Adonis Diaries

Archive for June 13th, 2013

A few details on my countless Part-Time jobs

Readers have stumbled on my auto-biographic section and I decided to reminisce on a few of them, my countless Part-time jobs.

I recall in 1978, I landed a lunch waiter job at a small eatery serving Greek food for the White-Collar employees of nearby companies in Downtown Houston, and at a mall.

It was a hectic 45 minutes job, satisfying clients with “shawarma-kind” sandwiches of sliced cow meat and sesame sauce stuffed with a few slices of green vegetables of lettuce and tomatoes… A few clients ordered the Greek salad dish with cubes of “goat cheese”, and lettuce and tomatoes…

The eaters could order double martinis from the nearby bar, but the effects of alcohol might have shown at work, and never on the magnitude of the tips.

The hourly wages were insignificant, less than $2 on the ground that the tips will make us rich beyond belief. And we had to share the tips. Cleaning our black trousers, white shirts and black bow tie were not reimbursed, and neither the transportation costs back and forth for just a couple of hours work.

I recall we could come earlier and enjoy one of these standard sandwiches, in order to be fit and ready for the adventure that never stopped for a second.

I recall working as plunger at a Mexican eatery. My hands were swimming deep in a morass of cheese, oil, pieces of meat, and all kinds of stuff.  Slipping on the greasy kitchen floor was pretty common, and we were not ordered to wear head gears or knee and elbow safety cushioned attachments… No tips in these part-time and hectic jobs, just half a dollar more per hour, or most probably half a dollar less than standard minimum wages…

Working at fast food multinationals was no improvement: You were allowed 20 minutes break after over 2 full hours of non-stop work: serving, mopping floor, cleaning, preparing the food, deep frying potatoes, slicing vegetables… at minimum wages that never increased for years in order to encourage business development and benefit from high turn-over economic strategies

One of the fast food franchises I worked for was Roy Rogers, and in Houston. Is this franchise still alive? My shift was from 6 to midnight and we were to clean up the entire establishment before closing. We did eat plenty of sliced meat and fried potatoes, and gained weight.

Another job was a waiter at a Lebanese restaurant, owned by two Druze brothers: Shawarma, falafel, humos….I still have the T-shirt with the immutable Cedar tree printed on it. The T-shirt is too tight on me now, even though I have lost plenty of weight. This job was also in Huston and at the same period…

I was “young”, 28 of age, a fresh graduate MS in Industrial Engineering, and ready for all kinds of experiences, acquiring “talents”, eager for surprises and adventures.

I believe I worked in all these part-time jobs, at minimum wages, after I was fired from an “engineering” job at a company that manufactured blowers and cranes

I was to “cost-estimate” the parts that went into the finished product, in a tree-like chart, so the manager would be able to figure out the trend in cost increases, and more likely for tax purposes, or just to give the impression that this company is highly serious…

I was supposed to place calls to a center for the daily cost of every bolt, screw and small elements…that were used in the parts.

I figured out “how to estimate” the cost of these pieces without calling, just adding 5% every couple of weeks… As if the end product price tag depended that much on these cost-estimated parts…

This  semi professional job was more unnerving than the action-packed part-time jobs: I was allocated a small room, humid and dim, inside and right above the fabrication floor.  Doing standard cost-estimation additions and subtraction… That didn’t mean much to me or to anyone else…

And this sprawling city of Houston had no public transportation, and my old car wouldn’t start, or stopped on my way to “work” and was late to “work” and spent my bi-weekly checks on repairing the car…

I couldn’t enjoy the fresh air and just watched the workers down floor, and smoking was my excuse to get out of my “chamber”, a job Dickens described of these accountants in England banks in the 18th century…




June 2013

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