Calls of Duty
By Patty Clark
One of my first jobs was driving one of those mobile hot dog trucks in Florida after I graduated from high school. Hundreds depended on me to fulfill their frankfurter dreams, which basically meant standing around yawning while waiting for someone to show up. I had unlimited access to fast food for eight excruciating hours. It’s a wonder I eat hot dogs today.
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One of my first jobs was driving one of those mobile hot dog trucks in Florida after I graduated from high school.
Hundreds depended on me to fulfill their frankfurter dreams, which basically meant standing around yawning while waiting for someone to show up. I had unlimited access to fast food for eight excruciating hours. It’s a wonder I eat hot dogs today. My resume looked spectacular, despite the fact that they had to eliminate about fourteen pages of what I blew out of proportion.
But I had tons of experience after serving my nine siblings pigs in blankets for a vast number of subservient years throughout my teen existence.
Fresh and Easy
Truth be known, I believe I got the job based on my bustiness at the time, which has now deflated substantially. It wasn’t long before I had to rely on whatever brainpower I had.
During my lengthy two-week stint driving the weinermobile, I parked the vendored vehicle on a car dealership lot and never knew who I was going to serve that day.
The hungry drive by’s, the ecstatic new car owners, or the disgruntled car salesmen who needed to close deals. One day I encountered the disgruntled drive by. I was loading on his double mustard when he asked me, “Don’t you know who I am?” I looked him up, down, and sideways before answering, “Not a clue.” Moments later, I didn’t think a hot dog would evoke such resentful emotion. I wanted to ask if he had a few hours to spare while pondering his identity.
Working with the general public sometimes squeezes the good nature right out of a person. I had rather deep insight to his kind of human suffering and did two things. First of all, I kept a Pez dispenser on hand to boost the gaiety of crestfallen customers. Secondly, I joined a support group to comingle with other pity partiers who loathed their occupations. We met twice weekly at a bar.
I should have told the all-star to take my lack of football player knowledge to the complaint department.
But mister football famousness left briskly without even so much as thanking me with a tip. I disliked that job for several reasons. Waking up. Certain customers. Wearing a bra for eight hours. Having mustard stained shirts. Measly pay. And the pressure of exactly how much relish should cover a cylindered piece of meat. Pretending to be pleasant all day got pretty exhausting as well.
So I moved on to bigger and better things. My true calling was hanging out with my friends and shopping. Except that I needed money to do that.
Career plans were way more exciting when I was four.
At seventeen, I thought about being a flash dancer. But I was afraid mom and dad wouldn’t take too kindly to me sauntering on a stage naked and whipping myself around a pole in front of strangers. I knew I wouldn’t want to glaze pigs at Honeybaked Hams and leave their premises reeking of brown sugar and corn syrup. And woe would be me if I worked at a movie theatre tearing tickets. I wouldn’t be able to contain myself when revealing all the movie endings.
After graduation, I surely didn’t want to work for any corporation that has their own unique way of doing things, which was usually their way. After all, I have an opinion or three. I wasn’t cut out to be a cubicle girl. Those places require the work of three women and I could totally foresee an army of problems marching before me. In which case I would have had to fill the lunchroom sinks with pots of espresso and antidepressants, dunk my head in, and drink excessively until it was bone dry. I couldn’t get that at any Starbucks.
No additives in coffee, no desire to workee. Besides, they could fire me citing unaccountabilities. Although other careers would be far more hazardous to my health, like a rattlesnake handler or a high rise window washer.
The parents said I could be anything.
I ended up an artsy madcapped maternal patrol officer with major phobias. Which was mostly a fear of opinions, secondary to pointed objects and manic scares of manipulation. There was a time when I thought about being a flight attendant. Instead, I stayed grounded with children. But thoughts of sky soaring never left my mind. While feeding my babies in their high chairs, I taught them to make sure their tray tables were in the upright and secured position.
I did find out that mothering was no different than being a cabin attendant since I catered to restless attitudal mortals who were always pushing my buttons. I often encountered turbulence and wondered if I would ever make my connection. My mother even told me, “Tighten your bra straps, it’s going to be a very bumpy ride.” There was one difference between the two careers.
An attendant can do all that she does for eighteen hours and still look good. I looked like a war torn Raggedy Ann.
In order to improve my productivity, I did regular Richard Simmons workouts.
I basically rubbed up against the television tube hoping his energy was contagious. I didn’t know whether to model myself after Donna Reed, or use some of Roseanne’s rationale. I did maintain a job while mothering. And in doing both, I ended up failing at many things.
Tried to get both myself and the kids ready and out the door in ten minutes. Failed. Tried to keep a daily diary of their growth patterns. Failed miserably. Tried to contact Duncan Hines to tell them yellow is not a cake flavor. Failed to get a response. Tried getting my kids to listen to me. Response failure mounting into the thousands.
I must have totally forgotten to teach my sweet youngest child o’ mine how to sew after noticing her stapled pant bottoms when her hems came undone.
Change of Plans
But look at the highly achieved Hugh Hefner.
In 2005, he tried and failed to create a no nudity version of Playboy featuring a Miss World contestant on the first cover. It’s just impossible to live without failing at something. My life has been one long series of waking tired and going to sleep wide awake. I have a job, but don’t have kids keeping me up at night.
Yet I awaken anyway because childbirth destroyed my bladder. Based on my calculations, I can pretty much retire ten years after I die. I have spent two thirds of my life looking for a career that would make me happy, and make me millions. Because I know I’d be pretty darn good at it.