College Wisdom Seldom Exercised in the Summer

College Wisdom Seldom Exercised in the Summer

From Chicken Soup for the College Soul

College Wisdom Seldom Exercised
in the Summer

It’s time once again for college students to be reminded of the Law of Diminishing Tuition Fruition.

This is the law that says: “The twenty thousand dollars you spent on your education this past year renders you worthless in the real world this summer.”

Mother Nature reminds college students of this law each May through a phenomenon called “the summer job.”

The summer job has two purposes. It allows the college student to earn one-millionth of the money he’ll be needing to get through the next school year. And it reminds him that he’s got absolutely nothing on the ball as far as Summer Job Bosses are concerned.

I had more summer jobs than I care to remember. I was a maid, a waitress, a telephone operator, a waitress, a salesperson, a waitress, a clerk, a waitress and a waitress another six or so times.

The odd thing was, it didn’t matter what the job was because I always did the same thing: I always did whatever no one else wanted to do!

As a resort waitress one summer, it was my job to make the orange juice in the morning. This wasn’t just ordinary orange juice. It came in cans the size of driveway-sealer containers that I believe were stored on Pluto to make sure the juice was definitely and thoroughly frozen.

My work involved making orange juice with a sledge hammer. After two weeks, when I began looking like Hulk Hogan, I decided tomake a suggestion. This made me nervous, but I took the chance, as I was so big and strong by then.

“Wouldn’t it be easier to defrost this stuff the night before?” I said.

“What are you, a college wise guy?” sneered the boss. “We serve fresh frozen orange juice here, not defrosted frozen orange juice. Now bang on it.”

Probably the worst summer job I ever had was the year I was the Wink Girl.

Wink was a soft drink during the 1960s that never made it. My job was to dress up in an outfit that looked like a Wink can—a lime green skirt and yellow polyester top— and promote the product by driving around with the Wink Man in the Wink Truck.

I never knew where the Wink Man came from. He looked like the type of gentleman who knew where a lot of bodies were buried in landfills. I always suspected he was given the identity of Wink Man under the Federal Witness Protection Program after he squealed on “the boss.” Anyway, he just drifted into the local employment office one day looking for a Wink Girl.

Our job was to stop the Wink Truck wherever there might be thirsty people so that the Wink Girl—me—could give out free samples of Wink while theWinkMan—him— studied his racing form in the truck.

On my first day, the Wink Man had a problem with my performance. We were parked in front of a high school as summer school let out, and I was pouring little samples as fast as my spigot could handle.

The Wink Man called me around the front of the truck.

“Wink,” he said.

“What?” I said.

“You have to wink when you give out the soda,” he said. “It’s part of the job.”

“But young boys consider winking an invitation of sorts,” I said.

“What are you, a college wise guy?” he sneered. “You’re the Wink Girl. You wink.”

So I went back and began winking at high school boys. All that summer I winked at teenagers, old ladies, construction workers and small children. My left eye was exhausted by the end of each day, but I had a lot of dates.

My own boy is going through this summer-job ordeal right now. Last summer, his job was “mudbuster.”

“That’s my title,” he told me when he got the job.

“Mudbuster.”

At work, he asked for an explanation of his duties.

“What’s the job description?” he asked. “I mean, what does a mudbuster do?”

“Go over there and bust up that mud, boy,” the boss told him.

“Why?” asked my boy.

“What are you, a college wise guy?” he sneered. “You think you’re too good for busting mud?”

“No, sir,” said my boy, who was taught to be respectful of all life forms. “It’s just that a worker is generally more productive when he understands the purpose of his task.”

“Bust the mud,” said his boss. My boy busted a mountain of mud that summer, and he never did learn what the boss wanted it for.

I don’t know what he’ll be doing this summer, but I figure he’s qualified to be a waiter—as long as his duties are limited to busting orange juice.

Beth Mullally

More stories from our partners