My First Five Jobs

I was what was referred to later as a latch key kid.  I was not aware of this term until long after I was through high school.   My dad was in the Special Forces during the Vietnam War and stationed all over the United States.  Any army dependent will tell you this is how it works, a couple of years here, a few years there.  My mom worked outside of the home at a variety of manufacturing jobs.

My first job was cutting the grass on the sides of the roads within the Anderson Creek Trailer Park.  In those days it was largely wooded with abundant pine trees and I think now it is golf course area.  By the way, I was not out of high school when I had this job.

My second job was working in the tobacco fields for Odell (I remember his last name but would not want to use it without permission). I topped and suckered the plants.  For you that have not worked in the fields, that is removing the blooms (topping) and the extra leaf growth that would sap the growth from the primary leaves (suckering).   Then, later in the season it was priming (picking) the tobacco, walking down the rows and pulling the appropriate leaves (ready for harvesting) from the bottom of the plant.  Once you have an arm-load of leaves, you would walk back to the tractor and place the load in a specific orientation on the trailer behind the tractor.  Then go back to priming the next section of that row.  I have also worked in the barn hanging the tobacco leaves that were stitched onto a stick that would be passed to us to hang inside the barn.  Over time, the tobacco was cured, back into the barn to remove the dried product pack it up and take it to market.  I did this also while I was still in high school – it was mostly a summer job. –

My third job was working as the outside man at a fast food restaurant.  I would spend a few years here.  The outside man cleaned everything, trimmed weeds, and took out the trash and many similar jobs.  The outside man worked nearly every day, only for 4-5 hours as I remember.  Still, every day getting up at 0500 to get to work on time, this was in Lillington North Carolina from Anderson Creek.  There were times my car was out of service and I would sometimes bike to work.  Good thing I had that job working in the fields as I was very fit for this.  I held a number of jobs here, promoted from outside man to cook, and on to cashier.  I learned everything about the working at the restaurant that I could.  It is my nature to work to understand.  I will count these numerous jobs a one though that is not exactly true.

My fourth job, was at U-Haul while I was getting an undergraduate degree.  I was what we affectionately called a yard dog.  We installed the equipment on the customer vehicle, put hitches on customer cars, and prepare the vehicles for the customer.  Eventually, this moved to moving vehicles across the state.

My fifth job was my first post-undergraduate degree working at a small industrial product development firm.  There were few engineers and I was put into a position to learn nearly everything.  It was a little overwhelming, but the people that worked there and associated with the company (consultants) were more than willing to share what they knew.  I was an embedded product development engineer, I would design the embedded hardware (example: 805x and PIC controllers) and support circuitry.  Once this was done, I would wire-wrap a prototype (did this a couple of times to learn) or a technician would build the prototype while I would begin building the software.

I have had many jobs and positions in my life.  All of these were things from which I could and did learn.  All of these have made me what I am today and I am grateful for these opportunities.

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