An Un-Career Retrospective

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Today, I’ll be taking on one of life’s great mysteries:

Why didn’t massive multinational cash-spewing corporations gut their entire marketing, research,–or custodial–staffs to hire me a few years ago. [Your definition of ‘few’ may vary widely from mine. That’s a topic for another post–perhaps one covering ‘denial’.]

Were these commercial monoliths too busy raking in profits to even scan my impressive ‘built-to-succeed’ resume?

Had to be.

Baiting Hooks

Otherwise, why would they not rush in and offer a job to someone who baited hooks with chunks of squid and meticulously positioned them to allow for an efficient untangled toss into the Pacific Ocean? No matter that I lasted just past lunch on my first day. Old-time journalists have nothing on me. I truly was an ink-stained wretch [emphasis on the ‘wretch’].

Okay, so maybe that experience didn’t translate as neatly into corporate life.


But there is no way they should have overlooked my months as a shafter. Yessir, you bet. Look around you. Bet you can’t find one shafter within 50 miles of you. Seems my time at San Diego Paper Box Company wasn’t as highly valued as I thought it should be. That job went like this: I muscled eight-foot tall rolls of paperboard to a metal, uh, shaft–seven inches in diameter. I then judiciously postioned [i.e. rammed] the shaft through the roll’s hollow core.

Locked and loaded for action.

I’d flip the switch and off it went, delivering premeasured cuts through the paper at very high speed.

And son of a gun if something mechanical that moves at high speed doesn’t generate lots of heat.

And that heat radiated from that shaft.

And that shaft found my exposed hands and forearms.

And those body parts incurred second degree burns.

Nothing like one’s own searing flesh to encourage more careful maneuvers around that machine.

But nowhere in the plant did I see one, “Respect the shaft!” sign.

Of course, I wouldn’t have complained about that to future prospective employers. My loyalty? Skin-deep. The mid-interview change of bandages might have hinted at previous workplace concerns, however.

So, maybe I wasn’t quite white collar-ready right then.

Strike Three!

But by gosh and golly, I would have thought my time at ITT as a ‘materials handler’ would have earned me a spot somewhere in a company’s higher echelon. This job neither belies the requisite high-level skills [“Hey, Dave, we need more masking tape to label these wire samples!”], nor does it do justice to the extreme dedication I exhibited in taking on the job. Dedication…ignorance. Such a fine line between the two. You see, I was crossing a picket line—a minor detail that the temp company managed to omit.

Despite the waving signs and the colorful language directed my way, I was determined to make good on my commitment. Well, that, and there really was no convenient way to hang a U-ie and floor it.

Besides, I was lucky enough to be driving a yellow Gremlin at the time.

Some folks might question the sanity of a writer using the words ‘lucky’ and ‘Gremlin’ in the same sentence, but–armed with a firm sense of denial–I see it differently.

If I’d been cruising past these scarred, tatooed, and high-spirited folks in a Camaro, I wouldn’t have lasted ten feet.

But in a Gremlin? Even the most hardened and embittered would be brought to their knees with sympathy.

Memories fade of course, but I think I recall one of the leaders putting down his barbed-wire-on-a-stick and backing others away with the words, “Let him go. He’s worse off than we are!”

Wise words indeed.

And with that, despite so many wanting to hear of my stint at Equality Screw Company, my career retrospective has reached its conclusion.

To quote Boon from ‘Animal House’: “A new low. I’m so ashamed.”