S2 E66 — The Romance of a Good Humor Man in Detroit

This is the second volume of books.  The first volume described how to discover where to live.  And a path to follow, the knowledge path.  I originally distinguished what you would learn by choosing either to work for yourself independently which could free yourself up to live anywhere your heart desired, instead of where the jobs were and the employers were located.

“5”  Steve Kerr, 54:You’re tough and resilient. Why? A lot of it is your sense of humor. It’s hard to say which came first, the laughs or the hardship, but you’ve found a way to bring them together.” Libra


Hi and welcome to Friday’s Episode 66 in Season 2 of  “My Pandemic Year Natural Experiment” on this 19th day of June in the summer of 2020.  

“The Tau of Steves: What You Don’t Know Could Fill a Book”

Table of Contents

Season One and Two are a two-year examination of how bits of wisdom changed during the “normal” pre-pandemic and then in this unfolding pandemic year.

Previously in Season Two, the Pandemic Year

S2 E65Pandemic Uncovered 11 Life-Changing Secrets You Shouldn’t Ignore; S2 E64Let the Beers and Weekend Partying Begin; S2 E63Easier Than Finding His MacBook Air Password?

Related from Season One, the Normal Year

S1 E66Do Your Proposals Lead to Contracts?;S1 E65Focus Your Mental Energy; S1 E64 — Father and Son Rituals out of Storage; S1 E63Day 63 of My 1-Year Experiment


Here’s my story

First the school of hard knocks

At one time I listed all of the jobs (37) I held in addition to lemonade stands, grass mowing, baby sitting — those early entrepreneurial ventures in my neighborhood.  

One of my first “real” job had been offered to me by a friend of my parents.  

I remember meeting him in a cocktail party in our living room as he told the other “guys” — while the “gals” had gathered in our kitchen — that he had new found respect for those freight truck drivers — which didn’t at all sound like the kind of “country club” conversations my sister and I used to sample on bathroom breaks to the lavatory just up the hall — because he tried to maneuver one straight back into his loading docks without denting or scratching the other trucks already being loaded.


Turns out he offered me a job in manufacturing — which I was grateful for at the time for the money, but drove me crazy.  

Here’s what I did.  

Shipments of aluminum tubing of different sizes were stacked up at one end of the manufacturing warehouse.  

The assembly, bending machine and welding operations were at the opposite end.  

I teamed up with some other guys to load the correct size tube on to oversized Home Depot kinds of carriers and push them to the other end.  

After a while I got to work the bending machine and cut parts for assembly.  The final product was a gas station light pole slightly angled at the top where the florescent lamps shone brightly.

I hated it — no air conditions and the fans did little to dent the 90 degree summer heat and humidity.  

The smell of sweat soaking in the welders uniforms from the thirty-minute lunch break-for-it race by car down to the local bar and back made me nearly nauseous in late afternoons.  

My co-worker had greased back black hair, a pock-marked face from bad adolescent acne, and daily tried to convert me to the lord.  

He was the getaway driver who snuck to the bathroom minutes before lunch and ran out after punching the clock to the parking lot, hopped into his near muffler-less Ford and idled until the welders piled in and then pealed out. 

I felt like I was becoming braindead.  

And dead tired every night. 

Downtown Banking

Home from college one summer another friend of my father’s, more in line with the country club banter I expected, said he needed summer interns to work at the Bank of the Commonwealth in downtown Detroit.  

Our job was to find hundreds of thousands of “missing” dollars in my first transition to new technology introductions.  

A half a dozen of us pulled gobs of paper certificates of deposits from massive filing cabinets to be compared to an “inventory print out” from data already programmed into the new software system. It intrigued me at first, in a way that a detective novel would.

But, for each “mistake” we found we had to fill in multiple paper copies for distribution to different departments, which at one time I calculated was a loss for them.  Especially when you calculated  our hourly rate, the time it took to fill out the forms and the dollar amount of discrepancies.  

After a week we all figured out three things.  

Most of the errors were attributed to rounding up or down errors in the software versus the manual accounting system, many CDs were supposed to expire on their maturity date, but the program failed to stop paying them out, and we college students bored easily.  

The jobs kept on coming but very few of them “fit” me. 

Gas Station Attendant

As gas attendant at a 24 hour Mobile station I learned to change oil.  And some minor tune-up and diagnosis tips that came in handy for maintaining my first car that the boring jobs paid for. 

Good Humor

Oh, I became a Good Humor Ice Cream man — something which sounded romantic and felt nostalgic — because my grandmother was a big fan and took my sister and me for treats.  

I filled in for drivers who had the day off.  So each day brought a new route  which injected variety into 9 hours of monotony, and on the hot days you made children (and yourself) happy by munching from a delicious menu of popsicles and ice cream bars.

What I liked about it was “working for myself” and you didn’t really see the other drivers until the end of the day when you dumped your changer into the coin counter and tallied the paper money.  

We didn’t bond as a team or socialize since we had very little in common.  This was a summer gig for many of the drivers who stuck around until the season turned too cold in Michigan.  Then some of them who saved enough money survived fall in the north until the department stores needed Santas or they followed the winter migration of snow birds south to Florida.

I was glad to return to college in the fall.

The Wrong Way

I left law school to fulfill my military obligation which is a polite way of saying it.  In the army I learned two things I can talk about.  

One was how unprepared the service was for us after drafting massive numbers of college graduates. We entertained ideas of what our future would look in college. Not at all like those who enlisted, despite our brainwashing in basic training, and we just weren’t loyal like the Lifers were who continued to re-up.

We took on more skilled MOS specialties.  

I graduated from medic to preventive medicine and worked in an air-condition laboratory for processing water samples.  And we hung around with the officers — many trained in medicine — in my unit which caused frustration up and down the chain of command.  

I learned I wasn’t cut out to blindly follow orders as standard operating procedures when it seemed like there were more efficient processes that could deliver the results in half the time. 

You know what they say, “There’s the right way, the wrong way and the Army way.”  

Graduate School

Returning to graduate school and earning my masters degree in psychology set the stage for my next job as a graduate student assistant. 

It was way more to my liking, because it provided little structure, a teaching schedule and some office hours for meeting with undergraduate students and grading their papers.  

This was my first taste of knowledge work that I really enjoyed and was good at. 

I discovered research spoke to me.  

But I was a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll, graduating with a dual emphasis in experimental psychology and clinical psychology the application side.  

And, I lived off campus in a trailer park among farmers fields.

Insurance and Big Ticket Items

Veterans benefits even with the grad assistance position stipend didn’t pay all the bills so I took the insurance exam to sell auto insurance and when that didn’t pan out as well as I hoped (you had to SELL) I tried my hand at department store retail, specializing on big ticket appliance items.

The bills got paid, I moved some merchandise, but my brain spaced for long periods of my shift.  

Charlie intrigued me, though.  He was a bi-polar superstar salesman.  He “closed” so many shoppers that the credit department couldn’t keep up.  

He showed me his strategy to slip some questionable contracts near the end of the day and near the bottom of the stack so they’d be overlooked the credit employees in the rush to finish their work punch out.

In an odd way Charlie reminded me of the seasonal Good Humor Santas.  For six months he was a whirling dervish breaking all kinds of sales incentives and earning bonus awards.  And, then he disappeared for six months. 

A fascinating case study.

Psychology Profession

When I moved to California I printed up 100 resumes and cover letters and in shotgun fashion mailed them to every psychology-sounding organization I could find in a geographic area from Pacific Beach and Mission Beach in San Diego County to South Orange County and later to greater Orange County.

Just as my $3000 grubstake dwindled down to the hundreds from unloading my trailer in farming country,  I received two phone calls.  

The first from a psychologist who sheepishly told me their business wasn’t really a business, but more of a side-hustle or a moonlighting operation.  

But I hit pay dirt with the second and only other response.

I didn’t quite understand the scope of the offering until later.  

Somehow I’d be set up as an intern — like a graduate assistant working for the State of California in the mornings.  

And in the afternoons I’d leave the hospital to head down Harbor Boulevard in Costa Mesa and take a left on Pacific Coast Highway to drive through “downtown” Newport Beach past the Balboa Bay Club and valet parking restaurants including the Rueben E. Lee a floating riverboat docked in the bay.   

I’d continue up a hill past Jamboree and the entrance to Balboa Island on my right and further on PCH until on the left I’d take a left into Newport Center and Fashion Island.

And then a right until I came to Edwards Theater and pull into its parking lot, but continue behind it to the Behavior Modification Institute’s parking spots shared with the Athletic Club.

Professional Services Business Model

This was a side-hustle startup, with a Professional Services business model twist. 

Now we’re talking.  

Chalk this adventure up to the best fit side of the equation.  

And I didn’t have to sell.  

But, then a few years later no-one else sold much of anything.  

My dream fizzled.  

I’d made it to an office overlooking a vacant field which sloped downhill eventually giving rise to palm trees silhouetting Corona del Mar, and higher up on the horizon and further out the island and the peninsula with the white frothy waves and blue Pacific Ocean.  

For a few years I’d drive home to my CDM apartment from my morning job for lunch and then hike up the hill through the field of ground squirrels and owls.

I probably missed them more than they missed me.


Random ones that make me want change my sign.

“4”  Steve Howey, 42:Your attention is a precious commodity that you nonetheless give quite generously to your loved ones. They are, in fact, spoiled by the many benefits bestowed by your listening ears and the pupils of your eyes.” Cancer

Sure.  When you become a parent it’s what you do.  At first the listening kicks in when something thumps from another room.  Or a blood curdling scream highjacks your attention from some important task.  And, then outside where so much more harm can come in a New York Moment you keep those precious, spoiled little heirs in your peripheral vision while your ear antennas blanket the playing field like GPS signals.

“5”  Steve Kerr, 54:You’re tough and resilient. Why? A lot of it is your sense of humor. It’s hard to say which came first, the laughs or the hardship, but you’ve found a way to bring them together.” Libra

Sure, there’s a term for that, besides “Dad Joke,” which has cursed me all my life. It’s just too difficult to resist a pun.  I’m not looking for a silver lining to hardships like everyone is experiencing today during this pandemic, but just an unexpected twist on what somebody just said using an alternative meaning for a word they used.

“3”  Steve Aoki, 41: You don’t know what connects you with someone, though you can be sure there is an important and mysterious reason you converge in this same place and time.” Sagittarius

Wait, can you, really?  It’s true I don’t know what connects with you.  But by the time you find this for some important and mysterious reason, I’ll have moved on if not in place, in time.

What’s Going On

Literally Bottled and Set Adrift from KnowWhere Atoll 

    • @knowlabs followers of one or more of my 35 digital magazines organically grew from 3808 to 3911.




    • Saw the movie, didn’t realize that one of my favorite authors, Michael Connelly — his detective Hieronymus (Harry) Bosch book series and Amazon Prime series — also wrote, “The Lincoln Lawyer” which I just finished. Gotta tell you I can’t not see his lead character (Mickey Haller, Bosch’s half brother) as anyone else but Matthew McConaughey. 

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Inspired by: Holiday Mathis – Creators Syndicate


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