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THE VALUE OF HARDWORK
SUMMER JOBS, AWESOME AND AWFUL
Summer may be associated with vacation and free time, but when I was growing up, it also meant summer jobs. I’m grateful for the work experiences I had as a kid. They instilled in me the value of hard work and gave me the chance to develop some unique skills. I may not use all of those skills today, but I still have them in my back pocket. Unless you’re extremely lucky, you’ve had a job that you hated. For me, that was bagging groceries at Albertsons one summer. As you can imagine, it was far from thrilling. The first few weeks were okay, when I was still figuring out the best strategy for stacking milk, eggs, and produce in the same bag. Pretty quickly, though, I was going through the motions. This summer was long before the days when people worried about bag consumption, so double-bagging was a consistent occurrence. I know one thing for certain: If I never have to say “paper or plastic?” again, I won’t mind. Slightly more exciting were the summers I spent on my uncle’s potato farm. They could always use someone to do a little grunt work. As a nephew, I was pretty cheap labor. Most of my time there was spent working on irrigation. That might sound glamorous, but when I say “irrigation,” what I really mean is “moving pipes around.” Nevertheless, it was great to work alongside family, and the gig offered me the chance to learn a little about agriculture and Idaho’s most iconic export.
Of course, I didn’t spend every hour of my summer on the clock. Some of my best summer memories are the times I spent camping with my family throughout the Northwest. Being out in the wilderness was so relaxing, especially when compared to bagging groceries for eight hours. Another favorite activity was riding my motorbike. In particular, I will never forget biking the St. Anthony Sand Dunes, where the open space meant I could cut loose without fear. This year, I’ve already had a new summer experience: sturgeon fishing. Oregon opened up sturgeon fishing for six days and allowed you to keep sturgeon 44–50 inches in length. I felt lucky just to be able to go and even luckier that I brought home a sturgeon. I’m hoping to provide my kids with a lasting memory when we go to Rexburg to watch the solar eclipse. Apparently, it will be one of the best places in the country to view this once-in-a-lifetime occurrence. Rexburg, a town of about 50,000 people, is expecting 10 times that for the eclipse. Luckily, with my family out there, we won’t struggle to find a place to stay. I hope everyone enjoys the last few weeks of their summer this year. If you happen to trek out to eastern Idaho for the solar eclipse, maybe I’ll see you there.
“I know one thing for certain: If I never have to say ‘paper or plastic?’ again, I won’t mind.”
The coolest of my summer jobs was building log cabins. We constructed everything by hand off-site, dismantled it, labeled each piece, and sent it off to its final destination. It was a bit like playing with a massive, heavy Lego set. I like to think I’m pretty handy these days, and I owe a lot of that to my time spent on the cabin crew.
– Dr. Chris Thomason
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