I’ve been meaning to write this post for a long time, but I knew it would be such a long post that I kept putting it off. I want to tell you about my first job. I think you’ll find it amusing. I swear what I’m about to tell you is all true.
That should get you hooked. Nothing intrigues people more than telling them it’s a TRUE STORY.
Faithful readers may have noticed that I don’t talk about work here. This is because none of you would be interested in software stories. As far as the bad things, there’s absolutely nothing bad to say about my job. Ahem. And also, it’s not a good idea to trash where you work or even where you previously worked. It can all come back to bite you. Plus I’m a nice guy. I wouldn’t want to hurt someone’s feelings.
But I’m going to break that rule here. Somehow I don’t think this is going to affect my career. And the only people that I’ll be saying bad stuff about, I don’t really care if they find out. You’ll see why. Hint: Listen for a *DING*.
So on with it already.
I didn’t have a job until I graduated from high school. That summer I got a job with the traffic department of a small upstate NY city. A summer thing, until I started college in the fall. It mostly involved doing things like painting lines on the road, fixing street signs, that sort of thing. I’ll get into that later.
The “department” was located in the garage off of the police station and consisted of two people (plus me): Jim and Shaky.
Shaky’s real name was Gordon but everyone called him Shaky. Keep in mind: I’m not making fun of him. It really is what he went by.
Shaky was called that because he had some sort of disorder that caused him to get into shaking fits. Nothing extreme, like rolling on the ground, but his hands and face would start shaking. He was older and just putting in his last couple years so he could retire. He was tall and skinny, with glasses. He didn’t have any teeth. You got used to seeing him that way and then halfway through the summer when he got dentures it looked so odd to see a full set of teeth in his mouth.
Shaky was foul-mouthed and liked to complain about things, but he was pretty good-natured if that makes any sense. He always liked me. He hated Jim but the feeling was mutual. Whenever I was alone with one, he would always complain about the other.
Probably the best way to give you an impression of Shaky is to give a couple of examples. Every day when lunchtime came, he would leave to grab lunch somewhere. I don’t know where he went: a diner or maybe home. Before he left he’d yell out “Time for beans, bitch!”. It was just something he’d yell to no one in particular - whoever was in the room.
Eventually his daily exclamation was shortened to just “Beans, bitch!”. Then by the end of summer he’d just yell “Bitch!”. Sometimes he’d stretch it out “Biiiiiitch!” If you were to ask me to shorten “Time for beans, bitch!” to its core essence, I would say “beans”. The point is you’re going to lunch (beans). Some might say “time” I suppose, as in the point of the exclamation is to draw attention to the time. But we’d all be wrong because apparently “bitch” is the key word there.
I think Shaky really liked that word because another time, he had to put up one of those “Do Not Enter” signs. You know, the ones with the red circle with the white bar in the middle? Here I’ll show you:
Well Shaky told me that it looked like something should go in that white bar. He suggested putting in big bold letters “BITCH”. Since we had a room full of street signs, and extra letters to stick on them, he could have done that. But he wasn’t quite that crazy.
Shaky’s brother visited the garage once, and he was nothing like Shaky at all. He was clean and well-mannered and was some leader (searching online, looks like they don’t have priests and just have “elders”?) of the local Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall. Seemed like a nice guy. I was talking to my uncle that summer and turns out he knew those brothers growing up. They lived in the same neighborhood.
Shaky had a girlfriend named “Big Mama”. That’s what he always called her. I don’t mean just in talking about her, even to her face. She was “Big Mama”. I liked Big Mama. She was short and, as the name implies, a round woman. She was Puerto Rican and I don’t think she spoke much English. She seemed very shy so it was hard to tell if she didn’t speak a lot just because she couldn’t speak English or if she was just shy. Thinking back I don’t know if I heard her speak but I suppose I must have.
Big Mama would come by the garage once in a while and she’d always have the biggest, kindest smile. She was a lot younger than Shaky - maybe in her late 30’s. I didn’t quite get what the deal was there but they both seemed happy with each other. Big Mama was (also as the name implies) the mother to Shaky’s two boys. One boy was 9 and the other 14.
Jim would tell me that everyone thought the oldest boy wasn’t really Shaky’s but he was clueless about that. But the youngest, Jim was pretty sure was Shaky’s because it sort of looked like a young Puerto Rican version of Shaky. He did. I saw him come in a few times. The older one, not so much.
Shaky’s favorite way to waste time but make it seem like he was working was to take the truck out and cruise the streets, looking for obscured signs or signs that were damaged or whatnot. He’d tell his boss, who was a police captain, that he was going out to do that. You could tell the captain didn’t buy it for a minute but there wasn’t much to do that summer and I think everyone was just cutting Shaky some slack, waiting for him to retire. Sometimes he’d bring me out with him and if there was nothing for one guy to do there was double nothing for two guys. Once in a while he would find a branch and cut it down or fix some sign. I would just hang out and watch mostly. And collect the paycheck. Don’t forget the paycheck.
But the vast majority of the time, it was just driving around aimlessly. I’d like going out with him in the truck because it gave me something to do besides sit in the garage listening to Jim. I’ll get to Jim later, but suffice to say he liked to talk.
Jim told me about how Shaky was arrested once for molesting a little girl. *DING* That sound means you just reached the part of the story that explains why I don’t care about talking about Shaky online. He allegedly touched her, you know, in ways he shouldn’t have. I know I just threw the whole mood of this piece out of whack, but I had to bring it up sometime.
Now Jim would exaggerate stories but I never got the impression he’d make things up out of whole cloth. So I can’t say if all of this really happened and I still feel a little bad about mentioning it without any proof other than Jim’s word to back it up. But then again, I haven’t given any last names or even the city this was taking place in. I’ll just say that personally, I never doubted that the basics of the story were true and take that for what it is.
Jim says the police helped Shaky out and got it dropped. That sounds iffy - how exactly would they have done that? I don’t know. But remember, the garage is right in the same building as the police station and they all knew Shaky. Again… just repeating the story I heard.
Well good thing I can’t think of anything else to say about Shaky because I don’t know how I would follow up that creepiness. Whenever I get around to my next post, I’ll talk about Jim. I’ll give you a hint about what it was like hanging out with Jim. I preferred the company of the (alleged) child molester.