Off Duty Jobs, part 2
By Hal Collier
May 20, 2013
As I said in my previous Ramblings, I worked a few off duty jobs just to keep my head above water. Like most parents we wanted our kids to have the things that we didn’t have growing up. No, we didn’t buy our kids new cars or send them on vacations to exotic places. Hell, we had to go to the police credit union and get a signature loan to take them to Disneyland. If you had kids growing up you know what kind of expenses come up. My daughter attended a week long camp for drill team in Orange County. My son lettered in football and wanted to buy a Letterman’s jacket. Cool, I had mine for years, long after I graduated from high school. A Letterman’s jacket in 1986 cost 3 1/2 off duty jobs or 6 times what mine cost in 1965. I told my son that the jacket was free until he gave it to some cute little blond who batted her blue eyes at him, then he had to buy it.
Now cops work a lot of overtime but we seldom got paid cash for our time. We often worked past our EOW (end of watch) and we were always in court on our day off or after work. The city of Los Angeles is always broke. They made us bank our overtime. You could bank over 400 hours and there was a time when I took off two months a year, half vacation, half banked overtime. If the city had money I could have cashed out for over $12,000. See: rich in benefits poor in cash.
I know of one officer who mortgaged his house to pay for a daughter’s athletic team trip to Europe. I got off lucky. No matter what the reason we worked off duty jobs to make a better life for our family and in some cases make up for all the time we weren’t home.
As I said, I worked enough off duty jobs that I could pick and choose. I preferred jobs where I got paid right away and didn’t have to fight some drunk asshole in my only suit. Worse yet, a police uniform cost more than a suit at “Suits for Less” and a uniform came with only one pair of pants.
Movie premieres could be the best, especially if you got to work the after party. The after party didn’t include you hob-knobbing with the elite Hollywood crowd, but it did mean double-pay. Sometimes the premiere party was fun, even if I was on the wrong side of the barricades. I think two of the best premieres I worked were westerns.
Silverado was fun. They had a BBQ on the roof of the Holiday Inn and a western theme. I met this really old codger who had two very young and pretty women on his arm. He said that he trained the actors how to fast draw and shoot. He asked me if I ever watched Gunsmoke. Well, of course I had. He said that in the opening credits, Matt Dillon, squares off in a gun fight in the middle of Dodge City. Yea, I’d seen that. He said that he was the other gunfighter. He had taught James Arness how to draw and shoot. I asked him if he could teach me to quick draw, but he looked at my break-front police holster and laughed.
City Slickers was also fun. Billy Crystal drove up in a limo. He stepped out of it with a 200 lb. calf. The calf was put in the limo around the corner and the 300 foot drive almost made the calf have an accident inside the car.
Just about everyone knows the name Fredrick’s of Hollywood. I worked an off duty job at Fredrick’s grand re-opening. I showed up in my best suit, ha ha, and they gave me my pay check which included a $50 gift certificate. Cool, I can now afford that leopard skin thong. Ok, I’m standing at the front door for over two hours and ten of most beautiful women I’ve ever seen in one place walk by me. One even winks at me. They were the lingerie models. The show starts and these same models strut out wearing next to nothing. I’m thinking I’m the luckiest man alive. Then reality sinks in, I got money in my pocket I can’t spend, I’m looking at gorgeous women I can’t have and my Harris & Frank wing tips are hurting my feet.
I spent a couple of years working for the Lake Hollywood Home Owners Association. There is a small park and overlook just below the Hollywood Sign that was frequented by young kids on weekend nights. The home owners paid me and another cop for four hours on Friday and Sat. nights to keep the kids from causing a disturbance. The kids would show up after 10 pm with a case of beer. All I had to do was chase the kids out of the area. If they left the beer, I got to keep it. It was not a bad job other than the hours. I usually got off my patrol job at 3:30 PM and went home to sleep for four hours. My shift started at 9:00 PM and I left at 1:00 AM. I would drive home, grab a three hour nap, get up and go to work. I made $80 a night plus beer.
I also worked some jobs that I got screwed. I was asked work a party for the new TV show, Melrose Place. They actually closed Melrose Avenue and had a big party in the middle of the street. The job was easy until it came time to pay us. They refused to give us our money and later sent us a 1099 statement. I ended up working for about $7 an hour. My wife will never see Hawaii on $7 an hour.
Another job, which I turned down was at the Henry Fonda Theater. The officers worked the event and they refused to pay the officers at all. They had to sue to get their money.
Anybody remember when Fox TV went network? It was 1987 and Fox covered up part of the world famous Hollywood sign. The sign read FOX and was lit up from dusk until 10 PM. for a whole week. I somehow ended up doing the scheduling and worked every night. Some of the home owners didn’t want any extra attention to their neighborhood and threatened to vandalize the sign.
Things went fine until someone snuck up to the sign in the dark and set the “F” on fire. I worked seven nights in a row and had to submit a bill to the advertising company for everyone that worked. I made too much money and they gave me a 1099 Tax Form. I ended up making less than minimum wage. My wife will be lucky to see Indio in the summer instead of Hawaii.
I also worked the Hollywood Bowl during the summer. The Philharmonic is an easy crowd and you didn’t have kids trying to sneak in to see Violins and Cellos play Beethoven. I loved working the west gate. That’s where the VIPs’ enter. I saw more celebrities at the Hollywood Bowl than any movie premiere. I did work one concert at the Bowl that I regretted. Jimmy Buffett. I knew there was going to be trouble when I saw people getting off the Park and Ride buses with 12 packs of beer. They were already drunk. I vowed to never work a Buffett concert again.
I never bought a fancy sports car, or took exotic trips with the money I made working off duty. I’m still married to my original bride and my kids grew up to be good responsible citizens. I did see some interesting people and how they live and act when in a crowd. I never asked for an autograph or took a picture with a movie star. I did see a lot of actresses without underwear trying to get out of a limo in a short dress. Those pictures are imprinted in my mind.