Tag Archives: jobs

Loose Change

As a freshman in college, Dodd worked as a waiter at a pizza parlor in town. He was prompt and friendly, and people were liberal with their tips.  Dodd saved his tips in a glass jar and opened a savings account at a local bank.  When the tip bottle was full, Dodd took it to the bank to make a deposit.  He asked the teller to use the  bank’s money counting machine to count the coins.

The teller said, “Count them yourself.”

The Outcome: Dodd  immediately closed his savings account and opened one at another local bank. The new bank’s teller cheerfully used the bank’s machine to count Dodd’s loose change.  After Dodd graduated, he got a good job and continued banking with the folks that had counted his coins.  In the following decades Dodd took out half a dozen loans and two mortgages at that bank.

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The 50-Foot Turkey Goes To Hollywood ©

Dexter Dolby had to confess. When he started writing the screenplay for Attack
of the 50-Foot Turkey he never thought he would end up here. How he got from
his own red carpet premiere at the Letongaloosa Fall Film Festival to being stuck
in bumper-to-bumper traffic along the Pacific Coast Highway was a blur. One
day he’s a writer and movie critic for the Letongaloosa Register-Journal-
Challenger-Sun Chronicle. The next, it seemed to him, he was here sitting behind
the wheel of his old blue Wrangler, a week before Thanksgiving, staring out at
the turquoise waters and waiting to begin life as a Hollywood screenwriter.
How a film gets made had always been incredibly important to Dexter. As a kid
he’d sit for hours absorbing every detail of every plot line, camera angle and
costume in movies like The Giant Claw, Dementia 13, and The Terror. He wanted
to be a film writer, and he knew if he was going to be taken seriously he had to
pay attention to every detail of the production.
It was that attention to detail that caught the eye of Paul Peterson, the CEO of
Talking Pictures Productions (TPP). The way the camera captured the detail and
movement of a giant 50-foot turkey as it toppled the tiny country town made
the hair stand up on the back of Paul Peterson’s neck. He prided himself in
being able to spot creativity and talent wherever he saw it—even in a
backwater town like Letongaloosa. Peterson wanted Dexter working for his
company.
For Dexter, thinking back to the events of that fateful night after Halloween was
better than a prize-winning movie. Incredibly, Dexter had said goodbye to the
small circulation newspaper and to small-town life. The turkeys at the wildlife
conservatory had changed is life and provided him with the future he had
longed for. With a firm offer of a job, Dexter bid goodbye to friends and family,
packed up his Revere 8Mm, and headed for Hollywood.
The weeks following the movie premiere had passed like a whirlwind. After “Mr.
Hollywood,” Paul Peterson showed up that night outside of the Cineplex, the
people of Letongaloosa had treated Dexter like a celebrity. The managers of
the burger stand told him he’d never pay for a burger and fries and shakes
again. The manager of the movie theatre assured him he’d have free movie
tickets. The president of the Wild Life Sanctuary presented him a certificate that
made him a lifetime member. He could visit the turkeys that turned him into an
up-and-coming filmmaker any time he wanted.
All of the attention at first mystified, then , humbled Dexter. He was delighted
that people liked his work. He was ecstatic about the attention Paul Peterson
paid him in the following weeks. They became friends.
The two discussed everything from to do with the creation of films and
screenwriting, to the nitty gritty of post- production editing. One day Paul talked
to about turning Attack of the 50-Foot Turkey into a one-day classic for the big
screen. All of those conversations resulted in an offer for Dexter to go to
Hollywood and make movies for TPP Productions.
I was a dream come true! Dexter loved his job as writer and movie critic in
Letongaloosa, but he was thrilled with his new life, even when he had to sit in this
traffic jams on his way to write and make movies. Slowly, the sea of cars began
to inch forward. Dexter felt a warm breeze on his face. He was on his way to
HOLLYWOOD. He was going to make movies. The cars started to move and
Dexter felt the Wrangler roll. It moved closer and closer to his future as a
Hollywood filmmaker.
In front of the offices on the TPP Studio lot, noted the palm trees. He sat and
marveled for a moment at the studio’s white stucco façade. Then he stepped
out of his sturdy old vehicle, grabbed his Revere 8Mm, and walked confidently
toward the studio. He was no longer that kid from a small town in the Midwest.
He was Dexter Dolby, Hollywood screenwriter and filmmaker.
-30-

 

Dr. Larry Day is a retired foreign correspondent turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase on Amazon.

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The Consultant

 

When I was a teenager, I was klutz. My klutziness—with everything from gadgets to girls—was a source of merriment for my friends, and despair for me. I shared my anguish in an interview with my kindly old Bishop.

He gave me some advice: “The Lord makes imperfect people with the hope that they will help other imperfect people with their imperfections.” That advice didn’t mean much to me at the time, but it does now.

It got me a job.

I was at a local hardware store when I met the headhunter who set up my job interview. I had gone to the store to return a faulty flashlight. The flashlight, it turns out, worked fine. Apparently I had put the batteries in wrong.

The salesman, Mr. Morales, turned the batteries around, replaced the cap, and flicked the switch. The light came on.

“It’s working now,” he said, and handed me the flashlight. He smiled, but he didn’t give me “the look.” That’s why I always look for Mr. Morales when I return merchandise at that hardware store.

Every time I hand faulty gadgets to other salespeople, they make the darn things work in an instant.

“You had the fragjibber in backwards,” they say.

Then they give me “the look.” You know what I mean, that surreptitious supercilious raising of the eyebrows that says, “If this guy is brain dead, shouldn’t he be on a respirator?”

It was while I was thanking Mr. Morales that the headhunter, Sandra Chang, came up and started talking to me. She asked me what I did for a living. I told her that I was retired and working my head off at odd jobs to make ends meet. After we had chatted a while, Ms. Chang asked if I would be interested in being a consultant. I said, “Sure I would.”

When she called some weeks later, she had set up an interview with Apogee Engineering. I’d never heard of the outfit, and Ms. Chang was pretty vague about what they do to keep their stockholders happy. She was also vague about which of my myriad talents Apogee Engineering was interested in. She said they’d explain in the interview.

Ms. Chang briefed me well. She said that first they’d go over my resume, and told me what they’d be looking for. She was right on target. She said that after the routine stuff, they’d want to ask me some different questions. She told me to be sure I answered all their questions truthfully.

“No problem,” I said. “My life’s an open book. I’m a professor emeritus from a small university, and I teach part time at a large university. I don’t drink, and I don’t do drugs. I don’t smoke and I don’t chew. I’m a very happily married man.

On the appointed day I went to Apogee Engineering. The interview was going great. They seemed completely satisfied with my answers to the routine resume questions. Then the assistant to president cleared his throat.

“Professor, as Ms. Chang may have told you, the project we’re considering you for is very important to Apogee Engineering. Because of that, you’ve been the subject of a rather extensive background check. Would you mind confirming some of our findings?”

“Not at all,” I said. “I’ll tell you anything you want to know.” Then I said to myself, “Bring it on.” I was secure in the fact that I have lived a solidly upstanding, if somewhat prosaic, life.

“Professor,” said the assistant, “a couple of weeks ago the local computer store sent someone out to your house. Why did you call them?”

“I inadvertently put a CD Rom disk into the B-drive slot instead of the CD Rom slot on my computer,” I said. “It got stuck, and I couldn’t get it out.

“I see,” he said. Then he went on.

“The folks at Triple A report that you have made extensive use of their emergency road service. In fact, you called last them last week. Can you tell us what happened?”

I paused. “Where was this guy going with this stuff?” I thought. “Oh well, what the heck,”

“I was driving to work and a car splashed mud on my windshield. When I turned on the automatic windshield washer, it squirted oil all over my windshield. I couldn’t see a thing, and I ran into a curb and blew out a tire.”

“And how did oil get into the reservoir of the windshield wiper?” asked the assistant to the president of Apogee Engineering.

“Lie,” whispered a little voice inside me. “Lie your socks off.” But I didn’t.

“A couple of days earlier the oil light came on, so I put in some oil. I must have poured oil into the wrong hole. All those darn caps under the hood look the same.”

I wondered if he was going to give me “the look,” but he didn’t.

“You’ve returned nine appliances to local stores in the last few weeks. How many of those appliances were actually faulty?”

“These guys are setting me up,” I thought. “They’re going to give me the old heave ho. Well I’ll save them the trouble.”

“All nine appliances worked perfectly when the store personnel adjusted them, I said with quiet dignity. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll just be on my way.” I stood up.

“Professor,” said the assistant to the president, “please sit down.”

“You people are trying to humiliate me,” I said.

“On the contrary, we’re trying to hire you,” he said. “We’ve been looking all over the country for someone like you. You’re bright. You’re successful. You’re a solid citizen. And you’ve been blessed with a gift. World class athletes 2

are a breed apart. They run the 100-yard dash in 9.3 seconds. They bat .375 year after year. They shoot in the low sixties in high pressure golf tournaments.

“What does that have to do with me?” I asked.

“You are an extremely rare phenomenon. Industrial companies all over the world hire Apogee Engineering and pay us millions of dollars to help them idiot-proof their products.”

“So you’re looking to hire a blithering idiot,” I said bitterly.

“On the contrary,” he said. “We’re looking to hire a world class reverse mechanical engineering genius, and you are he. You’re one in a billion. If a consumer product doesn’t baffle you, it won’t baffle anyone. Please come to work for us and help make consumer products safer for people all over the world.”

So I did. -30-

 

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I Was A Potato Picker

Hello All,

Many of you may or may not know that before I was a humor writer, I had multiple careers. I was a hand model/ copy writer, a foreign correspondent, and a J-School professor. Now, I’m a humor writer. But before ALL of that, my FIRST job was being a potato picker in the potato fields of Idaho..

My Life As A Potato Picker

I had a whole youthful career in the potato fields of Idaho.   From about age 8 a neighbor girl and I were “partners,”  in picking potatoes. The school district shut down school for two weeks in (I lived in Idaho Falls) October and all the kids got their year’s spending money picking potatoes.  The plows turned up the potatoes in rows and the pickers went up the rows with half-bushel wire baskets. Each partner picked a basket full and then the two poured the potatoes into a burlap potato sack (distributed along the rows by the tractor driver who was plowing the field).  We were paid 6 cents a sack (between us that meant 3 cents each).  We sometimes made $12 a day which was big money for 8-12-year-olds in those 1940-ish days Later in my youth I was a potato sack “bucket”  who followed a slow moving horse-pulled or truck pulled trailer and hoisted potato sacks onto the flat bed of the back of the truck or trailer.  The loaded trucks were driven to “potato cellars” l(long earth covered holding areas) where the potatoes stayed through the winter and well into the next summer and were sold by the truck load on the potato market.  That’s more than you wanted to know about potato picking.

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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No Amount of Book Learnin’

“…in journalism no amount of book learning can prepare one for the hard lessons of practical experience. While this probably applies to many businesses and professions, journalists can only consider their education well-rounded when they have learned to apply those ethics of accuracy and fairness under the duress of deadline pressure.

“Those are the lessons to be learned at the feet of the old pros; that is, the old practitioners of the profession of journalism.”

Walter Cronkite, from the introduction, Retta Blaney, ed., Journalism: Stories from the Real World, Golden, Colorado, North American Press, 1995.

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