Friday, September 17, 2010

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

I remember a conversation I had with my wife two summers ago.

It was August, and tensions in the house were high. In general, we rarely fight, but that summer was a series of little spats between grouchy spouses. On this particular day, my wife turned to me and said “You’re ready to go back to school, and we’re ready too.” It was then that I figured out why the summer had been such a bust.

It was the first summer since I had been 13 that I did not have a summer job.

Because I didn’t have something to keep me busy, I was slowly driving myself crazy (and I was taking my family along for the ride). Being a firm believer in the old adage “If history is forgotten, it is doomed to repeat itself,” I made damn sure I had a summer job lined up for this year.

Since I was an early teen, I’ve done everything from food service, to daycare, and even a little clerical office work. This year, however, I wanted something different – something that would get me outside and be mindless enough that I could still enjoy my summer vacation when my shift was done. This is how I found myself mowing lawns part time at a private golf course.

A rainy morning mowing the 16th green.

My shift began each morning at 6am on weekdays and 5:30am on weekends so that we could be finished by the time the first retiree hit off the first tee. The work was tedious and physically demanding. My boss, although fair and consistent, was meticulous and acute to every blade of grass on his golf course. This meant that every mistake, no matter how trivial, was noted and immediately addressed. I never realized how much work went into daily maintenance of a country club. I also didn’t realize how much of a travesty it was if I raked the sand trap in the wrong direction, or if I mowed an 1/8 of an inch into the collar of a green.

I did realize one thing though – how completely meaningless this job actually was. Did any of the golfers actually notice any of this stuff? Probably not.

Having this summer job proved valuable in three ways.

First, it kept my ADHD in check enough to allow me and my family to enjoy the summer recess. I got up early, and returned home each day feeling like I had accomplished something, all before my little ones were done eating breakfast.

Second, it made me realize how much I love teaching, and how thankful I am that it is the career path I chose to take. Some of my coworkers at the golf course were career men – they had been working the course for years. It was a sobering thought that my “recreational” summer job was their bread and butter.

Third, the golf course reminded me just how important my job as a teacher is. If I really screwed up a line while mowing one of the greens, the worst that would happen is it may throw off someone’s putt. The grass would keep growing, and 24 hours later re-mowed the correct way. Unfortunately life isn’t as forgiving for a student whose education has been misled in one way or another.

This is my first post of the 2010-2011 school year. I welcome everyone back, and may your year be as successful and rewarding as I hope mine will be!

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