Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Summer 2K12: Honest Work

Because Rainy Days and Mondays always get us down around here, I (Ingrid, esteemed daughter of Lara) will be posting on Mondays this month, each week thinking of something that makes summer particularly summery. This week I'm thinking of summer employment.

Ah, the elusive summer job. I spent the better part of this summer in the dark corners of Craigslist seeking a part-time position to supplement my unpaid internship at BYU’s Museum of Art. It’s always been a little troubling to me that in order to graduate a qualified job candidate, I need to spend my summers working for free-- the whole internship thing feels like an elaborate heist for free labor. In any case, my Craigslist journey finally found me working as a receptionist at High Country Adventure, a grungy establishment that rents out tubes, kayaks, and rafts to folks who want to take them down the Provo River. Because it’s the job that everyone but me hates and because I don’t have a smartphone with which to ring people up/schedule appointments with (the fact that having a smartphone is a prerequisite to being successful at an entry-level job is its own can of worms), I tend to be assigned to be the parking attendant-- we don’t have any real parking lots on our grounds, rather we have a few spaces where the shrubbery is lower than in other places and we send cars there. Here are some important things I’ve learned in my parking journey:

1: It’s easy to start saying “y’all” a lot when you hang out with folks who drop their g's and enjoy recreational activities that start in a trailer (I'm not stereotyping here-- literally, the office at my workplace is a trailer). The demographic I work with is Utahns with tattoos and I find myself adopting their accent toward the end of my shift. In particular because I say the same words over and over again (reciting the route and practice involved in convenient and ethical parkin' here at High Country). I'm hoping this isn't appropriative-- enough people at Bryn Mawr assume I'm from some backwater compound that maybe I'm allowed to use the word "y'all"?

2: Sitting by a river all day, sending people down a river all day, and listening to a river all day are all good ways to get in touch with an excellent collection of songs. Something about the river is deeply inspiring to people-- see my favorite example below:

3: Only a jerk doesn't smile back if you smile at them first. Every time a car pulls in to the gravel road I rise from my lawn chair, take off my sunglasses, and saunter over to the car (read: truck) in question. If I smile and say, "Y'all have a reservation today?" the driver will smile and say, "Yes ma'am!" and if I make a face like an underpaid college student who has been sitting in the sun for a few hours and say, "Y'all have a reservation today?" the driver will make a face like someone who is about to try to be instructed to "go on ahead and wedge yourself between that there maroon polygamist van and the large bush near the river" and say, "Yes ma'am." If I act like the car in question is the car I've been waiting for all day and like I cannot wait for their epic river adventure to begin, people consistently park in better accordance with my instruction (even when my instruction involves "try to park as high up on the hill as you can and park straight and tight for me, kay?") This was also something I noticed last summer at my internship in Camden, NJ when I was soliciting interviewees on the street and trying to get around on public transportation every day. Most people have a reflex to smile back when smiled at which makes it easier for me to ask them to do something for me. 

4: The sun's rays do indeed change the color of one's skin. Ask me about my gnarly ombre upper thighs caused by Daisy Dukes (essentially part of the uniform) of varying lengths or the foot tan line I have from the leather t-strap shoes I wear to work. Note Tim McGraw's powerful musical illustration of a young woman's "suntan lines and red lipstick", which has come to be a very apt description of my Summer'12 look: 

And finally, a few quips from my favorite customers: 

Me: "Y'all have a reservation?" 
Gentleman: "Like an Indian reservation?" 

My favorite High Country bus driver: "How's my sun goddess doin'?" 

Gentleman: "You sure look pretty today!" (how did he know that I looked particularly pretty that day? He doesn't know what I look like most days! I hope!) 

Same Gentleman: "And you got butterflies in your ears to boot!" 

Same Gentleman, seriously laying it on thick: "Your smile has been the best part of my day!" 

(Should I feel harassed by this stuff? I never know. I just say thank you because at least they're not coming back and telling me that the lot I sent them to was full or not a real parking lot or something.) 

Also, several drunken teenagers have shouted while driving out of the lot, "I love you!" I just assume they're talking to the Daisy Dukes. 


  1. Brilliant--funny--insightful. So Ingy!

    1. A very vivid picture of a job you make interesting, Ingrid. I don't know whether to be disappointed or glad you had nothing to say about your summer pet and housesitting job!