Three nor’easters in a two week period has reminded me of an earlier two week period in my life. When I was in college, I worked several summers as an ‘89-Day-Wonder’ at the local branch of the US Post Office. If you worked 90 days, they had to treat you according to the union agreement. 89 days and they could treat you any way they wanted.
For example: Union employees could be made to work a split-shift (work for a while, go home, return and work for a while longer) but all portions of the shift had to be completed within a 12-hour period. In my case, I often worked from 3:00 AM until 6:00 AM and 3:00 PM until 9:00 PM.
I didn’t care, the pay was amazing. I was making over $7.00 an hour in 1974. I would do anything for that kind of money.
One summer, they didn’t need me to start right away after school was out. That was OK, but the start date they offered wouldn’t let me get 89 days in before school started. I was disappointed. The Assistant Postmaster looked at me and said: “Unless you want to work two weeks as a janitor.”
What did I care? Janitor? Sure, I’ll be a janitor. My other option was to work two weeks in a machine shop, making gun barrels for $2.25 an hour.
This Post Office had two janitors. The lead man, and another guy who was going to be on vacation for those two weeks. I was told to report Monday morning, 6:30 sharp.
The lead guy had me do every job that would ever have to be done. I washed the windows, inside and out. I cleaned the florescent fixtures, removing, wiping down and reinstalling each and every bulb, and cleaning the housing. I swept the floor every day, mopped it twice a week and stripped and waxed the floor over one weekend. I swept the loading dock and walks around the building, I dusted, washed, wiped and polished every fixture in the place, and I cut the grass. It was while I was cutting the grass that the Assistant Postmaster, a family friend whom I had known all my life, came out and said:
“You know, you’re being paid by the hour, not by the ton.”
He explained how my “boss” would take the entire day to cut the grass, and how both janitors spent several days cleaning the light fixtures, because one was always holding the portable staircase/work platform (even though it had huge locking casters).
I said it would be impossible to go so slow. He explained: “You check the gas and oil in the mower. Then you bring the mower out here, start it up and make one pass. Then return to the dock. Get the rake. Come back and rake your one pass’ worth of grass. Return to the dock. Get the barrel. Put the grass in the barrel. Return the barrel to the dock. Check the gas and oil and repeat the process until you’re done.”
We had a good laugh, and I continued working at relative Warp Speed for the rest of my two weeks. The two regulars had an easy summer, as I had completed all of their semi-annual jobs. But, I got paid overtime the weekend I stripped the floors.
This post is part of Linda G. Hill’s fun weekly series One-Liner Wednesday. If you have a one-liner, I’d encourage you to join us. You can follow this link to participate and to see the one-liners from the other participants.
The gallery has some pictures collected between nor’easters. There’s also a video for the Maddie lovers. It’s not the best quality, but…