Article Lead Image

The soundtrack to all my s**tty jobs

If you work, or plan on working, any blue collar job, you’d better hope you like Rob Thomas featuring Carlos Santana.


[email protected]


Posted on Jul 22, 2014   Updated on May 30, 2021, 10:17 pm CDT


I’ve been working terrible jobs for the better half of my life. Which is fine. Of course, that number will continue to go up unless I plan on changing career paths. Which I don’t. Chalk it up to wanderlust or maybe just overall laziness. My only constant complaint at all of them is the music. The 55-year-old gender neutral “music czar” at retail headquarters shouldn’t be in charge of the radio. They already make you work a bullshit job that you hate, which sucks, then they get to choose the soundtrack to your misery. If you work, or plan on working, any blue collar job, you’d better hope you like Rob Thomas featuring Carlos Santana. Otherwise, you’re fucked.

Job: Lawn mower

Age: 15

Towards the end of the school year, I started thinking about what kind of car I was going to drive when I turned 16. I had a conversation with my father regarding which car I should be expecting to receive and I must say, I was shocked to find out that not only did I have no say in the matter, but the car I was banking on fingering girls in the back of did not exist. Emotionally crushed and encroaching social peril, I took a job with my friend’s father who was a “landscaper.” Her house seemed pretty nice and was in a very respectable part of town and when she told me her dad could hook me up with a job. I was delighted and jumped at the chance. Being an only son, I had a lot of experience mowing yards and assumed “boss” would make me number one lawn mower in no time. It turned out, Meredith’s dad wasn’t so much a “landscaper” but more of an “organizer of lawnmowers.” I spent the first hour of my workday riding around in the back of a truck, picking up random Mexican dudes from local Dallas area day labor hot spots. Home Depots, Lowe’s, etc. When the “boss” had decided we had enough fellas, he’d point and we’d go mow and edge and trim or whatever while he sat his fat ass in the truck. Seeing as I was 15 and spoke no Spanish, it was a pretty lonely job.

It was summer in Texas. Days were long and hot. After work, I was never invited out for under-the-tree beers or anything fraternal. One of the Mexican guys always had a radio and it was Tejano all day. A couple of times, the younger dudes would bang South Park Mexican who was a Texas sensation in the 90s until he got convicted for fucking children a whole bunch of times and is now incarcerated. And of course Chingo Bling, who started out as a legit rapper and is now more of a Mexican Weird Al, but “Some Pinche Guey” is a banger and “Cerveza” is about as good as it gets.  Nike sued him for putting a “swoosh” on a pair of pointy cowboy boots. On my last day, I realized we were mowing the lawn of the mall my mother worked at, so I just cut out and ditched the dude’s mower and never looked back. Hit up the Chick-fil-A and planned my next move.

Job: Mall sneaker/skate shop

Age: 16 to 17

Sixteen and confused, I landed myself a job in Collin Creek Mall at the sneaker store there, initially for the discount. It was the first of many jobs that taught me how to treat people. I don’t mean treating anyone special for any reason, but more just how to not to talk to people like they are garbage. Retail is fucking horrible. Shout out to all that can do it day in and day out. Momma Dean worked retail 30 years. Unfortunately at Neimans, they had a calm baroque soundtrack to sell designer jewels to. Over at the sneaker store I worked at in 1998/99, not so much. What we did have were VHS music video compilations that had to be set on a loop all day. A new one came every quarter, so basically I had to listen to the same goddamn 90 minutes worth of songs in three-month increments. Here’s a little list of what I’m fucking with every mother fucking hour and a half.

Sugar Ray – “Every Morning”
Barenaked Ladies – “One Week”
Fastball – “The Way”
Smash Mouth – “Walking on the Sun”
Everlast – “What It’s Like”
Savage Garden – “To the Moon and Back”
Santana Feat. Rob Thomas – “Smooth”
Vertical Horizon – “Everything You Want”
Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Scar Tissue” 
Fatboy Slim – “Praise You”
Eagle-Eye Cherry – “Save Tonight”
Len – “Steal My Sunshine”

Every half hour, I’d have to take a break from fat bar lacing some asshole’s shell-toed Adidas to rewind this insane video that ultimately I was going to have to sit through over and over, again and again. First thing we would do when we would close was turn off the TVs. Just silence. Replacing racks and racks of Simple brand shoes in complete silence. The new signage for every quarter would show up and we would tear open in the boxes in anticipation. Somehow every quarter, would be Rob Thomas’ “Smooth.” The worst part is that when you got off work, you had to sit in your 30-year-old coworker’s IROC Camaro while he made you listen to 311 “Grassroots” and smoke more ditch weed than Cheech and Chong.  The only saving grace was Missy Elliott – “Hot Boyz.” Ever hour and a half, I was stoked. Well, for three months, anyway, until it got replaced by a fucking Len song. 

Read the full story on Noisey.

Screengrab via MRNYCRISPY/YouTube

Share this article
*First Published: Jul 22, 2014, 10:00 am CDT