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Essay #3: Gainful Employment I

Before I begin to subject you to the telling of my (un)employment misadventures, I need to establish a fact to set the tone for this and all my future Gainful Employment reports.

(i)  - I am a lazy arse.

With this point in mind, let us begin the first episode of Gainful Employment. And, you can follow along with my employment reports by reading my résumé at http://surf.to/will.

Deep Inside Lorchem
A Plowing Match?
Dreams of the Future

Deep Inside Lorchem

Patio Perfect / Lorchem Industries: The guys that hired me, if only for two days.

My first ever job per se was a warehouse job at Patio Perfect / Lorchem Industries. It only lasted for two days due to the fact that I was just filling in for a guy who had to evacuate his house during the infamous Kingswood Forest Fire. I couldn't have been employed earlier on because they start their full-time summer students in May. May! Well it's good to accommodate university students, and in either case they need the money more anyway. And I was still enjoying my Returning Grad year at CPA. (yuck)

Looking back, I can see that even if I could have been hired, I don't think I would have worked out. I was eager and optimistic enough, but I was still somewhat lazy on some of the work details (actually it was just sweeping out in the back lot with all the cargo containers and stuff... the broom I had been using was too wide for the task and by the time I found a smaller broom I was sick of the task because I had been picking up debris by hand instead for several minutes; and another time my partner went on one of his loooonnnggg smoke / water breaks and since I had to wait for him to show me about the blue foam cutting and since I was tired, I decided to sit for a moment. Then the owner came by, and while he wasn't terribly upset, he was disappointed that I lacked the foresight to clean up the warehouse floor... and the place was a mess.), and it was demanding work.

But it was interesting work. There was a lot of variety... the first day I got to go on a 'road trip' (my own definition) with the barbecue salesman / spa repairman (?!) and pick up a portable hot tub; the second day I got to help the same guy put together some barbecue grills. I got to help with the assembly out in the retail section, and let me tell you that some of those grills and tubs are EXPENSIVE. Especially the top-of-the-line outdoor in-deck hot tub jobbies... think new fully-equipped Japanese compact sedan for a price range. But those things looked awfully sweet, and just by looking at them it's nearly impossible to deny the lure of the large tubs over the small, green, ugly temporary tubs.

Oh, and you really should see the amount of miscellaneous *stuff* crammed into the back warehouse there. You wouldn't believe all the different parts and gizmos... from those @#$%^&* heavy as @#$% pool fence kits to the @#$%^&* hard-to-find tiny little washers and fitters. And for many of these items, Lorchem Industries is evidently the only distributor around.

I wonder if you'd save any money by buying your pool accessories from Patio Perfect Plus? I vividly remember looking at the invoice papers for a stack of heavy $500 thingamajigs, and I wondered how much these businesses they were shipping to (all over Atlantic Canada) would have to mark up the prices to make it worthwhile. I don't know anything about warehousing versus retailing, except that Patio Perfect gets to do both.

More importantly than anything else, all the people there were really nice. Even the semi-delinquent I worked with on the second day was sort of okay. Man, you had to see this guy to believe him... and you couldn't hear him either, he was one of those mumbly people and eventually I just got tired of asking him to repeat himself. Well, I could sort of understand how he became disenchanted with the job, you see he was out making a delivery and someone with a cell phone ratted on him about his driving ("How's my driving? Call (902)-832-3203!" ... personally I prefer the sticker on my buddy Zachary's bike helmet that ends with 1-900-EAT-DIRT), and so he wasn't allowed to make any deliveries anymore. Stinky, 'cause I'd imagine you'd get tired of only working in the warehouse day after day. And the worst thing to get stuck doing there is the cutting of the blue foam, mark my words.

What is the blue foam, you ask? Well it's some stuff that's used to line pools or insulate packaging or something or other. (Hey, I just worked there.) Anyway, it comes in these big 'ol sheets, and the end result has to be right-angled triangular strips. The actual cutting is a two person job using a table saw with a blade that goes up and down (we have it set on an angle). Then the strips have to be bundled together in a special way and strung together with packaging tape. Now looking back, it wasn't *so* bad once I got the knack of it, but the cutting of the foam sheets out in the hot sun got to be a drag fairly quickly.

The only other part of the job that was a drag by any means was when we were trying to move and organize those pool fence kits. But again, it wasn't so bad, and I wouldn't mind doing it again at all because everything else really is kind of fun. I found gathering items to fill an order somewhat amusing, and the extraneous stuff ruled as always. I can really see why a job like this would be more enjoyable than, say, working at Sobeys, because there's evidently less variety of work, and plus there are tons of little silly rules that are strictly enforced by crabby managers (at least from what I hear from friends and acquaintances who work there).

And I'd like to go back to how the people at Lorchem were all really nice, friendly, and often funny. I even got comments from the owner both days just about what T-shirt I happened to be wearing. And the place was very close to my house, so transportation wasn't a problem... Come to think of it, I should apply for a job there for next summer if that delinquent guy isn't coming back. =) Or if I can't get a job on campus (more on that later). Oh, and buy your patio stuff from Patio Perfect Plus! =) I'm not getting paid to say that.

A Plowing Match?

My second ever job per se was manning a ticket booth along the rear entrance of the Dundas Plowing Match & Agricultural Fair. This lasted for three days, both the fair and my job. (Now I know what you're thinking here: 'What's wrong with this guy? He has a job for two days, then has a job for three days? What gives?'. It's not my fault!) Getting the job was a cinch; my father who is the Treasurer there tells me that John Riley is looking for some more people to run the gates; then I phone John Riley (after I phone my father again to ask what his name was because I forgot!) and get signed in; he phones back later to say I'm in. That was the easiest way to get I job I've ever heard of! I didn't even need my résumé!

The station I got to work at for the three days of the fair (I worked 8-4 on Friday and Saturday, 10-4 on Sunday) was the rear entrance off the New France Road (a dirt road, naturally). Although the occasional tourist would get lost and come in this entrance, we were greeted mostly by livestock exhibitioners, and people who thought they could get in for free. Yuck. For the record, there were only three types of people who could get in for free: card-carrying 4-H members, cardholders of the brown Atlantic Fairs & Exhibitions Card, and people who needed to pick up or drop off something or other. But you wouldn't believe the people who thought they could pull the wool over our eyes. Some people even drove right on through ignoring our protests that they at least stop and tell us why they're getting in for free.

I got to work with a guy named Seth Petersen for those days. Now normally I don't drop names (as you have seen by the previous article on Lorchem Industries), but this person is a minor celebrity so I don't think he'll mind. He is the son of the only sheepshearer in the Maritimes. He and his family have visited every sheep farm in the Maritimes, and a good many on the ways of a regular excursion to Toronto and back again. His father has been on the news numerous times, and he is purported to be one of the top three shearers in Canada.

Anyway, enough about good 'ol Seth. The important point was, he was in the grade behind me at Dundas Consolidated School, so he knew some people and that provided good material for conversation. Now I need to change some names here: the only people we ever saw were the "N" MacDonald teenagers from... uh, 'Big' Pond as opposed to... er... and a woman named... uh, well, we'll call her "Amy". =) I don't think she'll be upset as long as I mention that she was the Queen of the Furrows two years ago and I ruined one of her birthday parties when we were little, and we even co-acted in a Triple Threats production during Grade Six. =) About other people, especially one woman in particular that I was hoping to see, we theorized that the odds of them coming to the Fair were a million-to-one, and then a billion-to-one of them coming in through our entrance.

So it was a good thing that we had conversation to pass the time with, because we were bored. Really bored. And covered with dust from all the cars roaring by. I expected to see a tumbleweed roll by or something. =) But we never really saw much of anything, with the exception of the various plowing competitions which were taking place right in front of us this year. Speaking of which, my 2nd cousin Nigel's girlfriend won the Plowing and Friendship segments of this year's Queen of the Furrows. She's really nice.

And speaking of 2nd cousin, if you were born on PEI, you'll quickly come to realize that virtually everyone is related to each other. My take on this is anything 2nd cousin and beyond is generally okay just as long as it doesn't happen repeatedly, but even 1st cousins do have, uh, relations remarkably often even now and it is kind of sickening. You really have to see it to believe it. But it's not like we're a bunch of rednecks up here.

Anyway, back to the job. The three days were quite hot (up to 29ºC!), and I, not being used to the sun, got sunburnt to a crisp the first day, then scorched again the second day despite precautions after the first burn. The third day I spent in the shade because Seth and his buddies decided to move the booths over to the other side of the road so they'd actually be of some use against the southern-angled sun. As I write this on the following Monday, August 28th, 2000, my burns have finally gone away. Ah, but looking back, I wish I had seen more people my age, though I did get a chance to have a chat with my good buddy C.A..

So in final analysis, it was an interesting job that got me through several chapters of A Crown of Swords. =)

Dreams of the Future

I'm financially set for my first year at St. Mary's, so I'm not that desperate for a job anymore. Besides, if I luck out I'll be a First Year Rep, and probably grateful that I don't have to deal with work. But I will need to accumulate funds for my second and third years at some point, especially if I decide to live in residence year three.

Although working at Lorchem is somewhat of an option if they'd have me back again, for me the real Holy Grail would be to get a job on campus. I've been hearing about positions ranging from Campus Security to driving the Husky Patrol van. I don't know if I'd totally work out as a security guard though:

            October 2001: The newly-appointed, uniformed campus patrolman and Second Year Rep William Matheson, writer of the now-famous film Sages of Time - Part Five, walked through one of the seventh-floor corridors of the Loyola Residence, making his rounds. He noticed a green garden hose weaving its way from one of the bathroom sinks all the way into the hall and down through the corridor in which he was walking, but thought nothing of it.
            Suddenly, he heard a noise coming from the elevator area.
            "That'll show them, Jarred!", someone shouted.
            Alarmed, Patrolman Matheson ran to the elevators.
            He almost didn't believe his eyes. There it was: Six guys standing around with four garbage cans, one propped diagonally against the entry doors to each elevator. One of the six guys held the end of a hose in his hand, the same hose he had seen snake into one of the rooms on the other side. The cans were obviously filled with water. The students were filled with fright at having been caught.
            "Hey, you're doing the garbage-can-against-the-elevator gag! Awesome! No, go on, go on, I wanna see this!"

A job option that entices me much more is the driving of the Husky Patrol van. I would absolutely *love* to be responsible for driving drunk people home from the campus bar at 2:30am! You can talk about anything with drunk people. Just watch out for their breath and vomit. Anyway, the Husky Patrol initiative is all part of SMU's D.R.A.F.T. program, which stands for Drink Ridiculously and Feel Tanked. No, no, it actually stands for Drink Responsibly and Feel Terrific, and they run an important and valuable program. They provide drinking students with safety, and they sometimes provide sober students like me with employment. =)

I don't think I can justifiably close this article out without a mention of what I'd like to do for a career. Well, I'm deeply interested in becoming an author, but more likely I'll get a job in the field of programming, which I also find deeply enjoyable. I hope to take Computer Programming - Advanced at the Nova Scotia Community College once my three-year tenure at SMU is over with. (That particular program requires three years of university to get in.) Actually, I can hardly wait. I feel like my life is ready to kick in anytime now. I'll be a success, and maybe I'll even find a girlfriend with the help of my good buddy Dan Budgell. =)

I don't know of any other paid campus jobs offhand, but you can be sure I'll be checking them out. If something clicks, you can be sure to see future (and more entertaining) episodes of Gainful Employment. Thank you for your time.

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