Thursday, March 24, 2011

Try it

Alka-Seltzer had a TV commercial in the 70’s of a waiter persuading a man in a restaurant to choose a particular menu item, “Try it – you’ll like it,” he said. Next we see the restaurant patron at home dropping two tablets into a glass of water to settle his upset stomach. He may have tried it once, but he won’t again.

I approach many things in life this way (naturally within reason). I am not opposed to trying new things. I don’t always think it through completely – well because it’s hard to know if you’re going to like something until you try it.

You need only to look at my list of occupations to verify that. I have tried many different jobs with the hope or belief that I might like it. I’m sure there are those cynics who would call me a job-hopper, or worse. I would remind them that I have held the same job for the last 26 years, so there.

I won’t list all the tasks I did for payment before my 25th birthday as space really doesn’t allow for a proper treatment (it was less than 30 if you’re wondering).

In many ways I am like the cat that lands on a hot stove. He won’t make that mistake again, but he won’t touch a cold one either. If I tried something and it didn’t agree with me, well I probably won’t attempt it or anything like it again.

One of the hobbies I have toyed with is refinishing furniture, usually done without the aid of power tools. This is because of an experience I had one summer working in a furniture factory. Wood was sawed, sanded and glued to resemble furniture.

At one of the stations was a belt-sander mounted on a table where the sandpaper flew by doing about 80. The person pressing the board against the sandpaper was supposed to pay attention to what they were doing so the wood would be sanded and not their finger tips. I didn’t and they were. Nobody likes that, and I sure didn’t. Although my thumbs were spared, my bloody finger-tips gave me eight good reasons to not try that again.

After college, where my fingertips pressed a keyboard, I worked at two jobs while I waited for Rhonda to graduate. At night I tended bar in downtown St. Cloud at The Red Carpet. That job I liked, and probably for all the wrong reasons.

During the day I was a garbage man, another job I liked. I drove the truck, “Hermie,” who threw the cans, would hang on the back for dear life between stops, and would step off on a street where covered cans waited patiently at the end of their driveways. I would get out from time to time when the trash was piled high. This was usually the week following an unsuccessful garage sale. “Everything Must Go.” It did.

Having that experience on my resume’ came in handy several years later when I would need a job: Rhonda and I had been married a little over a year and I had just left law school after a year. I tried it. After a day or two of picking up the pieces of a dashed dream I picked up the phone and got a job as a trash man. Except this time I was the guy hanging on the back. Rain or shine I emptied garbage cans into the back of a truck. Some of the things I saw would upset most people’s stomachs.

It was a good experience – it made me stronger in many ways, but after six months of coming home and plopping down dead tired I needed some relief. So I tried something else.

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