Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Fiberglass, Santa Claus and Lebowski

When I was 25, I moved back to Los Angeles from Western Pennsylvania where I fell off the face of the earth for nine months. There are stories from my hiatus that definitely need to be told someday, but not this day. I dabbled around in the temp world and tried to figure out what I was going to do with my life. I took some classes at SMC, but mostly I hung out with friends and did whatever work came my way. I usually worked long term temp jobs. I worked six months for a firm that designs stuff with your company logo on it, you know, t shirts, foam rubber houses with Century 21 written on them, golf balls, etc. I worked for a guy who was a class A dickhead. He even threw a paperweight at my head one time because he didn't like the phone call he had just gotten off of even though I had nothing to do with it. Apparently he didn't like me and the only reason I stayed as long as I did was because they wanted to keep me on the company softball team. Once the season was over, I was sent back to my temp agency.

I worked at different places for two years. One day, I helped remove fiberglass from an office building roof and throw it away. They didn't give us gloves to do the work and it was 90 degrees, so we were in t shirts and shorts. It was verrrrry itchy. One day I was Santa Claus at the Westside Pavilion. That was cool in the fact they paid 12 bucks an hour and I met Loni Anderson and John Ritter (God rest his soul). It was like an episode of Love Boat. But I shaved before I put on their beard, and you shouldn't do that, because the stuff they put the beard on with works better with some stubble, which they didn't mention in the first Simpsons episode when Homer was a Santa. (Comet, Dixon?) I got a rash on my face that stayed for a couple days. It was verrrrrry itchy.

Finally, I got placed as an assistant apartment manager in Westwood for two buildings across the street from each other on Wellworth with 125 units. I was going to make sure the units were in shape and if there was work to be done, I was to call in people to do it. I just had to show open units and collect rent checks and make small talk with the tenants. In return, I was going to get a discounted apartment (after 120 days) and a pretty fair salary at the time. And this was a big company with room to grow. People all over were leaving individual buildings and working for the main company....I had a job with some potential.

Cut to two months later. There was a guy I met named Razz. He worked at L.A. Fitness a couple blocks away from our buildings and was looking to move in. We went through the process and he was going to be approved. The day before he signed his lease, it was pouring buckets of rain. He had all of his stuff in the back of a Datsun truck. He asked me if he could put the stuff in the apartment one day early. I said OK. Annnnnddddddd....I got fired. Apparently you can't do stuff like that. To top it off, I had made friends with a woman in one of the units, we went out and I liked hanging out with her. After I left, the manager told her all I did was talk about how I was going to bang her....and she believed him....classic dick move.

Well, Razz's boss, Chris, felt bad for me and asked me if I wanted to sell gym memberships. You had to bring in 5 people on your own, then you could get on the rotation list. After two weeks, I brought one. I was just taking the hourly and while I tried, no one wanted a membership. I was going to the UCLA campus every day until finally one Saturday, I went and saw The Big Lebowski instead. Chris knew I was not cut out for it and he recommended I call his friend who did mortgages in L.A. I'd be making more in salary than I ever had plus commission on deals I closed. I got the job and was going to start working in the business I've been in for the last 11 years. And that will be part two of this story, cause it's late.