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On working for a living

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By my estimation I’ve had roughly 30 jobs.

I know, I know. I can see you reading this over your morning coffee and screaming, “That’s because you’re a terrible employee you hippie-Marxist-democratic-conservative-vegetarian-millennial!!!”

And if you find yourself screaming those words at this newspaper, two things: First, bro … switch to decaf.

Second, I love having such a large number of varied and unique work industries under my belt. It lends a certain perspective of life and living that most people don’t have.

When I was 18 years old and on my way to college, I found myself needing a job but had very few marketable workplace skills. At the time I thought I was going to the NFL and, as it turns out, most employers don’t care how much you can bench press.

The highest paying job I could find was for an absolutely massive Nike distribution warehouse just outside of Chicago. My job was to open boxes and sort and count left shoes and right shoes.

All day, every day, I counted the number of left-footed shoes and right-footed shoes in brown cardboard boxes. By the end of the first week I was having nightmares involving angry boxes and Nike swooshes chasing me through dark alleyways.

I’ve worn Adidas ever since.

When I was in college I worked for an apartment maintenance company. If a tenant was evicted, it was our job to clean the place out and make it ready for the new owners. One day we showed up to just such a residence to find the male tenant had left in a hurry. Apparently fleeing the law, they’d left an incredibly aggressive dog, two machetes, several automatic weapons, a large amount of marijuana — and a dresser and closet full of women’s clothes, undergarments and high heels, thus demonstrating an aspect of the human condition I still don’t understand.

Later, after quitting the maintenance gig that was almost certainly going to get me shot or stabbed, I took a job delivering pizzas. About two months into my employment I delivered 10 king-size pizzas to a pajama-themed birthday party at a sorority house. The pizzas were a birthday present from an out-of-town boyfriend to his girlfriend and her sorority sisters. However, as the pizzas were a surprise and no one at the party knew who ordered them or why, they naturally assumed it was all a joke and that I was a male stripper.

It was an interesting night. Come to think of it, that job wasn’t so bad.

Point is, I’ve had a lot of teachable moments in the workplace. Even if the lesson was as simple as knowing what I didn’t want to do for the rest of my life, every job taught me something worthwhile.

And every job left me with a simple, noble truth about life, living and working to maintain both: There is no shortcut to success. Hard work and loving what you do will carry you further in life than you can possibly imagine.

And if you’re smarter than me, it won’t take you 30-plus jobs to figure it out.

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