Last week kenju made a post about her favorite job when she was growing up. It brought back memories of my summer jobs and I got to thinking about which one was my favorite.
And the winner is…garbage man.
I kid you not. When I was in college I worked as a garbage man one summer. That job was head and shoulders the best job ever…for a summer job anyway.
So, how come it was such a great job, you ask? Well, first, there was the money. I can't remember exactly how much it paid, but it was about $80 per week…that was good money for a college kid in the 60's.
There were also some interesting perks. If you were lucky enough to get on a route that included business establishments...restaurants, bakeries, bars, for example... you got freebies every time you picked up. I ate a lot of free breakfasts and lunches, brought home dozens of pastries, and, yes, drank a considerable amount of beer.
You couldn't beat the hours. We started at 7:30am, but you were done after making two trips to the dumps. On a slow day, if we got partnered up with an old fart, we were done no later than 3:00. Many of the drivers lobbied to get two college kids assigned to their trucks. We'd run between houses instead of walk, and would toss cans back and forth between us instead of carrying them to the truck. It was quite a beautiful thing to see (you have to let your imagination go here)...full garbage cans launched into a perfect parabolic arc from the kid at curbside to his waiting partner, who, in one fluid motion, would dump its contents into the truck and send the empty can flying back. Without spilling anything on the street. There were dual benefits to this: First, it was great exercise. Second, and most important, we'd usually finish our second trip to the dumps by noon, and then hit the beach for the rest of the day.
To be fair, there were also a few downsides as well.
The job was absolutely mindless. After a few weeks of working the trucks your mind went to mush, and even reading the newspaper (and I'm talking the Daily News here, not the New York Times) became a challenge.
And then there was the vocabulary. The regulars who worked on the trucks had a vocabulary that was pretty much limited to four letter words…and we absorbed them through the process of verbal osmosis (okay, okay, I'm back to making words up again.) One of the kids was the son of a devout minister. He came in one day telling us that at dinner the night before he said "Mom, can you pass the fuckin' potatoes, please?" He didn't even realize what he had said until his parents recovered from the shock and filled him in.
Oh yeah, and the nicknames some of the regulars had...Sitting Bull, Nobby, Eight Ball….
I could go on, but I've gotta' go.