Close to home
I got fired from the snowboard factory and I got fired from the block glass window factory. But I'm consistent.
Close to home
I had pretty much had it with serving papers. It is long hours and intense and stressful, and there is always the threat of violence. People aren’t friendly; they don't want those papers.
It wasn't fun, and besides, I wasn't making any money which will take the fun out of almost anything. I had substantial revolving debt; all plastic, and I ended up discharging the debt two years later in bankruptcy court, in 1998.
At any rate, I quit, which didn't make any difference as I was working on straight commission and I was paid by the serve.
I was living across from the public library in San Bernardino. I had a studio apartment in a heritage building – the rent was cheap, and I liked the building, but the cockroaches must have been there since they laid the foundation, they were as big as my thumb, but fortunately there were not too many of them.
I had a 1979 Honda Prelude -- I loved this little car, and I poured money into it. It was running well at this point.
I started to get temp work around the area through various agencies; Select, Core and Labor Ready.
I was looking to get a foothold somehow, to get a leg up. I had heard about the ROP, the Regional Occupational Program and this was a way to get entry-level skills for free, a way to pick up a trade or a soft profession like a bank teller. They had various programs: auto body, automotive service, this kind of thing with no charge, except for books and materials and they offered these courses at the high schools.
I phoned around and found medical terminology in Colton. The receptionist wasn't sure I could do it, but I got pushy and talked to the teacher, an energetic black lady, and she agreed to let me attend. I went to Loma Linda, went to the hospital there and got my book at the bookstore -- there was a University attached to the hospital.
I also at this time had a job at a snowboard factory in Corona. I worked a graveyard shift, and I made six bucks an hour as a temp. If you were hired directly, if they wanted to hire you eventually, they paid something like seven dollars an hour.
It was all Hispanic men working at this place, but naturally, the foreman was white or a very light-skinned Hispanic who spoke English without an accent. He was also fluent in Spanish. The work was light; it was relatively easy. Making these things was more concise than you might think, they had to meet certain specs, and these were athletic competition equipment. I did various little things: "Grind these things down." And the guy would give me a measuring sample, and I did different little things that I don’t remember.
We would have weekly staff meetings right on the floor. I didn't understand them because they were talking Spanish. But I made an effort to pay attention. The foreman says one time, says: "If anybody is interested in making a career out of this, come talk to me."
And this sticks in my mind. A career in the snowboard factory! Maybe you could rise to nine bucks an hour! I already knew this about Southern California through other dead end jobs I had worked.
I watched these guys at lunch, these Hispanic men. They're eating frozen burritos (five for a dollar) and gossiping, and these men have families; wives that work, children, dreams; dreams for their children. That's inspiring, the working people, and the salt of the earth -- but not me. Not me! I mean I have been on the run my entire life -- I just can't handle the yoke, and I was too inept or unstable to acquire the credentials that enable you -- it takes serious money to get off the treadmill. Otherwise, it's just a matter of being more comfortable.
This was one of the reasons I pursued some of the more unusual occupations I had with such commitment. Not the money; it wasn't going to be big money at best. Being a casino dealer, a dice dealer, gives one the illusion that you are not working for a living.
When I got off shift at the factory, I would drive to Bally’s in San Bernardino and work out for an hour. Then I would head out to Colton and go to school. It was a funny feeling being at a high school; I was forty years old. I would be sitting outside in a little assembly area, and I had my hair longish and a goatee. The kids were aware of an adult who was not a teacher but being cool they didn't stare. I was double the age of the students in my class.
I felt a kind of pathos there at the high school because I never went to high school. I went to these classes four days a week, and I did fine of course -- I got a certificate. After the three month course there was a more advanced medical terminology course, but somewhere along the way, I decided that I didn't want to be around deteriorating people, death, and human shit. I worked around death enough in the cemeteries.
When school was almost finished there was a mix up with my paycheck at work, and I went to the temp office which was near the factory, and I got upset, and they fired me. Actually when I applied to this temp agency they had a long application form that asked some interesting questions: Have you ever used drugs? Have you ever used LSD, Marijuana, Meth, or MDA?
MDMA, Heroin? The questionnaire went on and on, and they asked about specific drugs. How much do you drink? How many fights have you been in? Do you consider yourself a good fist fighter; on a scale of one to ten? Is it okay to hit your boss?
This was a no-brainer, but I was amused because badly exploited people do tend to get angry and the staff at this particular temp agency was arrogant.
The next job I got was in Beaumont at a glass window factory -- glass, block windows. I don't even feel like going into the ins and outs of this particular dead end job. It was a graveyard shift. There's this one kid, a Mexican kid named Caesar who was fucking with me and even his co-workers remarked upon it. The kid was undermining me and giving me a hard time. One of the foremen had complimented me on the job I was doing early on. "You're motivated. You're going to make it!" Make it full time -- well, gee. Maybe the kid feared for his job.
But the top foreman came to me about this kid; the kid was having trouble with a co-worker. I saw my chance and stuck a knife in his ribs. I am quite good at that stuff. Two days later the foreman fired Caesar. I then went around in the break room, looking in the lockers. "Where's Caesar? Anybody see him?!" I was crowing, so a day later I got fired too; but what the fuck? It was just another dead end job down the drain.
A funny thing happened when I was working there; it was on the news, and we heard about it on the shop floor, a young boy got kidnapped. A man working there and his son who also worked there knew this boy. They didn't find him that night, and I figured, "He's dead."
They found his body two days later. No, they never caught the perpetrator, but they had a description, and I would see a billboard with a drawing of the suspect and a phone number and a reward for information leading to a conviction, and this was on the 91 freeway, heading east, and close to San Bernardino -- close to home.}��7�ʳ