I have a Sudoku game on my Linux workstation at home, and I just finished my first sudoku puzzle. I’m not sure I really see the addiction, but maybe I’ll revisit that in a few weeks. I solved puzzle #36 in GNOME Sudoku in 26 minutes and 24 seconds. I have no idea if that’s good or bad. I’m assuming it’s probably so-so given that it’s my first one ever, and I spent all of 5 seconds reading the instructions. If that’s really bad, someone let me know where I can find a list of average scores or something. The difficulty rating was something like 0.27, but I don’t know if that’s out of a total of 1.0 or what.
I decided to try it because of an article I saw on the BBC about how to become “smarter” in a week that mentioned playing sudoku puzzles. I can’t imagine doing these puzzles on paper! I only had to make a few alterations on my puzzle, but I’m assuming that as they get harder you end up having to go and practically erase the entire thing.
Maybe tomorrow I’ll try a harder one and see how it goes…
Over dinner last weekend, my neighbor pointed out to me that he’s pretty sure I’ve had more jobs than anyone else on the planet, or something to that affect. I’ve heard that before, but the emphatic words of my neighbor inspired me to list all of the jobs I can remember having. Here goes nothin’…
- Grand Union (formerly a large grocery store chain) – I started as a cashier and then requested a move to “service clerk” so I could work outside, wear a walkman while I was pushing carts, and get to roam the store. I wound up working in just about every department: bakery, seafood, produce, and I did some stock-boy stuff and shipping/receiving as well. That was my first job. I was 14.
- Worked at a Mexican Restaurant. I think that was my first service industry job. It was a small, privately owned place. I was a busboy and dishwasher, because I was too young to serve alcohol. I also made tortillas by hand in the dining room. One day they said they were closing the doors, and we should come Saturday morning for our paychecks. A few people got there a few hours early to find the owners apparently ready to skip town without paying us. They called the local paper and the cops, and we got our paychecks.Surprisingly, this is the only job where I spilled water on someone. The guy handed me $5 and told me to buck up.
- Little Caesar’s Pizza – what a horrid job. Any kind of fast food sucks, even if it’s pizza. What made it really bad was that, after going to school all day, I then had to walk at least 2 miles to get there, work until midnight sometimes, and then (if I couldn’t scam a ride) walk 2 miles home after being on my feet all night. Terrible.
- Telemarketing – that job was a scam, but us kids were too stupid to pick up on it. The customers told us it was a scam, but we just figured they were pissed because we were calling them. This was before the days of a do-not-call list. We just got a Cole’s directory and went to town. The Cole’s directory was (is?) a phone book, but instead of listing people by last name, they list by address, so you’d call an entire street in about an hour. A lot of us just called this radio station where you could listen to the radio over the phone. Other times we made up funny names and say that, like “Neil Diamond” was calling. You’d be surprised how little attention people pay to you.
- College Newspaper – I always liked writing and stuff, so I got a job as a copy editor for my college newspaper. First real heavy interaction with computers. All Apples, of course. I remember that, even then, I hated Microsoft Word. I did get a good schooling in AP Style, though, and generally how a paper is produced. Cool stuff, though it didn’t last long enough for me.
- Pizza delivery – My campus had a pizza place across the street, and I borrowed someone’s car to go deliver one day, just for the day. The owner of the place would just ask whoever was around that he recognized to do deliveries. That sucked more than you might imagine. Take care of the pizza guy – he’s not having fun. Nobody does that job unless they’re in need.
- Ice cream parlor – I make a mean shake. No, really. I liked that job. It was close to the house, and they didn’t open until 11, so I could sleep in (I had this job over a summer). Got to work with a few of my local buddies, too, which was great. The owner was a friend of a friend. Then she sold the place to an old British couple. That annoyed pretty much all of us, and we all eventually quit.
- Rumbleseats (a restaurant similar to Ground Round) – I worked here as a host for a long time, then waited tables for an equally long time. I became pretty good at managing the host stand on busy Friday nights, talking angry waiting customers down off the ledge, and blaming everything on the kitchen, who were always out of sight and not there to defend themselves. I liked the restaurant business a lot, because it was social, and you were never hungry. The tough part was that, while I had this job, I also had the two following *additional* jobs.
- Blockbuster – I was one of the crew members hired to help open a new Blockbuster. It wasn’t a horrible job, but it wasn’t the most stimulating thing I ever did. I dressed up in a too-small Bugs Bunny outfit for the grand opening and stuff. I volunteered. Don’t ask. I’ll just say this: if you’re ever given the opportunity to dress up in a furry outfit of any kind and stand outside in the summer, pass on that. Trust me on that one.
- Convenience store – Interesting job, because it was a 24-hour place, so at some point or another you have to learn how to do pretty much everything. I worked whatever shift was open. A lot of times this would be the 11pm – 7am shift. Man, you can’t even believe how many people are at the convenience store when you’re dead asleep, showing up for hoagies and doing a week’s worth of food shopping no less!
- Pizza Hut – This sucked too. See entry for Little Caesar’s.
- TGI Friday’s – I was a waiter. Loved that job. Worked with a fantastic group of total misfits, and we’d all party together after work. It was like being in the cast of Friends or something, only it was the twisted, evil, underground cult cast of Friends. Great time. Walked to work in a blizzard only to find we were the only restaurant open for 20 miles or something. 3 people on staff served up about 35 tables. I had 11 of them at once. I have no idea how the people even drove there. The training I got at Friday’s was actually wonderful, too. That training served me well as a waiter and a bartender in other places for years to come.
- Stockbroker – you read that right. I went from working at Friday’s to being a stockbroker. I was studying for my series 7 when I wasn’t working, and I passed my first time out, so this boiler room gave me a desk and set me loose. It *was* the movie “Boiler Room”. If you didn’t see that, and want to know what kind of brokerage firm hires a barely-20-year-old kid, watch the movie. It’s so close to my life at that point that it’s a little traumatizing to watch.
- TGI Friday’s – I never quit Friday’s – I transfered to one in the big apple near my brokerage firm. My firm was in Rockefeller Center, and the Friday’s was… in Rockefeller Center. Surreal. You’d get a company credit card to use to take clients out to these really nice places for lunch, and then I’d leave work, literally walk right across Rock Center to the Friday’s, and 2 hours later I’d be sitting on a pile of flour sacks or something, smoking a cigarette in a back hallway where the rats hung out, wondering why some piece of “flare” was no longer blinking.
- I was a full time broker for almost 2 years, but will leave out names and stuff to protect the innocent. Once I left that job I had to get a couple of odd jobs to pay off debts like my apartment and stuff, and once I did that I moved out to the parents and started over. That’s the short story.
- Blast yard! A blast yard is basically a huge field about the size of 6 football fields, and there are what look like really long sawhorses all lined up. The huge oil refineries send pipe here to be sandblasted and then coated with chemicals. The pipe comes in on an 18-wheeler, gets picked up by a cherry picker and placed on the racks. Then it gets sandblasted using sand that gushes through a fire hose from a huge hopper in the center of the yard, and then it gets painted. Believe it or not, in some sick way, this was a good job. Overtime pay was awesome, and I really liked the feeling of having worked extremely hard.
- I was a picture framer at a Michael’s arts and crafts store. This was actually a pretty cool job. One of the only jobs I can remember having where I really felt like every single person I worked with was really competent, and really always tried to do the right thing. That’s a rarity. Of course, it led to weird stories, like the strangest love triangle ever. A straight guy had a crush on a lesbian, and the gay guy had a crush on the straight guy. Nothing ever came of it, it was just weird.
- Waiter – Fine Dining – I worked the only fine italian restaurant I knew of in the state. The one thing I learned is that, in some cases, fine dining only looks different in the dining room. Once you leave the public space, it’s the same group of misfits I worked with at Friday’s. It’s weird to think the old dude in the tux serving something the customer couldn’t pronounce lives in a hole, smokes crack, and is known to all of the hookers in his part of town. It’s a strange world. If you don’t believe me, go work in a restaurant.
- Pool Hall bartender – I worked in a really nice pool hall for a while. I got to play surprisingly little, but this was my first official job as a bartender. Not a bad gig, really. I learned a bit from some of the good players who came around, and got really into pool. There was a place that had a snooker table, and I used to go there and use the red balls to play straight pool. This improved my game dramatically.
- Pool hall asst. manger – different pool hall. Again, I’m holding this job along with the next one simultaneously. This is where I really learned to play pool, hooked up with a lot of good players, and got to play almost constantly, because there was no bar — it was 100% pool. You didn’t go there for anything else. After it closed, we’d hop in someone’s car an go to some other pool hall. Sometimes we’d head into the city and not come home from playing pool until it was light out. We stayed out of trouble, we weren’t drinking or doping, we just really liked pool. Nobody believed that, but it’s true. How you’re supposed to run out a rack in 9-ball high is beyond me.
- Waiter/Bartender – worked at a strange sort of family restaurant. It had a huge bar that took up half the building, and then a good-sized dining room. I started as a waiter and moved up to bartender. More underground hijinx, more after hours parties, more oddball characters, I could probably write a book if I knew where to start. This was right across the tracks from the pool hall, so some days I’d open the bar for lunch (before I got promoted to prime time), leave around 4, and go open up the pool hall, and work there until 1am. I really learned to bartend in this place. 20 taps and over 100 beers in all. Bar sat about 60 at the bar, and I guess another 30-40 at tables surrounding the bar that became almost irrelevant when it got busy.
- Electronics calibration lab – great job. Loved it. Computers and every sort of digital toy imaginable. Started out doing shipping/receiving through a temp agency, they bought out my contract and put me in the lab about 6 months later. I did really simple stuff, but I learned a lot, and started taking electronics classes at a local vocational school.
- Computer guy – that’s what I am now, and have been since about 1998. I’ll upate this entry if I remember more stuff.