What was the best job you ever had?
The best job I ever had was being a Campus Safety cadet at a small Christian college in Southern California, a place I called the Land of 5,000 Virgins. While we were there we all signed a contract stating we would not drink alcohol, have sex, smoke cigarettes, take drugs, gamble or dance. Four years, zero beers. The result of signing away my vices. But it was all good. I had never even sipped a beer so I didn’t know what I was missing. Back then my liver was so pristine it could have filtered drinking water for the White House.
Strong branding on campus for Team Christ. There was a 20-foot tall mural of Jesus painted on brick by the cafeteria. He looked like Charles Manson at a toga party. There was a Communist-grade firewall on the campus internet to block porn. There were zero parties. Just 5,000 sober virgins drinking coffee on Friday nights. Playing Monopoly and shit. My classmates were future mega-pastors and Republican senators. With no beers to drink and no sex to have, I had nothing to do. So I applied for a job as a Campus Safety cadet. Thirty-two students applied for eight open positions. I torched the interview. I reeled off some bullshit about discipline and punctuality and I got hired. Of course I did. That Fred was something special. 17 years old and the prince of the universe. The world was mine to crack in my hand like a Christmas tree ornament.
They gave us utility belts and maglights and keys to the campus and combat boots. Young pigs in training. I brought my own aviators. My radio callsign was Zebra 7. They told us to do parking enforcement, perimeter checks, door unlocks and escort duties as needed. I did none of these things.
Because they also gave us golf carts to drive around campus. What were they thinking. I wonder how they could have expected us to do anything besides fuck around with these golf carts. That’s like asking a lion not to eat the slowest gazelle. I got a pressure gauge and lovingly inflated the tires on mine and took the extra gear out of the compartment under the seat to make her lighter. I was Harry Potter and she was my Firebolt. I got her up to fifteen MPH. In a world of ten MPH carts, I was king.
I had drag races in the parking garage with the other cadets. And we played chicken. And real-life Mario Kart; we tied balloons to the carts’ frames and chased each other while shooting at the balloons with airsoft guns. We sat in rolling office chairs that we tethered to the back of the carts and slung each other into leaf piles.
My swagger was severely outsized for a guy who at that point hadn’t kissed a girl yet. I was pretty sure that any idea I had would work. That I’d get away with anything. I’d find the cars of kids I didn’t like and tear off their parking stickers, then write them a $50 ticket while resting my boot on the hood. It was OK; their parents owned Orange County Lexus dealerships. Also since I was a white guy from New Hampshire who grew up in the pews I’d stop brown students and ask them for their IDs in case they were terrorists. I didn’t know any better yet.
The school paid us $9.14 an hour and that was a king’s ransom. Especially for 2006. You can’t even get that in 2015 at McDonald’s. But it wasn’t about the money. I would have done it for free. At $22,000 in tuition a year I was paying my own wages anyway. It was the best job I ever had. Because you can’t replace who you were. I miss having the raw confidence of a kid who hasn’t touched the stove yet. Uncomplicated joy.
Soon enough I flew too close to the sun. They fired me when an officer caught another cadet and I turning 360s in a cart. They only fired me, because I was driving. I’d never been humbled before. It hurt. I took it hard. That was the day I joined the dark side. I had to start drinking to numb the pain. Soon enough I’d drowned Jesus. That’s some irony for you. I’ve had my fun since then but goddamn, if you give me a chance to be a virgin with a golf cart again you better believe I’ll take it.