Norris Chambers Old Timer's Tales

The Worst Job I Ever Had

by Norris Chambers

   When I graduated from high school in a class of 10 in 1935 jobs were just about non- existent for a new comer to the work force. I received a free scholarship from Brantley Draughon College in Fort Worth with a promise to find jobs for students. During the year that I attended this college I worked at several jobs which were arranged for me by the college. Some were pretty good, some were not. Most were cafe or cafeteria positions that paid two meals a day and no money. The usual time was four to six hours for the two meals. My room mate and I paid $1.50 a week for a nice upstairs room at 700 W. 5th.

  At the time I got my worst job I was working 4 hours a day at the Gusher Cafe on the lower end of Main Street. The school referred me to the Fort Worth Press. They needed a paper delivery boy. The papers were delivered to the customer for ten cents a week, collected by the newsboy. We were not allowed to stop any paper because of non-payment. The route assigned me was east of Main Street and north of 7th Street. It included the old City County Hospital and three or four big business offices. Cheap rooming houses, upstairs hotels and run-down residences were scattered through the area, and there was a rapid turnover of residents.

  We were required to deliver the paper directly to a door, desk or bed (in the hospital). I was given about a hundred papers a day and they were charged to my account.

  Everything went great until collection day. Then I heard every excuse known to man. The people in the hospital wards had gone home, the one who ordered the paper wasn't there, "I don't have the money this week, come back next week!", "We pay by the month" etc. The ticket taker at the Palace Theater got the paper, but paid by allowing the paper boy to go to the show free. I collected that one and appreciated it.

  After turning in what I collected the first week, I was told that I still owed money, and would not be paid. The next week was the same, but I didn't owe quite as much. I tried it one more week, and was told that I owed a little over $3.00. Still no pay.

  This 17 year old country boy was ignorant of city ways, but not that ignorant. I resigned and charged three weeks of delivering papers for nothing to experience and education. My next job was making soap, but that's another story.

  In picking my worst job, I considered two things....difficulty of the job and the amount of pay. The delivery job rated high on the easy of performing. It wasn't as hard as picking cotton or hoeing corn, or threshing grain or bailing hay. Actually it was more enjoyable than washing dishes in a cafe. But the pay was another story - three weeks of work and still owing my soul to the newspaper!

  All newspaper delivery jobs were not that bad. Some of the delivery boys made pretty good money. When I quit, the manager told me that the route I had was just a starter route and that if I stayed with it, I would eventually be promoted to a residential route where the residents paid their bills and that I would make money. I think he was right, but I couldn't afford to wait. Since I wasn't working at the cafe, I had to pay for my meals.

  But during these trying times, I didn't think I had big problems. I managed to have fun. It is important, no matter how bad things look, take time to have fun!


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