By Ricky Pack
With a new year it’s not hard for the past to rush up on you. Most of my life was in Illinois. My job history came to mind and I wanted to share it with you.
I am not sure how my drive to work was instilled. Maybe because my Dad worked two jobs all the time, or was at work so many hours.
My first job was when I was in 4th grade. I delivered The Chicago Tribune in our neighborhood in Chicago. The city may have been tough, but where we were living, you couldn’t tell. I remember strapping on the newspaper boy’s bag.
On the back of the comic books there used to be an application to sell and deliver “Wallace Christmas Cards.” I sent one in and became a Christmas card door-to-door salesman. I held down two jobs and I was making money in the second biggest city. Yes, as I little kid, I walked the streets of Chicago with no fear all.
It would be some time before my next paying job. We moved to Round Lake Heights, Ill., when I was about 11. My two brothers and I decided we would mow grass for cash. We pitched in and got a brand new lawn mower with a 22-inch cut path. Ray made us a deal. He said he would take care of the mechanics and we would have to clean it. There were no mechanical issues with a new lawn mower!
I used to drag that lawn mower around the village looking for houses with long grass. It wasn’t long before I had a whole slew of clients. Three dollars a yard really builds up quick.
A year later I was offered a 57-customer newspaper route. Heck the guy even pitched in his bike, which was a tank with a basket on the handle bars and two off the rear fender. I made good money for a 13 year old. I even won a trip to Washington, D.C., and prizes for getting enough new subscriptions.
It wasn’t long before school started to consume my time and I had to stop delivering papers. At 15 a handsome guy like me had to have a rep. The girls started looking good, especially Linda, which is another story.
There was a girl, Sandy, I was mad about and we got along great. She worked at an Italian restaurant named Fiore’s. So to get nearer to her I applied at the restaurant. They hired me to take Sandy’s place. Oh man, was that a big baby bummer! I was working for $1.20 an hour plus tips. I didn’t have the legs or the short dress to make much in tips. I even lied and told them I was 16. I stayed with them for 3 years. I worked at McDonald’s between my shifts at Fiore’s.
When I was 17 years old I worked for a gas station. I was paid $2.25 an hour plus tips. That was when we had to check the oil, clean the window, check the air pressure and correct any one of those. People back then were vicious if you didn’t service their vehicle just right.
One time the nozzle fell out of the tank, back when they were part of the heavy bumpers under the license plates, and splashed this man big time. He was going to a party, dressed to a T, and boy howdy how he threw a hissy fit. No tip for Ricky.
Another time a guy in a pickup truck got gas. I noticed he had some Coors beer in the bed covered with snow. I asked him, “Isn’t Coors illegal this side of the Mississippi?” He told me they were, and said, “You don’t drink beer do you?” I told him I did and he gave me 2 cans with the button tops on them. I really enjoyed my supper that night.
I worked for a shoe store between my shifts at the gas station. The shoe store paid $1.40 plus commission.
At 18 I joined the United States Navy Seabees. I still worked a second job many times when I was off duty. I retired from there in 1998.
There can be one huge problem with being the hardest worker, the first, the best, the “money maker.” When you lose sight of what is most important in life, there is a cost.
That cost is your family, friends and those you love. Many who lose focus end up alone. Enjoy your family, friends and loved ones. Dedicate more time to them.
(Pack may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Letters to the editor regarding his column may be e-mailed to email@example.com.)