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Book of Jobs Part 1


by Chris Auman

They weren’t called “chores” in my house. That word is a little too Little House on the Prairie for my tastes anyway. A chore to me is churning butter or milking a goat or reading William Faulkner. I did have a few responsibilities in those early grade school years that would fall into the chore category, however. I don’t recall what those responsibilities were, but I remember getting paid fifty cents per week to perform them. That seems like a pretty paltry sum. Of course, this was in nineteen-seventy’s money, so yes, it was a pretty paltry sum. Inflation probably ate up a third of it too (thanks Jimmy Carter!). Even so, with Star Wars cards selling for fifteen cents a pack and Hot Wheels ringing up at about forty-nine cents per axle, I could afford a few luxuries.

A few years later, when I was old enough to actually do some form of physical labor (haul firewood, take out the trash, wash dishes, i.e. “do the chores”), I think I was pulling in about two fifty per week. At the time, this was enough dough to pay for my weekly bowling dues at Rusty’s which was a combination bowling alley and Chinese restaurant. (Yes, it was a bowling alley and a Chinese restaurant.) I never became a proficient bowler and Rusty’s has since burned to a cinder which has no significance here except as a side note.

Somehow I was able to survive week-to-week on two bucks and change. That is until Space Invaders hit town. It was then that I became a video game addict, spending those beautiful, round and ridged quarters as fast as I could earn them—sometimes begging advances on next week’s pay only to squander it all in a matter of minutes at Maggie’s Pool Hall. And the real tragedy is that I could never even clear the first level of that stupid, stupid game.

Space Invaders

Anyway, I can kind of remember—maybe about Junior High—my pay doubling to about five bucks a week. I think at about this time my sister and I were both required to cook diner for the family (of four) one night each week. Not only that, we had to plan the meal ahead of time, write down the ingredients we would need, find them in the grocery aisles when we went shopping, prepare the food, set the table, clear the table, do the dishes and sweep the floor. Immigrant labor, really. Most restaurants run on this model. Quite a deal for my parents, but they did have to endure more tuna casseroles at my sister’s hands than is possible to count. I made tacos a lot: easy, tasty, multicultural.

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Originally published in RW#22, 2014

RW #22

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