I had a lot of "jobs" in my life. Made websites before it was cool to download free templates. Served in a hospital, tending to the sick and helping the nurses. For years worked as a cashier at a gas station, interpreted the signs of dipsticks and looked into the barrels of replica guns. Helped in construction work and painted stairwells. Sold bullshit as a telephone salesman (only briefly, though). Assisted musicians in the studio and on stage setting up their gear, recording and performing, mixing and mastering. Worked in a second-hand store for furniture, TVs, computers, CDs and vinyls, building, breaking, repairing, moving cupboards and PCs, sorting and labelling the libraries. Managed a kiosk, selling beer and tobacco and newspapers and coffee and playing Abalone.
Although I never received any formal professional education.
I was "between jobs" when I found out about Steemit last year. A new "jobcenter agent" was assigned to me, and although only 30 minutes are allocated for each and every "customer", we talked for one hour and agreed that, if I were to truly get out of the unemployment spiral, it would be best if I learned a trade – simply because it would look better to my future employer than my experience alone, even if I worked in a completely different field.
There is a school in my town which once was well-renowned, specialized in the metal working trades. His plan was to send me to an "aptitude test", give me a three-month crash course in CNC programming and a 2-year education as an industrial mechanic. His superiors intervened, however: the crash course would make me fit for the market and allow me to take on dumb jobs at low wages and exclude me from higher training. He fought tooth and nail so I could take the 2-year course, which would only begin in February, though.
The school itself called him to say that the "aptitude test" would be a waste of time when I visited to do the paperwork.
I agreed with my agent that, if in the meantime, a job would open, I would take it. He went to great lengths to inform me I was not required to do so. It was only to prove to him that, if given an opportunity, I can and do work hard and well, that I agreed when he called me one day to inform me someone was looking desperately for a helping hand, no education, no driver's license required. "May I foward your phone number to him?", he inquired, and I said yes. An hour later, I got a call from my new boss. It was a very short call, he was installing cabins for bus stops, container offices and smoker's pavillons. I was to wait for him at 4:00 in the morning on the street and he'd pick me up, "we have to install six lamps in Frankfurt, it'll take maybe two hours."
That is how I had my first job interview at four in the morning sitting in the passenger seat on a 4-hour drive, wondering what kind of lamps need that long to install. My new boss was a friendly man three years away from retirement who loved to talk and laugh and sing. Of course he was not an intellectual, academic, free spirit, but he had clearly developed the sort of smartness that time, age and wisdom afford one. We reached Frankfurt, drank a coffee at the red restaurant with the two golden arcs and visited the construction site, where he had set up three bicycle boxes earlier - simple, but heavy steel constructions with glass panels. The construction site manager insisted that the lamps be installed although the electrician had apparently informed my boss that he would do it. So our job was to install these lamps without cabling so the electrician could disassemble them again to do the cabling.
My hopes that I had finally found a job where I'd be paid to do something that makes sense sank a little.
It took four hours and my boss annealed three drills trying to enlarge the diameter of the screw holes until I carefully remarked that I once managed to drill a hole into steel at very low rotation.
Every tool I had in my hand, I put back where I took it. I worked swiftly and predictively where I could. Just as my father taught me. My boss, whose style of work was the complete opposite – chaotic and adaptive – liked that and took me on the next job.
A well-known discounter chain had a warehouse near Berlin and needed two dressing rooms, so they ordered two office containers, each consisting of five elements, each weighing maybe half a ton, which we were to set up and assemble in one of the storehouses. We worked like egyptians, moving the segments millimeter by millimeter using crowbars as levers. This one took us several weeks, and we found a nice hotel near a beautiful lake, but without WiFi and cellphone reception.
My hopes that I had finally found a job where I'd be paid to do something that makes sense sank a little more when the workers informed us that the showers were on the opposite side of the compound and that nobody would be using these dressing rooms anyway.
At least it was dry and warm in the storehouse.
My boss took a very practical and pragmatic approach to workplace safety – it was unneccessary. One time, he wanted me to step on the forks of the forklift so he could lift me up to do some work overhead. I respectfully refused and went to get the ladder instead. That didn't stop him from thinking of new ways to kill me, though, so I always had to think at least three steps ahead. I'll mention another example:
when all segments were assembled, it was naturally dark inside; but since we had to install the lights and electricity anyway, we might as well switch them on. Trouble was, the electrician was not ready yet, so my boss improvised:
don't try this at home, kids!
And yes, that's a fuse board connected to an extension cord by means of two wires. "Don't tell anyone what we're doing here!", he said, but I informed him I'll have to, one day, nobody would believe me anyway. Then I took the picture in secret.
We criss-crossed western and northern Germany and mainly assembled or repaired bus stop shelters, all designed with the same simple principle: a few steel columns, all secured with one or two screws to the roof and stabilized with heavy security glass panes. We found our rhythm, worked hand in hand, slept in cheap hotels (all without WiFi, none with cell phone reception) and sang many a song on the road or told jokes. He loved dirty jokes.
"How do you drive your wife really, really wild?", asks one man his friend.
"Well, in the morning, I give her cunnilingus. But I don't let her come."
"And that drives her wild?"
"Wait. At noon, I sleep with her. Without letting her come."
"You mean, that drives her wild?"
"A little. But in the evening, I take her from behind and stop just before she comes."
"...and when I then wipe my penis on the draperies, that drives her really wild."
We were in the middle of repairing the seats on one of those bus stop shelters (the mayor of a tiny village had tested them and found them too low), when a bus stopped and unloaded two kids coming back from school, who naturally inquired what we were doing there – but they were not impressed. "Nobody is using these shelters anyway, really", they said and went home.
My hopes that I had finally found a job where I'd be paid to do something that makes sense sank into a deep, bottomless pit.
February came, and I went to school to become an industrial mechanic. But that is a story for a different post.
A close friend betrayed me, and instead of wallowing in self-pity, I used the impulse to get better mentally and physically. But that story also shall be told in a different post.
Two old internet friend-foes staged another battle against what I hold for truth and were defeated utterly. This story also will want to be told one of these days.
That's why I had to take a break; and it may even continue for a few months – just taking a break from the break, if you will. This is to let you know I still hope that this experiment succeeds, that you are well and prospering. I hope to be with you again soon and catch up on all the Steem and Rep you have hoarded in the meantime :)