Sunday, June 4, 2017

One Night a Busboy

As a teenager I never really wanted to have a job working at a place. I was an entrepreneur, really a hustler and an idea man. I made my money helping people carrying groceries, cutting grass, raking leaves, painting, moving furniture, and selling trinkets. I always found a way to make enough money for the things I wanted. I also picked up a newspaper route in about 1977. I know it was 1977 because I remember delivering the newspaper that carried the headline "The King is Dead."

In the newspaper business I quickly learned that service paid. I was the kid that put the paper between the storm door and the main door so people didn't have to go outside to pick it up. This made me a lot of money in tips. The weekly price was about $1.35 and I often got $2.00 and was told to keep the change. At Christmas the tips were really big. It was a great gig. I was a successful businessman. Not only that but I also figured out the system set up by the News Journal Company. They rewarded paperboys for getting new customers with points. And again because it was 1977 the points were called "Spacebucks" honoring the groundbreaking movie Star Wars that had just come out. If someone quit the route I didn't call it in and would keep an extra paper or two on my route. This was always helpful because most days someone would stop me and say "hey kid, do you have an extra paper?" This was always good becauseI never carried change and that normally meant they gave me fifty cents or a dollar and I got to keep the change for a thirty-five cent paper. When I would pick up a new customer I would use one of my surplus papers to service them and call it on one of the special windows of time when they offered double Spacebucks to paperboys as an incentive.

This continued throughout my time as a paper boy and I carried extra papers and sold them to people stopping me on the street and I would also drop them at the DelCampo bakery which was the last stop on my route. They got one paper but the guys there never minded extras and if they didn't get sold they were put to good use getting in with the bakery guys who then loaded me up with fresh-from-the-oven rolls. The place always smelled fantastic and the hot rolls tasted better than candy. When my mom understood my business practices she called me a hustler.

Also working around the neighborhood got me plenty of work and money. I cut grass in Canby Park and all of the neighborhoods in the area. I would push the mower as far as St. Elizabeth to cut grass because the folks over there had bigger lawns. I remember a woman over there named Irene once asked me if I wanted to buy pot with the money I had earned. I thanked her and told her no. I never told anyone about the offer but it was way wrong to bring it up to a young teenager.

My dad thought I should try working a job. He was a part-time bartender at a neighborhood Italian restaurant and bar called Picciotti's on 4th street. He set it up for me to be a busboy and I reported to work in a pair of black pants and white shirt. They showed me the ropes of clearing tables and wiping them down. It sucked. I hated it from the first table. It is not that the work was below me but I knew I didn't need to clean up dirty tables to make money. I had my own ways and they suited me fine and I worked hard and always made enough money for my needs. One time, before the paper route, I was carrying groceries for people and I made enough money to buy a Welcome Back Kotter record player. It was awesome to own such an amazing piece of musical equipment. I also made enough money to sustain my model train habit and play some occasional games of pinball. Why did I need to clean off tables? I especially hated emptying and wiping out the ashtrays. That was totally disgusting.

After a couple of hours and manager came to see me and asked how it was going. I told him okay but in a voice that said otherwise. He said, "you don't really like this do you?" I shook my head in agreement and he asked if I wanted to go home and I said yes. He said okay and thanked me and I left and never worked another day in the food industry. I never got paid for those couple of hours and never cared, I was just glad I didn't have to keep doing it.

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