Some of you may have suspected that writing for this newspaper was my only occupation, and, perhaps, that it was the only semi-useful thing I’ve ever done. Those of you who thought that are so wrong that I could just laugh out loud, and I think maybe I will when I get a chance, as a matter of fact. I have a JOB.
Jobs are very important to teenagers because they give them responsibility, self-confidence, and, if they’re really lucky, paper hats. My job mainly provides me with a change to get away from my family for a few hours a day.”What a horrible thing to say!” I hear you cry. “Family is so wonderful!” Well, my family, in all its wonderfulness, would greatly benefit from a stay in the Hoo-Hoo Hotel, if you know what I mean.
A recent family incident: my little brother, who answers to the name Bonehead, was on the roof foraging for food or something, and my mother was out in the yard. My brother said, “Mom, can I do a nose-dive off the roof?” My mother responded, “No, but thank you for asking.” I went to work shortly thereafter.
Ironically, I work for a family member — my grandfather, whose name is Grandpa. He’s not as cerebrally damaged as the rest of the family, which is strange, considering he’s lived in Lake Elsinore for 63 years, and I’ve only lived here for 15, and I’m going crazy. But I digress.
Grandpa owns the local Greyhound bus station, which proved to be lots of fun a few months ago when all the drivers were on strike and the only thing we had to do was answer the phone so people could say, “I know there are no drivers, but can I still ride a Greyhound to Riverside?”, and we would answer, “Yes, but you’ll have to drive it yourself,” and they would laugh politely and call us filthy names and hang up. Imagine getting paid for having that much fun!
Now that the strike is over, my job involves answering telephones, selling tickets, and giving the illusion of listening when people tell me exactly why they’re going back to Tinkle Flats, N.C., and whom they are going to visit when they get there.
The best part of the job is when passengers tell us that their boxes and bags have to be in a certain position or else things will break. That’s when I get to climb inside the baggage compartment and tell the Baggage Gnomes not to mess around with the passenger’s stuff or else they will be fired and will have to go back to work for Keebler.
So that’s my job. It’s not much, but it puts pizza on the table, and it’s a lot better than some jobs in the area — the ones where you actually have to work.
One of my friends is unfortunate enough to have one of those jobs. He works for a car repair place in the Metropolitan Wonderland known as Temecula (or is it Rancho this week?). His main responsibility is to clean off pistons — not the basketball players (which is what I thought), but little tiny car innards that live deep down inside the car’s engine, where no one can see if they’re clean anyway. Nonetheless, he just scrubs and scrubs those pistons until they’re so clean you could eat off them, if they weren’t so darn near microscopic.
I assume that this isn’t his whole job, but every time I ask him about it, he lapses in Autonese, and says he’s also supposed to disjartle the fundershloppings, zintz them, and rejartle them. So I give up.
I have another friend who doesn’t have one of those “working” jobs. He works at an auto parts store located across the street from a bar. His job is to handle the drunk people who stagger in and want to buy turn signal fluid. He usually sells them a fungershlopping or two, and that makes them happy.
The point of all this is that there are a lot of things you can do for a living, but that only a select few occupations offer money without making you really work for it. And that’s what teenagers really want out of a job — free money.
Pistons aren't tiny, of course. They're actually rather large. At this point, I was not quite 16 and knew next to nothing about cars. Since then, I've owned two cars (Felipe and Pedro) that had numerous problems, forcing me to learn how to deal with them. Now I could identify a piston in the dark; in 1990, I could not.