All work and all play

Kat Barrineau gives Sassy a kiss after grooming her at Lesslie Animal Hospital on Thursday.
Kat Barrineau gives Sassy a kiss after grooming her at Lesslie Animal Hospital on Thursday.

Most of the golfers at Fort Mill's Springfield Golf Club bust their tails at work all week so they can spend a few hours on the links.

Not Bud Welch. Welch, Springfield's golf pro, putts around the course all week and calls it work.

"This is a fantastic job," Welch said from his clubhouse office. "I like to say, 'It's not really a job. It's a position.'"

Welch, 68, is one of a small group of Americans totally satisfied with their jobs. As the nation pauses from work to celebrate Labor Day today, many Americans admit they aren't the happiest labor force.

A 2005 survey by Kronos, a leading workforce management company, found 77 percent of American workers are looking for a new job. And 39 percent admitted to conducting their search at the workplace. Complaints ranged from work interfering with family life to not enough pay. Another complaint? About 43 percent said they spend Labor Day on the job.

Welch may be one of the folks putting the labor back into Labor Day this year because weekend work is usually required, but he's not complaining. His average workday consists of swapping stories with everyone from the beer man to customers and helping teach duffers not to slice -- the kind of stuff many workers only get to do on their rare day off.

"My job is to basically thank people for playing and spending their money with us," said Welch, who has worked at courses in northern York County since 1972.

Of course, everything has a down side. Welch occasionally has to work long hours and deal with the occasional complaint. But after a five-year apprenticeship to gain his PGA certification and close to four decades in the business, he said those days are few and far between. Most of the time, he's gripping hands and grinning with everyone from average Joes trying to impress a client to professional athletes and dignitaries.

"The best part is that I interact with people from 4 years old to 84 years old," he said. "It doesn't matter if you're a garbage man or a king, golf puts you on an even base with people."

Never the same thing

LESSLIE -- Kat Barrineau might be the only "cat" in the world making a living by helping dogs look their best.

While many people would consider bathing beagles, sweeping fur off the floor and giving poodles a pedicure to be unbearable chores, Barrineau said her job as the dog groomer at the Lesslie Animal Hospital is the coolest gig in town.

"I get up in the morning in love with my job," she said. "It's never the same thing every day."

Barrineau, 28, got into the grooming business about 10 years ago as a clerk at PetsMart. She started bathing dogs, and after a few months of special classes, got her own set of clippers and a comb. Now, she can handle every style, even the strangest requests, and all the slobbering, biting and whimpering that comes with each task.

"I groom everything from cats to wolves -- anything that comes through the door," she said. "I've had a lot of bad stuff, a lot of gross stuff, happen to me. It's not glamorous, but I look past that because I know they can't help it. Ninety percent actually like getting groomed."

Barrineau, like many Americans, has thought about switching careers. But after landing the spot in Lesslie about a year ago, she says she'll never change.

"I almost hung up my clippers a while back," she quipped. "But I can't help it, I just love the people and animals I work with."

Getting paid to shop

As retail manager for the Museum of York County's gift shops, Mark Cockerille peruses magazines, picks through markets and barters with local vendors to make sure his stores at the museum on Mount Gallant Road and at Historic Brattonsville are well stocked with the kind of things you won't find anywhere else.

"Once I see somebody else has it, I stop carrying it," he said. "It loses its magic."

Cockerille said his job is unique because he becomes a surrogate shopper for his customer. He learns what people like -- anything with South Carolina state logos, local pottery or artwork and merchandise related to museum exhibits -- and hunts it down. He frequents America's Mart, a collection of thousands of specialty vendors in Atlanta, and buys from local Catawba potters. Then, he arranges the stores to his liking.

"My creative outlet is definitely fulfilled here," the Virginia native said. "I just love the interaction with customers."

Cockerille's career began with IBM, but after relocating to Chester, he wanted a change. While he dreams of one day owning his own gift shop, Cockerille says the opportunity to work at the museum transported him from the group of people looking for something better to someone satisfied with his work.

"You can always make more money," he said. "But you might not be happy. I'm definitely content here."