I can’t even list all the jobs that I had, but I wore many hats when I was still working. I read that the average person will have 12 different jobs during the course of their lifetime, well I shattered that curve, as I had 17 jobs before I ended High School. My first job was working as a solicitor, I walked around the neighborhood selling seeds (vegetables and flowers) door to door that would be delivered through the mail. The company gave me some sample packets of seeds and a catalog that the potential customers could browse through and then order. It wasn’t a bad job, but eventually you would exhaust the supply of relatives and neighbors and then the job ends.
I lived in Milwaukee when I was young and I made money shoveling driveways, which was not steady work, but Milwaukee does get a lot of snow. I had a lemonade stand and I raked leaves for money in the autumn. I also made money cutting lawns and my dad also paid me to help paint the house. I had a paper route, but I spent all my money on the ice cream truck. I worked as a pet sitter and a dog walker. In High School, I got a job working as a busboy in a restaurant and then I worked as a bagger for a grocery store. I worked at the country club as a golf caddy and also as a valet parking attendant. My older sister paid me to watch her boys, but I was like the worst babysitter ever. I worked at a car wash and I also worked on a garbage truck. My dad paid me to be his helper when he got jobs to install antennas.
After High School, I got a job as a furniture mover working for a moving company. I worked as a janitor, cleaning office buildings. I had a job as a vacuum cleaner salesperson. I worked in a carpentry shop and I worked in a machine shop making rollers for the newspaper printing industry. I had a job that required me to assemble a crew of boys and canvas different neighborhoods for newspaper sales. I worked as a swimming pool installer and I also worked as a landscaper. I worked as an order filling clerk in a company that sold legal supplies. I worked in a plumbing warehouse and in a steel mill. I worked as a mixer in a place that made frozen cheesecakes. I worked in a factory making roof trusses. I worked in a cosmetics warehouse and I worked on the receiving dock at a shipping company. I worked as a stacker in a factory that made clay targets that people use for shooting practice. I worked as a helper in a panel shop that required me to do many different things, like degreasing panels with this nasty stuff called panther piss, helping the painter, the carpenter, the wiring technicians, driving the truck for deliveries, but basically just being the gopher. I spent a lot of time hoping around from job to job till I finally matriculated 7 years later after getting out of High School.
After graduating college, I had at least 30 different jobs, but most of my time I worked as a consultant, so I often had 3 to 4 different jobs in a year. The job titles that I held don’t fully describe what I did there, or what kind of companies I worked for. Once I had my associates degree in Electrical Engineering, I started out as a drafter not knowing much, but learning how things are done. My next job, I was called an electrical designer, which was a step up from being a drafter. The drafter was basically told what to do, but the designer was in charge of identifying and organizing how electrical drawings were being produced and in order to do this job, so you had to understand relay logic and be familiar with power distribution. I had some understanding of the relevant standards, including an introduction to the National Electric Code (NEC), so the equipment could be designed safely and this is where I first worked with Computer Aided Design (CAD). This job was basically working with temperature controls, but there were also some actuators involved in this system. My next job was also working with temperature controls for hydrogen furnaces.
When I got my fourth engineering job, I was an experienced designer understanding how all of the equipment worked together in a system. I knew what the components looked like and singe I was good at investigating which parts were tied together, I was assigned to do a lot of reverse engineering on existing systems that lacked documentation. This company had rooms full of equipment that they needed to keep running, but because of the poor or total lack of electrical schematics on these systems, it made maintenance a nightmare. I had to reach into control panels to find out which wires were connected to what items and basically crawl around everything, till I could produce the necessary control system documentation. During this time, I went back for my bachelor’s degree at nights, and then they gave me a raise.
Working as a consultant, requires you to be an expert on day one when you start a new job, as you are hired for a specific job and there will not be any training for you. After working for this medical device manufacturer, I got another job working with a company that made several kinds of weird products and one of these produced an electrical charge that removed barnacles from the bottoms of ships. The other products were also a bit strange, but they involved equipment for the water treatment industry. I then got a job that involved mixing rubber for the tire industry. I worked with weighing equipment, blending and material handling conveyors. The next job I got was working in the quarry industry creating one-line diagrams for motor controls that were mostly conveyor systems, but I also helped to design a lime kiln and a crusher.
In my next job as an electrical controls system engineer, I worked in the Liquid Crystal Display manufacturing market on prototype machinery for this assembly line in a clean room. The system had just become operational when I got this job, but it broke down often and I was there to tweak it when necessary. Several different Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC’s) were tied together on a Data Highway and working in conjunction with a Wonderware SCADA system and there were several other operator interfaces tied into this system along with some stepper and servo motors.
In my next job, I worked as an instrument engineer creating installation drawings that showed how all different types of instruments were to be mounted and connected. In the following job, I worked on gas-fired batch annealing furnace projects for the Steel industry. In my next job I worked on several ion exchange membrane water treatment projects. In my next position, I worked as an instrument engineer again on a pharmaceutical project where I worked with the Process and Instrumentation Diagrams (P&ID’s) incorporating interlocks to meet designed control system specifications. My next job as a controls system engineer involved a lot of travel and they sent me to South America, Europe and different parts of the US to program their machinery, which included tobacco drying ovens and thermal oxidizers. I am certain that this post became too long and that I have lost every one of my readers talking about my career, but I am retired now and I have never held a job for more than three years.
Written for Fandango’s Provocative Question #152 which asks, “What do you do for a living? If you are retired, what did you do before you retired? If you’re currently unemployed, what did you do before becoming unemployed?