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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A job I had in 1969



Although my Social Security record showed employment every year of my life from age seventeen, some months of my working life I was unemployed.  Good reasons like pregnancies and babies; other reasons like layoffs, or telling them “take your job and ……”.   

Turning the help wanted pags one day during a period of unemployment I found a temporary job whose description seemed innocuous.  Delivering soap samples.  Several times a week I drove to the warehouse district of Cleveland and loaded cases of 144 one pound boxes of Tide detergent into my Dodge Charger.  What ignominy for such a great car.  Boxes of plastic bags and accompanying literature went in the front seat. 

At home I unloaded the cases, unloaded the boxes, put each in a plastic bag, along with the coupons and flyers, and stacked them densely in the Charger.  Then I took my trusty red and yellow Commercial Survey map book, turned to the neighborhood assigned for the next day and figured out my route.

In the morning I would arrive at my neighborhood, and park my car ten houses down the street.   I loaded up with soap samples.  The bags had holes for hanging over a doorknob, and I could get maybe fifteen or twenty on my fingers.  I started at the house by my car, worked my way up to the cross street, crossed and went down. Back at the car, I loaded up and repeated the process.  Then I moved the car where it had to be and started again.

Whatever company was in charge of this advertising campaign kept us honest.  There were “checkers” who drove the neighborhoods, looking for yellow boxes on front doors.  My neighborhoods passed every time.  I was offered a promotion to supervisor; I turned it down flat.

There are neighborhoods in Commercial Survey Company maps that do not exist except in city planners’ dreams.  Not to be caught flatfooted when the development might actually be built, the Commercial Survey Company and city planners, in cahoots, put them right in those books with no disclaimer.  This neighborhood soap deliverer was mighty unhappy to be deceived so.

Dogs often accompanied me as I delivered soap through neighborhoods.  I could not understand the attraction until a lovely lab adopted me for a morning.  He often nudged me turning up a sidewalk, but I didn’t understand him until he would physically block me.   Then I realized we were on his newspaper route, and that house was not a customer.

At the end of the job my clothes no longer fit; I probably was twenty pounds lighter.  An engineer at a subsequent job I took laughed at the tale of the job I had for a summer, and calculated I had walked I don’t remember how many hundreds of miles, carrying an average of ten pounds.  I wish I could recall how much we were paid per box.  That would be really amusing.

Wacky Pages
I was looking for a Tide box from 1969 and found the 1974 Wacky Packages Series.

22 comments:

  1. Wow you are clearly partly responsible for it's huge popularity. Tide now costs way to much for me to buy anymore. If I get samples they are usually for feminine products:(

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  2. Today's kids would never take that job! Love the part of the Lab directing you away from non newspaper customers.

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  3. Loved your story. I don't think we can get Tide here now, but I remember it well.

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  4. That sounds like a really tough way to make a living. No wonder you lost weight!

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  5. Oh what a job you had trying to eek out a small pittance of a living then, sadly I think most jobs nowadays are much the same. I was once a census taker in about the same year but I am sure I was paid more than you but I walked many more miles since we were assigned to our own neighborhood and mine was in the hilly country with acres between houses, one such location had dobermans at the gate and I entered and when I got to the front door the owner was amazed I made it past the guard dogs, I showed no fear therefore they accepted me. Oh the jobs we do to make a living. Now tide detergent is the worst I have tried much too harsh and causes my skin to itch no matter how little I put in the washer. Good part of all this is we are still here to tell about the past. Ha.

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  6. You got paid to get in shape!

    I worked for the Census Bureau in 2009 and 2010. The first year there was a LOT of walking, but the only thing I had to carry was a hand-held computer and a messenger bag of supplies.

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  7. I wonder how much a person would have to pay a personal trainer to lose that much weight and get in such good shape. You need to calculate that into your wages earned. I also wonder with joeh how many people would take on a job like that and do it so well in these times. Fun and interesting post.

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  8. Hard work, that.

    Love the part about the dog "helping" you!

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  9. Lots of walking in scary neighborhoods is no fun. I actually sold vacuum cleaners once.

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  10. My first job was selling womens' underwear. I was paid 26 cents an hour while one of my friends (male) who was selling men's 'intimate apparel' was paid 45 cents an hour. It was the first time that feminism began to make a lot of sense to me - and was not the last either.

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  11. A great story. I especially loved the dog and his paper route. :)

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  12. Helps put life in perspective, doesn't it. Then. Now. Jobs. Dollars. Exercise. Dogs. Honesty. Thanks for this peek into your past.

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  13. Wow you lost so much pounds doing that job! It was nice to read your story and how actively you played your part in this job. If I were your supervisor, I'd promote you too. Have a great week! :)

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  14. I spent 1969 in a cheese and milk factory, learning how to wrap 40 pound blocks of cheese for export, I still remember how to do it, and how to run the milk bottling machine so it didn't jam up while I speedily placed filled and capped bottles in the crates at the end of the conveyor belt. My favourites were the one-third sized bottle destined for the school kids recess times.

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  15. Wow! Nice little work-out anyway.

    Had a similar but much shorter-lived career in phone book delivery. We're talkin' upper body strength by the end of it!

    Pearl

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  16. I wonder if a guy doing that job got paid more than you back in 1969.

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  17. nowadays, the deliverer would cruise the car along tossing the sample out the window, not caring if it made it into the yard or not. and people wonder why this nation is so fat.

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  18. Hi Joanne,

    It is nice to be able to come back and visit you again after a few week's absence due to diverticulitis and computer issues. I am fascinated with your story here and really like the way you tell it! That dog sounds wonderful and intelligent. I never had a job like this one you describe, but you make it sound so fun and delightful. Thank you so much for sharing, and the photo made me smile.

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  19. That dog story would be great for Chicken Soup. I can;t imagine lifting all that Tide.

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  20. I enjoyed that story! One of those jobs that you (I hope) only do when you're young!

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  21. What a strange and unusual job - I always think that delivering anything, even leaflets, can be really hard work. I laughed out loud when I saw the Toad box. WIsh I could get a hold of a real one. I know the very person who would love it as a gift!

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  22. I remember getting those little boxes of soap! We though they were so cute! And now I know how they got there . . .

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