What was your oddest job?
Staff -- Home Textiles Today, 3/31/2003 12:00:00 AM
Charles Chinni, senior vp, home and fine jewelry, JCPenney
A: "I stuffed raviolis at a delicatessen during high school. It was a manual machine in those days — I'm sure it's fully automated now — and I put the stuffing on one side and the dough on the other and cranked out thousands of raviolis. It was challenging, and it taught me that's not what I wanted to do for a living. But I was a very good ravioli maker."
Steve Goldberg, president, Brylane Home Group
A: "During high school, I was a waiter in the Catskills, and the setting was very much like the movie 'Dirty Dancing.' I spent seven days a week serving steamed chicken and prune juice."
Dick Fish, vp, dmm, domestics, Wal-Mart
A: "I started my career watering plants at the garden center at Montgomery Ward as an hourly sales assistant. I also unloaded the fertilizer from the trucks."
Alan Gladstone, president, Anna's Linens
A: "In college I worked for a public relations company and my job was to give roses to secretaries in companies throughout the area to promote a community business center. It was odd, but it was pleasurable. I didn't have anyone tell me no."
Al Whiten, senior vp, American Mills
A: "The one I have now."
Terry Handelman, buyer, bed and bath, upholstery furniture and fabric, Ballard Designs
A: "As a young adult, I picked and sliced apricots in California for one month in the summer. I was paid little to nothing since I had to fill a huge tray the size of two pallets for 50 cents. However, I thought it was just 'peachy.'"
Ricardo Abecassis, managing director, Bianca USA
A: "When I was 12, I delivered newspapers on horseback in the United Kingdom while at boarding school."
John McMullen, national sales manager, Biederlack of America
A: "The oddest job? Well for many years, through college, I worked down on a farm cleaning out the chicken coops. And let me tell you, it came in handy. Shoveling all that stuff out of the way was pretty good training for dealing with retailers."
Bart Litzin, senior vp, gmm home, Boscov's
A: "I was the room service waiter for the Ambassador West Hotel in Chicago, but you couldn't print the reason why it was the oddest."
Brian Munsey, vp of licensing, Charles D. Owen Mfg.
A: "I guess it would be reading gas and electric meters for a power company. I did that for two summers when I was in college. And let me tell you, from one home to the next, from one yard to the next, you never knew what you were going to see, from vicious dogs to vicious cats, to angry birds protecting a nest. You walk in basements filled with water over your ankles, you crawl along the floor in fourth-story attics. And you learn that terror is walking into a backyard, closing the stockade gate behind you, turning the corner and finding yourself face to face with a very large and very angry dog. And he's standing there right between you and the meter. You learn to walk very, very quietly."
Rick Lipton, national sales manager, Creative Bath Products
A: "When I first started out in the industry, I was assigned 'Showroom Maintenance.' I was responsible for 'combing' the fringes on bath and hand towels. I still have that comb, but it's useless today. The industry has gone to all-hemmed blanks."
Barry Leonard, president, Ex-Cell Home Fashions
A: "It was survival at the time, not odd, but I primed tobacco, drove slides, hung sticks in the barn — did whatever it took to get the crops to market."
David Record, vp, national sales manager, Georgia Tufters
A: "I've had two jobs that I always thought were a little different. I worked for a brick layer when I was a teenager. It was grunt labor, throwing bricks up to layers, mixing cement and building scaffolds.
"What I think was an even odder job, though, was that when I was 14 I was working as a sales clerk at a jewelry store, if you can believe that. I was only 14 — I had no business being there."
Jeff Cohen, vp, sales, Ginsey Industries Inc.
A: "I was a shoe salesman at Thom McAn in Roosevelt Field [Mall] in Long Island during high school. I learned that helping people on and off with their footwear (especially in wet weather) was a humbling experience."
Kevin Kennedy, president and coo, Glenoit Corp.
A: "For one summer during college I was a piano mover and had to move concert grand pianos into and out of the pit at Carnegie Hall. The minimum [number of movers required] to move either a Steinway or a Bosendorfer grand was eight men."
Farley Nachemin, chief merchandising officer, The Company Store, and president, Domestications, Hanover Direct
A: "I put myself through college as a drummer, which I did during the first few years of my first marriage as well, doing weddings and bar mitzvahs."
Gregg Haft, president, Haywin Home Textile
A: "The job that comes to mind was being in charge of mixing tuna salad by hand in a sleepaway camp kitchen."
Leo Hollander, chairman and ceo, Hollander Home Fashions
A: "Doing KP as an enlisted man. What's odder than peeling potatoes? How low can you go? This and the Army are all that I've ever known. I've been working at this company, for 46 years. I started working with my father."
George Firrincieli, director of merchandising, HSN
A: "I was a salesman at a paint store, which was odd since I had never painted anything in my life."
Merle Johnson, vp, marketing, Mohawk Home
A: "I was a nail-hole filler on the drywall line of a modular home factory to make money to go to Europe while in college.
Jerry Hanauer, chairman, Pacific Coast Feather
A: "Well, for I while I had a job cleaning carpets when I was a kid. But I think the oddest was being — well, how should I describe this — a quasi-therapist/attendant at a psychiatric facility. I did that after college for maybe a year. It was a psychoanalysis-based psychiatric hospital. It was a private hospital populated by the extremely odd offspring of some exceptionally wealthy people. You might say it was good preparation."
Bob Christnacht, division manager for blankets and home, Pendleton Woolen Mills
A: "Paperboy doesn't count, I guess. I was a lot boy in a car dealership. The best job a high school kid could have. I drove all those muscle Pontiacs. A kid couldn't ask for more."
Bruce Morel, divisional vp, dmm, soft home, Proffitt's/McRae's
A: "I took a position in a readymade drapery department in 1980, and we had open-stock window panels in singles. I had to physically pair all of them into packages and then put them in the stores myself."
Cheryl McLain, vp, Riverdale Decorative Products
A: "The weirdest thing I have had to do was to dress up in costumes such as Mrs. Santa or Minnie Pearl for Kid's Day promotions when I was an area sales manager for Dillard's."
Steven Drew, owner and designer, Steven Drew
A: "That's a dangerous question. When I was starting my consulting/design business I basically did anything I could to make money to get the business going. I sold suits, steamed lattes, taught school, whatever. But I think the strangest (and most embarrassing thing) I've ever done was when I appeared as a back-up dancer in a two-video set — "Luly Ray Young Does Country Line Dance Aerobics, Part 1 and 2." Hey, don't laugh — it paid my rent for two months and I learned how to two-step, tush push and cowboy hustle!"
Barry Neilinger, president, retail division, The Baltic Linen Co.
A: "I never had an odd job, but being a textile exec might be considered one."
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