Summer vacation is in 9 days!
I didn’t become a teacher because I have two and a half months off, but I will admit, it’s a perk.
I’ve never been really good with downtime though. Two days without anything to do, and you’ll find me depressed and comatose on the couch, entranced in my third season of “When Calls the Heart” (early 20th century urban socialite turns frontier school teacher, falls in love with a sexy Canadian Mountie) or something similarly appalling.
To avoid this situation (and to make extra cash), I have always worked during the summer.
After my first year of teaching, I was hired to sing the “Good Morning Song” every day to a group of 6-year old nonverbal children with severe autism. In all honesty, I was hired to teach, not to sing, but the paraprofessional was insistent that I follow the classroom routine, and this meant that I had to master the words and the signs for that delightful tune. Nobody should have to spend their summer listening to me sing.
Another year, I tended bar at a local golf course. That was fairly miserable. We had a strict, one-bag of ice policy for the golfers, and I thought this was ridiculous. Ice is water, yes? Is water so expensive that, on a 90-degree day, we can’t give the golfers a second bag of ice for their coolers? Ughh. Well, I stayed there for the summer, but the ice was a constant issue for me. Like a toddler caught coloring a wall or something, I was caught more than once giving away too much ice.
It all fell apart during Labor Day weekend. “The. golfers. only. get. one. bag. of. ice. ONE BAG OF ICE! DO I HAVE TO WRITE THAT ON THE WALL IN LIPSTICK FOR YOU TO UNDERSTAND THAT?” my angry misogynist manager screamed at me. It was September anyhow, and I thought it was probably a good a time as any to end of my bartending career.
For several years, I spent my summers teaching graduate students at Pitt. I worked with a couple of other doctoral students to run these summer reading institutes for elementary kids in the city. This was a lot less miserable than bartending at the golf course. Little kids read great books, graduate students learned how to teach. Overall, it wasn’t a bad gig. Still, it was work… a lot of hard work.
The most interesting summer job I had was definitely last year, when I somehow managed to procure a position teaching students how to take apart computers. Because I’m completely qualified for that.
We were actually working on job skills, and technically speaking, I do have qualifications for that type of instruction. However, I still find it slightly humorous when I picture myself , four teenagers of transition age, and an ASL interpreter removing the hard drive and RAM from over 300 laptops.
This year, I don’t have a summer job. The students with whom I normally work are doing other things, and I made it decidedly clear to anybody who asked that I was taking a summer off. After 13 years, I don’t feel guilty.
What I am going to do, however, is attempt to cultivate this little business I have begun. When I am writing or building or learning HTML for my website, I work for myself. I don’t fill out time sheets, and there’s nobody telling me I have to show up. I just do it.
There’s just something about self-employment that energizes me. It’s definitely not monetary. Maybe it’s the sweatpants I get to wear. Or the coffee. More likely though, it’s feeling a sense of tangible accomplishment. And a bit of pride. Yep. I’m looking forward to my summer. What about you?
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