posted by Joe Anaya on July 1st, 2013

We are well into summer, as evidenced by the record heat waves in different parts of the country. Kids are on summer vacation and teens are filling their bank accounts from summer jobs.

The best summer job I ever had was working on the school landscape maintenance crew. I worked with my friend Kevin C. It started in the morning where we’d check in with our boss and he’d assign a project to us. Usually it was to pull weeds from a section of grass around the campus. We’d get the wheel barrel and shovels and trowels and find a shady patch of grass in the area we were assigned. Kevin C. and I would plop ourselves down near some weeds and methodically dig out the stubborn dandelions and what not. Pitching the unwanted invaders into the wheel barrel. The whole time BSing about girls, music or sports, this or that.

When the wheel barrel got full or we got hungry, we’d take the wheel barrel behind the school to dump it in the designated area which happened to be immediately to the left of a blackberry bush. We’d spend a few minutes there eating handfuls of blackberries, trying to find the perfect ones. Soft but not mushy, dark but not black. We knew we had a good one when they fell off the prickly vine with a slight tug.

We’d go back to our areas, shift our weeding spot to wherever the shade had moved to and start over. By midday, even though we were in the shade, it would get hot, so we would spend time “adjusting” the sprinklers. Mostly, we’d fiddle with the swinging hammer part of the impact sprinklers. Or spin the sprinklers around to get each other wet. Trying to drink from the high-pressure water system was always a challenge, but well worth the risk. And even if we failed to get much water in our mouths, we’d at least cool off in the process.

And so it went, day after day, with a few miscellaneous distractions thrown in to break up the routine. There was the time, a pipe burst in the boys’ locker and we were assigned to mop up the water. Or the time the assistant vice principal came by because he heard that I knew about betting on horses. We spent a good 40 minutes perusing the daily racing form discussing possible bets. All in all, I can’t think of a better way for a teenager to make a little spending money during the hot summer days.

File Under Working Stiff