Opinion: A jack of all trades


Commentary by Ward Degler

Last week, I wrote about working on a milk truck when I was 12. It got me thinking about other jobs I have had over the years. Some were interesting, others were boring, and some were downright scary.

I mowed lawns either before the milk truck or afterward. The problem there was the mowers. Sometimes, I had to spend an hour sharpening and adjusting the blades before I could mow. One mower was so worn out that I had to tell the owner I couldn’t cut his grass. He got angry with me.

Years later, I got my chauffeur’s license and delivered dry cleaning. The good thing about that job was the owner. He could give the most precise directions to find the most out-of-the-way house. I never got lost.

The scariest job I had was driving a water truck. I had a whole load of water and headed down a hill with a sharp curve at the bottom. The brakes failed as I was picking up speed.  The truck had a manual transmission, and although I had never done it before, I managed to double clutch and downshift before reaching the curve. I said a hasty prayer as well. I quit the next day.

One summer I worked for a sign painter. My job was to stop along the road, set up an extension ladder and paint the backs of billboards with dull green paint. By the end of summer, my clothes were green, my hair was green and my fingernails looked like they were growing.

After high school, I moved to Kansas City and worked for a drug store selling cigarettes. Later, I worked for a man who owned parking lots around the city. The most interesting aspect of that job was working at the airport lot. People would return from being out of town for a week or more, and their cars wouldn’t start. I called the tow truck. During the winter, the tow truck parked at the lot full time.

Later, I got an inside job as an office boy for a food brokerage. I did a good enough job that they wanted me to undergo management training. Unfortunately, the draft was breathing down my neck and I had to enter the Army.

Looking back, I guess I qualify as a jack of all trades and master of none.