1988: LAWN MOWING: While I guess you can’t consider this an official ‘career’ since I was only in my pre-teens, this is the first time in my life I was working for money. This was a time that didn’t yield many “professional” landscaping companies. People would mow their own lawns, or in my case, ask one of the neighborhood kids to do it for them.
My older brother used to do the lawns, and then my neighbor Rob Casella took over. Next in line for kids of the right age in our neighborhood was me.
At my peak I would move about 7 lawns a week. I would get anywhere from $7.00 – $15.00 per lawn. Sometimes I was asked to do special weeding, and that would yield me $20.00 for a few hours of work. And at that age, it was like a gold mine for me. Because I never went out much, I was able to save most of it and adding the funds to my bank account.
I did this until I was about 14 years old. At that time some of my neighbors starting hiring the professional companies. And I was getting a bit tired of doing it and wanted to move on to something more professional myself.
1994 MCDONALDS Front Counter Attendant – This was the first “on the books” job I ever had. When I turned 14, I was legally able to get a job with a company that worked with young teens. I completed my working papers and started working at the Brookdale McDonalds in Bloomfield, NJ. I was making $5.05 per hour which eventually went up to approx $5.75.
I worked in most of the positions available for a 14-year old, including filling orders, helping at drive thru, snack bar, and custodial (cleaning) duties. I also got to work in the grill area when they cook everything, but that was extremely limited since I was technically too young. I worked there for two summers before they didn’t hire me back (lack of work opportunities).
It was fun and challenging. I also gained 30 lbs while working there because I would come home with huge bags of leftover food.
1997 Valet Parking Attendant Whelan / Prestige Parking – This was a job I got immediately after getting fired from Grand Union when I was 18. My brother worked at the Charthouse in Weehawken and suggested I contact the valet parking company to see if they had any openings. After speaking with the company’s owner (Dave Whelan), soon I was working for them 4 days a week.
I made between $10 and $15.00 (sometimes $20.00) per hour. I got the chance to work at other restaurants, night clubs, and even a strip club (that one was my obvious favorite). While I was considered one of their best workers, I did crash / damage a few cars during that time. I worked late nights (sometimes until 2:30 AM) and all weather conditions (snow, cold, heat, rain).
As I was nearing college graduation, I started getting worn out from parking. While Dave was amazing to work for, the kids I worked with showed me no respect. I was tired of being made fun of, and my ‘anger’ was starting to show to his clients and customers. I eventually reached the point where I just couldn’t do it anymore and quit shortly before getting my full-time with Executrain.
1999 News Radio 880 Intern Shadow Traffic – As I was interested in pursuing a career in radio, this was an internship I had taken on during my last year of college. I only worked there for one semester. I learned a little bit, but really didn’t enjoy working there. The atmosphere wasn’t very inviting and they really didn’t teach me anything. I was just another ‘body’ taking phone calls, making photocopies, and getting breakfast for them.
They were located in Rutherford, NJ and handled all of the major traffic reports for News Radio 880, 1010 WINS, and various other news and sports reports for radio and TV. They paid a stipend of $50.00 total for the 6 months. They offered me an opp to stay onboard after my internship ended, but the rate was too low (I made more money parking cars as a valet), and I decided to pursue something different.
2001 Senior Trainer Executrain : This was my first official career after graduating college. I found a job listing for a Microsoft Trainer in our local newspaper and decided to give them a call. I did not have a lot of experience using Microsoft products, but I had the public speaking capabilities. After seeing a demonstration, they were willing to hire me and teach me the technology!
Executrain was a prominent computer application training company around the world back in the early 2000’s. In the two years I worked there, I rose up to be one of the top trainers in the company. I delivered a variety of classes in the suite of Microsoft Office products…specializing in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Project, Frontpage, Outlook…and Lotus Notes. These classes were typically done for corporations (both large and small) across the Northeast.
When I started there were 16 full-time trainers at their New Jersey location (including me). In the end, I was one of only 3 trainers left. Sadly they closed their doors in Dec 2002 (exactly two years after I started). This put me out of work, forcing me to find another job – quickly.
2016 Uber driver Uber and Lyft: Uber and Lyft are this new taxi service alternative. Basically, through an app, passengers can request rides just like a taxi. But instead of a cab company, I am the driver. I drive my own personal car, pick them up, and drive them to their destination.
Its an OK gig. I’m mainly doing it out of desperation. I’m putting a ton of miles on the car and maintenance will get expensive. many nights don’t get home until 4:30 AM or later. I’m exhausted, and the pay is only between $10-20 hour depending on the day. But it’s at least some kind of income. It’s helping me a little bit pay some bills. So hopefully it continues to help us get through this financial hump. I’m desperately seeking the help of Hasbro or Paramount Pictures to sponsor my trips with Optimus. And I still have mega high hopes for America’s Footprints.
Please…let 2017 be the year all of our financial troubles disappear. Please.