Okay, I have a difficult, kind of specialised and rather complicated question (or rather, series of questions) which I hope against hope some of you can help me with. Please bear with me if it's a bit waffly.
It is 1996. We are in Ohio. My character needs a job. He is 18 (for the sake of argument), but does not have a high school diploma or GED. He can only work nights and weekends, is very fit and active and would prefer unskilled manual labour. So bearing this in mind, please could you give me your thoughts on the following:
1. Currently, I'm thinking that he could get some sort of factory job such as working on an assembly line or some sort of other industry type thing. (Can you tell that I'm woefully uninformed about this?) I realise that most of these (certainly nowadays) require a GED and prior experience or training. So I need something which requires no GED, no experience and provides on the job training, OR where an unscrupulous employer might be willing (and able) to hire under the table and fudge it.
If this is a totally preposterous scenario, what kind of shift-work could he get which carries decent wages? I specifically want a set of very macho colleagues and potentially dangerous work.
I have searched through several 'blue collar' classifieds (yes, they do exist) to get some idea of what type of jobs might be out there, and although I did find a lot, I realised I need someone to give me more in depth information about what might be suitable for my character before I can attempt to do any more specific research.
2. Within these parameters, can anyone recommend any blogs, articles, youtube videos, biographical stories, well-researched fiction (on the web) or books that I can get from my library which details personal experiences in this kind of work? Or if anyone has worked in this type of job, or knows someone who has, any stories you wish to share would be fantastic. I'm just looking for anecdotes that detail what the working environment is like; what kind of pranks and feuds come up between employees; what people get up to during a normal day; and what someone's specific duties are, if possible.
I have searched google generally, plus in every blog finder that google threw at me, the livejournal interests, plus through hundreds of bookmarks on delicious, but only found this, which is pretty much exactly what I want bar that it's covering the wrong timeframe. But I would obviously prefer not to have to buy a book if I don't have to, especially since it's set a little early.
ETA: Thank you all for so many brilliant responses - I thought I was doomed on this one. It turns out I've had to change the date to 1997 for other reasons, so the character will now have a GED. I'd still love any anecdotes/info about the working culture, though. Thanks again.
[Search terms I used were: factory, factory worker, blue collar, assembly line, working class, manual labor. All of these plus blog, journal, stories, experiences and diary in various permutations.]