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Summer jobs

I had a job every summer from the time I was 11 years old. Not like a paper route or lemonade stand ... real retail jobs.

Those familiar with New Orleans know that age doesn't really matter. Child labor laws never applied ... in fact I don't remember Louisiana ever having any real laws for anything. The drinking age was 18 but if your head could reach the bar, you were served. There were pinball machines in the local restaurants that paid off in nickels. They all had TAC Amusement stickers. We used to play the ones at the Frostop. They had a series of holes that moved and created patterns when the ball dropped in them and would pay off when you'd get three across, four across, etc.

I worked for a while at Ernst Food Mart as a stock boy. Loved that job. I had the dog food and pet supplies aisle. I got to carry the price stamper on my belt. It had it's own ink supply and after ripping the box lids off, it was a race to see how fast you could stamp the cans. What a great loud sound the stamper made .... At closing time we'd "front the shelves" (meaning you would make the shelves look fully stocked by stacking the front cans) and then the chief stock boy would check your aisle for accuracy. I always wanted his job.

I remember when I first started as a rookie, I fell for every trick they'd pull. My boss demanded that I find the left handed shelf stretcher and I had a half hour to do it or I'd be fired. I asked everybody I saw. No one knew where "it" was. I sweated every minute until at the end when the boss looked down at me and said ... "you're fired". As I put away my new stamper dejectedly, the whole place lit up in laughter. Of course there's no such thing.

Then there was the time I was commanded to find a bogus "lost case" of dog food ... As soon as I got to the stock room, bags and cans showered on my head from up above as I was given the full initiation from the rest of the stock boys.

I hated them .... and by the end of the summer we were best of friends.


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