Monday, April 02, 2007


Ok, last week Scott W. tagged me to share my work history (seemingly as it relates to my alcoholism/addiction) with y'all. So, here goes!

When I was old enough to actually work, we lived in Western NY State, in dairy country. My parents both worked so when I was younger, when school was out I used to stay with a nearby family who owned a large dairy farm. I found that I really loved the whole farm thing (except for the vacation bible school they made me attend with them, which began my resentment for organized religion) and so the summer after 7th and 8th grade I would ride my bike to my best friends family farm (different from the babysitter people...) each day to get there in the AM in time to help milk the cows then we'd eat breakfast, go out and spread manure, rake/mow alfalfa. Then we'd break for lunch and spend the afternoon bailing alfalfa (hay) or chopping it for silage (weather permitting). Then it was off for a quick swim before hopping on dirt bikes to round up the cows for the afternoon milking. I would get done with all of that and be home for dinner by 6 pm. I remember that my mom used to make me get undressed outside in the shed because of the smell of my "farm clothes." Back then, I earned $1.00/hr. I remember buying my very first Kiss album when I had gotten enough saved. Kiss "Alive II." I was so proud of that! My best friend and I had decided that we would buy into his family farm together once we were done with college and be farmers for life. (I think my dad was mortified!) However, all that changed in 1982 3 weeks before my 9th grade year was to begin, when we moved to Toledo, OH. Man, what a culture shock. I went from Deliverance to Mall Rats in one shot!

I did get a minor little newspaper delivery job I think when I was a sophomore. I hated that job so much (you'll find this to be a common thread for me...). I had to fold/roll/rubberband maybe 250 papers each Sunday and deliever them around the neighborhood. It probably took an hr to band them all and two hrs to delvier them, and I hated every mintue of it! My dad tried to instill a work ethic in me, but I just didn't have the necessary drive. I stuck with the job for probably a yr or so before my dad finally let me quit, for all the bitching and moaning I was doing. I think mabye I made like $25 bucks each week for that gig, I dont really recall. After that, I worked for about 6 mos at the mall at a food ostand called Orange Julius... I wont even discuss the giant orange suit with green hose, orange Chuck Taylor Converses and green stem hat I had to wear while taking free samples around the mall! Oh yeah, nice ego booster for a HS Junior!

In March of 1986, my senior yr in HS, we had a "Rock a Thon" to raise money for the school band. During the evening we were to be in rocking chairs all nite (6 pm to 6 pm) Fri thru Sat only taking a few breaks here and there. We would get people to pledge $$ and so it went. But, as one of the kool band guys, we got a bunch of Peach and ROot Beer Schnapps and mixed it in pop bottles and brought it with us to the Rock a Thon. We got so frickin' smashed... I have no idea how we didnt get in trouble that nite... It was insane... lol not much rockin in the chairs, we were all over the school screwing around... Anyhow, I had forgotten that the next morning my dad was suppsoed to pick me up at 11 or something, for a job interview at McD's. being the resilient young feller I was, I went ot my interview and got hired on the spot. At the time, I thought I was pretty damn great! That began a multi-year career with McDonald's, the same job I had when I got sober at 27 yrs old. (We'll get to that later...) So, i became a crew person at McD's all through my years at Bowling Green State in OH. I would work my ass off during the summer and on breaks, and sometimes even through the school year. The great thing about restaurant (I use the term loosely) work is that these people knew how to party, lol so I really honed my drinking skills. Somewhere in there I discovered pot as well. Somehow, I would be able to work 30+ hrs while carrying anywhere from16-20 hrs at school and then 70-80 hrs a week during the summer. (music majors get lots of credit hrs for playing their horns, so it wasnt the heaviest of academic loads) I commuted from my dad's home about 20 miles up the road from BG for a year and a half until his alcoholism exploded in such a manner that he nearly died, and found himself going through several rehabs. Half way thru my sophmore yr I moved in to my mom's house, which doubled my commute but did nothing to lessen my partying, lol! The summer between my 4th and 5th yr, (prior to student teaching) I played in the Cedar Point Beach Band. Cedar Point is a huge amusement park in Sandsuky, OH, with several world record roller coasters. We would play out on the midway 7 times a day and drink the rest of the time, lol. It was a ball... We did these little skits, played pop tunes, flirted with hot girls... lol heaven! I finished in 5 yrs (as was the norm for most music majors, or at least the ones who made time to party, lol). TO make money on the side, I had gotten a gig in a local Big Band (playing original 30's and 40's big band tunes), one of amy all time fave jobs. Once I graduated, it became apparent that I was going to have to get out there and find a band director job... Then I discovered this really neat thing called grad school.

In 1991,I packed my car with my horns, my clothes, my stereo, some smokes, about $400.00 and I went off to the University of Houston for Grad School, yay!! No need to get that shirt and tie job yet!
I rented a room from a friend of the family back in NY who had moved to Houston some yrs ago. I found out just what lonely is all about, and discovered a great sports bar less than a mile form where I was staying. I became a fixture there. Along with about 10 hrs classload, I had to teach 6 college trombone students each semester, assist with the marching and concert bands and assist with the trombone studio. That pd for school and gave me a lil mad money. I taught private trombone lessons in several Houston area public school for my real money. I could make $17/hr no taxes, all cash, it was awesome. I stayed with that gal for the first 8 mos I was there, then moved to the dorms to work a month long music festival, before finding my own apt SE of downtown, off Lockwood & I-45. At some pint while living down there, I rtied selling CD club memberships door to door, man what an awful gig that was. Man, did I go crazy... living away from home for the first time... One of my college students was a big pothead and I got in with his crowd and it all went insane from there, lol Coke, X, Acid, Pot.. didnt drink much for that period of time. I would get high, go to class, get high, go teach for 4-5 hrs 3-4 nites a week and have a doob in the glovebox of my car (parked on public school grounds, HELLO MORON!) waiting for when I was done teaching. Geeze I had some fun, lol but it wore a hole in my soul... I ended up quitting grad school halfway through my 2nd yr (gee go figure, they wanted too much from me, including cutting the hair that had somehow grown to the middle of my back) and taking a job at H&H Music out on the Katy Freeway, past the beltway (out towards u lex) selling sheet music. My life was one big party/adventure from about Jan 1992 until I split that scene for Ohio in March of 1994. I ran home to save an old friend who had gotten preggers from some guy who split on her. I was gonna be this really great guy, save the day, get on track all that stuff, all just by moving.

I got back to Ohio, completely destroyed from my going away party ( 3 days long...) only to have her give birth later that nite (talk about from the frying pan into the fire). Her dad's fiancee was a big wig with UPS in Toledo and pulled some strings to get me in there as an unloader. I had to be awake and on call by 1:30 am, and they would call based on the volume of packages. Sometimes I would go in early and work 6 hrs, sometimes I would sit up all nite and not get the call, or get the call, only to go kill myself for 2 hrs. That job was the worst job I ever had. I trashed my partying, messed up my body, and meant that I had to be up with the lil girl when I got home so Nicole could go to work at McD's. (yea, we were living large lol). New born children are a real buzzkill, lemme tell ya! We lived in her grandparents house which was nice in the summer cuz they went to Fla. After a yr we moved acros the street to the house behind the bar, oh yea! All I had to do to get home was negotiate a chain link fence. During this time, I began my short order cooking job at The Original Pancake House. I worked there briefly before I went to TX, along with Denny's and McD's. When I quit showing up at UPS (man did that piss off the gal who got me the job, OMG) I went back to Denny's for awhile until I found a good paying job for a uniform company doing route sales/delivery of uniforms, floor mats, etc. That was way the heck too much like work so I had to quit that after 6 mos o f hell. That took me back to Denny's and finally McD's again. in my McD's career I had been crew, trainer, mgt, maintenance and everything short of Ronald himself. Well, I decided that maintenance man (janitor) was just the thing for me. Short order cooking had gotten far too stressful (even though I was pretty damn good at it), and it was too tuff to do hung over (ever smell eggs and sausage on a nasty hangover?? ok, then!) While at Denny's, I nearly had a chance to try heroin, but the cook who went to Chicago one weekend to get some for us never came back, still dont know what happened to him. (Thanks HP, I pray he's ok) I did get a chance to get back into that Big Band for a time, but the bandleader fired me for playing so badly. He was a drunk and nearly deaf, so I think that covers how badly I trahsed my music career (from which I am finally recovering and playing again Thanks HP, that was some serious ego deflation and step work there... a lotta pain)

So, here were are 1996, been back at McD's for over a yr, living in a nasty lil house in East Toledo with my hostages (nicole and her sweet girl of nearly 2 yrs, and now my younger step bro who had taken up residence in my easy chair.) To earn extra money (yea, whatever) I was playing in a rock band with a bunch of 18-20 yr olds. Nicole was working at Taco Bell, lol we were kickin ass!! lol My bro and I each had a dead car in the yard, Nicole's was the only one that barely worked. One nite in January, I played my last gig withthe band, had my last drink. That was Jan 27, 1996, ym sobriety date is the 28th and has never changed, despite my best efforts. On Jan 28th my bro decided he'd had enough and sought my dad's help (he was 6+ yrs sober) and off he went to meetings. After about 3 days of meetings, lil bro came home with a Big Book and 44 Questions for the bro who taught him how to drink and use drugs. He was gonna sober me up. And amazingly enough he got me to my first meeting. Two days after that loving evaluation of my progress thus far thru life, I hit my first meeting. I kept coming back , got a sponsor, home group, went to a billion and one meetings. 5 mos after getting sober (dry) I left McD's for a job with HFC, selling mortgage and personal loans. It was my first real shirt and tie job. 1 month later I left my fiancee, I couldn't stay sober in our relationship cuz I knew it was a sham. My mom said it was the best thing I could have ever done for the girl. I agree...she since went on to find a nice guy, she invited me to their wedding and I went, she and I danced, andI got to dance with "my lil girl..." I will nevor forget that nite. but, I digress....

I lasted at HFC for 10 months until I got a shot at working for a mortgage broker. The smell of $$ was in the air and off I went to become a loan officer. I loved it and after 6 successful months of that, I left with 5 others ot start our own mortgage brokerage. Sobriety agreed with me and we set upshop in 1997. I stayed with them until 1999, whenI left to help a start up business, selling manufactured homes. Oops, not a good plan. After 3 mos of not selling a damn thing I was outta money big time and had begun dating my wife. I learned how to hang drywall for a couple months until I found a job selling for a plastic injection molding company, in fact a sponsee was the business owner, again HP thank You!. I did that for over 4 yrs until I was downsized outta that job on Nov 21st 2003. I had a really hard time letting that one go, went without work for several months until crawling back to the friend i had trained to take over fo rme whenI left the mortgage co. He had bought the place from my old partner and wanted me to come be a loan officer with him. I had to do something for $$ so I got back in the mortgage biz in the spring of 2004. In May 2005 my wife and I got married YAY! We had been dating since 1999, had a kid, bought a house, fifgured why not! We'd been going to Mass together long enough, let's get married!

I got fed up with that cluster by Jan 2006 and stumbled on the opportunity to open my own office. By May of 2006 I was sitting at Starbucks in the Montrose in Houston having coffee with Scott W and dAAve, and later in the week attending a meeting at Lambda, wonderful bunch of peeps there. I was in Houston (of all places) to train for opening my new biz. I did catch up with a close friend from the druggin days in H-Town. Happy to report he's sober 10 yrs and married w/kids! I opened the office in July of 2006, and despite the downturn in the real estate and mortgage biz, I am still open and biz is starting to finally pick up after winter. At 11+ yrs sober (thanks in no small part to this blog and you AWESOME friends) I am the happiest I have ever been, despite a scary financial situation, a sometimes difficult marriage, and minor depression (YAY Zoloft!). I finally lost my resentment against org religion and am about to be Baptized and Confirmed into the Catholic Church. Man, I didn't see that one coming, again, thank YOU HP!!

Anyhow, I guess that's what you were looking for Scott! There's my story as it follows my work life. There's of course a lot more to tell. If this were an actual lead, I would but frankly, I need coffee at this point! I think I quit breathing about 15 mins ago. Anyhow, for those of you who made it this far, I thank you for hangin in there. It aint much of a story but it's mine and I am gratefulk for all of it!

peace be with ya!


Lex-Sunshine said...

Awesome story! Love the Houston parts, but wonder how you EVER lived at Lockwood & 45........ lol : ) I guess that WAS a long time ago!! and the H & H isn't there any more! The Katy Freeway ate it a couple of months ago! That monster is expanding!! : )

Thanks for sharing! I'm glad there is such a happy ending to the story!

lushgurl said...

Wow you sure had a wide variety of jobs, huh? I noticed like many of us you also tried the geographical cure several times too!
I enjoyed the read very much and, like Lex am glad for thehappiness you have found today. Great gettin' to know more about you Scott!

Mary Christine said...

I am now listening to "you are beautiful" for the third time since I started reading this post! What a story you have my friend. I think you qualify!

lash505 said...

Wow Scott that was awesome.. What a man you are now.

Pam said...

loved your story. When you were at H&H selling sheet music....I was at H&H buying sheet music, but I was a "strings" girl.
Lockwood & 45.......good grief!