Dignity greatest reward of summer work


They called me “The Trail Blazer”, Good Buddy.

It was on my citizens’ group radio in the summer of 1977 when the hit movie “Smokey and the Bandit” created a craze for BC and millions of kids like me dreamed of having one. To my surprise, my father allowed me to do this, even though I had to attach a large CB radio antenna on the roof of our house.

He saw CB radio as an opportunity for me to learn how to manage my own finances – how to open a bank account, plan ahead, find a job, and save money to achieve my goal. Too young to work in retail, I applied and got the only job available to me: picking up golf balls at a local driving range. Until summer came, when I could start later in the day and work more hours, I would wake up at 5.30am every morning before school and cycle two miles to the field. shooting.

I was given an aluminum tool as long as a golf club and shaped like a tennis ball box. It had three springs on the bottom. By pressing the tool onto a golf ball, the springs would retract and the ball would be captured. I was assigned a section of dewy grass the size of a football field and had an hour to complete the job – for which I was paid $ 1 (about $ 4 in money d ‘today).

Needless to say, I was going to have to work many unpleasant mornings to save enough for a CB radio, which if I remember correctly cost around $ 130 at the time. This memory came back to me when I read in a Yahoo News report that after the horrific shortage of summer jobs last summer, there were 1.2 million part-time jobs available. – more than the figures before the 2019 pandemic. But fewer adolescents are ready to accept such jobs.

According to the US Department of Labor, in 1978 about seven in ten teens like me had part-time jobs, but in recent years, before the pandemic, that number had dropped to four in ten. Why ? The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania said it was because more and more teens were doing internships or volunteering to bolster their college applications. In a sense, that means colleges are punishing kids who choose to work.

This is unfortunate, because summer jobs offer a treasure trove of real-world learning opportunities: how to plan and execute projects, collaborate with different personalities, and experience the satisfaction of trading your skills and work for real. money ringing and stumbling. When I received my first paycheck in 1977, I quickly realized that saving for my CB radio would be even more difficult than I expected. I was introduced to my three silent partners – federal, state, and local tax authorities – who didn’t have to cover their sneakers in dew to earn a portion of my $ 1 hourly wage.

By the end of the summer, however, I had finally saved enough to buy my CB radio. It was one of the most rewarding purchases I have ever made – because I built my dignity one lousy golf ball at a time. In the long run, dignity is the biggest reward of a summer job. I highly recommend taking one, Young Buddies.

Tom Purcell is an author and humorous columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Email him at [email protected]


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