2017-09-06 / Editorials

Mike Reese

“I was just thinking”

Most of us have had jobs early in our lives that weren’t jobs we’d later list on our resumes. They were “spending money” jobs, money for movies, gas, date money, etc.

Daddy owned a furniture store where I started working around age twelve or thirteen. Up until my sixteenth birthday my job responsibilities were to empty trash, dust furniture, and sweep floors. But when I got my driver’s license I was instantly promoted to “delivery boy”, but still kept my titles as dust boy, sweep boy, and trash boy. With my big promotion I began to actually look forward to my work driving that GMC pickup with its three on the column, backfiring muffler and all.

In no time I was also promoted to chief repossessor, taking back living room and bedroom furniture, and appliances from those who didn’t make their payments in accordance with their contract. Some understanding customers would even holler throughout the house, as I backed the GMC up to the front door, “The Hook Man’s here.” I had to ask Daddy what a hook man was. It was a professional sounding title I thought, a title I grew to like. “Hook Man!” My chest swelled. Somewhere around this time, though, I also learned a new word, hooker. It took a little of the shine off my new title.

Repossessing appliances was the least desirable part of my Hook Man’s responsibilities. Those people who wouldn’t pay their bills were, generally, the same people who wouldn’t keep their stoves and refrigerators clean either. I had to clean them up for resale. I won’t go in to detail, but there were always roaches and stench. And I think I lost layers of skin with the many cans of Easy Off I used on stoves. This was the Easy Off before the government took the “bad stuff” out. I soaped up two or three times on those nights following a stinking stove cleaning and I never told a date where my hands had been just a few hours before I picked her up. Smart, huh?

Daddy also sold a modest amount of jewelry at the store. The most unusual, embarrassing, and difficult hook job I ever had was repossessing a woman’s wedding band. The lady refused to remove the ring, saying, “You gonna take it back, then you gonna take it off!” Well, the lady had gained a few pounds since her wedding. And some of those pounds had settled in her fingers. That ring was buried in finger flesh. I couldn’t budge it. I was about ready to call it a day when she offered to pour some Joy dish detergent onto her ring finger. I thanked her for greasing up and after a few more slippery tugs and twists the ring finally slid off. I jammed it in my jeans pocket and hi-tailed it back to Millen.

I told Daddy that was the cleanest hook job I’d ever had. Today, whenever I see Joy detergent I don’t think of clean dishes, I think of fat fingers and wedding bands.

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