I left Paramount’s Great America theme park about halfway through the 1998 season. It wasn’t a bad job aside from the strict dress code-Forced to wear khaki pants and a white polo shirt, complete with cheesy gold plated name tag. Also had to cut my long hair (which was mid-back at that time). Hey, had to try and make a living, right?
Additionally, the job on the Xtreme Skyflyer would be first job that held me directly responsible for peoples lives. If I didn’t follow protocol to the letter, the customer/guest could be seriously injured, if not killed. That was and is a 150 ft drop straight down over solid concrete. Safety and procedure was absolute key. Looking back on it now, I was barely 19-20 years old then. And I know I didn’t think of it in that sense at the time. It was merely a job.
Again, I left the season about halfway through because I went down to visit a friend of mine in Los Angeles. What happened there is a whole other story in itself, of which I shall cover in the future-But first I must consult the person whom I was staying with whom was also sober enough to tell her more coherent side of the story.
When I returned after that crazy two weeks, I found another job through my mother. She worked in human resources for Sanmina Corporation-A company who is commissioned to manufacturing server backplanes for companies like Sun Microsystems. All were local high tech companies-In fact that’s what Santa Clara and the surrounding cities are-Cities that housed hardware and software giants. My home that was a crappy (overpriced) apartment complex in Santa Clara was a short drive away from companies like Intel, AMD, Nortel, Yahoo, Nvidia, I could go on and on. Cost of living there as you would expect was very expensive. Don’t know how we survived there so long. Anyway…
My mother got me a job at one of the Sanmina plants doing assembly. I use the term assembly very loosely. The majority of what we did was screw-on screw posts onto PC boards which would later be attached to the server backplanes. That’s right, I made money screwing.
It was probably the dullest job I ever had aside from …well, my current job of freight/stocking at Dollar Tree. Comparatively, it was also a graveyard shift job–That’s right, a late night screwjob.
Explaining what I did was often (not really) a good ice breaker for initial conversations with random people/women, “So what do you do then?”
“I screw.” I would reply with glee.
After while, I didn’t just screw for Sanmina. Eventually I got moved up to packing and unpacking backplanes. I was in fact one of the fewer male workers aside from the leads in this particular plant. The arduous task of screwing was predominantly a female position. Go figure.
As one of the strapping young men, I got to do the heavy lifting. I must say that while these server backplanes are on the lighter side of 20 pounds, pulling them from the packaging and laying them out by the hundreds makes for quite a workout. I enjoyed the lifting tho, as I do now unloading the freight truck at my current job.
Yet again, because my work ethic was strong (but really perhaps due to the fact that I spoke fluent American English), I was soon moved up to another position, and this I truly hated! It was the job of recording the serial numbers from the backplanes… with pencil and paper.
Now lets think about this, this was 1998-1999. The dotcom boom was starting to die out do to entrepreneurial companies mismanaging (celebrating) themselves before even starting production of whatever the hell it was they were producing. The internet was still in its infancy with a majority of its users still on dial-up-But even by then barcodes and scanners had existed for over 30 years! What the fek was I doing recording all these serial numbers with a fekin pencil?! How much time could we have saved by using even one portable scanner? A multimillion dollar company like Sanmina can’t afford a set of scanners? Man… My right wrist was seriously aching by the time the shift ended (of course that could lead into another joke.) That particular aspect of the job was just terrible.
I held this job at Sanmina for the better part of a year, until I finally just couldn’t handle it anymore, more importantly, I was college bound. Well, community college bound, attending (West Valley) Mission College in Santa Clara.
I did have one very brief stint as a temp for Manpower. By brief, I mean one fekin night. They had me do odd jobs for a Home Depot in San Carlos. That was physically draining, and very much fekin slave labor. I remember one job of having to pull fully assembled lawn mowers off racks and wiping them down. Lawn mowers are not lightweight, nor are they easy to grab and manipulate. At the end of that shift I did have fun breaking down the makeshift temporary wooden racks with a sledge hammer. Yeah, destruction! I got to take out a lot of frustration in that. When I got back to the Manpower office and collected my $44 from the payment ATM for the nights work, I made up my mind never to do that again.
Luckily, I did save a little money to live on while I started classes, but that never lasts.
One day while randomly driving around San Jose, by pure chance, I discovered the location of the record store called Streetlight Records. It had been mentioned to me while working at Music Zone in Salinas. I was struck by it’s size for an independent store. Music Zone would basically take up a small corner of this old converted warehouse. Furthermore, it had a humongous Goth/Industrial music section! I was immediately hooked. And as luck would have it, I found an old acquaintance from Santa Cruz had recently started working there.
To be continued in Jobs part 4.