger King was walking distance from our home.  That was where the conversation began and ended.  My older sister already worked as a checker at the grocery store next to Burger King.  The grocery wouldn't hire additional family members.  At least that's what I was told.  I was midway thru my freshman year of high school when I first donned a polyester uniform complete with visor.  This visor wreaked havoc on my unruly perm.  Once I removed said visor I was left with an outrageous indentation.  This visible 'visor crown' made it impossible to go anywhere directly from work.  While the location rule rung true for me, my younger brothers were issued no such parameters.  There was no golf course within walking distance to the house, but the folks had predetermined that caddying would prove to be a great summer job for their sons.  My parents rose early and drove the boys for years until my next younger brother got his license.  Do you see where this is headed?  The boys, whose special privileges knew no bounds, drove the spare car to and from the golf course.  I, on the other hand, 'drove' my bike.  In my polyester uniform.  Unless I walked.

In horribly cold weather I occasionally got picked up after my shift by someone from home, but there was no guarantee.  Senior year in high school (yes, I worked there that long.  Perhaps I should've offered a disclaimer at the start of this post that this story isn't so much funny as it is sad) I saw my dad pull up into parking lot in the big, red station wagon.  There was no denying whose car that was.  Our 1976 Chevy Impala wagon boasted loads of good family road trip memories under it's partially rusted exterior, and by my senior year there was not a soul in town who didn't associate this beastly looking automobile with my family.  Although my shift was ending, I couldn't strand the customer at the register and bolt out the door.  I completed their order and clocked out.  Turns out I was too late.  I promise you I was not goofing off with friends.  I knew how inadequate my father's patience was.  I longed to be in a toasty car listening to A.M. radio along with a few standard comments on how similar I smelled to a burger.  Instead, I walked home.  In the freezing, windy weather.  The next day a few of my classmates asked me if I had struggled with my blush that morning.    No, I assured them.  It was wind burn.  One cheek took the hit harder than the other which left me with a lopsided blush look.  It was noticeable enough for people to comment.  

Wow- I didn't intend this to be a Burger King employee of the month post, but I digress.  I will have to follow this up with future posts about my many other fast food memories.  How could I forget about how the nickname I was christened with at Burger King just so happened to stick?  Of course there is so much to say about how I grew as a person after cleaning urinals, serving Chicago Bears' celebrities, and dealing with so many different personalities.  Not sure that the discounted food perk outweighed the disadvantages.  Cheap food at B.K. couldn't measure up to babysitting perks.  I was taken on vacations more than once.  Plus I was able to avoid frostbite because these families drove me and picked me up in in-climate weather.  I still walked or rode a bike to certain jobs -when my skin wasn't in danger of being scarred for life.

In spring of my senior year, I was grounded for a ridiculous amount of time.  In fact, I recently shared this story with Laddie to demonstrate how life isn't as bad as he thinks it is - particularly when it comes to being punished.  Again, I'll leave the meat of that story for another post.  During my virtual life sentence grounding, one of my favorite babysitting families requested that I sit for them on a Saturday night.  Knowing my grounding situation, they encouraged me to invite a friend over while they were out.  So Fozzy joined me at my babysitting job.  Once the baby was asleep, we ordered pizza with money the couple left for us and settled in to watch movies they had rented for us.  Not a bad deal.  I'd say hanging with friends and getting paid surpassed waking up before the sun and caddying in the brutal heat.  I was careful not to share the humorous aspects of this scenario during any subsequent family meals.  Instead I laughed along with the rest of the caddy worshipers, knowing I had a better deal.   

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