Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Marilyn Moment

When making a list of interesting summer jobs, ask a teacher. Unfortunately, teachers must supplement their income, and the best way to do it is to have a job during the summer. I am at the point on the teacher pay scale that I can survive the summer without getting a job during the summer(barely), but it wasn't always that way. I have had my fair share of summer jobs. Luckily, I was able to keep the same job each summer over a long period of time. I have had three summer jobs: I have worked for Phoenix Parks and Recreation, I have worked for a company teaching English to Japanese college students, and I have sold vans.

I have worked since the age of sixteen. My first summer job was working for Phoenix Parks and Recreation. I wasn't a park ranger. I was a Sorry player. I mean the game of Sorry. I worked at the summer recreation programs where I played Sorry and Monopoly all day with kids. For eight summers I was paid to play games with kids. I love to play games, but to this day I can't stand to look at a game of Sorry. My private hell would be being locked in a room with nothing to do, but play Sorry. We also showed movies every Friday. Every summer I had to watch The Blob starring a very young Steve McQueen. Thirty years later I can still recite lines from the movie, "But, Steve what about the little dog?"

I spent about eight summers teaching English to Japanese college students. I worked for a company called Pacific American Institute. Not only did I teach English to the students I also found homes for the students to stay in for the duration of their visit. They came to Arizona for three weeks in August! AUGUST! The worst time of the year to experience weather in Phoenix, Arizona is August. I wish I knew then what I know now about teaching English Language Learners.

The children in Japan are expected to learn English. They take English classes starting in middle school. But they have no experience using it until they come to the United States. The English they learn and the English Americans use are two different things. America is a land of idiomatic phrases and slang that changes yearly. American slang is a difficult "language" to learn and teach.

Things one needs to know when teaching English to Japanese students are: they confuse l and r sounds, and don't ask a question in the negative. It didn't matter how much I worked with the students on the l and r sounds they still asked to have lice (rice) for dinner and they loved to go boring (bowling). Never ask someone from Japan, "Don't you know how to swim?" because they will answer yes which will be confused for ,"Yes, I do know how to swim," but what they really mean is, "Yes, I don't know how to swim." This can be problem in a city filled with swimming pools.

I was a car salesman. Actually, I was a van salesman. I sold van conversions for handicapped individuals. I was sure this was the job that I was going to make my first million on during the summer. I thought I was going to make so much at this summer job that I could teach for free. WRONG! I am a lousy salesman. Salesmen are bullshitters, well, actually, liars. I can bullshit with the best of them, but I can't lie. I would tell the customers everything I wasn't "suppose" to tell them. I sold vans for three summers and I think I sold three vans in three summers which is not a good sales record. I never got salesman of the month, but I did have a Marilyn Monroe moment.

I sold most vans over the phone. There aren't many van conversion companies in the United States, so most sales are done long distances. This involves taking pictures of the process and sending it to the customer. I was big on dressing professionally which was somewhat dumb because no on ever saw me except the conversion guys in the back. Every day I wore dresses with heels. I don't know how women can handle standing in heels all day because my feet killed me sitting in heels all day.

One day I had to go in the back to check on the progress of a van. I was wearing my usual dress with a full skirt and heels. The back garage did not have air conditioning. It had coolers that blew moist air into the building. Unknown to me there was a spot in the garage where the air hit the ground and blew up, an updraft. Of course I rolled myself right on top of that updraft, and my dress blew up over my head! Remember that Marilyn Monroe photo, red dress, heating grate, her holding the dress down so very sexily? That wasn't me. I had a fuchsia dress completely covering my head exposing everything I own to the workers in the garage. I very ungracefully and with zero sex appeal removed the dress from my head and scanned the garage like a audience member at a ping pong match to see if anyone had seen what had just happened. Happily, I noticed there was no one around me. As I tried to professionally exit the garage without anyone seeing my fuchsia face which matched my fuchsia dress perfectly, one of the guys came up to me and said, "That updraft is a bitch isn't it?"

Paco's Perspective

Now your summer job is to take me to Montana to see Osa. Is it summer yet?

The Flip Side

Where is Montana and who is Osa?

1 comment:

  1. Hahahaha!!! I had a Marilyn moment going down the far East staircase at Tomahawk. On a very windy day. In front of 5th graders at PE! Could have been worse, I suppose, but I'm still trying to figure out how.