I’ve had a pretty strange life, especially when I was younger. In the event that this whole cancer thing doesn’t end well, I’d like my two sons to know about all the dumb things I’ve lived through and poor decisions I’ve made. In the hopes that my children will learn from my many mistakes, I present: Pop Secrets.
How are you? Would you like to hear more about your father’s fascinating work history? Of course you would. And so…
Job #4: Warehouse Labor – 1995
I spent my last year of High School in Maine, at a boarding school called Kent’s Hill. When I came back down to Massachusetts at the end of my school year, I didn’t really have anywhere to go or anything to do. So I moved in with my grandmother in Arlington for the summer, and got a job working in a warehouse in Chelsea.
The name of the company was Eagle Air Freight, and my work day consisted of loading and unloading tractor trailers. Trucks would pull up, full of the most random things you can imagine, and we would stack the contents onto pallets and wrap them up for the forklift to take back into the warehouse.
The trucks were mostly filled with boxes containing who knows what, and I never knew what I was going to find when I opened the next truck. The worst was always rugs. Rugs were a pain to unload and even worse to try and stack onto a pallet.
When I started working there, I knew it was just until I could find something better, but most of the employees were there for the long haul. During my time there, some of the employees were trying to join a union, which was something the ownership really didn’t want. I didn’t have a dog in the fight, so I stayed out of it as much as possible, but seeing the animosity it caused and the levels each side stooped to were pretty eye opening at the time.
Anyway, I worked that job for part of the summer, then found something a little less labor intensive.
Job #5: Warehouse Labor – 1995
Having spent nearly two months working in a warehouse, I decided a change was in order and spent another two months working in a different warehouse.
In Boston, directly across the main entrance from Fenway Park, was a large store front called Twins Enterprises that sold sports memorabilia (mostly Red Sox for obvious reasons). What most people didn’t realize was that directly behind the store was an even larger warehouse of that same memorabilia, and that was where I worked.
This picture brings back memories. I can almost hear the racist chanting from drunken Sox fans…
My job was to pick up order sheets from stores around the country that had lists of goods for me to gather and pack. The packing list was almost always entirely baseball hats, so I’d grab a long cardboard box and go through the warehouse gathering the correct amount of hat styles and putting them into my box, then gather the boxes together for shipment.
I liked this job a lot more than working in the other warehouse, both due to the relative ease of the job and the location. Rather than being in some isolated industrial park, my new job was right in the middle of everything. During my lunch break I could just sit and eat my food in front of Fenway and watch the people go by.
There was an office in the warehouse that I didn’t spend much time in, but there was one guy who fascinated me. His job was to design the hats. Every time I walked past the office, I could see him there – Sitting in an air conditioned room, working on a computer and moving team logos around to see where they fit best. He didn’t look like an artist or a creative guy, he just looked like another warehouse worker. How did he get that job? I had no idea, just that I wanted it.
After a few months of working at Twins, I figured out that the problems I was having weren’t going to be solved by working at a different warehouse, and decided to leave. This was right around October 3rd, 1995 a day that you won’t know about or care much about, but was pretty important at the time.
Y’see, there was this court case involving O.J. Simpson, a very famous football player who had been charged with murdering his ex-wife and her boyfriend. That trial had been pretty big news for the past year and a half, and the jury was to announce their verdict during my lunch break that day. I didn’t really hang out with people from work (I wanted to spend my free time reading, while they preferred to smoke pot and discuss their “investments”), so I usually spent my lunch break walking down the block to this bar and pool hall that had an arcade in it.
Side note: One day I walked in there for my lunch and they were filming an ESPN “Ladies Billiards” special, featuring a pool player nicknamed “The Black Widow.” She appeared to be very good at pool.
Anyway, I went down to the arcade as usual on that day. I think I had even forgotten that the verdict was going to be announced until I saw everyone (and I mean everyone) crowding around the big screen television in the bar.
It’s important, at this point, that I explain something about this trial: Every Caucasian Person in America knew that O.J. Simpson was guilty, and had killed those people. Sure, the police hadn’t been perfect, and might have screwed up a couple of things, and okay, yeah, fine, it turned out the lead detective had been caught on tape using constant racial slurs, and then lied about it on the stand, but still! He was guilty! This case was a slam dunk.
The thing that Every Caucasian Person in America didn’t know (and certainly didn’t care to find out), is that police departments, and in particular the Los Angeles Police Department, had been fucking with their brown skinned citizens for decades. Lying, setting people up, beating them, committing outright murder, and no one had done a damn thing about it. Now those same brown skinned Americans were on a jury, watching one of their fellow Americans be harassed by that very same police department.
So you can imagine why they came back with a verdict of Not Guilty. Although I’m not sure you can imagine the extent to which Every Caucasian Person in America lost their goddamn minds. I didn’t have that much of a reaction – I wasn’t enlightened, just self-absorbed and had my own crap to think about – but everyone in the bar around me, and in the street on the way back to work, and on the rooftops, and in their cars, all had plenty to say.
Anyway, I left that job shortly afterward. You should read about the O.J. thing, it was pretty crazy. There’s a fantastic (but long) documentary available online called “O.J.: Made in America,” if you want to know everything.
It was at my next job that I finally found a place I enjoyed working, and work I enjoyed doing. It was a job so fun, and so influential on me, that it’ll need a whole post of it’s own…