‘It’s not how many times you get knocked down that count, it’s how many times you get back up.’ -George A. Custer
You should already know by now that people battling Bipolar Disorder go through their fair share of intense ups and downs. So much so that they can be left picking up pieces of their lives time and time again. Oftentimes, they have to hit the reset button on life to the point where it just becomes, not only overwhelming, but part of the day to day or year by year process -- it’s exhausting. Having a steady job can help; I haven't fared as lucky…
So I’m fresh out of my first psych ward appearance. I got pulled out of college and I figured I mine as well get a job. I apply to my local pizza place and land it pretty quickly. The first week was shaky at best. I was working the phones and the register and my newly acquired lithium shakes prevented me from counting money. If that wasn’t bad enough, my second week put the nail in the coffin. I showed up in a sling and on vicodin having just gotten shoulder surgery for a torn labrum. A few days went by, and sure enough, I was taken off the schedule. Not a big blow to my ego, but my first time getting fired for sure.
Winnetka Golf Club
Fresh out of college and I figure I mine as well do what I can tolerate if it lets me do what I love. So I worked in the golf industry over the course of a few summers picking the range and washing down carts. My boss was really easy going and even caught me asleep on the job a few times. We left on good terms, but I needed more of a career and a year round employment opportunity.
Powerskate Hockey Coach
Dabbled in coaching for a little bit. I’m a bit of a bender on skates so showing kids how to skate wasn’t necessarily fitting. I got through it, but on my last day I worked the scoreboard while the teams scrimmaged… I fell asleep.
Kona Country Club
My first job in Hawaii. It lasted two weeks. The system at this place was ultra complicated, and I was placed to work in the clubhouse at the register. Yeah, the register again. I still couldn’t count money and I was hopeless at remembering all the locals that were allowed to play free golf. The icing on the cake came when I took a $200 traveler's check without getting the back signed. I’ve never seen a traveler’s check in my life, how was I supposed to know the proper procedure. Needless to say, I got canned again; I think they were looking for a reason to get rid of me. The conspiracy theory is that it was planned… but I doubt that.
Makelei was great. I was a total misfit and fish out of water, but I moved to my first full-time Union gig since graduating college. I was terrible. I broke equipment, spilled gas, and the local crew was not much help; certainly not eager to train the howlie. The job lasted just about six months. The important note from this gig is that I re-established my work ethic, got my bearings on my bipolar disorder, and learned a trait that would help me get jobs further down the road.
Waveland Part 1 went according to plan.. It was a full-time job working at the local public course doing a lot of stuff I did when I was in Hawaii. The job got me through the spring, summer, and fall. Work was not rewarding and extremely challenging. The challenge really came at four in the morning when I had to drive to work and start raking bunkers before the sun was up; and if it was a cold rainy/snowy day that really didn’t mean much. I could do it all, but it was not exactly glamorous.
Finally I got a break, right? It started by me befriending a dog and a neighbor lady in my parent’s townhouse complex. She was really nice and offered me a job to work for her now late husband who was also very nice. The job couldn’t have been more perfect; sports broadcast journalism. After about a year and a half with this company, I realized I was no longer there for the company. I was clearly being Costanzad. They turned my career into a joke. I was literally pressing a button while watching sports programming and giving no feedback. I don’t think the company was getting feedback from anybody but the minds of the bosses. Eventually, I went to HR calling for a drastic shift in my position as I wanted more responsibility. It didn’t pan out, and I was terminated two days later. The girl didn’t pan out either.
Waveland Part 2
Buckle your shoe straps, it’s back to work at the local public course… a job I knew I could barely tolerate. The real change came when I got control of the fairway mower. My boss had me riding around the fairways all summer long listening and singing along to music. I was in love. If only there were more fairways to mow. I was cutting cups one morning on the weekend and drove right into a tree, put a huge dent in the bumper, spun the cart in a 360, and went head first into the tree. Woke up pretty quickly after that, finished the job, lied about the dent, and made it through the season!
Ogden Slip Kayak Guy
This job was great! Set up shop in the middle of downtown Chicago. Plugged in my music machine and kickbacked in my beach chair. Hardly had to lift a kayak, and mostly just directed traffic, which was great fun because I’m terrible at directions so every customer who came up asking for directions ended up getting in a five minute chat with me about where I thought they should go. I left on good terms.
Flower Delivery Boy
This was a side hustle job for the entire time I had a car. If you’re ever in Chicago and looking for flowers don’t hesitate to call Anna Held’s Flourist.
So I got lost delivering flowers and went into this golf course on the northside (Lincolnwood to be exact) to ask for directions. Figure I’d apply for a job. One week after I put my application in, I was back in inpatient care at yet another psych facility. After one week at Lakeshore Hospital, I was working full time mowing grass. The job only lasted three months. I was not getting paid a competitive wage and I was wicked stressed out so I bailed. Lined up another job in Michigan doing the same thing with better pay. I didn’t give two weeks notice.. I figure if they don’t give you two weeks notice when you’re fired and you’re at an at will job there’s no logic behind a two weeks notice at a job you can’t stand. I quit in person, and my boss wrote me a note with my final pay check that there were no hard feelings.
I went to Crystal Downs to seek greener pastures. It was everything I could’ve asked for and more. Things went well until I spent a month off my medication, stole my mechanics truck to go to the casino, returned the truck in good standing, and then drove back to Chicago on the same night skipping my last two days of work. Invited back the next season, but car troubles and money issues kept me in the city.
Waveland Part 3
So, I didn’t go back to work in Michigan… Where's that land me? Right back to the local public course. Better pay than ever. First day in, my boss asks me what I’m doing with my life. Figured the easy answer to that was that I was working for him, but that question really got to me, and I immediately started to apply for another job. Worst part, I was no longer going to be the fairway mower guy, which meant I was in line to be the bunker bitch. $5 bucks says he had to hire two high school kids after I left on day three with another job lined up.
NRG energy Sales Rep
My back up plan to the back up plan lasted one day. I found myself hawking decreased energy rates to the poorer part of our economy doing sales pitches in the middle of Wal-Mart. It’s kinda like selling a horseshoe lined with shit and calling it a pony after dressing up the horseshoe to look like a pony. It was a scam and I fell for it because I took the job to begin with. There’s a good reason this one didn’t last more than 24 hours.
My car was on the fritz and I needed a job where I could make money. The answer was waiting tables. I lucked into a gig at a gaming bar that’s actually quite fun if you're ever in Chicago. Either way I can hustle tables no problem. I even got a $600 tip on a $1200 tab. It was a beer garden and I am a beer guy so it worked out well right up until I got fired for having an opinion. I argued that I was allowed to have an opinion and this apparently didn’t fly so I got canned. I quickly went on unemployment and started the hunt for a waiting job elsewhere. Covid hit a week later and all the restaurants shut down. I then wrote a book and here we are today.
I’m not out here saying because I’m bipolar I’ve had a lot of jobs. I’m just saying that I’ve had a lot of jobs and I happen to be bipolar. You deal with the mania and the depression. You learn to fight to get your life back. At the same time you’re constantly fighting to figure out where in life you truly fit.