In honor of Labor day-Work
The worst job I ever had was as a fake patient. It was a hot summer and for some reason I was broke again. Basically, you were given a script and a disease. You recited all your symptoms and the doctors were supposed to give an accurate diagnosis and have a good bedside manner. Most of the doctors had shaky English. The whole thing was taped. You sat in an un airconditioned hospital from hell-a slated to be closed bankrupt medical building in Brooklyn, a part of Brooklyn where gun shots were frequently audible. They made you wear a hospital gown and it was polyester and you sweated and then this strange person asked you the same questions over and over again. I think I had some sort of sciatic nerve issue. Two of the doctors tried to give me a breast exam. Like I said, it was a horrible job.
Working as a movie extra was great. I was cast as a whore in THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY while I was studying history at Trinity College. My best friend had a TV series that was cancelled because the Head of the League of Decency in Ireland had a heart attack and died watching her show. She had played this rather dimwitted daughter of a Math teacher who was always ending up with her skirt over her head. After Gabrielle was fired she kept getting these extra jobs and bringing a bunch of us along. I was told to stand in a doorway with Sean Connery who was very impressed by my gums and I played catch with Kiefer Sutherland as his Dad was in the film and he was bored.
The job that seemed to have the greatest impact on my life was my two years with New Jersey Bell being an Outside Line Foreman. I was 22, just graduated from Rutgers with a history degree and had never told anyone to do anything except small children and they mainly laughed at me. After 6 months of learning to climb poles and wire fake houses I was sent out to an installation garage in Rutherford, New Jersey where I was given a gang of telephone installers whose average age was 35. After our first meeting none of them left for work because I didn't tell them to leave. Finally my boss called up and screamed over the speaker phone-"Go to work you lazy motherfuckers!" and they left. At first I tried to be authoritative and I asked them idiotic questions but then I learned to bring them coffee and doughnuts and my production soared.
I was a cocktail waitress at a Bar on Fisherman's Wharf called Aliotos Hofbraus House. The Alioto family had made their drug addled son the manager to keep him out of trouble. Jeff used to invite his drug dealing friends to show up after midnight and then he made me stay and serve them shots while they snorted coke and acted horribly except for this one guy who was smart and literate albeit a drug dealer so of course we got involved and it was a total mess. There was an accordion player named Johan, a Holocaust survivor who owed the Aliotos money and he wore lederhosen and played in the window 15/7. He drank prodigious amounts of Spaten and would shout that he loved me in between songs. These horrible tourists would make him play "Lady from Spain" and other schlock and then he would come and sit by me and drink and sometimes tell me stuff like mainly to get the hell out of there. His son was 17 and had a huge crush on me. One afternoon Johan didn't wake up when I touched his shoulder. He died with his cheek on the bar. The only people from the restaurant to attend his funeral were me and the angry Salvadorian bartender who thought all women were whores.