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Making beds (CJ #3)

College Job #3

My 18-year-old self naively assumed once I left my parents’ home for college, I was out–gone, coming back just for holidays and special events. And as my freshman spring semester came to a close, and others in my dorm were packing up to head home for summer break, I realized I needed to do something about my living situation. Stat!

As I was footing the bill for my education, I figured taking summer school classes would accelerate how quickly I could graduate. (I ended up taking six credits of coursework in summer session #1, followed by another six credits in summer session #2 — yeah, I was busy.) As I didn’t have a car, the most logical thing to do was find some way to live on campus, and that’s just what I did.

UMCP wisely rented out their various buildings, facilities and dorms to various groups during the summer months and, in essence, ran a hotel service for the event participants who usually came for a few days and up to a week. The university needed people to clean the dorm rooms between groups and clean the bathrooms on a daily basis. Mopping floors and such was probably also on the to-do list, though I don’t have much memory of this job because I found a loophole and took advantage of it.

My payment was, of course, minimum wage ($3.35/hour), but it also included free rent for the summer, and I got a whole baby-blue-painted, cement-block dorm room to myself! It was mostly out-of-state and out-of-country students who took advantage of these jobs so they could have secure housing over the summer months.

Technically, I was supposed to work 10 or 15 hours a week, but I hated the work. I really did. I didn’t mind cleaning my stuff and my space, but I really didn’t like cleaning other people’s stuff and other people’s spaces. One of my dorm-floor neighbors also hired for the same work was desperate for more hours, so I happily gave her mine. All of them. I waited to see if we’d get in trouble or if anyone would give me grief for not doing my allotted hours, but no one seemed to care as long as the work got done.

I had previously discovered the food co-op in the Student Union building–a bastion of super-crunchy, granola-loving, left-leaning hippies working in a true co-op which was “owned by the workers,” and they had a generous program where you could work and earn food credit. I did that. Quite often actually. I much preferred the company, the work and the environment of the co-op, and I lived off of their deluxe-to-me sandwiches, thick with humus, sprouts, shredded carrots, havarti cheese and maybe even a slice or two of turkey meat. I’d also get bags of trail mix or some purportedly healthy snack and that would keep me going.

Heading into my first experience with summer school, I hadn’t really understood what it would mean to take a semester-long class (16 weeks) scrunched into a six-week curriculum, but I learned, and quickly. I also took advanced courses in the 300 and 400 range as a rising sophomore. Why? I don’t know, but I did. Back to back I did that: six credits (two classes) followed by six more credits and two more classes, all in about 12 weeks. It was a busy summer.

Sometimes I think that summer helped me be a better writer as I was regularly staring at homework deliverables such as a 10-page paper due for Class #1 followed by a similar paper due the next (or same) week for Class #2. On and on it went. Me and my Brother Cassette Correction Electric Typewriter.

Oh, yes! I had a correction cartridge(!) — very fancy and modern. None of this white-out gloop for me. And I had (oh, I ever so loved it) a blue cartridge and a green cartridge. Maybe a red one, too, I don’t remember the red, though I do remember the blue and the green and the corrector cartridges.

With this ever-so-modern Brother Cassette Correction Electric Typewriter I had to think, compose and type … in one fell swoop. No time for drafts. Just think, write, submit it and start on the next paper. With lots of reading, class attendance and studying for quizzes and tests in between.

That summer between my freshman and sophomore years–the summer when I was supposed to be making beds and cleaning dorm rooms, but instead knocked out 24 credits (more than most sane people would ever take in one semester)–was quite an experience in focus-focus-focus!

I did that once and had no desire to repeat a summer, or experience, like that again.



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