Odd Jobs

I have done a number of odd things between serious jobs, some of them close to home, others in distant lands.

I got fired from three of them, but here are a few I left by my own choice:

One summer I cut grass at the United Nations in Switzerland. Security was tight. We emptied our pockets and left the contents in a basket in the office as we went out to mow.

Another time I stacked beer bottles at the Hofbrauhaus in Munich.

At home I set pins at the bowling alley in Winnipeg, owned at the time by hockey star Billy Mosienko.

In high school I worked as a farmhand on a turkey ranch in Boissevain. The owner had nephews my age. Sunday was my day off, so the nephews and I went to Lake Killarney to pick up girls, but we never did because we were too shy.

In Regina I broadcast some commentaries on issues of the day because I had a friend who worked at the CBC.

One of my most interesting tasks was a non-paying job. We pushed bush across an Island in Reid Lake near The Pas in northern Manitoba. You formed a line and swept across the island hoping to scare deer out of the bush and into the water.

When the deer swim to the next island, the Park Rangers follow in a boat and tie a rope around the animal’s neck. When it reaches shore, the Rangers jump out of the boat and loop the rope around a tree to stop the animal from running away.

After stunning the deer, the Rangers do a bunch of tests, tag the ear and untie the rope. The animal takes a moment to realize it is free, then jumps to its feet and darts away like a bat outta hell.

The jobs I got fired from?

I delivered flyers for the Post Office and got fired because I lost the keys twice.

A friend got me a job as the chef at a restaurant called Famous Fountain in east Winnipeg. The owners were German. One of the menu items was German potato salad.

After working there for a month I decided to use my mother’s recipe for potato salad instead of the German salad the owners thought to be so great. I got fired, replaced by the owners’ daughter who liked me and kept me on as a busboy.

Finally, In San Jose, California, my brother-in-law John Froese hired me as an apprentice carpenter. I wasn’t very good at that job. One time I was cutting through a 2 x 10 and did not realize the power cord was under the plank.

I cut the cord. John said:

“Irvin, this just isn’t going to work.” I was never so glad as then to be relieved of my duties.

I did other things that I don’t remember, except that in order to get money in Europe while traveling as a student, I sometimes sold a pint of my blood for $25 a bottle.

More Stories