Trial Balloon

A Reason to Get Up in the Morning

Posted at 6:00 AM on April 14, 2010 by Dale Connelly (35 Comments)
Filed under: Bubby Spamden

Here's the latest message to come in from a young person searching for his place in the world.

Hey Mr. C.

As you know, I'm keeping an eagle eye on everything about the workforce 'cause someday I might actually apply for one.
A job, that is.

I was really disappointed to see a bunch of news articles last week with the shameful about-face done by the Carlsburg Beer Company in Germany when it comes to their worker's sacred right to drink the product they manufacture while they're on the job.

I guess some of the so-called "higher ups" decided they know better than the actual hands-on beer makers when it comes to how much brew they can chug and still stay productive. The company says they have to limit it to three cups at lunch. The guys and gals in the plant say it should be the way it always has been ... unlimited beer for everyone all day long!

I'm a high school sophomore, so beer isn't cool for me right now personally 'cause I'd get disqualified from all the extracurricular activities I keep saying I'll join someday if I was ever caught drinking it. But this is another example of why a lot of people in my generation feels like it's just not worth it to work hard to get a job anymore - all of the cool perks are going away!

It used to be a person with a good job could drive around in a company car and have a three martini lunch every day and take home all the sharpie markers and colored pencils they wanted from the office supplies closet, but now companies are cracking down and special privileges just don't exist unless you're some kind of a foreign diplomat or an executive at a Wall Street bank.

So here's my question - are there any good jobs left that have really super unwritten benefits that would probably get taken away if anyone other than the people enjoying them actually knew what was going on? Now that all the bottomless beer stein jobs are disappearing, I need to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Otherwise I guess I'll always be ...

Your friend,
Perennial Sophomore Bubby Spamden

I told Bubby that being a radio disc jockey means you get to have lots of free duplicate CD's. Once there's a copy in the library, the extras are OK to take home. And the more obscure and desperate-for-attention the performer, the more duplicates of their disc you'll find floating around.

Of course, before very long CD's and the machines that pay them will be obsolete. But then so will disc jockeys and radio stations.

Ever had a job with extremely cool perks?


Comments (35)

I used to work at a large chain bookstore. Instead of returning whole paperback books to publishers, we just returned the covers (cheaper to print a new book than to pay for return postage). We couldn't sell the "strips", but employees could have them. For years I had copies of books w/ no covers laying around the house. Fabulous perk. Now I work in the travel industry, which occasionally sends me to exotic places, but I have to get my books from the library to take on the plane!

Side note on field trip to The Museum of Russian Art this Saturday. We're meeting at 1 p.m. If you think you'll be able to join us, put it here in the blog and I'll be sure to make enough goat pins for everyone. Liberty Custard after the museum. (& don't forget you can get a free pass if you are a Henn County library member... go to your local library and ask about the museum pass program!)

Posted by sherrilee | April 14, 2010 6:12 AM


TMoRA trip sounds so fun, Sherrilee - wish we could be there. busy day here so i'll say hello and good bye.
and please send rain!
have fun

Posted by barb in Blackhoof | April 14, 2010 6:18 AM


I must not know how to look for interesting jobs because I've never had a job with a remotely cool perk. My job pays for my Internet access and a data card for portable access, which I guess some would consider perks, but they are really electronic leashes more than they are privileges.

When you mentioned, Dale, how all the current technologies are falling into obsolescence, it caused me to think of my own relationship with the music store at amazon.com and how often I choose the instant gratification of the mp3 album over having to wait for the physical medium to be to be delivered to my house. I miss out on a lot of information by not ever seeing the liner notes, and I think that there are now generations of people who don't even consider listening to a whole album that an artist crafted. The songs they like are easily purchased for next to nothing individually from iTunes or amazon.com. (I use the latter because I prefer the mp3s over the iTunes format.)

Happy Wednesday, all!

Posted by elinor | April 14, 2010 6:24 AM


Good Morning Former and Current Good Job Holders,

I had a job where I got free gardening magazine and some free books, but when I was self employed I could give myself free things. Of course I had to pay for these free things so that didn't work too well.

As a self employed person you can look for tax breaks from the government which help. However, you better try to be honest about your tax breaks because you could get audited and of couse you do want to be honest any way, right? Don't give yourself gifts and tax breaks following the example of some one like Denny Hecker.

Posted by Jim | April 14, 2010 6:27 AM


I used to have three fraternity brothers who came to college in the fall with cases and cases of free beer from the breweries where they worked--cases and cases of three different lousy brands. But what did we care for quality; it was quantity that counted in 1964.

Posted by clyde de bier | April 14, 2010 6:43 AM


Good morning Radio Heartlanders

When I edited a magazine for Midwestern fishermen, manufacturers of fishing tackle loved to dump product on me. They wanted me to use their stuff and show it in the photos we ran in the magazine.

This probably sounds nicer than it was. I once got several hundred dollars worth of tipups for ice fishing, and I don't ice-fish.

And my conscience bothered me. I think it is sad when people own cool stuff but never use it. I once read a Startribune story about a black kid in Minneapolis who was so avid about fishing he fished at least one city lake a day. I managed to get his phone number and address. His parents seemed concerned that I had ulterior motives, but they let me meet him to share freebie fishing products. I gave him about $800 worth of graphite fishing rods that day, thanked him and drove off. For all I know, he could be a polo or lacrosse player now, but if so I hope he gave the rods away to somebody who would get a thrill out of using them.

Posted by Steve in Portland | April 14, 2010 7:03 AM


Greetings! Working at Pillsbury was a never-ending buffet of goodies. Working in a food company, there was "always something cooking" so to speak (very easy to gain weight). In the Promotion Dept, we got the Doughboy, Sprout and Green Giant chochkes as well as what I called "vendor graft." During the holidays we would get all manner of interesting gifts from promotional, creative or print agencies. A couple were very generous, as we were the majority of their business.

Right now, I work in Natural Foods and I get a few free items from personal care companies. Used to get our choice of 1 or 2 free supplements every month from an excellent company. I've been to a couple trainings with free meals, supplements, books., etc.

But all those goodies are definitely dwindling. ~sigh~ A sign of the times, I guess. Sometimes, you forget how good you have it.

Posted by Joanne in Big Lake | April 14, 2010 7:23 AM


I know a little about the "vendor graft" that Joanne mentions and Steve described. My Dad got gifts offered to him when he worked in power plant design and construction. I think he usually refused these gifts..Of course there seems to a lot of that going on in politics and it doesn't seem to be ending. Bubby can be sure of having a job with perks if he goes into politics.

Posted by Jim | April 14, 2010 7:34 AM


I work in an office where I get to listen to both the classical and news MPR stations all day...and when that's not enough I can also tune into Radio Heartland on the computer...but then I worry that silence is often unnerving...

Happy Humpday, y'all.

Posted by cynthia in mahtowa | April 14, 2010 7:38 AM


In my non-profit days, I got to travel greater Minnesota and saw things like Judy Garland's house in Grand Rapids, the Runestone, the divet that was the the Ingalls' house outside of Walnut Grove (its a depression in the bank of the creek - but you can still see the basic outline of just how small that sod house was). Other perks were things like corporate t-shirts, and odd bits no one else wanted that were donated as giveaways (I did get a cool set of gospel music CDs that we figured wouldn't be so cool if you were 15 or 16...which was the group we worked with).

Nothing as fabulous as free beer, though.

Posted by Anna | April 14, 2010 7:43 AM


Just to clarify, all that "vendor graft" was not expensive or high value items. Nice to be sure, but nothing to write home about.

My father was offered all kinds of stuff in his position as Director of Maintenance -- especially when schools were built or remodeled. Naturally, he refused almost all of it -- which as a child, really bummed me out. But I understand now why he did -- he was the definition of integrity in my book.

Posted by Joanne in Big Lake | April 14, 2010 7:51 AM


Bubby, it seems Congressmen get a lot of perks; so start cultivating a good handshake and fake sicnerity. I do not recommend becoming a pastor, teacher, or consultant. Well, back when I traveled, my wife got some travel perks, traveling with me on FFM and such. Bubby, I'd just make the perbetual part of your bolog name, well . . .perpetual.

Posted by Cly de Ccynic | April 14, 2010 7:58 AM


The best perk in my job is free comprehensive health insurance, even for family coverage. We also have an unlimited supply of pharmaceutical pens, note paper, clocks, and desk accessories. We get to use cars from the State motor pool for work if we have to travel, but we have to be really careful not to get picked up for speeding, which is easy to do our vast spaces. One of my co-workers got reported by the governor for speeding in a state car. The main down side is that we get paid substantially less than therapists in the private sector. I consider it a perk, however, to be able to work with low income families who have no health insurance and who couldn't afford to see me if I was in private practice. I also don't have to deal with managed care in my practice, so I have little to complain about.

Posted by Renee | April 14, 2010 7:58 AM


Joanne, I think some of the "vendor graft" stuft isn't a big deal. It is just a little advertising that gets the name of the giver in circulation. It's nice to hear that your Dad, like my Dad, had a policy of refusing those big gifts that are not just a little advertising. I had an Uncle by mariage who got lots of large free gifts as a Chicago electrical inspector.

Posted by Jim | April 14, 2010 8:06 AM


Off-topic--Beauthful ride in this morning, to and around MSU campus. Green green grass, daffodils and coeds all popping out of the ground.
1. Why all female and very few male students at 7:30?
2. How does a young man pick out a young woman when they almost all look exactly alike--same over-baked skin, over-bleached straight hair, same jeans, t-shirt, and sandals? Do the males all look alike?
3. You know how a flock of birds can all change direction in an instant? Young women can do that with accessories like glasses.
4. Found poetry or an "Empire Falls Moment" or just truth in advertising on campus bookstore: "New spring clothing arriving aily."
5. Why are the three people who work the check-in desk at the MSU gym very much over weight? Are they hired as an object lesson?

Posted by Cly apres ride de campus | April 14, 2010 8:07 AM


I must admit it has been hard at work since I can't stream RH on my computer anymore. I found myself listening over and over again to the only CD I had at work yesterday-Trio Medieval singing mournful Norwegian folk songs in mournful Norwegian. There's pretty limited radio choices out here, so that isn't an option. I'll just have to remember to bring more CD's to work.

Posted by Renee | April 14, 2010 8:30 AM


Renee--I know how dismal the radio is out there. Such a shame.

Posted by clyde | April 14, 2010 8:51 AM


hi, all--

finally managed to get up early enough to listen in for awhile and check in with you all on the blog!

wish i was local so i could join the field trip! i'd be there, for sure, just to get a goat pin!

as someone who is doing free-lance work (no great perks except setting my own schedule) and a part-time job (no perks at all except the occasional joy of seeing a child learn or be happy to see me)--not bad perks, but the trade-off is little money and no health insurance--bah.

for bubby, i'd suggest a forest service job--government pension, lots of time outdoors, good insurance etc...:-)

thinking of you all,

Posted by Kay H in Utah | April 14, 2010 8:57 AM


speaking of dismal radio, rural utah is completely bereft of good radio stations...makes me really miss and appreciate MPR--

Posted by Kay H in Utah | April 14, 2010 8:58 AM


Morning everyone...

I've been busy this week; we're doing our spring children's play 'Ramona Quimby' at the college with two shows / day so not much time to listen or read or comment but I did want to comment on today's blog.

Job perks; when I pressed tuxes for the formal wear place I got my choice of any of the 'not current fashion' tuxes down in the basement; chose a white one w/ black trim for my senior picture. Sharp Dressed Man indeed! ...or so I thought...

Measuring grain bins I got to climb tall things and sit on top-- fun in nice weather... not so much in the cold or if the ladder fell over...

Stagehand- sit backstage during the concerts or at the very least; free admittance. Running a spotlight for the shows is also *very* cool but it's hard to really enjoy the music-- you are working after all...

Farming-- so many perks; seeing things grow; the smell of the dirt; the sound of my favorite tractor; riding in combines...

And theater... hearing an audience appreciate the show. Especially these kids shows... they get so excited! I rented 'streamer cannons' so, of course that helps... every job would be better if you could have a happy ending and streamer cannons every day!

I'm down in Rochester so going to miss the TB get together... sounds like fun though!

Posted by Ben | April 14, 2010 9:11 AM


Clyde, as a father of two girls and grandfather to two more, I have noticed dress habits that didn't impress me like the ones you saw on your bike ride. However, as I'm sure you know, I found that I shouldn't make any comments to them about how they dress.

Posted by Jim | April 14, 2010 9:13 AM


Jim--these are their 7:30 outfits. Their 7:30 p.m. outfits are of course different, except for the new/old style of glasses, which I'm sorry all who wear them, are really ugly. My son says he feels like a pervert everytime he walks by a seveth grade girl.

Posted by Clyde | April 14, 2010 9:19 AM


Numbers on the Stairwell Doors

This week, sometime when I was not looking they, building maintenance I suppose, put numbers, big bold and white against the walnut veneer, on the inside of the stairwell doors.
It’s good to know where I am now. Maybe I was confused before and did not know it. Maybe I walked into someone else’s office, maybe on 2, and did the work there, perhaps even better than I do my own.
Yes maybe on 2, where are architects and real estate agents. I could design houses with lots of windows or no windows or the floor for the ceiling or pink shingles for my granddaughter or a bat cave for my grandson. Or I could sell houses and maybe give away a few before they fired me. Or maybe I would tell people “You do not need a house that big. Buy a smaller one and take a trip or give money to those who have ho home.” Yes, I could have done that.
Perhaps, I worked on 3 and peeked out from the unlabeled door of the FBI. Perhaps. I would wish it so, I worked in the clinic and magically cured the lonely, dependent, or angry. Mended families, cleared cloudy minds, put grudges to rest. That would be better than even giving away houses.
But I did not work on 4. Everybody up there hides behind their walnut veneer doors with small numbers and no name on them.
Now I will only do my own work here on 1.
That 1 is the most important. Without that 1 people would walk right through the cement floor and down into the earth. We all walk around numbly doing our work and coming and going we would not notice we had reached the bottom.

Posted by Cly de 1 | April 14, 2010 9:27 AM


My favorite perks were at the tiny Birchbark Books in S. Mpls. near Lake of the Isles - discounted books and getting to know the owner, author Louise Erdrich. (Anyone see her on Bill Moyers last Friday?)

Steve - how is grandpa-hood?

Sherilee - I'll be there on Saturday; how good of you to do more goat pins.

I'm going to try going with Abby, even though there are less than 33% Barbaras. Just less confusing. Have a good day, everyone - Barb: we'll try to send rain.

Posted by Abby in Robbinsdale | April 14, 2010 10:16 AM


Ben - I totally agree about the theater stuff and running a spotlight. Each have their own rewards -especially the kids shows. It's gratifying when the stuff we put into shows/sets/etc. is appreciated by the target audience.

Reminds me too, of one of the great perks of working as an usher at the Ordway (a job from my college days): free opera and orchestra and other great shows. I had to stand up while I watched/listened, but I still remember swapping shifts with people so I could be sure to see all of Don Giovanni (over the course of two nights).

Posted by Anna | April 14, 2010 11:33 AM


The downside of being a government employee is that, at least in North Dakota, such people are assumed to be lazy and self-serving. The public delights in trying to catch us wasting their tax money and loafing, when, in fact, I think we are all pretty hard workers. I think that teachers have to put with that attitude, too.

Posted by Renee | April 14, 2010 11:55 AM


Barbabby--now I will be abbyslutely confused.
Renne--teachers get the same treatment. There was a woman who logged in every day what time people came and left from the school parking lot. And she used to compalin if we did not all have the shades set at the same height, on a building a block long and three stories high. She used to call me and complain that when I rode my bike she could not see when I arrived because I went around the building the other way, which I did intentionally of course.
Here is one of my favorites about teaching in a small town: parents would go to the public library and work on projects I assigned and bitch to my wife, knowing it was my wife, that they had to do the project.
Which reminds me that my brother, back when he spoke to me, would regularly complain that schools did not teach kids to work and then complain about the stupid assignments assigned to his kids that he did for them.
Now the perks were wonderful: being fully involved in so many of my students' lives, watching students imporve over many years, not having to get to know students each year, knowing who to cut slack when, etc. And so many more paprents were grareful than the ones who sat at the Legion and complained about gov-ment employs.
And the perks of pastoring in a small church, for that I wrote a poem for my daughter a few years ago, when she was out in Rhame.

Posted by Clyde | April 14, 2010 12:22 PM


Abby Yes, I watched Louise Erdrich last night on Oregon Public Broadcasting. She was smart and charming.

My sense is that being a grandfather really begins when the little gidget acquires speech. We're just getting to know each other at the moment. I've spent two days with Liam and have yet to hear him cry. He makes vocalizations to announce needs, but doesn't really get on the horn and signal panic.

At the grocery store I push him in a cart up to random women and say, "He's my first grandchild and all that, but wouldn't you agree he is perfect and the best looking baby you ever saw? They all agree.

Posted by Steve temporarily in Portland | April 14, 2010 12:23 PM


Steve--my son'w college roommate, a doctor, used to refer to his kids before they could talk as pink puppies.
I see some light scattered showers are headed into towards Blackhoof townsahip--not much though.

Posted by Clyde | April 14, 2010 12:33 PM


Steve & Clyde.. you've made me think of a memory that I have't thought of in awhile. When I brought my daughter home from China, she was very quiet. No benefits to being vocal in Chinese orphanages, I suppose. And I knew that I should talk to her, so she could get used to hearing English, but having had no experience with just talking to hear myself talk, every now and then I would be at a loss. So I started assigning each day a letter of the alphabet. If I ran out of yakking steam, I would just start saying any word that started with "A" or "B". It kept me going until it felt more comfortable just talking to talk. Although I never did assign "X" or "K" or "Z" to a day!

Posted by sherrilee | April 14, 2010 1:36 PM


Steve & Clyde.. you've made me think of a memory that I have't thought of in awhile. When I brought my daughter home from China, she was very quiet. No benefits to being vocal in Chinese orphanages, I suppose. And I knew that I should talk to her, so she could get used to hearing English, but having had no experience with just talking to hear myself talk, every now and then I would be at a loss. So I started assigning each day a letter of the alphabet. If I ran out of yakking steam, I would just start saying any word that started with "A" or "B". It kept me going until it felt more comfortable just talking to talk. Although I never did assign "X" or "K" or "Z" to a day!

Posted by sherrilee | April 14, 2010 1:44 PM


sorry... pc went a little haywire there!

Posted by sherrilee | April 14, 2010 1:49 PM


Cool idea, Sherilee. I've read somewhere that you can actually recite something like the alphabet to them, and add different inflections each time as if it were different sentences...

Steve, I love the grocery store story.

Posted by Abby in Robbinsdale | April 14, 2010 3:39 PM


Uffda, Clyde, I just caught the abbysolutely...

Posted by Abby in Robbinsdale | April 14, 2010 4:54 PM


i will be at the field trip to TMORA. see you at 1

Posted by tim | April 15, 2010 6:51 AM


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