Between the ages of 13 and 22, I was a paper-boy, lawn-cutter, dish-washer, farm-hand, beer-jockey (in a beer drive-thru), taxi-driver, bank-teller, and bar-tender. Each hyphenated job connected spring to autumn, money to my pocket, and fun to my day.
Each job taught me something I've never forgotten. As a bar-tender, I learned to tie a bow-tie.
As a beer-jockey, I learned to sell. One day, the boss challenged us to sell several cases of cheap Lambrusco red wine. The prize for the top salesperson was a case of beer. As an under-age beer-jockey, a case of beer was a very big prize.
"Hey, fella," I'd say, leaning into the driver's window as the car came to a stop in the beer drive-thru. "You ever been to Italy?"
"No," came the bemused answer.
"I understand. Too expensive. Well, I've got good news. Here's your ticket to Italy and it's only $2.45. It's called 'Lambrusco', which is Italian for 'Let's Go to Italy Right Now.' You buy this bottle, unscrew this top, and baby you are not only in Italy — you are an Italian.
"If you buy two, you can take a friend. How many should I toss in the trunk?"
The boss was astounded when he came back from lunch and all the wine had been sold.
Suddenly There Were No Summers.
After college I noticed a trend. While I was lucky enough to have a job, that job never offered a three-month summer vacation. It just kept going.
I guess I was supposed to be glad to be an adult. I could buy beer legally. And the job was supposed to be captivating — and, at times, was.
But what happened to my summer vacation? When am I supposed to get a summer job?
My New Summer Job
I am happy to announce that I have finally — at the age of 50 — landed a job I've always wanted.
On Friday, I start at Katzinger's Delicatessen, as a runner.
The job: run sandwiches from the kitchen to the tables. When not running, bus tables. (There are more details, such as my official job description.)
Thanks to Diane Warren, friend, entrepreneurial role model, and owner of Katzinger's, I will run sandwiches on the four Fridays of August from 11 a.m. until 1:30 p.m.
I hope I get your order right. If I do not, I will do everything in my power and with the authority vested in me as runner to make you happy.
What Are The Ethical Implications Here?
Why, here they are:
- Ethical Challenge I
My taking this job must not rob another person of his or her job. I don't want to replace a current employee, nor hinder a recruit in waiting.
How addressed: by working only four shifts, very part-time, during the busiest hours of the week, I will supplement the staff but not fill a complete spot on the team.
- Ethical Challenge II
To my employer, the cost of my employment must be less than the value. Young Isaac had employees who were very valuable — and those we'd have been better off without. (At times, I was either.)
How addressed: my job will be limited so that my training is inexpensively swift. And my compensation plan will be simple.
My So-Called Compensation Plan
I didn't want to jump on the payroll and cause a lot of paperwork for my employer. After much negotiation, we have hammered out the following:
- Signing Bonus: one Katzinger's shirt, to be worn during all shifts. This has been paid and laundered.
- Per diem: at the conclusion of each shift, I shall be paid one loaf of bread (sliced). Unless there is a complaint from a patron, in which case I am to receive two loaves.
The incentive structure is odd, I know. (Compensation plans are always broken.) I just don't want to go hungry if a patron thinks I'm odd.
And, Mrs. Isaac dislikes it when bread goes stale around here, so I really don't want to take home two loaves.
Come have some lunch on Friday.
I will bring you a pickle if that's what it'll take to make you happy.
Garlic or dill?