Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Truncated Employment History

Some jobs I've held:

1. Working at my dad's carwash. Tasks performed included: "interior", i.e., vacuumer: used orange wedged shaped nozzle attached to a grey hose to suck detrius out of customer's, often filthy vehicles. On the older vehicles with dying upholstery, the vacuum was completely ineffective and you would have to pick out grains of sputum with your fingers. Notable customer: One guy in a new, raised pick up truck had, under his driver's seat a brown paper bag stuffed with a stack of bills around eight inches long. Told the manager to give it to the customer because in general its not a good idea to leave a stack of bills bigger than a brick in your car when people are going through it. Worst thing I had to clean up: a noxious stew of roofing tacks, bleach, and dog food that a customer spilled in the back of his hatchback. It was splashing when he pulled into the carwash. He told me he was a professional background artist and was in William Friedkin's Jade. As budding film nerd, I was impressed with his credentials. Also, worked as salesman, where I could get 10 cent bonuses upsetting customers into getting leather rejuvenating treatment on their dashboards or tires. Was pretty good at that, but stopped it to work in "Q.C.", where you did the heavy lifting of drying the cars and could possibly get tips. I consistently and deservedly got the worst tips of any employees due to sullen teenage mannerisms and inability to demonstrate enthusiasm at the prospect of drying stranger's cars. I was pretty much an asshole.

2. Video Store. I enjoyed this, despite proximity to the public. Cheap store with great selection, we still had to compete with the cocksuckers at Blockbuster down the street and did so by supporting the bottom line with foreign films, cult films, and most importantly for the bottom line: the largest pornography section in town, divided from the rest of the store with a curtain. I liked working on Sundays, where I was by myself and I could put on a mix tape over the store's PA and put on a Buster Keaton movie. (The Navigator was my favorite). Least favorite customer, arrogant, pushy guy that always wore a cowboy named Floyd (when it was raining he would don an old west duster), who had a special reserved exclusively for him: 5 movies for 5 days for $5, which he would use to grab 5 different sub-Zalman King style softcore tap-your-feet-through-the-plot-until-the-breasts softcore flicks. He did this almost every day, and was usually a total prick. Maybe I'm just disrespectful, but if was hard to be impressed by a grown man who thought he was entitled to throw his weight around and act like a bigshot because he consistently spent around $25 a week in a video store renting titflicks. Also had an extremely P.C. woman who threw a four alarm shitfit over an issue of Premiere magazine we stocked that had Sandra Bullock on the cover in a bikini, had the magazine had Hitler smearing shit on Jesus I think she would have been less upset, and her teenage daughter once flipped her lid because she saw the video playing in the store (which was rated PG) briefly had a shot of someone's bare ass. I don't know who the patriarch in the family was, but he must have it pretty fucking rough. It was strange seeing which customers rented which pornography, or their elaborate excuses for renting "this was in the action section [which it wasn't] so I figure I'd give it a watch" so they could justify themselves to me, when I honestly didn't give a shit. It was also fun to recommend movies to people, which I took really seriously. Homeless guy once stole the chainsaw from a methhead cutting down trees in our parking lot and ran inside with it, saying "quick - HIDE THIS!", followed by the methhead running in swinging, starting a storewide brawl with me, ex-Army coworker, terrified customers, and the ineffectual efforts of the guy that slept in the parking lot who instigated the entire thing. The mohoawked maniac speedfreak managed to wrestle the chainsaw back, and had his hand on the pull-start, screaming "I'M GOING TO FUCKING KILL YOU!!!!" when the fuzz pulled up with their guns out in perfect, Saturday Matinee timing. Chief Gates would have been proud. Unfortunately they didn't shoot him, because threatening someone with death while trying to start a chainsaw is more of a ticketing-type offense.

3. Assistant Swim Coach. I was a decent (but nothing remotely special) swimmer and picked up some extra money assistant coaching high school swim team. I dislike swimming, which I find to be an incredibly boring activity and think a sport made out of a competition to see who can move through the water fastest in whatever designated stroke was absurd. It was like watching hour glasses to see which one was most accurate. I also couldn't give the smallest fuck if our swim team prevailed over a rival. Unsurprisingly, I made a poor coach.

4. Helping a friend move cross country. Was driving a 20 foot + truck somewhere west of Salt Lake City on I80 when the wind tore the entire fiberglass roof off the bed, where it sailed across the salt flats. Truck rental company refused to believe that the roof just "flew off", but that's what happened (there wasn't a structure for miles) and I had the lack of roof to prove it. Had to spend an extra day in Utah then move everything from one truck to a new one with a roof that stayed fastened. Got to drive across the country, which I had never done before.

5. Receptionist, now defunct music video & commercial production company. Got brief promotion from being an unpaid intern. As unpaid intern I did all the menial tasks they should have been paying someone for. Was once sent to the supermarket to pick up food for the office and given a stern lecture for purchasing "raspberry vinegar" dressing instead of the specified "raspberry vinaigrette" by a woman about my same age who I despised. She was a closet sadist whose own (justified) self hatred manifested itself in being incredibly rude and demanding to people below her, which was the only way she was able to extract any joy in her miserable, empty existence. She quit her job for a position that she was perfect suited for: schoolteacher. My promotion was short-lived, for someone that is terrible on the telephone, receptionist is a poor choice of vocation. Nothing really interesting happened except once I got yelled at and threatened by an Agent (something that never happened to me in Santa Rosa) and once fielded a phone call from Steve Buscemi, This job lasted a few weeks and I am fairly certain I was despised by the office. I got pretty good at it, I memorized people's extensions, a minor miracle for someone with a memory as lousy as mine. I wasn't allowed to leave the phone unattended to use the bathroom, which got really old on an eight hour + shift. I would have to ask anyone qualified to use the phone that had a menial enough position where they would actually take over for me without just giving me the finger. Subsequently I would often go the entire day without urinating, or just sneaking one and risking getting in trouble. The woman who is now a school teacher's name was Susan. I don't remember her last name, but I do remember that she sucked.

6. Bartender. Only did this a few times, mostly at things like art gallery openings and movie premieres. Once served Martin Laundau. I don't remember if he tipped me or not. Got yelled at when I looked at someone that ordered straight vermouth funny, because I didn't think any human being would want to drink that on purpose. I was wrong.

7. Production Assistant. Horrible gig. Did it way too long. Was once fired because I was told the producer "just didn't like" me. Did work on some fun stuff with some great people, but that was rare. Longest shift: 26 hours (for $150). Once had heavy piece of dolly track that wasn't fastened properly at the vendor fall on my head while I was rummaging inside the truck, which hurt like a motherfucker. Have lots of strong contenders for worst experience, but having to wake up at 4 in the morning then drive back from Las Vegas to Los Angeles in a truck with no radio or tape deck with a crippling hangover, unloading that truck, picking up another truck, spend a few hours picking up and filling that truck with shit, then dropping off that truck, then picking up another truck, and filling that with more shit, then dropping that off, then taking my own car to another office to pick up more shit, than having to drive across town (Van Nuys to Santa Monica - yes, there was traffic) to help the coordinator carry her two file boxes down a single flight of stairs was one of the crummier ones.

8. Footage Logger. I did this while hard up for money for a reality show. I went into the office, picked up a disturbingly high pile of VHS tapes, and then went home and wrote a minute by minute account of what occurred on each tape. The tapes were the raw footage for a reality show about vacuous real-life models who were doing some kind of tedious work that wasn't interesting to walk. Imagine watching an idiot dig a ditch for ten minutes, then catching their breath, then starting back up again before conversing with another pinhead for ten minutes. You get the idea now. I don't watch reality television. It would be, for me, like intentionally sticking my dick in a beehive - I know its going to be horrible and I would have no right complaining after I did it deliberately. I would like to be modest and lie and say I don't think I'm better then anyone that does watch reality TV, but I actually have to disagree: the fact that I'd rather (and in fact do) read books (that aren't about schoolboy wizards or vampires) instead of watching reality television gives me a leg up. So, on the first day I carried home the stack of tapes, the first tape contained time lapse photography. I dutifully logged this and emailed it to the one person at the company I had talked to, the one that hired me. I don't remember their name so let's call them PERSON A. Person A told me I didn't have to watch, and/or log that tape. "Why did you watch that?" they asked, like I was wearing a clownsuit and had a bowl of spaghetti upside down on my head. I needed the money, so I kept my mouth shut instead of calling them a nasty name or implying that their mother lacked virtue and discernment in her choice of sexual partners, nor did I ask Person A why they failed to inform me of that, or give me the fucking tape in the first place. I then proceeded to log more tapes, spending a few hours watching, and logging the events of unintelligent, inarticulate people preforming humdrum tasks. Out of the hours of footage I watched, this would be edited down to seconds, and even those seconds would be boring. When I finished a full day's labor, I emailed everything to Person A. Person A told me to email a report to Person B, a complete stranger. I emailed a report to Person B. I had no idea who Person B was. The next day I got a call from Person C. I had never heard of Person C before, much less met them. Person C was angry that I emailed a report to Person B. "Why did you send that to Person B?" she asked. "Because Person A [the only person I had ever communicated with at the entire company] told me to," I replied. "You never, ever, send any information to Person B," she told me, in the same way tone one would use in telling a high strung retarded child to put their pants back on at a funeral. I finished logging the tapes in a few days and waited forty five days for them to pay.

9. Music Video Director. Did this a few times. Sort of enjoyed it, but loathed placating egos, deciphering communiqu├ęs from various parties, and had some extremely bad experiences, such as having THE WRONG SONG sent to me by the record company - and they not realizing the error until after I had shot it. In general having to endure the slings and arrows of criticisms and often contradictory, superfluous, difficult to decipher notes from major labels, which is like being in a perfectly seaworthy sailboat going past the titanic, which is in the midst of sinking, with someone on the bow criticizing the way you sail around icebergs from a megaphone. Had some great experiences, but mostly lousy ones. Major labels take a long time to pay money that they owe you. Since my fiduciary standing was, at best 'tenuous', it was particularly difficult. This foray fizzled, along with my dreams.

9. 'Telemarketer'. Actually quasi-legal, 100% unethical scammer, trying to trick businesses into purchasing waaaaay overpriced copier toner by posing as their non-existent supplier. Heard whispers of similar operations being raided by police, and was told Black Randy used to do the same thing. I was horrible at it, because a) no self confidence b) horrible on the telephone c) a deep monotone voice that I have been told sounds "serial killeresque". Would you purchase copier toner from a stuttering, unconfident possible-maniac that you'd never heard from before? Either would I. Enjoyed my brief foray into attempting to con people, but although I lacked the necessary scruples - the way I was treated at other various companies, where they would shiv a newborn panda if they thought they could save $$$ made me feel ethically comfortable in trying to fuck them out of a dollar - I was, like I said, terrible at it and never made any money. The one "sale" I did make was to a church in New Jersey. I didn't mind defrauding a church because they make their money by preying on people's superstitions and telling then with a straight face that they are going to hell unless they believe in a fictional entity that seems to be doing a pretty piss-poor job, as well as being staffed by volunteers that are trying to curry favor with their respective non-existent deities instead of being compensated for their labor with actual legal tender. I was also not so hot on the church's company policy of not firing their employees that rape children. (While we're on the subject, how can a church have a billboard that promises admittance to heaven, but you can't have an advertisement for a product without federally mandated disclaimers to the validity? Complete bullshit). I received some compliments over my sale (instead of sad looks of disappointment at my consistent, constant failure, tempered with warm encouragement) I was informed my sale wouldn't be valid (and this confirms my thesis) "because churchs never pay" and they didn't bother sending the merchandise or the invoice. You won that round, Pope Benedict XVI.

10. Band. Not really a job, but have been paid before so I figure worth mentioning. One of our biggest paydays (besides airplane tickets) was money from a XXX porno movie that used a few of our songs. I have the movie on my desk but have never watched it. I have nothing against pornography and think it is an oddly pure industry: they make no bones about offering salvation, a thinner waistline, or finding you your soulmate, they just videotape attractive, consenting adults fucking to aid the consumer in masturbating. I don't understand why that is considered less noble than selling jewelry, 'vitamin' water, children's toys, monster cable or hybrid cars. Was also greatly amused by the thought of one of our songs - which, would be the last thing any human being would want to listen to while masturbating - disturbing viewers who just wanted to pull their puds in peace. Warning: being in a band is mostly tedium, moving equipment, sitting idle in standstill traffic that stretches to the horizon and hanging out in a bar trying to think of something to do besides drink (there isn't).

11. Working As DVD Compatibility Tester. I could actually hear braincells softly crying as they died when I worked at this job. I would take a DVD then make sure all the menu functions worked on a stack of players. It was repetitive in the extreme, and the normally-tolerable inconvenience of being forced to watch a menu animation or an advertisement you couldn't skip became a horror that would make Lovecraft rip his eyeballs out. Thankfully, the company had a policy: communicating with other employees, whom you were surrounded by without walls or any separation, was strongly discouraged. I thought it was an excellent policy. Unfortunately many people disagreed and felt compelled to talk or share their observations with me, one of which I remember was "that Carlos Mencia is pretty funny, but sometimes he goes too far."

12. Music video playback. A job where you're not really paid to apply technical skill to the task you're assigned, but instead are compensated for the mis-communication, chaos, elevated stress level and the Indiana Jones like rolling boulder of shit rolling downhill that might very well be directed towards you. Hours are long, conditions are extended near-panic, and the budgets (and the pay) has nearly evaporated. Rarely do this anymore, which is nice.

13. Boom operating. Sucks.

14. Production Sound Mixer. Really enjoy this, my current job/living. Like the people I work for. Dig the technical aspect and being left alone to do my job. Do get people telling me how to do my job - which is only what I do professionally to make my living for the past few years - but I can usually ignore that. Can be fun working with famous folks, as I can impress my US Weekly reading mother with my brief brushes with celebrities ("Mom, Tom Cruise was polite and a total professional" - 100% true) but the overreaction of crews when famous people arrive reminds me of accounts I've read of entire rural Ugandan villages having to pretend they are prosperous and happy when Idi Amin stopped by for an inspection. Dig the freedom. Wish I worked more, actually. Idle hands and all of that. Funnest job? Recording an interview with James Ellroy at his house. He made the crew coffee, and I was the only one that had any. "Here ya go, Monty," he said, handing me a cup. It was extremely strong, and I told him so. "Weak coffee is for fruits," he said.

15. Recording bands. Have been paid to record bands. Have had good experiences thus far, being on the same page as the bands I've worked with and everyone has realistic expectations. Enjoy the technical aspect and like recording in general. Am still blown away they a microphone can be used to funnel sound to magnetic tape or 1's and 0's, and then played back, which is an outta-this-world sci-fi concept if I've ever heard one. Am currently in the process of opening a recording studio with a friend, and will see how that goes as opening an analog recording studio in 2011 is about as sound an investment as starting a dinosaur grooming business.

16. Writer. Have written things for shits/giggles/etc. (also see: above and below this) but have been paid a few times. Once was for a shitbag giveaway glossy that was also online. Am not begin disingenuous when I say I forgot the name, I just really did. Paid poorly, anything I wrote (which wasn't much) had the living fuck edited out of it, and the era of coverage was all things I found about as interesting as the a featureless void. This didn't last long, and I don't think the editor (whose name I forgot) thought much of me.