And which job came next? I believe it was the job at Bill’s Liquor Store. My friend, Bob Mailloux, had secured a job at this store, doing liquor delivery and stocking. One day, Bob told me that the owners had decided that they needed to expand their service and the other delivery person was being promoted to the position of clerk. There was going to be an opening soon and he would recommend me for the position. I would be glad to get out of the dishwashing job and into something a little more rewarding…financially.
I was 16 and had a drivers license; the only requirements for the job. I also had the grudging permission of my parents to work late a few nights of the school week. I applied and got the job. I would work Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Mondays. And I would work from 5 in the afternoon until 2 the next morning. My wages were $1.25 an hour plus tips. The tips were the whole reason for taking the job. On a good night, a Friday night for instance…I might make $50 or even a $70 in tips. At the end of a week, I could make a hundred dollars, maybe even $150, not bad money for those days. (Example: At that time, my uncle worked as the head of Public Relations (West Coast) for the United States Steel Corporation and made $12,000 a year. That was big money!)
The job was simple enough. I had to make certain that the big walk-in cooler was stocked at all times and that the display shelves in the cooler were filled. I also had to stock beer and soda deliveries in the warehouse section of the store. I learned the proper way to stack cases of beer and soda, tying the rows together so that you could stack them to heights of 10 or 12 feet. I also had to sweep and clean, wash windows and mop floors.
But that wasn’t where the money was. The money was in the deliveries. The phone calls would start about 5:30 or 6; people ordering a case of beer or a bottle of bourbon. We would usually wait until we had 3 or 4 orders before we begin the deliveries, but once we started, the pace accelerated throughout the evening and each time I returned to the store I would find a large stack of orders to fill and deliver. We would deliver (free!) as little as one six-pack of beer. That cost the customer $1.25. That continued until around 9:30 or 10 and then it dropped off until around midnight, when there was another burst of orders to be delivered. I might have 40 deliveries on a week night and the usual tip was 50 cents. The weekends could easily double that number. And there were always a few who would give you more and that was the bonus for us.