Category Archives: My Life

This is how I feel today…

I saw this snail inching its way across the sidewalk outside my doctor’s office. My allergies have kicked into full gear this week. With all of the antihistamines I am taking and the slimy goo seeping out of my nose (I know, too much information), I felt like I had a lot in common with this little guy.

Odd Jobs

I’ve had my fair share of odd jobs. In fact, in some ways I don’t know that I’ve ever really had a normal job. Of course, for some reason when I think of normal jobs I think of being an accountant. I guess any job that involves cubicles and numbers is normal. I realize my thinking is a little warped. But accountants just seem so incessantly normal.

My first job, other than being the official “channel changer” for my family, was working in a strawberry field. That’s right, I was a field worker. The pay was awful and it involved crawling across a strawberry field searching for ripe strawberries. Needless to say, I didn’t last long. Manual labor and I never have mixed well.

It wasn’t long after that when I became an illegal worker at a fast food restaurant. I was 15 when the manager, who I’m sure has been on “To Catch a Predator” twice, hired me. He lied to the company about my age and allowed me to work in the back for about 8 months. Neither my parents nor I knew that you had to be at least 16 to legally work at a restaurant in the state of Iowa. So about a week before my 16th birthday the assistant manager called me and told me not to come back to work until I turned 16, which is when I was told what had gone down. On an interesting side note, my predator was sent to jail on an unrelated (to me anyway) offense involving alcohol, minors, and sex. In retrospect I’m a little offended that I was not offered either alcohol or sex. (oh please…don’t act so shocked…)

Since customer service is my gig, it’s understandable that I quickly rose to the top. Once I was of legal working age they took me off of the bun-toaster and shoved to the front line, where I was able to present my awkward smile to every mentally-ill veteran who happened to walk through the front door. There were several that would occasionally get confused and wander through the service door and it was their loss. The restaurant was located close to a VA hospital that I seem to remember had a special outpatient mental health ward. Nice. That didn’t stop my Hardee’s “Served with Pride” award-winning attitude. Oh yes, did I mention that the name of the “restaurant” was Hardee’s? Umm. Yeah. I don’t mean to brag, but I was employee of the month twice during my stint as a front-line worker. I know what you are thinking. And it’s true. I have “front-line worker” written all over me. Thank you.

I had some really interesting friends from Hardee’s. There was Gail, her daughter Tracy, and son-in-law Bill. Gail made cakes on the side and once brought a cake to work in the shape of a penis at full attention with all the graphic detail you can imagine. I don’t remember much about Tracy, except that she was married to Bill. Interestingly, Bill was the truly odd one of the family. He was responsible for cleaning the parking lot and performing other random duties, like chasing the confused patrons out of the service entrance. He liked to invite people to come see his house. I don’t think he had anything funny in mind. He just simply enjoyed showing people his and Tracy’s fully undecorated home. I only took the tour once.

In hindsight, I’m not really sure why I was invited over to so many of my co-workers’ places. No one ever tried to give me drugs or alcohol. No one ever tried to touch me. Nothing. It must have just been my sparkling personality and award-winning smile that people could not resist. Even several of the managers had me over to their places. I know that you are probably thinking how lucky I was–those situations were dangerous. And, you could be right. But, these people actually were my friends, even if they were adults. In some ways, they were educating me on the real world. Perhaps they were just trying to show me what life would be like if I stayed at Hardee’s, instead of going to college. I chose college.

I do love a good list, so here’s a serious list of 5 things I actually learned from working at Hardee’s:

1) Smile at everybody. Even those who seem a little crazy.

2) Show up on time. If you are late, someone else has to wait.

3) Smoking is a nasty habit. Being exposed to secondhand smoke and seeing the effects of a lifetime-long smoking habit on a mentally-ill person is a great deterrent.

4) If you masturbate you will grow hair on the palms of your hands. I fell for this joke countless times.

5) Go to college. If you stay and work at a fast food restaurant in rural Iowa, you will end up living in a van down by the river. (In further hindsight, I would say that if you don’t choose to go to college then you should at least travel and expand your worldview.)

Hardees 2 Pictures, Images and Photos

Okay, Okay…


**If hearing Christian music from the 80s and 90s causes you pain, do not continue… The following songs are hardcore Christian. Not suitable for all audiences.**

No need to twist my arm, folks. I have a healthy sense of humor about my college days. And judging by the comments on my last post, so do many of you. This is just a few of the approximately 80 songs I converted to mp3 this past week. For those of you who don’t remember or don’t normally read my blog, these songs were recorded by a music group I was part of during my time at Bible College. The group toured the country and performed their “multi-media” (think slide shows, music, and skits) concerts for churches coast to coast. And so here it is, just a smattering of old Impact Brass and Singers’ songs.

This first one is Evolution Redefined. It was recorded on the campus of Ozark Christian College in the Spring of 1995. I’m singing the solo on this one from the perspective of a student who is being “subjected” to a teacher who believes in evolution. The horror! My character suggests that perhaps there is “another possible solution.” Prepare thyself…

This is Higher Ground. We recorded this in 1992, my first year in the group. I included it because it is typical of the brass and vocals that Impact Brass was known for. My favorite part is the “marching band-esque” interlude. I can almost see the flags and poms…

This is He Shall Dry Every Tear. I wasn’t even part of the group when this was recorded in 1981. But, it represents old-school Impact Brass and Singers.


Well, that’s probably enough Impact Brass stuff for now. I just thought I should give examples of what I’ve written about numerous times. Proof, if you will.

A Blast from the Past

We live in a very digital world. Or, dig-i-kal, as my grandma would say. Everything is seemingly turning digital. I’m fine with that. I’m so glad we don’t need to haul bulky vinyl records around in order to hear our music. For me, the ease of use and accessibility of music in mp3 format is unbeatable. It gives me access to my entire music library whenever I want it.

I was reading that there is a major rise in the use of vinyl. I think that people just love to go retro. I can almost hear the purists now, “vinyl just sounds so warm…” In fact, CDs are already on the decline, perhaps due in a very small part to the resurgence of vinyl records. And who would have thought? It wasn’t even 10 years ago that people were hauling around dozens of CDs and plopping them into CD players everywhere. However, the new standard is mp3. Everything is becoming iPod accessible and I love it.

But, this is about more than just music. As I said, this is a dig-i-kal world we live in. This includes music, movies, pictures–basically, all our information. I have spent a lot of time making the conversion. I’ve scanned countless photos and converted many CDs.

I have a small stack of old CDs leftover from my college years that I’ve been looking at it for quite some time. Actually, that’s not totally true. They are tucked neatly away in a container in a storage cabinet. But, every time I go into that cabinet I see them. It’s annoying really, I hear them saying, “convert me. converrrrrrrt me.” Ok, already. Geesh. I decided the time had come for me to convert my old Impact Brass and Singers’ CDs.

It’s not that I want to listen to them over and over. I just want them converted for archival purposes. You know, in case I want to listen to them later. Well, I couldn’t help myself. After spending an hour or so converting these gems from my past, I had to listen to some of it. I discovered that the best perspective on your life comes in the form of recordings of you singing in college.

I haven’t listened to this stuff for years, probably close to ten years. My first thought was: wow, this sounds old, like the early 90s. Of course, it was recorded in the early 90s. My second thought was: wow, I have changed…a lot. I look different, I sound different, I think different. In a moment of weakness I decided to play one of my songs for Jeff. I’m not sure that he’s fully recovered just yet. It was like a taking him in a time machine back to 1992.

Poor guy. At least he didn’t leave me. I really did go to Bible College and sing in a group that traveled around performing Christian cover songs and skits, all with a slide show going on in the background. It’s hard to paint a proper picture without actually pulling out the CDs and old videos, which thankfully are not in my possession.

Here’s our group picture. I’m the blond guy in the back wearing the burgundy suspenders, the over-sized glasses, and a sheepish smile…

Stand Strong! (and down.)

that’s for all my fellow survivors.

Top-Notch Journalism

I guess I’ve been taking a bit of a blogging break. When I start to feel a little too “ranty,” I like to step back and take stock. I also like to take time and review what I’ve written so far. So I use the time that I would normally write and I read my blog as well as other blogs. It’s a great process and a lot of fun for me, but I’m ready to get back to writing new posts.

After all, I’m a creative person. I sometimes forget that. Nothing kills my creative energy quite like spending 11 hours on an airplane. It’s kind of strange, but I don’t think most of my California friends really see me that way–that is, as a creative person. They see me as Tyler, the flight attendant, or Tyler, Jeff’s boyfriend. I guess that’s why this blog is so important to me. It’s my creative outlet.

This blog isn’t my first attempt at writing, though. When I was a senior in high school I was the editor of my high school paper. Well, at least I was editor until I was fired. That’s right, I was fired from my very first and only writing job. I still, 16 years later, take pride in getting fired as editor-in-chief of the Trojan Trib. The 17-year-old Tyler was a much more dramatic version of me. And, in a moment of pissy anger, I called the newspaper teacher an “ass.” Actually, I told her not to “assume” because she’d make an “ass out of u and me.” I was really quite impressed with myself at the time. I like to envision myself as a sort of Julia Sugarbaker (from Designing Women). I think I got my point across.

I don’t remember what it was that she was assuming, but I sure as hell was tired of it. So I walked to the principal’s office with great pride. It was the only time I ever was actually sent to the office. My mother worked at the high school and so I knew the people in the office very well. They were surprised by my non-social visit. Anyway, to get to the point, I was “let go” from my editor position, and demoted to “staff writer.”

As staff writer I channeled all of my untapped editorial energy into creating incredibly thought provoking exposés. I uncovered the secret evil and corruption of the student hall monitoring system. I exposed the inner-workings of the Pleasantville High School Drama Club, of which I was a member and the newspaper teacher was also the sponsor. What can I say? It was a small school. And, perhaps my journalism was not completely “unbiased.” I gave it my best shot.

I recently discovered that my predecessor as Trojan Trib editor-in-chief went on to work for the Wall Street Journal. Wow. I suppose he never spelled out “ass” to any of his superiors. And, I hope he regrets it.