Rick Does What it Takes

Episode #792
April 6, 2024

I wake in my childhood room. The dawn flows into my bedroom windows. The familiar distant sound of the Knott’s Berry Farm train whistle is a low harmony for the song of bluebirds.


There are sea change events in my life where I have no obligations, no pressures and no goals. They have occurred at my birth, when I quit a job and after a graduation from school. This most current change has left me with a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Notre Dame in my back pocket and nothing to do. I decided not to pursue a teaching certification. I have no career plans.

But it is time to make some money. I hope to leave home soon.

My interview with La Mirada Dial-a-Ride goes well. They will train me to drive the bus and prepare me for the Commercial Driver’s License.

I am on my way to pick up Ms. Johnsonville at her home. One of my groupies is sitting behind me.
“I like your new shirt Mr. Rick,” the teenage girl coos.
“Thank you, Jody. Your stop is right up here.”
Jody is less annoying than the rest, but still a distraction that a driver does not need. I pull to the curb and open the door.
“Bye, bye Mr. Rick. See you tomorrow,” she says with a wink.

The radio squawks. “Smokey, valley at imperial.”
We drivers report police locations so that everyone can slow down when it is risky. We never speed with passengers, but sometimes the schedule for pickups is tight and we bend the rules.

The more I live at home, the more I want to move out. I contact the West Side Jewish community center in West LA who has advertised a job driving senior citizens to a kosher lunch. I get the job, quit Dial-A-Ride and find an apartment in a garage behind a house in West Hollywood.

Esther is making me scrambled eggs and matzo balls for breakfast. She is the bus host. Her job is to help the passengers into and out of the bus. On the route Esther helps Benjamin up the steps. It is difficult for the little old bent over Jewish man to step up into the bus. Ben is a retired stockbroker who made a fortune on the market. He is a smart man. The radio is playing in the bus. A newscaster is reporting on the Russian Luna 24 moon lander. It has just returned from a successful sample collection mission.

Benjamin makes a small circle with his thumb and index finger. He holds his hand up toward the sky and says, “Schmegegge. You cannot land on the moon. Manyak, the moon is only this big.”
No one laughs. Ben is serious and respected.

The bus driving job does not pay well. The lunches are bland and tasteless, so instead of eating the lunch I have searched for a second job. Last week I landed a job as a waiter at Belmont Village Senior Living retirement home. My job is to keep the residents from killing each other over stealing apples and dinner rolls and to escort them back to their rooms for tips. This evening I offer to help one of the nastier women. She asks me to walk her to the recreation room. She leads me to the piano where she sits. She tests the piano with a few cords, then begins to play Christmas classics. Before long the whole room is singing along with her. When she finishes, I offer my arm and guide her to her room. At the door, she smiles and offers me a 20-dollar bill. I push it back to her saying, “No thank you dear. I have my tip.”

Today my auto insurance bill arrived in the mail. The premium for living in Hollywood is too expensive for me. I have known my insurance agent for many years, so I call him up.

“Bill, can you get me a better premium?”
“Sorry Rick, but the accident rate is so high in your neighborhood that my hands are tied.”
“This job is going nowhere. Maybe I’ll move back to Orange County.”
“Why not come to work for me. You can stay in my travel trailer until you find an apartment. I could use an associate.”

It is too good an offer to pass up, so I move into the agency parking lot and start to build my insurance career. I attend insurance seminars, cold canvas neighborhoods for homeowner’s and renter’s insurance and dabble a little in life insurance, where the money is. My clientele has grown enough that I can move out of the trailer, but I am dissatisfied with the business. My customers are kind enough, but I just don’t like insurance agents. Where is this leading? Am I grooming myself to be another one of those agents that I don’t like? I begin to look for another job.

AMEREC RV super store offers me a job running their parts department. It pays $500 per week. This is a fortune to me and is more than enough to afford an apartment in Huntington Beach.

I am settled into my apartment and have reorganized the parts department stocking system at AMEREC so that anyone can run it. The service department is always on the phone with me. Walk-ins also keep me busy. My boss, Trevor, is in charge of Service and Parts and has his own RV which is his private project. This morning he asked me to find new dinette cushions for him.

The phone rings.
“AMEREC parts.”
“Rick, when will my cushions arrive?”
“I haven’t ordered them yet, Trevor. It’s been very busy today. I’ll call first thing tomorrow.”
The phone goes dead.
Trevor enters the department.
“I thought you told me your new system runs itself. Anyone can find a part now, you said. You must have time on your hands.”
“It is true, Trevor, that the parts inventory is more efficient now, but the department is still busy.”

“When I tell you to do something for me, I expect you to drop everything. I guess I need ANYONE to find parts and SOMEONE who can follow orders. You’re fired.”

It hits me hard. There is no reasoning with him. I try to go over his head, but Trevor is a long-time employee and the son-in-law of the owner.

The lesson I learn is to never make myself obsolete at a job.

Two days later I land a job at Huntington Beach trailer supply writing service orders. It is a fun place to work.

A 40’ Executive motor home pulls past the window of the service department. I recognize it and hurry out to meet the rig. The vehicle wobbles a little as it turns into the Service waiting line. Burt Reynolds steps down from the driver’s door. I reach out to shake his hand. Burt is a regular client.

“The leveling suspension looks blown again,” I say.
“Yea Rick. It just doesn’t stand up to off roading.”
“You know that auto levelers aren’t designed to operate while you’re driving.”
“So you say. When can you get me out of here?”
“We’ll push you in right now. Use the loaner to go to lunch if you want.”

HB Trailer mechanics do all their own welding. It is a week before Christmas and Bill Bark has shown me how to weld. I touch the rod to my sculpture with a final crackling tack.

“Not bad,” says Bill. “We’ll make a welder out of you yet.”
“Thanks. That was fun.”

I hold up a snowman ornament made of hose clamps and bolts. It is the only welding I have ever done. It will hang on my Christmas tree for decades to come.


“Skydivers Know Why Birds Sing” by Ricki T Thues is now available on Amazon.
It is a Love story of Rick and Paula Thues and their 35 years of Skydiving.

Click HERE to buy the paperback or Kindle ebook at Amazon.

Follow Ricki T Thues on Amazon HERE.

“Technically Human” by Ricki T Thues, the iMentor, is available on Amazon.
It is a compilation of selected episodes from this bLog which tell the story of Humanity through the eyes of the iMentor.

Click HERE to buy the paperback or Kindle ebook at Amazon.
The ebook version of “Technically Human” is also available on Kobo. Click HERE.
For you Barnes and Noble Nook readers it is available for Nook. Click HERE.
The “Technically Human” ebook is also available on Apple Books . Click HERE.




  1. Danielle L BARLOW April 5, 2024
    • Rick Thues April 6, 2024
  2. Carol+Ross April 6, 2024
    • Rick Thues April 6, 2024
  3. Carol+Ross April 7, 2024

Leave a Reply