The First Sign that Florida Wasn’t For Me

florida-sign-job

When I moved to Florida in the Summer of 2012, I did so with no job, no money, and no idea what I was going to do. At that point in my life I was tired of school and didn’t really see the need to finish, because what I wanted to do career wise didn’t require a college degree, so I moved south to try out life in a tropical paradise on the coast of the sunshine state. I needed money to live off of while I wrote my novel and waited to become a successful writer, so I scoured the job ads daily, searching desperately for a job, any job, just to earn some income. The house that I was living in didn’t have internet at the time, so I spent the majority of my days inside McDonald’s, using their wifi to find a job.

I’d been living in Florida for over a week and was having no luck finding a job, probably either because of my spotty work history or my lack of qualifications for the jobs I was applying, but I figured for $65,000 a year, I could learn to be a human resources manager. One day as I sat in my corner booth at McDonald’s, sipping the drink that had been refilled several times already that day, I got a phone call from a man named Greg. He offered me a job holding a sign on the side of the road, six days a week for five hours, making $30 a day. If you can’t do math, that’s six dollars an hour, well below what the minimum wage requirements were at the time, but I needed a job, so I happily accepted. The next day I met Greg in the home depot parking lot, and he told me to get into his van. We drove around for a few minutes while he explained that a grocery store was going out of business, Albertson’s, and he was hired to let people know about the “Going out of business” sale, which is where I, the hired help came in.

The job was simple and very straightforward, I would stand on the street corner, WEARING a sign about the sale, and wave at cars for five hours a day. That seemed simple enough and the first couple hours went smoothly, that is I didn’t get hit by a car at the busy intersection where I was stationed. Then Greg came back. Apparently, my sign wearing and hand waving weren’t bringing enough business to Albertson’s so he’d made up a new sign, that was sure to attract more attention. I’m being completely serious when I say that this new sign, that I had to hold rather than wear, was bigger than the biggest Christmas tree I’ve ever had, and growing up we had trees upwards oh eight feet. I was tasked with holding at least an eight foot wooden plank with two large signs nailed into it, at the top and middle, and when the wind started to blow, it took all my strength to keep the sign from flying into the street and most likely totaling a car.

This continued for a couple of days, days in which my body had taken a real beating by the sun and was so burned that I could hardly lift myself from bed on the third morning. I was going to call in sick, there was no way I could stand outside for another five hours today, let alone hold a sign with my arms so sunburned they could hardly be lifted. Just as I was about to call Greg and fake a cough and an excuse, he called me, and informed me that we wouldn’t be working that day, but would pick things up again the following morning. Hallelujah! I had a day off, and while I don’t remember what I did that day, whatever it was rejuvenated my spirits, healed my soreness, and got me ready to work the following day. That next morning I waited and waited for Greg to call and tell me where to meet him, but no call ever came. I called multiple times, left him messages, but he never returned the calls. This went on for the rest of the week, trying to get in touch with my “boss”. I even drove around the area where I’d worked those two days to see if maybe someone else had my job, but that didn’t appear to be the case. I never saw, nor heard from Greg again, but it’s probably for the best. It forced me to find a real job that didn’t pay me less than minimum wage under the table. Though the gig only lasted a couple of days, it taught me a valuable lesson that I never forgot; if you live in Florida, the sunshine state, get a job inside and save yourself the daily burn.

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