I am a Very Interesting Man.

7 Interesting Things About Me: The Versatile Blogger Award

I was nominated for the Versatile Blogger award by Nemesis Brown of An Empty Space . If you haven’t been over to her page, you should go take a look. She is a fantastic writer.

So here are the rules!

versatile-blogger-award-imageDisplay the Award Certificate on your blog. Check.
Announce your win with a post. Make sure you post a link back to me as a ‘thank you’ for the nomination. Check.
Present 15 awards to 15 deserving bloggers. Check.
Leave them a comment to let them know after you have linked them to a post.
Post 7 interesting things about yourself. Check.

7 interesting things about myself…let’s play with this a bit. Versatile is the name of the award, so how versatile am I? Here are seven anecdotes from seven jobs I have held.


My first “real” job was at Little Caesars at Joe Louis Arena (the home of the Detroit Red Wings). I was 15 at the time and basically shoved pizzas into a conveyor oven for three hours a night. It was downtown, and I had to ride the bus as I didn’t have a car at the time.

The bus was always filled with colorful characters. Once I met a man who claimed he was Jesus (who am I to judge? Maybe he was. I just thought Jesus would smell nicer). Another attempted to sell me a bag of oregano (hey kid, want to get high or perhaps make a nice spaghetti sauce?).

I was too young to work past 10 pm, so they when cut me loose I would immediately go find a seat to watch the rest of the game. Sadly, this was 1986 and the Red Wings SUCKED.

I spent a summer/fall as a roofer. It was one of those gap-filling jobs. I’ve never gone more than a few weeks without working since age 15 (see previous). I should be a millionaire by now.

My last roofing gig that year was on Halloween. I was working with one other guy who let me know he had to take the ladder and head over to another job for an hour.

“I’ll be right back,” he said.

Can you see where this is going? Yeah, he didn’t come back.

I was on that roof for hours, well into the evening. As trick-or-treaters wandered through the neighborhood, they pointed to the roof as if I were a part of the decorations. Check out that scary tattooed guy! They got a real serial killer for their house! Wow!

The family that I was working for finally came home around 10pm and I jumped onto the roof of their minivan and then to sweet Mother Earth. The cab ride home ran me $60.00. More trick than treat.

And my work partner? Turns out he had warrants and when he was pulled over for speeding, he was done for a while. I think he might still be in prison. Now look over at one of your co-workers. Let that sweet doubt trickle in….

The summer before I began my career as a teacher, I needed a quick job for about 8 weeks. Just something to bring in a few checks before my real job started up. As I have used my cooking skills to cover the lean times (no pun intended), I beat the streets until I found a local restaurant that needed someone. I strolled right in, introduced myself to the chef and was hired on the spot.

My goal was to be completely brain-dead for two months. Just work a broiler and a grill, keep my head down, and quit when it was time. No, I didn’t tell them it was a temporary job. Ain’t I a stinker?

It only took a few days before they realized I was capable of fully realized thoughts. Dammit. I was approached by the chef and asked if I could run the kitchen for a few days while he went out of town. With a sigh, I accepted.

A few days after he “left town”, I saw him fueling up his Jeep at the corner gas station. Leaning against the pump, he looked rather pleased with himself. That is until he noticed me standing by my car with my jaw open. With that, he jumped into his car and sped away.

I was puzzled by this but said nothing to the kitchen staff. Two days later the owner told me that the chef just checked into rehab.

I ran the kitchen for 6 more weeks and quit without notice.

My first teaching job, as is the case with many, was as a substitute teacher. I spent the first few weeks bouncing from school to school until I found a long-term subbing job for a teacher out on maternity leave.

It was a trial by fire. The job was teaching sixth grade Language Arts at a D rated school in a high-crime neighborhood. Campus was closed promptly at 3 pm each day, and the staff was encouraged to run for their lives at the end of each school day.
Having grown up in Detroit, I was not intimidated by the environment. In fact, it was familiar.

My classroom was in a portable trailer on the far end of campus. It was also adjacent to a construction site. It was the lawless borderlands, and I was its lone guardian. In the nine weeks I was at the school there were two bomb threats and a gun found in a student’s backpack. This was “normal”.

One afternoon, one of my students (remember, this is a sixth grade class) was out of sorts. Her voice slurred, and she seemed to have difficulty staying awake during my riveting lecture. She stood to ask me if she use to the bathroom and suddenly fell towards the floor.

Imitating The Flash, I managed to cross the room in a blur and catch her before she hit. I yelled for the students to clear the room, and I ran to the school nurse, cradling her in my arms.

She looked up to me and admitted that she had chugged a 40oz of beer and a handful of Tylenol PMs before school. She was twelve years old. After a brief stint in the hospital, she returned to class and transformed into the highest scoring student of the term.

Far less dramatic but with an enduring lesson…I spent a summer in college painting houses. The company I worked for was quite small and specialized in painting wood slat homes with a hand brush. It was tedious, meticulous, and ridiculous.

We spent one month on a four-story monstrosity that required us to use ladders at full extension and at times we were easily 35 feet in the air. For a young guy with little experience working on ladders, it was somewhat intimidating.

One day I simply could not go up the ladder. I would freeze in place by the third rung. I tried and tried, but I could not get myself to go up that ladder. The foreman noticed my struggle. Shaking his head as he walked over to me, he pointed to the roof of the house.

“Having a hard time today, Lucas?”

I mumbled some lame excuse.

“Lucas, it’s simple. The money is not at the bottom of the ladder. The money is at the top of the ladder. Go get your money,” he said.

Slowly, I climbed up that ladder. I made it to the top and got to work. Over 20 years later, his simple lesson rings true on more levels than I think he ever intended. The money IS at the top of the ladder.

In college, I was a bartender in a speakeasy. A blind pig. An illegal establishment. We rented out adjacent storefronts in what used to be a crap neighborhood in downtown Detroit (it’s now kinda trendy). Three nights a week, at 2am, we opened our doors so that those who “had to leave but didn’t want to go home” could continue to debauch in style.

We were the spot. It’s still a Detroit legend. However, as with most illegal enterprises, we were finally closed by Johnny Law. It took the Detroit Police Department three years to come down on us. Fact was, we weren’t a threat. We had beer, booze, bands, and balloons but none of that hardcore criminal stuff – gambling, prostitution, etc. It was basically just a party.

It was a moment in time that can’t be replicated. I made a ton of cash that paid for college and had a great time. I don’t regret a single minute of it. I have a thousand stories that I will eventually channel into one of my future novels. Good stuff. Crazy stuff.

At the end of my stint, I was arrested and charged with Conspiracy and Operating a House of Ill Repute (I love the sound of that). The second charge was dropped, and once the judge learned I was in college, he gave me six months probation and ultimately expunged the record. I have stayed out of trouble ever since. Squeaky clean and loving it.

I’ve had even more jobs than I have mentioned here, but I’ve saved the best for last. In the fall of 1990, I sold shoes at the Wild Pair. For those of you who don’t remember this shop, it was 80s mall culture at its finest. Chess King was next store, and Merry-Go-Round was across the hall.

We sold trendy 5-inch heels, thigh high boots – anything you would need for a hair metal music video. And videos we had! Three TVs blared hits from BBD, Vanilla Ice, Rick Astley and Debbie Gibson. I can’t watch Fast Times at Ridgemont High without thinking about my few months slinging heels.


Now it’s time to pass on the Versa-torch. Check out these lovely bloggers!

















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