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My Employment Pages

Unfortunately I don’t quite have the diversity of job types that Shan has, but I’ve had some crazy ones.

BEST JOB

Main Street Pub. For 3 years in college, I was a line cook for a bar and restaurant and I loved it. It was hot and sweaty and I often felt underpaid, but it was a blast. I worked with a crazy bunch of guys in that kitchen (slightly less exaggerated than the movie Waiting), and spent way too much time after shifts siting in the bar drinking and cracking up with my coworkers. I managed to work with several friends that I knew from school too, and we were crazy. That job also represents my transition into chef, where I first saw some responsibility in a job, and got to be creative as a cook.

THE BEST JOB RUNNER UP

This is my current job. I’m the head chef for a senior meals program in town, and I love it. It’s my best job in some respects. I have a good balance of responsibility and lack of stress, and for the most part I like the people I work with. The only thing I don’t like is that I have to manage people. And there’s a part of me that wishes I was cooking on a line again, with all that craziness. A very, VERY small part. But I do love knowing that my food is doing good for people that really need it.

THE WORST JOB

My freshman year of college, I worked at the dorm front desk. Essentially, I sold stamps, printer paper, pens, and other random items. I also signed in visitors, monitored people coming in and out, passed along calls to the RAs, and signed out cleaning supplies and vacuums. The worst part though, is that my shift was 1am to 7am. Seriously…overnight. They called it “Night Security.” I fell asleep a couple times and it was awful. I did get to do lots of homework during my shift, but I imagine a lot of it was done poorly. And come on…who needs a freakin’ stamp at 3 in the morning?!? It was horrible.

THE WORST JOB RUNNER UP

The summer between my freshman and sophomore years of college, I got a job as a busboy at Damon’s. This now defunct rib restaurant in west Michigan was a huge sports bar on one side, and a restaurant on the other. My job was to clean tables…that’s it. I cleared dishes into a tub, wiped tables, cleaned floors, and did other miscellaneous cleaning. This was the job where I found out about cleaning trash cans. Literally, they made me take every trash can in the restaurant and scrub them with bleach to clean them. Awesome. I made decent money, but I didn’t know anyone, and I was only there for 4 months, so I didn’t really try to make friends. Plus, I lived at home, so I felt like I was back in high school.

EASIEST JOB

My sophomore year of high school, I worked at Mr. Burger (you can’t make this stuff up). Mr. B is a locally owned chain of, surprise, burger joints. I worked after school a few days a week, and all day Saturdays. I started as a busboy/dishwasher, but quickly worked my way up to cook. I had to take orders from the cafeteria-style counter, cook burgers and fries (or breakfasts of Saturdays), ring up orders at the cash register, and do general cleaning. It was easy because Mr. B was SLOW. For some reason, the owner wanted to make sure we were always staffed for the “rush,” which rarely came. So we filled time by playing 20-questions and hangman, telling dirty jokes, and grazing from all the readily available food. If I was there now, I would weigh 300 pounds.

HARDEST JOB

For 2 crazy years, I was a high school English teacher. After college, a friend and I moved to California to be teachers. He was a band director, and I was an English teacher. This phase of my life was amazing, but terrible. I was away from home and making a name for myself in the world of education. I was actually pretty decent at it. But I also worked 12 hours a day, plus several hours most Saturdays, and usually drove to school on Sundays to update grades. I couldn’t escape my job. For those that are successful teachers, you are all amazing. Everyone told me it would get easier, but I couldn’t wait. After 2 years of crushing difficulty, I turned tail and came home. I’m glad I did it, because those two years informed a lot of who I am today, but it was miserable. if you know a teacher, thank them. And don’t EVER talk about what a sweet schedule teachers have, or how easy it must be to only work 8 months a year. It is rough.

STUPIDEST JOB

As part of my culinary degree, I did an internship with the food and beverage department of the local minor-league baseball team. It sounded amazing. I got free room and board and few bucks in my pocket, and I got to stay local to be with Shannon (at the time my budding serious girlfriend). I got to be outside all summer, and be around baseball, which was a big part of my childhood and one of the few connections I have with my Dad. It did not turn out well. I discovered that an f&b intern was actually a glorified workhorse. I had to stock all of the concession stands every day, put away deliveries of 800 to 1500 cases of food, clean and fix restaurant equipment, often in 90-degree enclosed spaces, and work 14-hour days when there were home games. I did take advantage of the free apartment, but found out after I signed up for the room that I had–surprise–a roommate. Seriously? I think it was a great opportunity for someone totally different from me, but for me, it sucked. I quit half-way through the season.

MOST CHALLENGING JOB

Amazingly, I have a job that was more challenging than teaching. It was…substitute teaching. Oh yeah. After moving back home from California, I hadn’t completely given up on teaching yet, and I subbed while also working for TGI Fridays. Subbing is kind of like teaching, only you don’t know the kids and they don’t know you. Remember those images from tv and the movies where the kids are running riot over a flustered substitute teacher? It’s kind of true. This was when I really realized what little punks most teenagers are. Seriously, they are bastards. If you have kids…don’t let them turn into bastard teenagers. Also, lots of teachers are pretty terrible when it comes to leaving plans for subs. I actually had sub plans once that said “teach unit 4.7.” This was in a 7th graded algebra class. After quick calculation, I figured out that I took algebra the same year most of those kids were born, and haven’t really done it since then. Thanks math teacher…thanks a bunch. That was a rough year.

OTHER JOBS WORTH MENTIONING

My other jobs are all variations on the ones listed, but I’ve also had the opportunity to do a few things to fill the time and make some extra money. I can’t help but stay busy.

Scoreboard Operator – When I was teaching, I also worked as the basketball scoreboard operator. This meant that every Tuesday and Friday I went straight from class to the gym and sat in the bleachers for 5 hours. It was actually awesome though. I got to watch the freshmen, JV, and varsity games, and run the scoreboard. I got free concession stand food and got to know the other teachers that I worked with really well. And hello…extra money!

Band Camp – I was a band geek, and I loved it. As a teacher who lived with the band director, I got to stay in that world and make a little extra money to work with the marching band. If I could have done that without being a teacher, I might have stayed. I loved it. I also got to work a local marching band’s camp after I moved back home.

Pit Musician – In college, I got to work as a paid musician in the pit orchestra of a high school musical directed by a friend. We did Oliver, and it was so much fun. I hardly made any money, but it was a blast.

 

Author’s note–Sorry, I’m not as awesome as my wife, and I don’t have any pictures.

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The Weirdness of Growing Up

When Shannon and I met, we had lots of conversations about fun vacations we wanted to take, exciting future jobs, the movies and TV shows we both loved, and lots of other things that were exciting to talk about. Lots of things centered on the here-and-now. Lately, the tide has turned.

Yesterday, we had a discussion about scheduling a meeting with our retirement account representative to assess our investment strategy and decide how to maximize our retirement account effectiveness. Not nearly as exciting a conversations as where to take our dream vacation. But, probably more important?

Let’s be clear. I’m not disappointing that we talk about retirement accounts, work schedules, home improvement, and bills more than we used to. I actually kind of love it. I’m a planner at heart, and I’m so glad that Shannon is too. And it’s not like we never talk about the fun stuff anymore. Hell, we even do the fun stuff we talk about. Look at our summer! Europe, horseback riding, whitewater rafting, skydiving, babysitting. We are wild and crazy! But I’m glad we do the boring grown-up stuff too. And I’m excited to talk to a professional about our retirement. If we can save right, I know we could have some great years of talking about and doing the fun stuff when we retire.

Ultimately, it’s about the balance. Having fun is nice, but growing up is also nice. Nice, and weird.

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The Transporter

It’s no secret, to those who know me, that I sincerely believe that a certain style of vehicle is superior to all others. While it’s true that every vehicle has it’s purpose, one rises above the rest. That vehicle:

Oh yeah…the mini-van!

This is me in the amazing 2010 Chrysler Town and Country. My car is in the shop, and due to a scheduling mishap the fine folks at Enterprise upgraded me for free. The manager was apologetic, and a little embarrassed, when he informed me that they could upgrade me to a mini-van. My response? Sweet.

I know what you’re thinking. LAME. But hear me out.

First of all, the mini-van is large. For a six-foot-eighter like me, that’s key. I’m out of the compact and mid-sized car markets simply based on leg/head room. To be able to sit up straight in a vehicle, stretch my legs a little, and not have my legs around my ears is a blessing.

Also, it seats seven. I hate trying to take several cars anywhere. Let’s go out to dinner! Oh wait, there’s six of us, so we have to take two cars. Oh no! Mike didn’t make it through the light. Now we have to wait for him. I’m parked out front, but you’re parked on the other side of the restaurant. I know…these are minor inconveniences. But they are inconvenient. When you have kids, seating is essential. But when you just want to go out with friends, it’s also kind of nice.

Cargo space is such a perk. With a car, you can’t even buy a dresser at target without having to figure out how to get it home. Much less a couch. And moving! What a pain. But with a mini-van–especially one of the new fancy stow-and-go models, you have all the room you need for anything short of an all-out move.

Allow me to put to rest some misconceptions. It’s not like driving a tank. The new models are as easy to drive, park, and maneuver as my Chrysler LHS sedan. They’re not gas guzzlers. They do have a v-6, so they’re not going to get Honda Civic mileage. But most new models get between 19 and 23 in the city, and upwards of 28 on the highway. And you can’t fit a couch in a Honda Civic.

One final misconception to disprove. They’re not lame. I’ll refer you to the Toyota Sienna adds for all the proof you’ll ever need. You Tube it mother-fathers.

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Bachelorhood

What does a man do when his wife leaves him for a week? Let’s recap:

Monday: Drop off wife at airport and head home after a long day at work. Watch Star Trek and eat corn dogs.
Tuesday: Work 10 hours and then drive home. Work out. Watch Jeopardy and Glee (oh yeah…I’m wild).
Wednesday: Drop off cat at vet. Work 10 hours and drive home. Watch District 9 (weird) and then go to bed.
Thursday: Work 10 hours and then pick up cat (he’s ok…just peeing on the floor due to psychological reasons). Make chicken quesadilla and watch NBC Thursday lineup.
Friday: Work, come home and work out, waste 2 1/2 hours watching Transformers 2 on DVD (yikes) and crash.
Saturday: Wake up feeling like crap, drink coffee, clean apartment and do laundry, watch Michigan State expose Michigan for the average football team they really are. Go to Meijer and hopelessly wander around looking for a bathroom scale, go home and work out (without weighing myself). Watch The Book of Eli on DVD. I know…lots of free time on the weekend.
Sunday: Work out, finally post on blog………..

Anyway, sorry if I disappointed anyone. No benders, no parties, no gambling, no bar fights. Turns out I’m a pretty boring guy when I’m on my own. I also have pretty mixed taste in movies apparently. I was 2 for 4 for the week. Picking up my better half (I think I truly believe that now) tomorrow afternoon.

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Shannon and I went to her sister Emily’s wedding this weekend, and we slept in separate beds. And this was a good thing.

We stayed at a Super 8 motel, and ended up with one of those wacky 2-double-bed rooms. Double beds, for those who don’t know, are the stunted little cousin of the queen bed. According to about.com, they are only 15 inches wider than a twin bed, which means that if you’re an adult, and married, you’re sleeping on a bed that provides about as much sleeping space as you had when you were seven.

It may have been previously mentioned, but I’m a very tall man. My feet hang freely off our queen-sized bed. In order to sleep in a hotel double bed without kicking the TV on the opposite wall, I tend to sleep on a diagonal, or in a semi-fetal V. In a double bed that I’m sharing with another person (no matter how much I love her), I have to drape my knees off the side of the bed while my butt juts nearly all the way to the other side. Shannon, bless her heart, loves me for (or in spite of) my freakish length.

Shannon and I are perfect for each other in many ways. One of those ways is our sleeping preference. We love to cuddle up in bed and enjoy being together. But that is before we go to sleep. For deep, renewing sleep, we like our space. My belief (hope) is that this tendency, contrary to Hollywood, is actually fairly common in couples. Especially couples that stand the test of time.

With all this in mind, we entered the room at the Super 8 and were not terribly excited about the double beds. I made a little joke about solving the space issue by sleeping in separate beds. Turns out it wasn’t so much of a joke. Between the size of the beds, and the wall-unit air conditioner that made one bed significantly colder than the other, we decided that we should sacrifice our togetherness for comfort.

This is a good thing, because the decision was based on the strength of our relationship. Some nascent relationships might not be able to make that decision. Closeness is represented (again, in Hollywood) physically a lot, especially when it comes to husbands and wives. Our closeness has gone past physical closeness. Even though we were in separate beds, we were closer than ever.

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Friends and Grownups

Growing up is hard. There’s bills, work, continuing education, schedules, housework, family obligations. You have to keep a routine, or life’ll get you every time. Traffic will be totally different at 6:30 if you’re used to driving in at 5:30. If you try to navigate the grocery store on a Sunday afternoon you will contemplate suicide. If you don’t have a reminder set you will forget to pay your rent, even though the money was in the bank and the check was written and taped to the refrigerator. The point is, you gotta stay on your game. Friends will help you do that. But what if you don’t have any friends?

Remember life in college? You could grocery shop at 9pm on a Tuesday. You could sleep til noon. You could hang out with the guys on your floor and instantly have a support system. It was easy to make friends in college. Everyone was on a level playing field.

But when you and all your “life-long” friends graduate, you’re all going to get jobs (theoretically). Three of my best friends from college all got jobs. One works as a teacher in California, one writes music in Indiana, and one is back in school in Eastern Michigan. We’re still close, but we’re not very close. You don’t pop over for a beer when you’re hundreds of miles away.

So what? Make new friends. That’s all I have to do. I’ve realized that making friends as an adult is freakin hard. How do you just go up to a guy at work and ask him if he wants to hang out? He has friends, right? Who doesn’t?

Thankfully, my friends, distant as they may be, are willing to work for me. My good friend Joe called me out of the blue the other day, after not seeing him since Christmas, and asked if anyone was planning my bachelor party. He was astute enough to know that, since Shan and I aren’t doing the maid of honor/best man thing, I might not be getting the traditional best man bachelor party experience (not that I wanted it). I was slightly embarrassed to admit that, no, I was bachelor partyless. He offered up his services, even though it means driving several hours and calling in a favor with his in-town boss, whom he works for long-distance most of the time.

What a guy. He’s not going hog wild or anything. He wants to arrange a bbq and poker night for me, my brother, a few college friends, and my future brothers-in-law. There will be no binge drinking, no strippers, hookers, or dancers. Just burgers, beers, and brothers. Good times.

But seriously, what’s up with trying to make friends? Anyone else know what I mean?

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“If I’m not mistaken, we gave you your wedding shower here. We all came into this room and gave you a golden shower.”

Michael Scott–regional manager, Dunder Mifflin.

Yesterday was our family meet-n-greet and wedding shower. Being a man, I have very little experience in the proceedings of a wedding shower. Men don’t go to wedding showers. We go to bachelor parties, and we go to weddings. So I had little to go on before the event. My expectations were that we would all hang out, eat food, Shannon and I would introduce our respective families, and then we’d go on our merry ways. As it turned out, I was pretty close. The one thing I missed was that people would bring us presents.

I’m a little uncomfortable receiving presents. Shannon confessed to me on the way home that she is too. I think it’s easy when you’re opening things in front of a couple of your family members, or when everyone is exchanging gifts. But to sit in front of a crowd of people (literally, there were 30 people watching us) and open presents, knowing that you didn’t get them anything, can be seriously awkward. Especially when you were only vaguely aware that people gave presents at a wedding shower in the first place. Obviously the “shower” in wedding shower should have been a give-away, since I’m pretty sure it doesn’t refer to some sort of cleansing ritual. But somehow I wasn’t prepared for the actual process of opening gifts from my entire extended family and Shannon’s much larger entire extended family.

After my initial discomfort, we got down to present opening. Our families were amazingly generous, and we got all kinds of cool stuff. Kitchen Aid cookware, a really cool hanging pan rack, bathroom coordinates (complete with toilet paper), sheets, some really cool dishes, fun games, a toaster, and lots of extremely nice cards and sentiments. I feel so truly blessed right now that Shannon and I both have such wonderful families.

One interesting gift-related tidbit. I’ll pick on my dad for a minute, because he’s a good sport. He’s single. He and my mom were amicably divorced about 5 years ago. He, along with my 21-year-old brother who is a broke college student, were the only ones in attendance that didn’t get us a gift. It doesn’t bother me at all. Hopefully it doesn’t bother him, because it’s totally fine. But I wondered why. I believe that, like me, he probably didn’t realize that a wedding shower was a gift-giving occasion. I bet my mom was invited to wedding showers all those years, and he wasn’t. She bought the gifts, went to the parties, helped plan the parties, and Dad stayed home to read the paper and watch the Tigers. He probably had no idea what the protocol was for the event. Isn’t it weird that there’s a whole subculture of wedding preparation that men are basically ignorant of?

Anyway, it was a great experience, and I’m glad I was able to take part in it. I feel so lucky to be marrying a woman who wants to share with me the procession of life. And the presents.

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