Summer jobs come in many forms. The majority of my friends work in food service, as lifeguards, or as camp counselors while they enjoy the precious months off from high school or college. However, I firmly believe that you are missing out on a truly unique experience if you have never considered working in maintenance.
I work for the maintenance department of my hometown, Newcomb, N.Y., which is a small town in the center of the Adirondack Mountains. I spend my summers mowing and weed whacking lawns, painting buildings and signs, watering flowers, taking out the town garbage, up keeping the town beach, maintaining town cemeteries, and many more tasks that ensure the town looks nice for the droves of tourists that visit during the months of July and August. At my job, I spend a significant amount of time working in the hot sun and dealing with pesky deerflies and the occasional surprise wasp nest. I sweat more than a human being probably should and I end up having to drink what seems like gallons of water a day. However, despite the unpleasant, non-air conditioned working environment, I always look forward to going to work every day.
I just finished my last full day working for my town as I have to go back to college this week. I thought it would be a good time to reflect on a great summer and list all the reasons why I love working in summer maintenance. I highly suggest applying for the job if your town, or a business near you, offers a similar position to students.
1. You Get a pretty sick farmer's tan.
If you have never heard the expression “farmer’s tan” before, you will after working in the sun all day. A lot of people prefer a full body tan, but nothing says “hard work” like a dark farmer’s tan.
2. Exercise is unavoidable.
For people like me out there who are extremely unmotivated to exercise during the hot summer, a maintenance job is a gift from the gym gods. I am always moving at work, whether I am raking the town beach each morning, weed whacking a steep incline, or running around a cemetery picking up flowers and grave decorations so the tombstones can be mowed around. There is always a task to keep us moving no matter what.
3. Rainy days are like Christmas.
Working in the sun is good and all (the farmer’s tan is worth it), but the hot sun and sweating gallons a day gets old after a while. My coworkers and I always look forward to rainy days because it gives us a chance to stay inside for the day or even miss work if the weather is bad enough. However, I cannot say that every maintenance boss would keep you inside on a rainy day. I cannot guarantee that your boss will be as nice as mine is.
4. Law-required breaks.
At my job, we have to take multiple breaks during the day to make sure that we don’t overwork ourselves. Breaks are great to have some coffee and play some cards, specifically Pitch. I rarely meet people that know how to play Pitch, therefore work breaks are the only time out of the year where I get to play.
5. I always have my afternoons off.
Maintenance workers tend to get working early while it is still cool outside and people are still asleep. I get to work at six a.m. and I am always done by 2:30 p.m., which guarantees my afternoons off to go do stuff with friends or work a second job if I need to.
6. The pay is very good.
Workers at my job start off at $10 an hour and the pay goes up a dollar per hour each year. We are paid a good wage for the work we do and having the afternoon off allows for another job, meaning more money!
7. Mowing is the best part.
Why wouldn’t we love mowing? We can sit down all day and actually be productive! The only negative of mowing is staying in the sun all day which always does a number on my sensitive skin.
8. My bosses have great senses of humor.
They always pull tricks on us and joke around with us. We are usually handed shock pens to fill out our time cards. Once a year, they hook a hose up to the roof of our break room and turn it on when we sit down for break. These jokes and pranks always keep us on our toes. It is actually fun to get pranked now and then.
9. There are plenty of opportunities for practical jokes of our own.
We come up with a lot of pranks, like putting spiders in desk drawers or throwing the occasional firecracker at each other. The best was when my friend threw a smoke bomb near a vacuum cleaner and convinced a coworker that she set the vacuum on fire. We do anything to keep work interesting.
10. We are rarely bored.
There is always something to do and none of the work is particularly boring. Weed whacking can get boring, but it is better than not working at all. I hate the feeling of being bored and fortunately I have never felt bored during the three summers I have worked there.
11. We get to work in beautiful surroundings.
The Adirondacks are filled with beautiful scenery and I get the privilege to work around it all the time. I get to gaze at the mountains every time we go on a garbage run. We get to work on lakes and mountain trails. The nature is beautiful and the environment is relaxing and serene. I consider myself lucky to work for Newcomb’s maintenance department.