Did You Ever Try to Reinvent Yourself Over the Summer?

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Summer makes me restless: There’s so much I want to do and see now that the cold, soggy, rainy weather doesn’t make me want to curl up indoors all day and stay in bed. But that restless, excitable summer feeling reminds me of another, more irrational urge I’ve gotten a few times in my life, especially when I was in school: the feeling of wanting to come back from the summer a totally new person. It’s like, I’d be totally fine, but then the thought of a new semester would creep in, and I’d start to replay all of last year’s dumb mistakes in my head and suddenly I’d blurt out: “Okay, this year I’m getting BANGS and everything will be different.”

I did that once—got bangs—in college, but I wasn’t satisfied, so I went to the hair salon and told them to cut off all my hair. By the time summer was over and I was back at school, I’d realized a pixie cut required entirely too much maintenance for me, and I spent roughly the next 12 months growing my hair out, watching it go through various stages of mullet-ness. In short, nothing was different, just my hair, because I had a mullet.

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But I digress—the impulse to change oneself is one that can spring itself on you unexpectedly and seemingly without rhyme or reason. And it can lead to some pretty poorly thought-out or disastrous lifestyle changes, like getting a nose ring (also did that), telling yourself you’re only going to wear hoop earrings and fitted culottes now, or maybe committing to speaking in an accent and pretending like that’s just the way you’ve been all along. Sometimes these are fine and sometimes they blow up in your face. I want to hear what happened to you!

Now let’s look at the best answers from last week’s question , which was about your most grueling summer jobs.

Handling rotting milk sounds... grueling, yeah, I’m sorry, Springboard:

I have horrible memories of working in a milk bottling factory one summer as a teenager. Hours screwing caps onto bottles; pushing carts, empty and full, up and down the factory; loading and emptying trucks. All in a half inch of watered down milk, the building built on a slight slope so that everything washes away. It put me off milk for months after, especially the smell. The final straw was being told to enter the maze of milk crates out the back, to empty the contents so the bottles could be reused or recycled. The crates of bottled milk, which had sat full in the summer sun, and which had now separated, far beyond curds and whey, and was rotting vigorously. The stench was unimaginable and clung to me; I would have stunk of it, even if I had managed to avoid getting it on me. After doing it for far longer than any sensible person would have, I walked away and didn’t even try to get paid for the hours I’d worked that day.

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PEOPLE EDITED THE PHONE BOOK? Do they still do this?? Thank you for sharing, kiisseli:

had a summer job EDITING A PHONE BOOK. I was given a printed stack about 18" tall, 10 pt font, of requested edits and flagged formatting errors in the previous year’s version, then I used extremely janky software to fix it.

It took me 6 weeks when it was supposed to take 4 months. I then had to try and figure out how to look busy in a half-height cubicle for over two and a half months.

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You had me a Yogi Bear-themed campground, which sounds terrible:

It was the Yogi bear themed campground from hell, circa 1991. The late spring work consisted of raking, raking, and then more palm-blistering back-splitting raking. Once the weather warmed and the campers arrived there were fun activities like luaus, limbo contests, live bands, and hay rides... but not for me. I spent 8 out of every 12 hour shift scrubbing bathrooms (I was hired as a lifeguard NOT maintenance) and the other 4 hours sweeping the pool area, schlepping soft serve cones and dragging around paddle boats. The task assigning manager thoroughly loathed me for some reason, so I was always given morning cleanup AFTER the big fun parties, but never allowed to work the actual parties. I wasn’t part of the “in” crowd so I didn’t get invited to any of the staff shenanigans off site, but was subjected to the retelling of all the tales. It all came to a crashing halt after a 12 foot long bench I was moving (unassisted) flipped over onto my bare foot and they expected me to be back at 8 the next morning. I left and never went back. I worked there from April through mid August and I didn’t work ONE minute as a lifeguard. The only ray of sunshine in this shit-storm is that I never had to wear one of those disgusting bear costumes!

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There’s no way that’s not a workplace safety violation, fiberman:

I did my undergrad work at a state university that operated a hospital and a couple of conference facilities. I couldn’t get a summer job at either of those places. To handle the linens for these places, the university also ran a commercial-scale laundry facility. That’s where I worked.

The work was generally more mind-numbingly dull than grueling, and it would have been easy to space out and live in my head while feeding fabric into a giant ironing machine, if not for the occasional used suture needle hiding in the laundry. Nothing like the risk of blood-borne illness to keep you paying attention.

This was long enough ago that an accidental needle stick meant a trip to the hospital for a tetanus booster instead of months of panic at the possibility of exposure to HIV or hepatitis (the risk of exposure to those things was nonzero, we just didn’t know it yet).

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Til next week!

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