NPR has been running a series on summer jobs which has been pretty interesting. People tell stories of summer jobs they had – some weird, some interesting, some really awful. I thought about writing in to tell of the summer I spent grinding dirt (more on that later), but as I listened today, I realized they not only had interesting stories, but they came away with great life lessons form these jobs. Me? I came away with a small paycheck that I promptly spent on some Country & Western album – big, shiny black vinyl LP’s. (Fear not readers – I’ve been redeemed – I now listen to classic rock when I’m not listening to NPR, or “Learn In Your Car – Spanish”).
As I thought about it, I realized that maybe I did learn something from these jobs. And if not, well, some of them might make good stories. So, here we go – “What I did on my summer vacation, part 1.”
The first “real” summer job I had was as a scorekeeper for the City Parks & Recreation Department softball leagues. “Real job” being defined as getting a paycheck with taxable income, an expectation to be at a certain place at a certain time, and a supervisor watching over me to make sure I did what I was supposed to do. I remember two distinct moments in this job – one when the fans disagreed with my assessment of the score (apparently they had mercy on this poor kid, because I did not get any bruises or lose my job). The other outstanding memory was getting “promoted” to keep score for the youth league baseball (high school age players, but not school teams – don’t recall the names). Anyway, they played at the local minor league stadium (which is now gone), and I was in the height of learning to be cool. In that time and place, that meant chewing tobacco. Red Man. Copenhagen. Whatever it took, I was gonna be cool. For the most part, I pulled off the chewing tobacco part without losing my lunch – but I don’t think I was ever considered “cool” by any stretch of the imagination, or in any circle of society I was associated with.
Once at the stadium, I decided to try this new Beech-Nut Wintergreen chew. While I didn’t lose my lunch, this had to be the closest I ever came. I don’t know what happened in the ball game, or who kept score – because I know I spent more than a couple of innings in the bathroom trying to keep my lunch down. WHEW!!
And what did I learn? Apparently nothing. I did give up chewing tobacco for a while, and I’m still not a regular user – but I just can’t shake the habit completely. Yeah, I know. You are officially grossed out. That’s why I keep it “in the closet” and don’t let anyone know (oops, did I say that on the interweb??). And despite the fact that I’m still not cool, I just don’t think I could open a pack of Beech-Nut Wintergreen without turning green.
Later: concession stands, washing dishes at Bonanza, mopping floors at Lerner’s, delivering mail for the power company, cutting grass for the power company, and grinding dirt for the power company (hmmm…could it be we had family ties with the power company??)