insurance design

Smoking Charges Ignite

Last night, Amy took Anna, our seven-year-old, to the dress rehearsal for her 2015 dance recital. I was left in charge of Will, our nine-year-old, and Ella, our three-year-old. What follows is a litany of the kids showing me that I exist in their world as a piece of tightly-spun twine, permanently...

[ Swap Article ]

Sad Child

Mimicry

Our actions become our kids' reactions. Not exactly new. Not exactly Newtonian (pause while joke sinks in). But it's a truism all the same. ...

[ Swap Article ]

Car radio

Piece of Sh*t Car Reprise

When I was in high-school, a popular song named "Ode to My Car," by Adam Sandler, spun regularly on the radio. No, it didn't. All foul-mouthed teenage boys wished such happy, unfiltered radio days would appear, but that didn't stop the explicit lyrics from making an impact, even if the song's plot...

[ Swap Article ]

ad-sample

Advertise Here

He wrote with the eloquence of Hemingway but spoke with the cadence of R2-D2. That sentiment is what I sought to avoid when I joined Toastmasters. This week, I gave my first speech: the Ice-Breaker. As directed, I reduced this to notes …...

[ Swap Article ]

Re-gifting

Certain messes in life are unavoidable. If you get a DUI and your hair is sufficiently mussed or you manage to jam your finger into the nearest outlet just prior to the mug-shot, chances are you'll be a big-time celebrity some day. ...

[ Swap Article ]

A Reasonable Explanation

Therapist: Take me back to the beginning. Tell me how it all got started, how you eventually wound up holding the bloody knife in the aftermath of your killing spree. I'm sure there's a reasonable explanation....

[ Swap Article ]

That's a Mouthful

Waking up to the sounds of birds and (outside) insects is alluring, and when you have your second 10th cup of coffee and realize you are on vacation, and this auditory lovemaking is real, not the result of an ambitious-carpet-cleaning hallucination, you can finally relax, letting your bulk stress...

[ Swap Article ]

Stupid Piece of ... Oh, That's Right

I'm a realist. I call things like they are, and if I look stupid in the process, well, so be it. ...

[ Swap Article ]

Deadly Donuts

The morning started off good. Four eggs fluffed with a splash of milk, mixed with Parmesan and salt and black pepper and red pepper flakes and slathered with Cholula hot sauce; four ounces of Bob Evan's spicy Italian sausage (sorry for the smell, honey, luv ya) fried into the wonderful concoction;...

[ Swap Article ]

When Did I Become a Pushover?

I've never thought of myself as the Ultimate Fighter type. As a kid, whenever the possibility of bodily harm came up, I tried to avoid confrontation. But if the issue was pressed, I could stand up and issue fake threats along with the best of them and hope that my manufactured bravado was enough to...

[ Swap Article ]

As I Approach 30

I live in a small town. Colona, IL has a population of just over 5,000. As a jogger, this means I am usually only assaulted with exhaust fumes a few times whenever I decide to go outside to burn some calories. But as far as the type of people passing me on the roadside? Over this, I have no control....

[ Swap Article ]

0
man janitor plumber  silhouette

Filed Under , , on November 5th, 2016

Starter Memories

By Seth Kabala

He wrote with the eloquence of Hemingway but spoke with the cadence of R2-D2. That sentiment is what I sought to avoid when I joined Toastmasters. This week, I gave my first speech: the Ice-Breaker. As directed, I reduced this to notes and spoke extemporaneously. Full text:

I think it’s fair to say a large part of any person’s identity is wrapped up in what they do for a living. That’s certainly true for me, and while the work for which I’ve been paid doesn’t represent 100% of the pie-chart that is the sum total of my life, it is a big chunk. Work, particularly non-professional work, has forged some of my most indelible memories. Today, I’m going to talk about three non-professional jobs I’ve had. Call them starter jobs:

  • * Paper Boy
  • * Piano Mover
  • * Janitor

Did I have a paper route as a boy? Yes. Is that what I’m talking about? Not exactly. I’m talking about delivering papers as a 34-year-old man, from the hours of 2a-6a, while holding down a full-time job, every day, for a year, in all types of weather, ranging from blitzkrieg Midwest thunderstorms, a hellish summer, to nuclear winter, all buttressed by Biblical plague levels of bugs.

Why did I do this? I needed the money. My family and I were preparing to move across the country for the job I have now.

But it wasn’t all bad. I made $1,000 in Christmas bonus tips. Turns out, older folks really appreciate having their paper on their doorstep instead of the roof. Who knew?

Rewind to the late 90s.

I was an 18-year-old piano-vocal music performance major at Black Hawk College in Moline, IL. I needed money. Needed a job. What’s the best job I could get? You guessed it—professional piano mover! My rational: I could play lots of different instruments (uprights, grands, keyboards), demo-ing them for customers, logging extra practice time.

Yeah, that didn’t happen.

Between the rich guy who only let us touch the instrument while wearing white, cotton gloves, which made it super easy to move; the chain-smoking delivery crew leader, who resisted cracking the windows in the delivery van; and buyer after buyer who would drop $25,000 – $50,000 on a furniture piece, because they liked the look of the instrument despite lacking the ability to play—I was fed up and excited to move on to the glamorous world of stripping—and waxing floors.

Isn’t it great to have friends? It’s even better when you get perks because you know people. Guess what? I know people, too! My people got me a full-time janitor gig. I cleaned my fair share of toilets, but I specialized in stripping and waxing floors, holding this post from 2001 – 2006.

I started at $9/hr, soaring to $11/hr five years later. Not to overshadow the financial boon I received, this job also made these possible:

  • * Earning my Bachelor of Business
  • * Earning enough credits to sit for the CPA exam, which, 10-years-later, I have almost completed. Sidebar: I oppose procrastination in all forms. I believe in striking while the iron is hot. Otherwise, I might end up in my mid-30s in Portland, OR and …

Anyway, my favorite assignment was working on the loading dock for the freight company Conway Central Express. I remember it like it was yesterday: driving the miniature Zamboni-looking dock sweeper; classic rock and country blasting from an ancient sound system, 0% bass, 100% treble, daily bringing my eardrums to the point of rupture; wielding a chainsaw, cutting damaged pallets into pieces small enough to fit in the trash compactor.

Good times.

In all seriousness, graduating from college has brought many benefits. I’ve had four really interesting professional jobs, in state government, the office furniture industry, entrepreneurship, and local government; I’ve achieved a modicum of financial stability, allowing my wife, of 13 years, and I to have three maddeningly intelligent, beautiful children; and I’m on the path to a comfortable retirement.

The pay’s better, sure. But my stories are less interesting.

For me, professional jobs, from an indelible memory standpoint, fail to compare to the wild west, Cajun, spicy flavor fest of non-professional work. That comes from starter jobs. That create starter memories.

Some days, after spending 10 hours researching and writing about case law concerning the legal incidence of taxation on telecoms, I imagine my boss walking up to me, and the conversation goes like this:

Boss: Seth, we’ve got a special project for you.

Seth: Yeah, Boss? What’s that?

Boss: Today … you get to use a chainsaw.

I’m still a ways off from headlining LA’s Orpheum Theater, but I’m coming along. In your beeping face, R2-D2.

FacebookGoogle+PinterestRedditTwittertumblrEmail



Leave a Reply





Seth Kabala

About: Seth Kabala
Seth is an entrepreneur, writer, musician, family man, and juggler of balls--big ones. He lives with his wife and three children in Portland, OR.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

0 Comments Load Comments


???????????????????????

Editor’s Note_TFF Issue #18

The entertainer waited patiently at the street corner. Regaled in his Darth Vader mask, he struck a menacing, if not eye-brow raising, figure. A black cape flowed behind him in the soft downtown breeze, also ruffling the hem of his kilt. ...

[ Swap Article ]

roller coaster

Thrill Ride

I delivered my 10th speech at Toastmasters this past Thursday, earning me the ranking of Competent Communicator (CC), as if there was any doubt. I've found it helpful to post these speeches here, as 1) they might help you light a fire under your ass to start your public speaking journey, and 2) I...

[ Swap Article ]

The sun painted chalk on the asphalt

Editor's Note--TFF Issue #17

I find myself sitting at my kitchen table on the best day of the year, weather wise. I'm inside but close enough to the patio door to feel the sun's rays radiating through the glass. Their circle of influence grows strong today. ...

[ Swap Article ]

???????????????????????????????????????

10 Things I Learned from Fast & Furious Movies

Amy and I watched all eight Fast & Furious (FF) movies over the past couple of weeks. We had seen the first couple, but nothing post Paul Walker (RIP), and it had been years since the franchise debuted, so we started at the beginning. They are pure escapist pleasure, short on substantive plotting,...

[ Swap Article ]

masters degree, 3D rendering, triple flags

Just Like Howard

The books punched through the plaster and lathe boards and utilities recessed in the ceiling, through the rafters and sheathing and shingles, sending splinters flying and pipes bursting. Roofing materials exploded into a thousand lethal projectiles as the book pile launched into the atmosphere. With...

[ Swap Article ]

Claw scratch on white background, a vector illustration.

New Claws

The end has come for a man called Logan. That was his name, wasn't it? I don't know, man. ...

[ Swap Article ]

The United States of Russia

Review: The United States of Russia

With his third album, The United States of Russia, NYC-based comic Ben Rosenfeld covers new ground--frozen, depressing, vodka-soaked ground, that is. This album debuted on January 19 and quickly claimed the #1 slot on iTunes comedy albums. ...

[ Swap Article ]

Empty Theater Chairs

10 Reasons the Cheap Theater Rocks

1. You can see many of the big blockbusters weeks, perhaps even months, after they hit first-run theaters, solidifying your status as fashionably late and appreciative of the finer, aged things in life--such as yourself. ...

[ Swap Article ]

Skull smoking. Vector.

Psychoanalytic Geniuses

On a walk with my wife, Amy, I noticed a convenience store near our home has mounted logos all over the exterior of the building. The store’s sign advertises its status as a purveyor of all things tobacco, alcohol, and junk food. Yet, the proprietor evidently believes this is not enough and...

[ Swap Article ]

North Silver Falls Oregon. the trail takes you behind this beautiful waterfall with a huge cave like overhang.  Silver falls state park, Oregon

The Nature of Faith

We and California family members spent the last Saturday of 2017 exploring the trails and waterfalls of Silver Falls State Park. We've spent ample time hiking trails in the Columbia River Gorge and other areas surrounding the Portland metro, but these Silver Falls waterfalls were something...

[ Swap Article ]

2018 year goals list on napkin

Editor's Note--TFF Issue #16

2017 is coming to a close. ...

[ Swap Article ]

Im your king

The Privilege of Decision

I delivered the speech below as project #6 in my Toastmasters journey to earning my Competent Communicator award. Wish you had been there, dear reader. Someday. For now, here's the text: ...

[ Swap Article ]