What We Miss Most About Our High School Summer Jobs

June 20, 2015 · CLASSMATES FUN

What we miss about high school summer jobs

Ah, summer jobs. Remember the feeling of pure independence when you received your first check? Sure, the boss made you clean the public restroom once or twice and the pay barely covered gas money, but there was something special about summer employment. Perhaps it was all of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences, or perhaps it was just the joy of not being in school. Whether you washed cars, mowed lawns, lifeguarded, waited tables, harvested corn, lifted heavy furniture or delivered pizza (with style and class, of course!), here are the top things we think everyone misses about those classic high school summer jobs.

1. Meeting People You Would Never Otherwise Have Met

Sometimes it’s the girl from across the tracks. Other times it’s the guy from halfway across the world. Wherever they’re from, summer jobs have this funny way of bringing people together who otherwise would be separated by geography, social class, popularity, or academic tracking. Who knew that you would have so much in common with that guy who was terrible at geometry but was big in the music department? Or with that European girl visiting on a summer exchange program? The people who you met in summer jobs opened your eyes about the many different ways people live happily in this world and how you can live happily too – perhaps entirely outside of what your parents taught you. Plus, new people were pretty cute, right? Which brings us to…

2. Summer Romances

Hey, there’s a reason why Summer Nights is still so popular in karaoke bars the world round. While they weren’t limited to summer jobs per se, any boss who employed a team of teens knew they were essentially turning their business into a hormonal stew. Sometimes, romances were sparked between schoolmates who, as discussed above, wouldn’t have considered each other within the confines of their high school’s strict social groups. More often, though, summer romances were sparked upon the discovery of new and “exotic” people, even if what you deemed as “exotic” was being from one town over. New people just felt so much more mature, seeing as how they weren’t caught up in your local high school scene. Plus, you could take risks and have a summer fling with someone outside of your type – all the more so if you were living away from home in, say, a notoriously hormonal camp counselor setting.

3. Doing Something Completely Different

For 9 months out of each school year, you toiled to get good grades, please parents and teachers, or just to avoid getting in trouble. And then, for three months, in the everlasting words of Monty Python, “And now for something completely different.” Whether, like Danny in Caddyshack, you chose a job to help get you to your desired career path or you were just cleaning pools, your summer job made you exercise a totally different skillset than you were used to. Sometimes, this meant getting to zone out for once. Other times it meant getting into the rhythm of physical rather than intellectual work. Whatever it was, it definitely was not doing your main job at the time: being a student. It was strangely refreshing.

4. Having a Boss Who Was Totally Not Awesome

Maybe Bill Lumbergh was your boss and constantly prefaced everything awful he asked you to do with a faux-empathetic, “Um, yeah…”. Or maybe you were required to clean graffiti in the bathroom and publicly humiliated just like when Brad gets fired in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Regardless, if you worked enough summer jobs throughout high school, eventually you had a boss who was a real character, or they made you do things so ridiculously awful, they’ve turned into the stuff of family lore. Whatever it was, you’ve never forgotten it, you’ll carry those characters and memories with you forever, and you’ll always have a memory to crack you up when the going gets rough.

5. Cashing a Paycheck Never Felt So Good

When you had less cash, earning money felt so incredibly awesome. All the more so because you didn’t have a lot of responsibilities and it could go right into gas for your car or for the new David Bowie album. Sure, it’s nice making more now and not being dependent on anyone, but saying, “Please put 10% of this paycheck in my 401K” just doesn’t have the same ring.

The things we miss most about our high school jobs were all part of growing up, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Do you have high school job horror or glory stories to tell? Tell us about your memories from your high school summer jobs.