I was laid off from Simon-Levi Liquor Distributors after
a nearly 3 year run. My bride and I had purchased a home
in Palmdale...the housing prices in the Valley were just
too rich for us, and we found that new houses in the high
desert were more within our budget.
My mother-in-law had been working as an accountant for a
plumbing-supply company for most of her adult life, and
she determined that she could probably get me in as a
warehouse worker\counter person. So I started working at
Familian Pipe and Supply in early 1989. Gotta love Nepotism!
I ended up working there for about 2 years before getting laid
off due to a company slowdown. I worked in various capacities,
such as counter-person, warehouse worker, receiving, and
towards the end, as delivery, sales and purchasing.
They had several branches in Southern California, and I started
out working in Van Nuys in the main warehouse. I learned all
about the different types of pipe fittings...copper, steel, PVC, ABS,
and cast iron. I became knowledgeable about the various tools and
accessories of the trade, the lingo, and was able to make recommendations
to plumbers as to what size water heater to install, and what style toilet a
customer might be happy with.
I worked the counter waiting on plumbers and contractors who
came in to buy pipe fittings, pipe, toilets, tubs, faucets, etc. I
worked the late afternoon shift (commonly called the 'swing' shift).
Later in the evenings I would help load up the trucks for delivery
of big- ticket items to various job sites.
I recall I was also on their incoming help phone lines to take
orders over the phone for contractors calling in.
Sometimes we had to unload full semi trailers full of boxed toilets,
which was the worst part of the job. Inside the trailers in the
middle of summer, it was HOT and dusty...running back and
forth inside of them while lugging toilets from the trailer to
stacked pallets outside was some of the most distasteful work I
have ever done.
But aside from that, it was decent work, and the people I
worked with were all great. My hope was to someday work my
way into the classy showroom where I could be involved in the
sales of high-end tub and shower enclosures, and fancy
expensive faucet fixtures. This never happened, as I kept
getting shifted around to different branches to forestall the
As time went on they transferred me to a smaller outlet in
Chatsworth which dealt mainly in plumbing supplies only, not so
much the water-heaters and bathtubs. It was while working for
this branch that I got involved in some outside sales. I went
through the phonebook, contacted plumbers in the area, and tried
to drum up some business that way.
I also became a delivery-driver several days a week, loading
up the pipes, toilets, and aluminum flashing, and then delivering
it to new construction sites in a bobtail truck.
Finally, I got sent to the North Hollywood branch, where I
was doing mainly paperwork, keeping track of purchasing
orders. It was a nice change to have normal office work for a while.
Then, I was laid off on February 5, 1991.
(As we get into the more recent past, I am able to come up with more
exact dates for some of this stuff).
I was now 34 years old, and being unemployed was a lot
scarier now that I had a wife and a mortgage...thankfully, my
bride is a lot smarter than me, has a college education, and has
always had the same steady job at GTE (now, Verizon).
Peace be with you.