working for a living: butcher cleaner-upper
As I've pondered the travails of underemployment of late, I can't help but consider my previous jobs. Whether it was earning disposable income to support a wicked Big Gulp and Twizzlers habit as a teen, or putting food on the table for my family, I've done it all from cleaning up after a butcher to Insurance Property Adjuster. Share your ridiculous job stories in the comments.And if you need a writer / editor, or a professional dog-walker, I'm your guy. Look me up on LinkedIn and let's talk.
When I was sixteen, in addition to my paper-boy gig, I took on a job cleaning up at a meat market after hours. I scraped fat buildup off the butchers block and washed the tools, knives and saws for the butcher after he'd gone home for the night. When I was lucky I even got to wrap plastic over steaks and I fed frozen meat into a grinder which spat the wormy looking cow product into a giant churning machine that mixed the ground beef into a giant, formless mass of red and white speckled rawburger. Yum.
There was a walk-in fridge locker at the back of the market where sides of beef hung on oversized hooks. When nobody was around, and when the meat wasn't too frozen, I'd use the sides hanging from the hooks as punching bags Rocky Balboa style.
It was common for the beef to drip blood onto the concrete floor and after the blood quagulated and froze, I had the distinct privilege of scraping the quarter inch thick spots up with a garden hoe type tool. The smell of stale, frozen cow blood is indescribable. But one thing I can tell you, it doesn't smell like cotton candy.
I also disassembled the table saw which had about 25 working parts that had to be soaked in a huge stainless sink filled to the brim with nearly boiling point water to wash the grease off. Thin rubber gloves are not quite thick enough to keep from burning your hands in almost boiling water. This requires care and proper timing.
The table saw had an inside compartment and a catcher that collected all the "sawdust". Except it wasn't wood chips, of course, but meat and bone dust. This sticky concoction was made for balling up into softball sized blobs and pitched onto the wall when customers weren't looking. 9 times out of 10 the spherical meat amalgamation byproduct stuck when it slapped onto the wall. It was a little game I played.
The butcher was an old, white hair bespeckacald guy named Ray who, unsurprisingly, happened to be missing a finger or two due to sloppy butcher practices from back in the day. Ray was not politically correct. Never in my life have I heard someone handle profanity as creatively as Ray. Listening to Ray's sailor-speak was like the aural equivilent of expert knife juggling.
I was a punk rocker back then with a wardrobe complete with the obligatory uniform of leather, studs, chains, bad hair and other such accessories. My being a punk rocker required of Ray that he call me a queer. It was Ray's joyful duty to name call. I didn't take it personally.
Needless to say, after working at the meat market, I became a vegetarian for a little while.