From The Desk Of The Flat Five: First (And Second) Jobs

Ligon: My best friend Willie and I were going to save money and travel to Europe, so we both applied for a job at Steak ‘N Shake at the same time. We each got dishwashing jobs. I worked two days. Willie worked one. Then on my first day off, I had tickets to a Cardinals game and asked him if he could go. He said, “Well, I gotta work,” and I said, “Just fucking see if you can get out of it.” So on his second day of work, he actually went to ask our boss if he could go to the baseball game with me instead of working. Willie asked, “Could I just work a late shift?” and our boss said, “Absolutely not.” So Willie said “Well then, I guess I quit.” Then he went with me to the game, and there went our European vacation.

I continued to work at Steak ‘N Shake just long enough to suck the nitrous oxide out of all the whipped cream cans in the walk-in refrigerator, and then I quit. When I left, all that whipped cream was completely flat.

Then I was too embarrassed to come back and get my one and only paycheck, and when I finally did come back three months later they didn’t even know who I was. The manager on duty said, “We were wondering who this belonged to. Here’s your 50 dollars.”

My second job was at Kentucky Fried Chicken with my friend Dave. We’d been there for about a month when a new manager arrived and started making life miserable for us. Our previous manager had been fired for doing something awful, but I don’t remember what.

One night Dave and I walked out into the alley to smoke a joint by the dumpster. Our new boss burst out of the back door and said, “All right! Finish the night and then you’re fired!” Dave laughed and said, “Fuck that. If I’m fired, I’m leaving.” The she pointed to me and said, “Scott! Finish the night and then we can talk.” But I said, “Umm, I think I’ll just go with Dave.”

McDonough: The summer I turned 14, I was a caddy at the Ravisloe Country Club in Homewood, Ill. I was the worst caddy ever. I hated golf. Never liked golf. Ed Norton addressing the ball—that’s about as close as I ever came to liking golf. And I liked Caddyshack, but Bill Murray wasn’t anywhere near this place. (I do like mini-golf, ya know, but that’s probably because of the crazy holes with Frankenstein, a giant windmill or a big gorilla. It’s more about that than it is about golf.)

Also, my eyes kind of have their own thing going on. When I look up in the sky, I see all kinds of floaters. But when I was a caddy, whenever someone would hit the ball, I was supposed to follow it up into the air, watch it sail, determine where it landed, then go find it. Because of my floaters, I never had any friggin’ idea where it went. “It was here a minute ago! You’re the a-hole that knocked it away! Why don’t you go look for it?”

But I would grudgingly be out there at 8 a.m. waiting for a turn on the green, and then they would give me 10 dollars at the end of it—and I’d run to Record Swap and buy a Beatles album. That was really about it.

I was supposed to be paying off a guitar that my parents had bought for me: an Ibenez Les Paul “Lawsuit” that I eventually traded for my first bass: a Kustom. Anyway, I don’t know if I ever finished paying them off, because I was such a shitty caddy. Worst caddy ever.

The next job I had was as a dishwasher at Tom’s Family Restaurant for $1.75 an hour, a free meal and all the Pepsi you could drink. They definitely lost money on me on Pepsi alone. And my free meal was usually three eggs, some hashbrowns, toast, a cheeseburger and fries. That lasted about six weeks until one Saturday night I didn’t feel like going in. Working there was nothing like Diner. I had just seen that movie several times and thought, “I could do that”—but of course it’s more fun hanging out at the diner than working there.  I know that now.