Tuesday, June 11, 2013
Wise and worldly readers, what’s the worst summer job you’ve had?
The only "bad" summer job I had was working at a law firm, and even that was pretty damn good. Reasonable bosses and hours, etc. I, however, didn't take to heart its lessons and went to law school anyway, though I did, thankfully, quit after a year.
* The trade-off of high mass and few repetitions vs low mass and high repetitions in weightlifting really is true. That summer may have been when my arm muscles were in their best shape.
* If you are buying machines to operate in a freezer, choose machines that were designed for use at cold temperatures. Machines that are intended for closing bags that contain hot bread will not work as well when the bags are filled with ice.
I think that at least three of us ice factory summer employees now have PhDs. I hope the shift supervisor isn't taking credit for that.
He should apply for a Pipeline grant!
2) Key punch operator. Again, you're probably too young. Sit at a console where, when you hit a key, a die punches a hole in the punch card, very loudly and with vibrations. You have to hit the keys 10,000 times per hour. Again, I'm not kidding.
3) Compared to those, camp counselor where you only deal with bugs, poison ivy, mud, and frightened kids who had never been out of the city was wonderful!!!
I also got fired from a supermarket job as a teenager, the only job I've ever been fired from. It's apparently a tough field, but the humiliation of not hacking it is a good precursor to a job in higher ed.
What I liked about my summer jobs was that they were filled with solvable problems. I spent several summers serving coffee to people. It was hard and surprisingly dirty work but I was good at it, and once you serve the customers and clock out, you're done. Now my life is an endless sea of ongoing projects. I am constantly trying to goad folks that I have no authority over to produce things for me, answer my questions, etc. The coffee shop job was so simple. But at least I work in a clean office now, and don't smell like donuts at the end of the day. This might sound like a good thing, but it's not - donuts are very greasy!
But typical of most liberals of my acquaintance.
Busperson in a busy downtown cafeteria- learned how to not be seen or heard while taking care of people. Bone tiring work with discrete duties which I could leave at the end of the day.
Sales clerk in an upscale department store. Loved the job helping women choose accessories for their clothes, body type, hair, etc. Learned no matter how sophisticated and beautiful a lady may appear, she worried about her appearance like I and my friends did. Beautiful appearance is often dependent on available money.
Waitress in an amusement park cafe. First encounter with the business attitude of "sell customers the big size cola when they don't specify the size".
Call center for getting people to subscribe to magazines.
Waitress in the city Greyhound type bus station for buses which took people to other towns and states back in the day. I saw and served people from many economic levels. The economically better off people had comfortable cars for trips or could afford an expensive plane ride.
Carhop in a local drive-in while in my senior year of college. We only had Stafford Loans (National Defense Student Loans) back then and they usually only were enough to pay a semester's tuition. A summer job helped pay for state college.
I learned what it is like to be bone tired at the end of the day, some people were nice no matter what their economic level or appearance, some people were rude no matter what their economic level and appearance, and that I really didn't want to have jobs like those temp jobs for the rest of my life. Hard, tiring, low paying jobs. Kept me focused on getting my degree.
Now I have a passion for my cc teaching because I know what the jobs are like for some of my students if they don't get an education.
On the plus side, everything was clean and I left not at all frightened or disgusted by the supermarket meat patties we made. On the minus side, everything else.
I was not on that job for long.
No, worse than that was my office job. The office was also about 90F and there was no air movement, and I had to wear a tie. I sat at a - well, "desk" is too grandiose a title for it. I sat at a stand for a mainframe terminal, from which I could see absolutely nothing except cubicle walls. And for eight hours a day, uninterrupted, my job was to compare columns of numbers in a printed binder with columns of numbers on the green-screen terminal. If I found a discrepancy, I changed the entry on the terminal. And that was it. Staring at columns of numbers, with absolutely no context, uncomfortable and in stifling heat, for eight hours straight, is the very definition of "mind-numbing".
I grew up in an agricultural area on the lower Eastern Shore of Maryland. The first job I had was working in a tomato-packing plant, where I assisted people who received tomatoes which had delivered by local farmers and packed them into crates. I remember the job as being very frustrating because the wire bindings of the empty crates always seemed to get tangled with each other, making it difficult to get the next crate into place to receive the flood of tomatoes. I always got behind, and everyone else was always shouting at me to get it moving. The entire scene was reminiscent of the famous *I Love Lucy* episode, with Lucy and Ethel working on an assembly line trying to get pies packed into boxes and always falling behind.
My next summer job was at Ocean City, Maryland, where I washed dishes at a hotel restaurant located on the boardwalk. The pay was lousy, only 19 bucks a week, as I remember. But at least I was on the beach. In pursuit of better pay, I quit and took another job at a pizza place on the boardwalk. That job only lasted a day, after which my boss fired me because I couldn’t move the pizzas into the oven fast enough, reminiscent of my first job at the tomato packing plant. Now jobless, I spent a few days pounding the boardwark in a fruitless search for another job. Becoming desperate, I tucked my tail between my legs and begged for the return of my old job washing dishes at the hotel. They took me back, but one morning my boss came in and told us that the restaurant was going to close. Out of a job again. However, the summer season in Ocean City was almost over and it was just about time to go back to college, so it wasn’t too bad.
Next summer, I worked as a clerk in a grocery store in Ocean City. This was a pretty good deal overall, and I lasted out the whole summer season before I had to go back to school. But working in a summer resort meant that you had to work 7 days a week and had very little time off.
Once in graduate school, I no longer had to worry about summer jobs, since I was a research assistant for my thesis adviser and was supported by grants from NASA, NSF, and AEC.
The best ever was in high school, when I worked for a company whose switchboard was one of the old fashioned ones where you had the plugs on long cords. (think Lily Tomlin's operator.)
16: Grocery story stock clerk and cashier
18: Retail route salesman (OK, milkman). One of my stops was a house of ill repute, and, believe me, the delivery people *did not* get past the kitchen door...but I sold them a huge amount of milk and cottage cheese, and they paid the entire balance, every week, in case. Good customer.
19: Order filler in the largest wholesale candy and tobacco supplier in Indianapolis. I ran the cigarette tax-stamping machine.
20: Laborer, Indianapolis Board of Flood Control. An effective organization--Indy hadn't had a significant flood since the 1920s. Hard work, but good co-workers.
21: Flood control again during the day, and the grocery store in the evenings...about th start grad school and really needed cash.
And that was my last summer job until I got a tenure-track job that came with guaranteed summer teaching...
Lifeguard/swim instructor paid $10 per hour at a time when minimum wage was $4.50. Having access to that job and the $/fun that came with it is one of the main reasons I insisted that my kids learn to swim starting at age 4. My sister managed a pool in the summer during high school and leveraged that "management experience" into a director position at a small non-profit right out of college. It's a great field to get a first job in!
When I went to college, my parents agreed to pay my living expenses if I would go to school full time. I took 15 units each summer and had a blast and graduated on time (unlike my sibs who all needed extra time).
If you think going home smelling like donuts is bad ... I went straight to the shower when I got home.
Worst summer job, physically: cleaning university apartments between tenants. Cleaning for 40 hours a week is exhausting, not unlike the ice factory except that instead of being cold we worked in apartments without A/C, "enjoying" the summer heat while scrubbing. Then I'd work at Sears in the evening. I kept losing weight and had to resort to reading nutrition labels to find foods with the most calories because I couldn't pack any more in. It wasn't demoralizing (and was about a zillion times better than the insurance job I'd had the year before), but it made me grateful every day that I had options that some of my year-round co-workers did not.