Being an entrepreneur, or a “Jill of all trades and a mistress of none,” which is how I’ve always described myself, I’ve found myself involved in some pretty bizarre employment “opportunities.”
My first job was on top of one of the Grand Teton Mountains outside Jackson Hole in Wyoming. I am sure they’ve made improvements since 1971, but back then, there was a tiny, ramshackle, tar-roofed building at the base of a gondola ride up the mountain, and SalGal and I cooked crepes and served hot chocolate to the tourists who were bold enough to take the aerial ride up the mountain. It was in the summer, so we didn’t get the kind of traffic you might imagine, leaving plenty of time to lollygag. It was certainly the most beautiful job site, with a vista over the Snake River valley expanding into a 1,000 square mile radius. So, we mostly sat on the deck and smoked pot, then lots of cigarettes. Moose and mountain goats came around, but they didn’t like hot chocolate, and it’s not like we were really being paid enough for rent! I suggest this job as a first job for anyone, except that was mostly down hill (pardon the pun) from there, jobwise.
For some bizarre reason, I decided that I wanted to be a horse trainer. I think I just wanted to ride horses, because as a potential trainer, I would have pretty much sucked! Through an Equine magazine, I found an ad for a couple who had a VERY small horse farm in Arizona. Well, I packed a suitcase and went right over there from New Mexico.
Small horse operation didn’t begin to describe this doublewide trailer for a farmhouse with a barn that held three stalls, which hadn’t been mucked out in probably over six months—squishy wet with a mixture of horse urine, hay and God only knew what else. The cowboy/owner showed me that this would be my first responsibility, among many. I couldn’t even begin to guess what else there was to do around the place, but that evening I found myself sitting in a Lazy-Boy inside the double-wide with him and “the little lady” watching TV while he cleaned his guns. If I’m lyin, I’m dyin … the wife was coiffing her wigs on stands, curling and styling them as she watched the TV. This was one of many times that I had a strong feeling I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and definitely with the wrong people, I thought, “If my friends could see me now!” The next morning early, I suggested that horse training was just not for me and I high-tailed it back to Santa Fe with another potential career marked OFF my list.
Has anyone out there ever been a medical transcriptionist? Just one of many “work from the comfort of your own home” schemes gone awry … but not before I spent three months studying medical terms and shelling out about a thousand bucks for the pleasure and a certificate that allowed me qualification in this area. Since I had to type medical notes from audio tapes of doctors (most of whom were born in India with an accent that couldn’t be understood by another Indian, much less a Texan), I had my work cut out for me … there in the comfort of my own home! And, since I was paid literally pennies a word, I had to type thousands upon thousands of words a day to earn enough for a cup of coffee. I was comfortable all right because I didn’t have enough time to shower or change clothes. I even went to a medical transcription convention (THOSE people are fun!) and after hanging out with this group learning all the latest transcription technology, once again, I determined that if I continued on this path, no one would ever see me again. They would have to pry open my front door and fumigate the premises to find me back in my hovel of a home office typing with bloody fingers, still in the same pajama outfit from three weeks previous. I put a big, fat X through that occupation on my list.
Suffice to say, being the entrepreneur I was did not lend itself to much of a sense of accomplishment. Then I re-discovered SalGal along the way and said, “Let’s start a blog!” Yeehaw!
I’ve had quite a few jobs myself in my lurid career toward casting for movies. When KK and I were in Wyoming, before I also ended up making crepes for the tourists on top of Rendezvous Mountain, I worked for three days at The Million Dollar Cowboy Bar in Jackson Hole. I was a cocktail waitress, as I thought that would be right up my alley. One night a cowboy pinched me on my blue-jeaned ass and I told him to keep his dirty, ole, shit-kickin’ hands off my person! The manager of the nightclub came over to me and said, (and I’m not kidding) “You’re a cocktail waitress. Next time that happens, just turn around and smile. Got it?” Got it but whispered to myself what I thought of that all the way to the lady’s room where I knocked a hole in the wall with my drink tray. But that isn’t why they fired me. They had a brand, new high-tech, computerized (as much as it could be in 1971) cash register, and I was still so mad I went over there and banged on it so hard it broke. They had to send it back to the manufacturer for three weeks to fix it and that meant all the twenty waiters and bartenders in that vast expanse of manly, cowboy drunkenness had to write all their tickets by hand. I just looked at the manager, took off my little white apron, and went to the plaza to find the nearest LSD salesman.
KK and I and our other polecat sister all worked at a restaurant in Santa Fe called Grand Central Station. We served sandwiches, soups and enchiladas to tourists who then went across the street to view the Miraculous Staircase, which was supposedly built by Joseph himself, Jesus’ daddy. Anyway, we wore broom skirts, peasant blouses and lots of silver jewelry as we twirled around the patio, dancing to Willie Nelson music and generally having a good time. If we got a bad tip or stiffed, there was a giant cow bell hanging in the rafters that we got to ring so everyone would know what an asshole that table was. It helped to quench the rage. If you paid us fifty dollars, we would pie someone in the face for you. We fought for that one amongst ourselves. If your BFF was having a birthday and you wanted some true tomfoolery done to her that day, one of us would come out with a lemon chiffon pie after lunch and Wham! Right in the face. Working there was fun, sort of like being in the circus but without the elephant poop and the tips were good.
One day at work I was putting the catsup and mustard bottles in the Spanish chest behind the bar. I was thinking, “Please, God, I really don’t want to do this for the rest of my life.” The owner of the restaurant came to tell me I had a telephone call and that turned out to be my first movie job. The producer told me they were making a documentary and there were six men on the crew and they wanted to make the number seven for spiritual reasons. He allowed as how some female energy was needed and they had heard about my being the best theater stage-manager in town and would I please come and make a movie with them.
I worked my ass for those guys for seven months, carrying the camera at times, getting extras for sound-stage scenes and even making the food for them, lifting and running and driving and everything else you can think of. They paid me seven hundred dollars a month and I thought I had died and gone to heaven. You can rent the movie and it is called Koyaanisquatsi.
Every movie job I’ve ever done is a full story of its own and I’ve had a good run. They were hard though and a lot of responsibility goes with being a department head on a major motion picture. I’m happy now to be with KK and pie people in the face just because I want to and it’s fun.