When school’s out, life lessons be­gin

Connecticut Post (Sunday) - - Sunday Arts & Style - Jim Shea is a life­long Con­necti­cut res­i­dent and journalist. He can be reached at jim­boshea@gmail.com and on Twit­ter @ jim­boshea.

The sum­mer job. Once you hit 16 or so it was re­quired. Some jobs worked out, some didn’t, some were too much like work. All, how­ever, were ed­u­ca­tional .

The only thing worse than hav­ing a hor­ri­ble sum­mer job, of course, was hav­ing no job. This brought your mother into the picture. Moth­ers, uni­ver­sally, seem to have a prob­lem with able- bod­ied teenagers stay­ing in bed un­til noon, and even larger is­sues with giv­ing said slacker spend­ing money.

But the sum­mer job was not just about money. It was also a first glimpse into real life. You dis­cov­ered things about your­self, about your bosses, about work­ing with the pub­lic. Lo these many years later, there are mem­bers of the pub­lic I still hate

What was your worst sum­mer job?

Look­ing back, I’d have to say mine was um­pir­ing.

I got what I thought would be an ex­cel­lent job one sum­mer um­pir­ing recre­ational league base­ball games. Al­though the job did in­volve stand­ing in the sun for long pe­ri­ods of time, there was no heavy lift­ing or rak­ing, which is the main thing to avoid when look­ing for a sum­mer job

The prob­lem with call­ing balls and strikes is that af­ter the new­ness of it wore off, I tended to lose fo­cus on the games. This re­sulted in nu­mer­ous bad calls. Coaches and play­ers be­came up­set. Twelve- year- olds used bad words to de­scribe my bad calls and even worse words to de­scribe me.

Life les­son: Kids can be cruel.

An­other sum­mer job I had in high school was pump­ing gas. This was back in days of yore be­fore uni­ver­sal self- ser­vice. Not only did you have to pump the right amount of gas to the penny, but you were also re­quired to wash the wind­shield and check the oil.

Check­ing the oil proved to be prob­lem­atic for me given dip­sticks were not all lo­cated in the same place, and rum­mag­ing around a hot en­gine look­ing for it was un­pleas­ant.

Life les­son: En­gine oil and trans­mis­sion fluid are not in­ter­change­able.

One sum­mer I had two jobs, al­though not, God for­bid, at the same time.

The first was col­lect­ing garbage. This in­volved go­ing into yards, dump­ing raw garbage ( no one used bags back then) into a large can­vas sack and lug­ging it back to the truck

Life Les­son: Break­fast is not the most im­por­tant meal of the day if you lose it.

My sec­ond job was work­ing in a fac­tory, feed­ing pieces into a ma­chine. The work was oily, noisy and mo­not­o­nous. For­tu­nately, I was still able to count to 10 on my fin­gers when it ended.

Life les­son: There are things worse than heavy lift­ing and rak­ing.

The third job was cut­ting grass at a park. This was the ideal job in that there was not a lot of su­per­vi­sion or ex­pec­ta­tions. Plus, you got to sit around all day when it rained.

Life les­son: That into ev­ery life a lit­tle rain must fall is not al­ways a bad thing.

Dur­ing col­lege I had three sum­mer jobs.

The first was on a sur­vey crew for a com­pany that built bridges. In sur­vey­ing, be­ing off tenths of an inch is a big deal. On one bridge abut­ment, we were off 10 inches. I was fired along with the guy re­spon­si­ble for the mis­take to ap­pease the union.

Life less: Life is not al­ways fair.

The next sum­mer I worked as a life­guard at the Jersey Shore. Be­cause of the rough surf the job proved to be more stress­ful than fun in the sun.

Life les­son: Peo­ple from New York City do not do well in the surf.

My fi­nal sum­mer be­fore grad­u­a­tion I worked as a bar­tender at the lo­cal col­lege wa­ter­ing hole. View­ing peo­ple from the sober side of the bar was en­light­en­ing, par­tic­u­larly at clos­ing time.

Life les­son: The only thing worse than hav­ing to deal with the pub­lic is hav­ing to deal with the pub­lic when the pub­lic is drunk.

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