Wednesday, April 12, 2006

summer jobs

I had my first summer job, I think, the summer after 7th or 8th grade. It wasn't a paying job; I was a junior counselor at the local village day camp, and that meant that I was occupied during the essential day time hours and getting valuable "work experience," but for no pay. I did crafts and went swimming with 2nd grade girls, as I recall.

The next summer I did the same job for pay, though the pay was minimal at best. Can it be that I made $80 for it? How long did the camp go on? Details are sketchy. One summer I spent mostly with girls (clinging to me in the shallow end of the pool, endlessly screaming), another mostly with boys (running around and shouting). Otherwise I don't remember a thing.

Then there was a summer when I babysat. There was a refugee couple living in one of the church-apartments (a story for another time, maybe) and I watched their baby. Was that all summer, or just a few weeks? It felt endless. The baby cried and cried, and I couldn't really communicate with the parents. It was hot and humid and grey. I read when the baby was sleeping. Daytime TV, in those pre-cable days, was even more depressing than my job.

Then summer jobs got interesting. I spent one summer cleaning a restaurant and serving ice cream in Maine, two summers waitressing in Massachusetts, a summer in an office job in New York, a summer working in the college library...Those all had advantages and disadvantages, but there was real money involved, and other people, and a sense of growing independence. I've never been unemployed for more than a week or two since then--if I wanted a job I could have one, even if it wasn't a very good one.

Mariah's been offered her first summer job. She's been to camp, she's taken random and even not-so-random babysitting jobs, but this is the first time she's been offered predictable hours for the whole summer. Watching two kids, though sometimes only one, in a big house near our own. She'd been thinking retail--the local grocery store hires and trains teenagers, and it's actually a plum job for a high school kid--but this will pay better and be more flexible. She'll probably take it.

The kids aren't babies, so she won't have the isolation-with-crying-baby experience that I did, but I do regret a bit that she won't have co-workers. Still, there will be other summers for that. In the meantime, it looks like she's got her summer planned out. And I didn't do a thing. Amazing.


Masha said...

Cheney had his first summer job last summer, working at Central Park, regular hours which he managed to keep, and I think the biggest thrill was pulling in the money (7.50 an hour) and buying his first i-Pod, but he also liked how he was seen in the work-setting... kinda cool! xom

Mrs. Coulter said...

I worked as a dockhand at a local marina one summer. The only girl! The guys gave me a lot of crap. After that my summer jobs were indoor, office-y type things.