Well, I have a job lined up after graduation. I will be working as a lab technician under the supervision of a woman at the Medical Center. She is a computational biologist; it will be my job to give her some data to fit to her models. I’m really excited, but I’m also really scared. Any time you venture out to do something new, it’s always nerve-wracking.
This also got me thinking about all of the past jobs I’ve held. While there is no denying that the job I have now can be a bit monotonous and boring, it is by no means the worst job that I have ever had. That title belongs to my first job, when I was 17 and working at the Unadilla Drive-In, located less than a mile from my childhood home. It was convenient so I applied. All of the other workers were also students that attended my high school, Unatego (except for two, one who was home-schooled and lived across the road from my family, and the other had just graduated from Unatego). Working with my classmates was fun, and it allowed us to forge a bond over how craptastic the job was. During the first part of the summer, I would show up to work between 6pm and 7pm. (It was a drive-in theater, so my “workday” didn’t start until just before sundown.) We would proceed to clean the concession stand and then clean the bathrooms. I often chose to clean the bathrooms so I could get away from the manager, who was not always the nicest person to be around.
It was an awful task. Cleaning most bathrooms is not terrible. Once in a while they get pretty nasty, and you deal with it. This was not true of the Drive-In’s bathrooms. The ladies’ room consistently had poo sliding down the wall at any given moment you walked in. I don’t even understand how that happens, unless your bowels literally explode. I’m just going to assume that no one was actually taking the poo and throwing it. (Also, I don’t think the bathrooms had changed since the 1950s, when the place opened. Of course, now they boast on their website “newly remodeled rest rooms”.) The men’s bathroom always smelled like urine, even after we scrubbed and mopped with bleach solution. It was nauseating. (An aside: Can one of you males out there please explain to me how pubic hair gets all over the urinals? Do you rip it out and place it gingerly around the edges? Or does it just fall out? You know what? I don’t really want to know. I’m sorry I asked.) Keep in mind that I chose this over being in the same vicinity as the manager; this will be an important detail for later in the story. Of course, after I finished cleaning bathrooms, I scrubbed my hands
with acid really well, put on a fresh pair of plastic gloves, and put together people’s orders. So if someone ordered a soda, the person at the register would tell me what to get, and I would get it for them. I touched the register maybe twice while I worked there. That was fine with me. At the end of the summer, I got “promoted” to popcorn duty, after the old popcorn guy went back to college. So my new task was cleaning the popcorn machine everyday and making enough popcorn so that orders didn’t get backed up. Some nights were okay, and other nights…demand was just too high, and I couldn’t keep up. Actually, I did okay, but the popcorn machine was slow.
One of the tasks that we had to perform on occasion was combing the lot for garbage and cigarette butts. This might have been as bad as cleaning the bathrooms. You always found at least one used condom laying somewhere on the ground. As I recall, part of this task was to try to collect the most cigarette butts in order to be awarded some kind of “honor”. I don’t remember what the prize was, but I know that I never got it.
Halfway through the summer, one girl just couldn’t take it anymore. I think she might have had a breakdown in the concession stand. The work itself was mostly easy, with the exception that you typically finished the night physically exhausted because of all the running around. But the manager was pretty mean, and drove this poor girl to tears. The girl stopped showing up to work after that. Then, a few weeks later, my friend (who essentially got me the job) also decided to quit. This was actually her second year working there, and I guess she couldn’t take it anymore either. I ended up sticking it out, no matter how miserable it made me. It was worth it for the paycheck and the easy work schedule. Back then, I was practically nocturnal, so staying up until nearly 2am for work was fine with me. And being a high school student, you don’t require a large budget, so I actually ended up saving quite a bit of money that summer, even though I only worked a few hours mostly on Fridays and Saturdays.
Since then, my jobs have been much more enjoyable. My current job is pretty great and I might even miss it when I’m gone. The women in my office are both friendly and entertaining, but also very accommodating to my crazy schedule as a student.
I look forward to my new job. It will be an exciting endeavor.