Ah, the summer job. Back in the day, it wasn’t so easy to get–for me. I went to college out of state, but came home for the summer (to a town almost-but-not-quite like Bethany’s Prairie Stone in Geek Girl’s Guide).
Local employers didn’t want to hire someone simply for the summer. Sure, I had friends who lied and claimed to be transferring back to the local state college. But, I don’t like lying. Plus, that’s really a trick you can use once (the employments options being limited in town).
What’s a geek girl to do?
Enter manual labor.
For a couple summers during college, I worked for Green Giant corn pack. It wasn’t difficult to get hired; it was clear after my first night that many people only worked one night (oh, yes, they started you on the night shift) and never came back.
They liked to put the newbies on the niblet cutter. If you were good, you could make extra money, move up the line for the more choice corn cobs to put through your cutter, to earn even more money. If you could swing it, it was a pretty sweet deal.
I, on the other hand, got motion sick. Standing still. I know. But watching the conveyer belt (with corn) move past was too much. Although at the time, I didn’t know I was about to faint.
Hey, I was in ROTC and soldier girls didn’t faint.
I did feel dizzy and went to sit down. As I headed for the bench, I remember thinking:
Oh, that bench is so far away … I think I’ll lie down on the floor right here.
Which I guess is how my brain rationalized falling down and thudding against the wet concrete. Some strapping young man picked me up and carried me to the office. (Actually, I don’t remember if he was strapping, but I’m hoping he was.)
Luck was with me. The shift ended early that night; I wasn’t fired. To my surprise, they said I could come back the next night and try a different station.
So I did. I became a “corn on the cob” selector. I worked with the husker, who caught all the corn that didn’t make it through the husking machine husk-free, pulled out stalks, etc. I was tasked with selecting the nicest, prettiest, most mouth-watering cobs to be frozen for year-round enjoyment. (Because sometimes you really want corn on the cob in February.)
Quite the responsibility–with just enough back and forth movement that I didn’t get motion sick. As an added bonus, during the rest of the year, whenever I passed the frozen food section, I could annoy friends/family with:
Hey, you know I could’ve touched that corn. Sure you don’t want to buy it?
I didn’t do much with my friends during the last part of summer. Twelve on/twelve off plus the hour bus ride to and from the factory doesn’t leave a lot of time. And maybe smelling like corn silage isn’t the way to attract a guy (unless he was working corn pack, too).
But, I got to know a lot of different people: housewives making extra money, migrant workers who followed various harvests, college students, college dropouts, high school kids, people at a crossroads.
And in mid-August, we were all up early enough that, together, we watched the Perseids Meteor Shower. We waited for the bus, chins tipped toward the sky, and for once, I don’t think any of us minded being there.
What about you? Have an interesting/sucky summer job story? Any unexpected benefits from one?