This is one of my favorite photographs. It’s not because I’m striking a particularly flattering pose. Or having a good hair day. (I was wearing a cap.)
It’s more of a fun memory, a snapshot from the morning I worked a three-hour shift at Waffle House No. 1061 on Zebulon Road.
My students get a kick out of it when I use it as an example of first-person journalism. They want to hear stories about the day I wore my own Waffle House shirt, hat and name badge with “Gris” written on it. They ask about serving hash browns scattered the eight different Waffle House ways — smothered, covered, chunked, diced, peppered, capped, topped and country.
Students in a class last year begged me to take them there on a field trip. Since it was only 1.8 miles from campus, we cruised over for a late breakfast.
This adventure had its beginnings eight years ago on a Labor Day weekend just like this one. I wrote a column about bucket-list jobs I wish I could try for a day.
Wanting to be a short-order cook at the Waffle House made the cut. I’ve always admired the artistry and efficiency of those guys and gals.
A few days after the story appeared, I was contacted by an official with the company’s corporate offices in Norcross.
“Mr. Grisamore,’’ she told me, “we’re going to make your dream come true.’’
I’ve punched plenty of time cards in my lifetime. I started out as a paperboy, delivering afternoon newspapers (mostly a thing of the past) on my bicycle. When I turned 16, I fried chicken for the Colonel and scooped Jamoca almond fudge at Baskin-Robbins. In college, I stocked shelves at K-Mart in the summer and during the Christmas holidays.
Although writing and teaching have been my callings in life, I often have restless itches to try the sampler platter of vocations.
This certainly is a good time to be in the job market. The jobless rate is at historic lows in many demographic groups. For the first time in what seems like forever, there are more jobs than there are people looking for jobs.
So, I’m putting in my application for a will-work-for-free, no experience necessary gig.
Zamboni driver — I’ve been observing these guys for years. They’re rock stars on ice. They have a one-of-a-kind job. If the Macon Mayhem will allow me a few minutes to smooth the ice on the rink, I promise not to drive it like a tank and cause any mayhem.
Artist-in-residence — My wife won’t let me paint anything inside the house. I’m not allowed to touch walls, doors or baseboards with a paint brush. She claims I’m too messy. I’m the Big Dripper. I have been relegated to fences, porch rails and pool decks. But my drop cloths can be just as colorful as a Jackson Pollock painting. Maybe an art gallery will give me a chance.
State trooper – My buddy, Harris Blackwood, is the director of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. I should get him to pull a few strings and issue me a flashing blue light for the top of my car. I have this deep desire to pull over people for a multitude of violations, including stupidity, ignorance, carelessness and rudeness. They’re not breaking the law. But they’re breaking my law. This isn’t road rage. I’m just tired of making citizen’s arrests in my daydreams. I’m ready for a badge.
Barbecue taste tester – A friend once suggested I write a book about all the legendary barbecue joints in the state. I was tempted, but then I remembered I gained 11 pounds doing research for my book on Nu-Way, so I pushed away from the table. Still, I could live on a steady diet of pulled pork and Brunswick stew and eat my way through Georgia.
Brain surgeon — I profess no expertise in this area. The closest I’ve ever come was the brain freeze on the old Operation board game. But I’m semi-related (through a son’s marriage) to a family of neurosurgeons. All I’m asking for is a chance to crack open a few craniums and do some re-booting and re-wiring.
Russell Henley’s caddy — This is a dream job, even if it means walking with a heavy set of clubs on my shoulder. Somebody please let Russell know I’m clearing my calendar for the Masters week in April. He won’t even have to pay me to carry his 7-iron to the coveted green jacket.
Ed Grisamore teaches journalism at Stratford Academy in Macon and is the author of nine books. His column appears on Sundays in The Telegraph.