Opinion

Worst job in town? Ask the mayor

Once, at a party, the conversation was dragging a bit, when someone, asked: “What was the worst job you ever had?”

You have to imagine the dinner scene. All of us were dressed meaningfully, that meant that the ladies wore hose and the men wore shoes other than sandals. The wine recently on the table and now in our bellies was aged; the group, as a whole, was educated and lively. But, the jobs! My how hard we had worked!

A lovely woman in an after-dusk suit said, “I worked as a fish slimer in Alaska one summer.”

Mouths dropped, so to speak, and a sigh of disbelief filled the air.

Finally, recovered from shock, one asked, “What was that job like?”

I cannot recall the exact answer but I remember fish guts, fish smell and long hours on your feet.

Job descriptions kept tumbling out: janitor, green chain puller at a lumber mill, nanny for two sets of twins, spreading tar on highways in 90-degree heat, but the best/worst job came from an artist and writer.

(A disclaimer here. Portland General Electric may have been another company, but I recall the narrative completely.)

She said: “In 1943, Portland General Electric offered a service. You dialed a number and received the exact time. I needed a job so I was hired. I had to sit in a bare room watching the clock. Each call that came in, I would have to say, ‘Portland General Elective serves the community with pride. The time is two forty-six and three seconds. Good service for good customers.’ The next call: ‘Portland General Electric serves the community with pride. The time is two forty-seven and five seconds. Good service for proud customers.’”

“After two months, I left for my island home and spent the summer reading Tolstoy.”’

She won the worst job contest. Janitor, green chain puller, nanny, tar spreader and fish slimer seemed benign occupations.

The party was memorable. The hostess was proud, and the revelation of how difficult life can be when you need to earn a living was informative.

My personal worst job, which pales beside the above, was gathering dry cleaning in my dormitory at Old Miss. Now, walking around after lights-out was easy — the dorm girls were a careless lot.

“Why was that the worst?” you may ask.

My rival cleaning gatherer waited until I had deposited my dirty clothes, then, I discovered later, she raided my cache. Though the job was easy, the new knowledge of treachery was an eye-opener. That meant it was a very bad job.

Now, if I had to say what job was the worst on Bainbridge, I’d have to say being the mayor.

I speak from the experience of watching mayors in action, that’s 28 years of mayor watching. I have listened to all the complaints filed against the office and know I speak the truth that mayor-ship is no piece of cake.

A wise boss of mine once said, “If you like people, stay out of sales.”

I would add, “If you like people stay out of politics”

This article began to bloom when a woman stood up and swore she was going to sponsor a petition to impeach the mayor.

No one cheered. The audience looked embarrassed.

The angry woman must have thought it was therapeutic to insult her mayor. I’m sure she had a gripe that needed assistance, and free speech is free speech but I wanted to ask her, “So are you running for mayor in the next election?”

I doubt that she is.

Sally Robison is a Winslow artist and the author of “The Permanent Guest’s

Guide to Bainbridge Island.”

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