What a fun time January is!
Reconnecting with friends after a long, hopelessly boring break, picking new classes and drinking ourselves into a veritable tizzy before our first problem sets.
This would normally be a full plate, but as overachievers, most of us are also trying to figure out what the hell we’re doing this summer. Geh. Despite the gamut of options awaiting us bright and talented youths, most of us settle for boring, run-of-the-mill employment. I’m not saying that traditional summer jobs are inferior, but you have to admit that I-banking, licking stamps for your senator or researching at a hoity-toity science institute are, well, unimaginative.
Fortunately for you, dear Yalie, I’ve had a number of unorthodox jobs.
If you’re looking to save money by working at home, why not choose a local restaurant? Nothing builds character like the service industry. Or, at least that’s what my father told me as I embarked on my personal journey into the world of employment, starting at a local Southern buffet.
And I don’t think I need to tell you that this wasn’t a five-star joint — I spent my time shuffling from accidentally dropping change into the glasses of disgruntled customers to extinguishing cloth fires I started in the bakery to flushing denatured spinach out of a salad bar draining system. Don’t get me wrong: The job definitely had its ups, too. I once had the most charming conversation with my overweight, dermatologically diseased boss about how she was saving up in order to have each tooth surgically removed and replaced by dentures — just so she wouldn’t have to brush her teeth again. That buffet was a winner, let me tell you.
Got milk? Or even like it? Consider working for a dairy factory! This stint as a factory employee — my first real summer job — left me with a profound appreciation for the industrial arts. My first assignment was at the powdered-milk packaging plant, an insular department where I labored alongside co-workers Jim, Jim, Doug, Doug and Doug.
Because both Jims and all three Dougs were farmers by trade, they set packaging hours for 5 a.m. to 3 p.m., so that they would have enough time after work to tend to their fields. As if the hours weren’t bad enough, the factory’s high temperature caused me to sweat profusely, which, when mixed with the airborne powdered milk, begot a most putrid film of cheese on my arms. Yum.
The icing on the lacteal cake of that summer’s employment was the nickname bestowed on me by the union leader. It was his duty, he later explained, to rename each of the summer employees. And it must have been with stroke of genius — for what else could it have been? — that he dubbed me “Lanky F***er.”
Let me conclude with a personal favorite of mine: being a personal assistant to an absentminded professor. Straight off the boat from an undisclosed, Eastern European country, my boss, a chemical engineer, had the short-term memory of a goldfish. My job was to follow him around, watch where he set stuff down and then give it to him five minutes later when asked where he put it. Huh.
This was all fine and good — until he requested that I start working at his apartment, as opposed to his office; he was getting older, he explained through his Ugrian accent, and he was working out of his home more. Again, fine. Little did I know that my job description would soon entail paying his bills, replacing the batteries in each of his nine smoke detectors and sorting through the items in his attic — including an assortment of medieval swords, an anthology of scientific correspondence and an extensive collection of erotic novels.
So, Yalie, you’re not limited to the average over-achiever’s summer plans. If my experience proves anything, it’s that there are limitless options.
You can surely find something to suit your tastes — be they fried chicken, powdered milk or sexually active geriatrics. The world is your oyster, etc. Just don’t complain to me if you find a hair in it.
Gary Gregoricka will not give anyone his “tots.”