Wednesday, September 15, 2010

795 Days

Early on the morning of Tuesday, April 22, 2008, this olelongrooffan was sitting on the back porch of that two story condo I lived in over in Slocala, Florida. I was enjoying a hot cup of Joe and reading the news on the website when my cell phone rings. It was Alex, an employee and coworker of mine at a home interior design firm, calling to tell me that Brian, the owner of the company, was here from his office around 100 miles away.

As Mr. Peter DeLorenzo says, all kinds of I knew from previous experience that Brian liked to let people go mid week so that the, now former, employee didn't fret about it all weekend long. Being the highest paid employee at this satellite showroom, I knew my days were numbered as the economy was continuing to tank and the construction industry was being especially affected.

Sure enough, a little later on that Tuesday morning, this olelongrooffan was cleaning out his desk while Brian was trying to make me feel better. "At least you can collect unemployment," was one of his ways of doing so. I told him that I held no ill will towards him after all, it is just business. I am just sorry that I did not succeed for you. He replied the deck was stacked against me as the prior management didn't penetrate the market in Slocala while business was booming.

As an aside, I agree. You can't put an unemployed used car salesman, also a brother in law, in charge of cold selling construction related products, I don't care what the market is. Nuff said.

So this olelongrooffan is unemployed and a call was placed to thejeepjunkie to apprise him of the situation.

"Whatcha gonna do longroof?"

"Well, jeepjunkie, I have absolutely no idea. I can't afford to move back to FantasyLand and this place sucks." Yeah when you are a BMW convertible driving, oxford shirt, slacks, and black loafer, no socks wearing dude, a farming community, no matter how upscale, is not the best place to reside.

"longroof, move over here to The Birthplace of Speed. As you say, Something Will Come Up, It Always Does."

And I did.

That weekend, this olelongrooffan road tripped the 69 miles, yes, really, 69 miles, to Ormond Beach and just drove around looking for the Taj Mahal. I finally found it and convinced Bert into letting me move in and the owner agreed with Bert's selection of me as a member of the Ocean Villas Village community.

So this longrooffan moved to the Taj Mahal, just two short blocks from the Atlantic Ocean here in Ormond Beach, Florida. I divested myself of most of the furnishings of the 2,600 square foot 3 bedroom, 2 bath, formal living/dining room with a sun porch home I had sold prior to getting that two story condo to move into the 600 square foot 1 bedroom, 1 bath with an efficiency style kitchen/living room condo affectionately known as the Taj Mahal. Now you Counters know.

But there is always an ocean breeze.

See, that is just how I choose to Celebrate Life. Always an ocean breeze. There is one now with a bit of a chill in the air.

So here this olelongrooffan was, living Beachside, still unemployed, but able to have a couple great roadtrips in 2008, parlay a paid for Volvo 850 for yet another desirable E30 ragtop with a few bucks to boot, snatch my olestationbus for a bit of automotive excitement, attend a bunch of events out at the Daytona International Speedway as well as down at the Daytona Beach Bandshell and beach. Plus, I got to pick up the Indian.

However, the bottom line is still unemployed.

Sure I have been able to snag a few jobs with Manuel Labor here and there. But h*ll Counters, this olelongrooffan is going to be 51 years young shortly and working with Manuel is fun and all but dang he works me hard. Plus my gross income in 2009 was less than $14,000.00. And remember, my daughter Jessica's support payment was over $6,000 of that measly $14K. Well justified, but still.

One of the activities this olelongrooffan has enjoyed is visiting thejeepjunkie at his Goodyear store down in Daytona Beach. Manuel Labor and I have spent some time there and I have always been treated well by thejeepjunkie's coworkers. Of course, the occassional accompanyment of a couple pizzas when I visited there provided further assistance to my generous treatment.

One of the things thejeepjunkie likes to do is let this olelongrooffan engage his clients in conversation while he goes off to work his magic to get things done so those clients are satisfied with the service his location supplies.

This olelongrooffan has done so on several occasions with, along with many others, those guys who drive those black and tan cars, as well as, the drivers of Daytona Beach's finest, private customers of his firm and the Bethune-Cookman University.

One of the members of the latter category is known round these parts as Mr. Williams. Mr. Williams has his firm's vehicles, as well as his personal vehicles, serviced by thejeepjunkie.

I first met him about eighteen months ago and we chatted about my employment situation then. We met again several months later and further discussed the opportunities for employment in a county that has a 14% unemployment rate.

Mr. Williams runs a firm, Gourmet Services, Inc., that contracts with Bethune-Cookman University, as well as several other colleges in the northeast part of the state of Florida, to run their food services division.

Bethune-Cookman University is one of several colleges in the greater Daytona Beach area. It is a private college with a predominately African-American student body. Very affluent students, excellent football team and well thought of in this area.

A couple Saturdays ago, this olelongrooffan was working with Mr. Happy on Bert's car down at thejeepjunkie's shop. Mr. Williams was having the wheel bearings replaced on his boat trailer by members of thejeepjunkie's staff.

While Mary, the new owner of Bert's car, was out for a test drive, thejeepjunkie, Mr. Williams and this olelongrooffan were shooting the breeze.

"Your brother got a job yet?" Mr. Williams asks thejeepjunkie.

"Just doing some odd jobs here and there," was his response.

Mr. Williams looks me right in the eye, "Well, I'll fix that." And he grabs his cell off his belt and makes a phone call.

This olelongrooffan can hear him talking to the other end.

"I'm standing here looking at JJ's replacement," he says.

He hands the phone to me and I am talking to the catering manager for Gourmet Services, Inc., a Miss Courtney.

She tells me to come in around 10 on Monday morning to fill out some "for hire" paperwork.

Well Counters, you know that at 10 o'clock sharp on the morning of September 13, 2010, this olelongrooffan was entering the office of Gourmet Services down there on that Bethune-Cookman campus.

Miss Courtney was out at an event and I explained my directive to Miss Brenda, the lady behind the other desk in that office. As soon as I mentioned Mr. Williams name, Miss Roberts came out from her sub-office and this olelongrooffan related to her that Mr. Williams told me to come on down and fill out some paperwork. She certainly looked surprised but gave me an application to complete.

I stepped out to a table in the cafeteria, completed it and returned it to her. She looked it over and made the comment, "You used to making some big dollars."

"Yes Maam, but that was a whole economy ago."

She then left the office and returned a short time later and gave me the "for hire" paperwork.

I completed it and Miss Brenda told me to call Miss Courtney in a couple days.

And on Wednesday, I did. She commented she was still waiting for Corporate to respond.

And later that day, one week ago, as thejeepjunkie and this olelongrooffan were sitting on the veranda of the Taj Mahal, the massive communications system lights up and it turns out it is Miss Courtney. She is calling to confirm this olelongrooffan is approved for employment with Gourmet Services, Inc. and I should report at 11:00 on Thursday morning to begin my first steady employment in 795 days.

Yeah, now you got the title, By The Numbers.

So, at no time during this series of interviews and meetings, did I ask what my job was or my rate of pay.

Because you know what? It doesn't matter, I have a job!

But don't think it is glamorous.

I'm turning 51 one week from today and I am a dishwasher for Bethune-Cookman University.

But you know what?

I don't care, at least I have a job!

And my rate of pay?

$7.50 per hour.

I don't care, at least I have a job!

But a lot of good those four years of college and a degree in Geography are doing me now.

But at least I have a job!

There are several really cool aspects of being the "token" white person in the all African-American staff this olelongrooffan works with.

They all call me Mr. John. I'm not sure why as they don't refer to the other co-workers, other than management, as "Mr." or "Miss".

Everyone, without exception, is a blast to work with and they all like to joke around but get the job done.

Although my hours are 6:00 am to 2:30 pm, it is nice as it resets a routine with the hours this olelongrooffan is used to from my construction related days.

So, this olelongrooffan has been there for a full week, I am off on Thursdays and Sundays so I get two Fridays a week!

I have also fixed a broken display on the highly popular Fanta Orange pop dispenser, read the directions on how to clean the ovens in the kitchen thus making that job a lot easier (it's all about heat), reinstalled a shield on the dishwasher so my coworker, Cat, who likes all things with that name, doesn't have wet feet while working that dishwasher and this olelongrooffan can get ice for that pop machine so quickly that I am nominated every time that experience is required.

And I don't mind, at least I have a job.

Today, my coworker, Cat, was showing the Big Boss, Miss Roberts, the repairs I had made to the dishwasher and the leaking drain under the "dish sink" and told her, in front of me, that this olelongrooffan should be over in the facilities maintenance department.

I looked at Cat and Miss Roberts and said, "Well, today, I am washing dishes," as this olelongrooffan headed back to that dirty dish inducing "wheel" that, I would suspect, feels like a Detroit assembly line, in that it never stops!

As usual, thejeepjunkie has the inside scoop.

When Miss Roberts left that office on that fateful Monday, she marched into Mr. Williams office and stated, "We can't hire this boy, he is used to making to much money!"

Mr. Williams stated, "Just hire him, he will work out fine."

I later found out from thejeepjunkie that Mr. Williams had stopped by thejeepjunkie's shop, that Monday, to pick up his boat key.

While there he mentioned that this olelongrooffan had done as expected and "I'll let him collect a couple paychecks washing dishes then I'll get him moved over to facilities maintenance where he'll do a great job."

Well Counters, this olelongrooffan is paying his dues and my calves and *ss muscles ache like nobody's business and I sure hope those couple of paychecks come really soon.

But know this, the fact I have a job, regardless of what it is, really lets this olelongrooffan

Celebrate Life.


kashgar216 said...

Mazel tov! Your fans on the Left Coast are rooting for you.

d5thouta5 said...

in this day of double digit unemployment, your attitude towards your revenue generating daily activity is what will get you where you will go...besides....
you gotta start somewhere.....
enjoy your Friday night....

Horse-farmer said...

What a way to go. If it means a couple weeks washing dishes.... be the best damned dishwasher in the country.

Proud of your attitude John.....
I too started out by washing dishes at St John's Hospital, spgfld Mo, and look where I am today.

Facilities mantenance...
Make Mr Williams proud of you .... I am

Congrats again


Horse-farmer said...

Oh I forgot, can I still move in with you if I get a job in silver hair land??????

And now I know why you didn't volunteer to come visit me when I was in Biloxi playing golf...

Anonymous said...

Foots in the door, up from here. Best wishes lil Jim