This day is much like previous days in my past. I once again have secured a job as a screen printer. I wanted to reminisce about those previous jobs that got me where I am today, because I'm pretty sure those were more fun than this one will be, and I thought by writing about them I might remember why the heck I keep getting printing jobs. Well, I know why I keep getting printing jobs. It's the only trade I have experience in. Sometimes I wonder how my life would have turned out if I hadn't walked through that alley on my way to get some ice cream back in 12th grade... (Here is where you picture the wavy/fuzzy dream sequence fade between present and past.)
Los Angeles, CA
My friend Jani and I were walking through an alley that runs between Etiwanda Ave. and the intersection of Reseda and Oxnard in, like, the Valley and stuff. We were going to Baskin Robbins to get ice cream. On our way there I pointed out a screen printing shop my friend Ryan had shown me. I didn't know what screen printing was, but it was called Angry Girl which I thought was pretty awesome. On our way back, (being the friendly person I am) I went in to ask what this screen printing thing was all about. And that is when I met Michelle. I thought she was just about the coolest person I had ever met. She let me come in and explained the basics to me. Then she told me to come back and she would show me how to do it. So I did. Michelle and I would hang out while she printed, we would paint banners together, and I would clean screens for her. I don't even remember printing anything. Maybe I did. But it was so much fun just to be there. I would have been there for free, but Michelle would even pay me for helping her, which was amazing for me, a teenager who got to hang out with her friend and drink her beer. We are still really good friends. In fact just last night we talked for over an hour and made up funny words. Now that's what and employee/employer relationship should be! (If you're in L.A. order you shirts from Michelle!)
After high school I moved back to Tucson, where I had found a job in the one week I had visited before getting all my stuff from L.A. It was at a place called JAMS, which was a horrible name for a business. I started working there, and soon (in about an hour) realized that this place was not going to work. It was run by the sons of some guy who used to own it, I guess he retired or something. They paid by the piece. That means that I got about 20 cents for every shirt I printed. Or something like that. I didn't even stick around long enough to get my paycheck. I let them keep it. All $20 of it. They went out of business right after that.
Tucson, part 2
After going to school for a while I decided I didn't want to anymore. My classes were full of idiots and I thought I was going to do better in the workforce. After a semi-crappy job at a kennel, I got a horrible job at a toy store, "Mrs. Tiggy-Winkles", which was the only time I have ever been fired. They said I wasn't perky enough. That's because I was trying to pay my rent, unlike all the sorority girls who worked there. Plus I don't like other people's spoiled kids screaming in my ears. So the day I got fired I went to Taco Bell. There I ran into a guy I had met previously while applying for a printing job at a place called Galaxy Graphics. His name was Matt. He told me he still had my resume and I should come in the next day and talk to the owner. So I did. And I got the job. (Of course).
I worked there for about a year. It was pretty good. The owners of the place were an interesting couple, Jim at one point smacked my butt in front of his wife Theresa and she just about killed him. So did I. Theresa had a mullet. Jim looked like he stuffed about 3 pairs of socks in his pants. We finally learned that it was not socks, though it wasn't wiener either. It must have been hard for him to ride a bike. We always had a great time making fun of them. Finally, they moved to Nebraska for some reason and we were on our own. We played darts, had some beers from the drive-thru liquor store on the end of our building, and really had a decent time. As it turns out, one of the printers, Fat Matt, was one of the owners of JAMS, but had foreseen its demise and got the heck out of there. As for Matt, the guy who I had run into at Taco Bell, I ended up working with in the future, at Laffs Comedy Club. Tucson is full of coincidence. I quit that job at Galaxy and went back to school.
Tucson, part 3
After going to school for another few years, I again grew tired of it and got a job at a crappy coffee place, Coffee X Change. I worked there for about 2 weeks but I really couldn't stand the manager, who thought he was hot shit because he was the manager of a crappy coffee place. I was living on the couch of my friend Alan, who worked at Laffs. I went in there to hang out and started talking to one of the managers, Ken. It turns out that he used to print too, and we got to talking about jobs. He hired me to work at Laffs, and my friend Michelle who also worked there, called the crappy coffee shop, pretended to be me, and quit. I worked at Laffs, with previously mentioned Matt, Ken, the previous printer, and lots of other people who in general were pretty awesome. Unfortunately, it paid next to nothing but I worked there for almost 2 years. Then one day I got a call from Aladdin Graphics. I had filled out an application there about the same time I applied at "crappy coffee shop" 2 years before. I didn't put a date on my application, so it never got thrown out. They had even changed locations. So I went in, and once again, I was a printer.
I started out there also getting paid next to nothing, but when Bryan, the other printer, decided to move to PA, I was the only printer. We went through lots of people there, mostly because Troy would hire young guys who had no work ethic. It was always fun though, and eventually I was pretty much in control of everything in the back of the shop. The owner Troy is a damn good salesman, so we were generally pretty busy. I liked it there, and I would probably still be there if I hadn't moved. (Is that a good thing?) There were very few days when I woke up and didn't want to go to work. I should have been making more (You know that Troy! I was too nice to say anything). I still feel like the people who work there are part of my family or something, which is pretty sweet. We had good times. (If you're in Tucson and you need shirts, order them from Aladdin. It's really the best place in town, and that's coming from someone who had to work there, so you know it's true.)
And then I met Mike, the attractive Audiologist from NY. Love at first sight, blah blah blah. We moved to NY.
I applied to the few places I could find that were hiring, but my experience was less than great. I went to an interview at a place in Brooklyn, and this guy had no clue what he was doing. I guess he got some book from the 70's about screen printing and decided to open his own shop. It was awful. He wanted to hire me part time at his awful shop. Ha ha ha. Nope. I went to an interview at a place which turned out to not even be a shop, but this guys art studio where he taught printing classes to Williamsburg hipsters. He wanted me to help him advertise for free. Again, ha ha ha nope. Eventually I got a horrible job selling tickets to a comedy club, which lasted about 3 months. Until today, I haven't had a job.
And now I do. The place has like 20 employees, which is something I've never experienced. It's packed with boxes of shirts and presses. God help me if there is a fire. It's about 100 degrees in there, which is normal. And once again, with the exception of Angry Girl, I'm the only girl. I start tomorrow. Once again I will wake up early, put on my old ink covered clothes, and smell the sweet emulsion*.
*Emulsion is a photosensitive substance used in screen printing that hardens when subjected to ultraviolet light. To prepare a screen for printing, it is coated with liquid photo emulsion and allowed to dry. Opaque, monochromatic artwork (known as a stencil) is transferred onto a transparent medium such as glass or film which is placed over the emulsed screen. Ultraviolet light is shone on the screen causing the emulsion to become hard and insoluble, except in areas that are covered by the opaque artwork. The entire screen is then washed in water or solvent, allowing any emulsion not hardened by the light to rinse away, leaving a representation of the artwork on the screen.