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Summer jobs really pile on the miles

Leaving work, I drove to Basalt to fetch Teddy from his job, then at home picked up Roy to mow a lawn in downtown Carbondale, stopping to use my heft to start the recalcitrant mower. The boys used to share this mowing job, but now Teddy, 14, works as a ranch hand up on the Frying Pan. I continued to the store, but within two blocks my phone rang.

“I ran over a mat in the yard,” Roy, 11, said glumly. The mower had cut out. “Can you start it again?”

The boys have summer jobs ” and so, it seems, do I.



As teens, we kids always had jobs. Like my sons, we lived outside of town or reasonable biking range. What fascinates me now is: How did we get there?

My first job, at 13, was as a counselor at a YMCA day camp with the unfortunate name of Camp Little Beaver, five miles from home. As a young teen, I also scooped ice-cream cones, in the summer and after school, in one of the various concessions in the Market House, downtown Annapolis, eight miles away. Later my brother would make sandwiches at the Market House; and my younger sister would work in its cheese shop. (We took great humor in the statement, “Lucy cuts the cheese.”)



My older sister, Meg, head counselor at the YMCA camp, must have driven us two in the beater VW that we kids used when old enough to drive, but otherwise work would have required a complicated system of rides (fortunately, my school and my father’s office were also in Annapolis), staying with friends, etc. I even remember some clandestine hitchhiking.

A generation later, my kids ” who, as usual, are laboring to pay us back for racing bikes and equipment ” generally can’t get to work without us driving them. And sometimes once isn’t enough.

Roy, though proud of the mowing job, as an 80-pounder, emerged from the initial session a little pale, saying, “That was harder than I thought it would be.” He decided to mow the lawn in halves, on consecutive days.

I would drop him off, and usually go to the grocery store. He’d ask for a drink, and I’d bring one back. He might sigh with fatigue or hunger. Once he deemed it necessary that, for strength, he receive some of the rotisserie chicken I’d just picked up for dinner, and he hauled off a drumstick. While I urged him to complete the job in one day, I might look over to see him, in pushing the machine, dropping to his knees in theatrical exhaustion.

Teddy is always due at work, up the Frying Pan, at 7 a.m., though the owner, a friend, is kindly willing to meet us in Basalt, and to keep him overnight. Lately we’ve even arranged rides with a ranch hand who lives in Carbondale, though still must rendezvous at 6:20 a.m. Fortunately, my husband, Mike, does the early driving.

Last week I dictated that the strengthening Roy mow the lawn all at once if he wanted to go to a movie. Now we know he can.

Just as I expected succor, Teddy asked to work more days: It was haying time. Then there was a cattle drive, and he wanted to go.

He was put on a slow old horse named Dollar, and scraped off, and run through oak-brush, but by then he stayed on, and begged to go back again. He and his friend Carson also move irrigation pipes, buck bales, polish saddles, and clean the barn. They weed. They have been offered chew.

Today, during an exceptionally busy week for me, Roy balked at doing his job as scheduled: “It’s too hot!”

“They’re expecting you,” I said. “And now is when I can go.”

Moments later, I was driving Teddy home when he said, “I think my work ethic has gotten better with this job. I just get things done now.”

OK, we’ll drive him anytime ” as long as Mike does it.

Alison Osius lives in Carbondale and can be reached at aosius@hotmail.com.


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