It was my first week on the job as Dean, and I was attending a state conference for college Deans and Academic Vice Presidents. I had made the mistake of mentioning to my Vice President that it was my birthday, and he quickly made his way over to the Vice Chancellor with the news.
Before she began her talk that morning, she announced that the system had a new dean starting out, and that it was his birthday. She requested that they all sing me Happy Birthday, and so 200 complete strangers belted out Happy Birthday at 8 a.m. in the morning.
I wasn't embarrassed by that, but I couldn't take much joy in it, either, as these people were total strangers to me. Somehow, it would have meant more to me had it been 200 of my closest friends. Instead it was just 200 strangers singing not for me, but at the request of the Vice Chancellor.
Has anyone (or a group of people) ever sang Happy Birthday to you in a public setting? How did you react?
"Why is a birthday cake the only food you can blow on and spit on and everybody rushes to get a piece?" -- Bobby Kelton
The cushy job was ringing in the mall, but those gigs usually went to little old ladies or volunteers that were willing to donate an hour or two of their time. Hired guns like me were put outside in the elements, usually in front of grocery stores, or when we were lucky, maybe inside the entry ways at Walmart or Kmart.
Unlike some bellringers that just half-assed it, I would ring continuously, whether there were any people visible or not. And, I never sat down on the job. I would stand throughout the entire shift, sometimes up to 8 to 10 hours, and after the first hour or so, I pretended not to notice the piercing winds or the bleak Illinois Decembers.
It was interesting observing the people that avoided eye contact with me, or the people that felt compelled to tell me that they had already donated. Sometimes war veterans would come up to me and tell me how much the Salvation Army had done for them. More than one even told me that they wouldn't give the sweat off their balls for other organizations, but they were always willing to donate to the Salvation Army.
After my first year as a Salvation Army bellringer, I thought, "never again." But actually, I did go back to complete a second tour of duty.
Describe the oddest or most boring job you've ever done.
"Oh, give us the man who sings at his work." -- Thomas Carlyle