Tuesday, February 14, 2012

No. 842 – Trampled Under Foot

Performer: Led Zeppelin
Songwriters: Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones
Original Release: Physical Graffiti
Year: 1975
Definitive Version: None

When the time came for me to find a job, I was more particular than a 16-year-old punk ought to be. I didn’t want to work in a restaurant—particularly a fast-food joint. I don’t recall why specifically that that struck me as something I didn’t want to do, but, obviously, that took a lot of potential jobs out of the equation.
Fortunately, I made enough money in back-to-back summers re-roofing the garages of a couple of Dad’s neighbors that I wasn’t hurting for cash. I didn’t have a girlfriend, so I didn’t have a lot of expenses. I mean video games cost only so much, right?

Finally in the fall of 1981 when Led Zeppelin, and Physical Graffiti in particular, was at the top of my play list, I got my first job. It was as a bagger at Food World, the neighborhood grocery store. This was big for a couple of reasons. First, it was the kind of job I wanted—in a store. Second, it represented something of a redemption for me.

When I was in sixth grade, with my parents heading for their inevitable break-up, I flirted with being a juvenile delinquent. My crime was shoplifting candy. I can’t remember why I decided this was a good idea, nor do I remember when it started. But I definitely remember when it ended—in the spring of 1976.

One day when I thought I had perfectly hidden away a king-size Chunky bar (I went after only the quality merch), I learned that I was spotted, and not just by anyone but the area bully. So not only did he turn me in, but he made sure to tell everyone at school and remind me about it every chance he had for the next two years.

The manager knew my Mom as a regular customer, and he basically gave me a dressing down but instead of calling the cops, he made me go home and tell my mom, which was worse. Man, that was one of the longest walks of my life, but I had to tell her, because if I didn’t, he would the next time she was in the store.

After that for a while, Mom would make me go into the store and buy stuff for her. She said it was to show them that I could be trusted, and it paid off five years later when she said the manager told her he was hiring baggers and would I be interested? I wasn’t taking any chances, and I put my nose to the grindstone when I started—doing everything asked of me without question or complaint and working as hard as I can to prove I was worthy of the chance I was given.

It turned into a longtime part-time arrangement that would last through my college years—four different tenures—and provide one gigantic fringe benefit in the summer of 1982, but I’m getting a bit ahead of myself, so we’ll wrap this up for the day.

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