Awful jobs in my life

I have had some horrible jobs in my life.  And some I was flat-out horrible at.
I think his name was Bill or William. Oldest guy in Weston, at least to me.  He took volunteer kids who weren’t aftaid of some sweat and labor. North side kids.
In my town growing up,  railroad tracks didn’t divide us. Have way too much on the South Side and have enough on the North Side. This kind of reminds me of the Civil War.
Anyway, Bill took me in and taught me about farming. I must not been any good at it as he reassigned me to this old lady’s place, though this time I was getting a buck an hour, twice as much as I got babysitting, and that was by family flat-rate not by kid.
Little did I know that I would end my career babysitting, but I would never consider these jobs as the worst jobs in my life.
Looks like I am going to have to work hard keeping myself in the lines. Sometimes I just like to scribble, but those are the times I only use one color. Preferably red.
The old lady. I don’t know if Bill or William knew I wasn’t so great with the older folk. Gram, God Rest Her Soul, was always trying my patience.
The second I earned my Driver’s License, I was sentenced to taking her shopping. I swear she looked at every single item in the grocery store.
I never went inside. This was the only time I could practice smoking. Not only wasn’t I very good at it, but I had to build up stamina.
My body tried so hard to keep me from continuing. It was as if I were sea sick when I would have just one more than I should.
I think it was a Honthumb tradition to start at twelve, though I was much younger when I had my first drag. Immediately sicker than a dog.
You would have thought that I would have taken that hint, but all bets were off by the time I was twelve.
The old lady showed me around her property, showing me the beds that needed weeding and those that needed to be cut back.
I worked slowly. I asked a lot of questions. There was so much to remember.
As I gained confidence, my pace picked up. And then the old woman started to yell at me. It was as if she were speaking a different language. In a way she chased me off the property. I just remember getting onto my one speeder and barrelling down a hill. I was crying and after I got stung in the face, I really had something to cry about.
William tried to console me and said that the old bat got upset when I pulled some prize bulbs or something.
That was probably my first worst jobs, and even though that job had brought me tears, the tears were nothing to compare to.
During my Worst of Worse jobs hands and paws down go to the months I spent at an animal experimental place.
The New England Regional Primate Research Center. Actually I don’t know if that’s the name.  It feels like the name of the hospital I worked at, another awful job, New England Medical Center. I can’t believe I had two different jobs with New England in it. I will just call it the Primate Research Center.
If they were looking for the most niave of workers, they hired the right gal, but for those of you who know me, imagine what I thought when I lost my first of many dogs as well as baboons.
I had applied to be a Nanny. Inbetween colleges, I needed something to keep me aflout. The interview went well.  I hit it off with the kids, and did even better with the Golden Retriever.
She said she would call me in a day or two. He called me the next day.
Instead of working with his family, he wanted to know if I would like to work for him doing heart research at the blah blah Regional Primate Research Center. Monkeys? I  would be working with animals,  mostly dogs, but some large primates as well.
Talk about a dream come true. The pay was so much higher than a buck a day.  More like ten bucks an hour. No,  I don’t really remember if It eas ten an hour or just felt like that but I do know that it was way above the 1981 minimum wage. And I got benefits and a badge. Ever since fourth-grade crossing duty, I always was a sucker for a badge.
Not all of the job was horrible. The first open-heart surgery fascinated me. I was the kid that dissected worms, frogs, and anything that I couldn’t save from drowning in the pool.
Getting to meet the monkeys and bigger  primates was amazing. I came close to get sliced by a Rhesus Monkey, the same kind of monkey I was forced to dissect in college. The research facility was giving these beings plenty to be mad about.
In order to give monkeys medication, you had to vise them so they couldn’t move their arms. A wall in the cage was closed in on them. I heard plenty of horror stories of people not being too careful. I quickly saw it as Primate Revenge.
Most of my experience was with dogs and Baboons. Both were given pace makers. Both were given tests to see what would happen if the heart pace went too quickly. Others if the heart was slowed down.
My first dog was a Black Labrador named Once. There was one fellow who named his subjects after basketball players. Dr. J. comes to mind.
Granted this happened around 1981 or 82, and I wasn’t employed for very long, but I remember Once so clearly.
The heart surgery was fascinating, but also past my ability. Between the arthritis in my back and a knee without an ACL or MCL, the long standing during  surgery just about killed me. Little did I know that future
psychological pain would easily ecclipse that physical pain.
After surviving the torture, the rest of my duties were a walk in the park. Literally. My job was to exercise the dogs, the ones that could still get up. I wasn’t supposed to, but I used to let all the dogs out to play while I mucked their kennels. That part didn’t even bother me.
What I thought was the biggest perk of my job was I got paid to sleep on the job.  Sleep is my middle name.  Can’t get enough of it.
Yes, I got paid the big bucks to sleep with dogs. The objective was for me to calm the dog down so the fellows could see what drugs made the dog’s heart speed up or slow down. An excited dog messed up the measurements.
Maybe it was the soft whispering caused a dog to relax and sleep and maybe the sound of the dog’s beating heart that played on the stereo caused me to sleep, but typically I would be gently nudged awake after a few hours or less. Groggily I would take Once back to the kennels.
Back and forth we went. After a few days,  I noticed that Once struggled to get up. She was reluctant to eat or drink.
I don’t remember what day number it was.  Maybe six. When I came to get her, she couldn’t get up. I was told she was done and didn’t need to return to the lab.
The time I would have spent sleeping, I spent nursing Once. I had to force feed her water and food in a syringe.
What no one bothered to tell me was Once was soon to really be once. I  remember the last time I saw her, she couldn’t pick her head up, but she could still wag her tail.
I might have been able to squeeze another day or two of life out of her with my constant syringes, but the fellow needed the heart equipment back to tally up the scores of who knows, compare his scores to the countless other exact same research to tell the world he or she was qualified to do their own research, their own twisted, demented methodical torture on innocent beings.
It turned out that the bigger primates didn’t take too kindly to being poked, prodded, and put in a vice grip. They tended to give up quickly and die. It was as if they had the ability to will their life away.
Dogs on the other hand had a stronger will to live. No matter how badly Once was being treated, her wagging tail told me she was forgiving us.


1 Comment

  1. When you mentioned pulling some prized bulbs out of the old lady’s garden, it reminded me of when Paul and I were first married, we had planned to buy his parents’ home in Marblehead, so they took off in their Airstream trailer for parts unknown while we moved into the big colonial style house. One day I was “weeding” and I pulled up some plants under their beloved magnolia tree that looked like weeds to me! Little did I know they were some other beloved plant of theirs, and when they got home in the fall (only to break the news to us that they couldn’t afford to sell us the house at a reduced rate!!!) I had to tell them my bad news also… that I’d pulled up their precious plant! Uh-oh! How to impress your new in-laws in one easy lesson!!!

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