For a while after I returned from California in December 1984, I didn’t have a job, but somehow I still managed to share an apartment for a few weeks with several fellow unemployed new wavers and punkers in a house at the corner of Third Avenue and P Street.
The next job I remember getting was working as a valet in the parking garage of the University Club Building on South Temple in downtown Salt Lake City. I was employed by a fancy restaurant on the top floor called Nino’s, which is no longer around. I made pretty good tips and had lots of free time to chain-smoke endless cigarettes and read Stephen King novels, which was the only thing I read at that time, even though I’d enrolled in some classes at the U.
One of my coworkers named Seth Shaw would pack a pipe and leave it in his pickup cab, and we’d take turns sitting in there and getting high. He was an avid rock climber, and despite being a pothead he used the job’s downtime wisely to do his college homework or maintain his climbing equipment (his fingers appeared permanently chalky). About eight years ago he made local headlines when he got killed on a climbing expedition in Alaska.
In winter or spring of 1986—I can’t recall the exact time frame—when I was getting tired of rebelling and starting to show some interest in repenting and getting back on the Mormon track, I got fired from the valet job after a woman complained that we’d damaged her car, which caused the restaurant’s insurance rate to go up, prompting them to discontinue valet parking. I’m still certain the woman lied to trick the restaurant into paying for previous damage to her car—in fact, we had an altercation over it in the garage, during which I was yelling accusations at the woman and the restaurant manager was yelling at me to shut up and a female cop was on the scene.
The last job of my rebellious period was working for my dad as a secretary in his basement office. I think I started this job while I was still working as a valet, and I remember he was surprised that I was willing to work at home with him, as I was still very much ensnared in a carnal, worldly, non-Mormon lifestyle. I input stuff on his CPT 8000 word processor and did some filing and made some phone calls to check up on business transactions. I remember getting along with him fine; my parents were excellent at just accepting me and not putting pressure on me to reform, which probably shaved years or even decades off my rebellious period. The only hassle I remember getting from them was to stop smoking in their car, which I suppose was reasonable.
By June 1986, I’d finally had my eyes opened spiritually and come back into the LDS Church and completed a successful quarter at school and was ready to enter the Missionary Training Center, despite my intense relationship with a girl named Cindy Martin, which I’ll have to write about sometime.
Next in this series: My jobs in Boston (1988–1992)