As summer starts to roll around I got to thinking about how I have spent my summer vacations. Growing up I always looked forward to the end of the school year. While I am no proponent of having year long schools I think schools did many of us a disservice. Well, I think they did a lot of disservices but the one I am thinking about now concerns summer vacations. School let us out from mid June till after Labor Day and while that was my favorite part of the year it did do some major imprinting on me.
Most of the work force gets two weeks off that they can arrange most any time of the year. I grew up with two and half months off in the summer, two in the winter and another two in the spring. I think that is a model the work force ought to consider, but since they didn’t I had to find a job that meet that standard. I, like a lot of teachers I know, became a teacher in large part for the time off. As much as teachers love to teach they really do get excited this time of year when they think about that open stretch of time in front of them. I’ve said this before but the teaching profession is the only profession I know where a good portion of the employees took the job for the time away from the job more than the time at the job.
Back when I was a high school student and not concerned about what I would do after I graduated I got my first summer job working at the beach. I had the honor of working at a food booth serving hot dogs, hamburgers, malts and lots of French fries. Most of the day things were pretty slow moving, but when lunch time rolled around we would have four of us each handling a window. We would take orders, yell them out to the “chef,” pour the drinks, grab the fries and collect the money. Sometimes the lines would get ten deep.
When I first got the job I would haul ass trying to fill those orders and would take some pride when I could see my line was moving faster than the others. But, then I noticed something. People would move from the slower moving line over to mine. My going fast made no difference in my paycheck and in fact the reward of my efforts was I got to do more work. I mention this to help you understand why that person taking your order at the ballpark or beach stand is in no hurry to help you.
The lesson I learned at that job was further underscored when I had the opportunity to work for the United States Navy where it quickly became apparent that there was no advantage in doing your work quickly as they too would only give you more work. Fortunately, I have managed to have some jobs that reward effort, but I have also been able to master the ability to look busy while doing nothing.
So as summer rolls around I am going to take some time off. Thankfully I won't be needing to look busy while doing nothing, but I do plan to do nothing. I will also be doing a lot of writing and ought to be having a book or two making its way into the world that you might want to take to the beach and read while your waiting in line for your lunch.