This past summer, I went to work for a storage warehouse with some of my friends. As with any job, I started my first day with a number of expectations. I knew this job would be physically demanding and strenuous.
My hopes for this job included: picking up a minimal proficiency in Spanish (as it was the first language of many co-workers), earning some money and gaining an appreciation for higher education. The only real desire I had going in was for my body to become sculpted and beautiful, like a work of Michelangelo.
My expectations for personal growth were quickly dashed. The work environment was one that sapped my mental faculties and worked only to keep my body alive. In a literal sense, one must revert to carnal instincts to survive in such a place.
Often, my friends and I unloaded weights of up to 50,000 pounds from trailers into wooden crates. Other times, our boss would assign us a miscellaneous task that was frequently physically demanding, and mind numbing. Our boss’ icy blue eyes and eloquent speaking was enchanting. So much so, that seconds after hearing, understanding and nodding to everything he said, his commands were impossible to recall.
On any given shift, my friends and I would strive for two things: to avoid strenuous labor and engage in as many hijinks as we could. We did not follow company policy as much as it would have been preferred. In fact, our actions were usually a direct violation of company policy only as much as they were stupid and endangering to our lives.
Most of my Spanish-speaking co-workers spoke so little Spanish, they could only communicate through a Geico-caveman-esque sign language. When they spoke Spanish, it was mostly in the form of endearments directed at my friends and me. Consequently, I was unable to submerse myself in the language.
When we were coerced to earn our wages, it was hard work. Ordinarily, I returned home drenched in sweat, and wanted nothing more than to sleep. Days of back-breaking labor made me fantasize about nights spent studying. Once a day, I would pull out my phone and check the days I had until I could move back to Huntsville.
The job allotted me several revelations. Being on the opposite end of the academia spectrum, I wanted nothing more than to get back to school and earn a degree. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. I also found that the money I earned was not worth the mental and physical drain the job put on me. Earning potential is useless if I can’t enjoy the hours I’m not at work.
In addition, I soon discovered that my time spent with Spanish speaking co-workers translates to my struggling in Spanish 142 (wanted: attractive Spanish tutor). Those terms of endearment, as my Spanish professor would later inform me, were actually insults to our character.
Despite the apparent cynicism, I reflect on that job with nothing but fondness. If nothing else, it was the most fun I’ve had at a summer job. By far, the worst revelation is this: on the nights I find myself studying, I am left missing my time at the warehouse.