Planless summer leads to variety of unusual chances for employment

Amy Poppinga

Amy Poppinga

Random. Like an ostrich wearing a tutu in a grocery store. Such was my summer.

My summer began normally enough. I gorged myself on sugary delights of chocolate, lazily watched the classic reruns of Reba and Maury and hid from my father whenever I caught the scent of forced labor.

Following this brief period of inactivity, my summer instantly accelerated to craziness status as I embarked on a study abroad trip to Spain. Although I could deeply elaborate on the intricate details of this trip, I will just say that after five weeks of living with Marie Barone of Spain, walking half an hour just to go to school and seeing more Spanish body parts than a poorly trained perinatologist, I was ready to get back to the wonderful United States.

However, in the wonderful United States, I once again had nothing to do. I had no job prospects or amazing summertime plans involving lakes and rivers. Nothing, nothing, nothing. So I did what any normal and completely rational person would do; I frantically searched the help-wanted ads for any promising leads on summer employment.

This process of me wildly running to the mailbox, snatching the paper from the poor postal worker’s hands before he could place it into the box and immediately highlighting and prioritizing potential leads continued for approximately two weeks and one day until the day I responded to The Ad.

The Ad wasn’t colorful, appealing or even remotely poetic, but something about it caught my eye. Actually, it was the money. The promise of money, which I desperately needed after sitting idle for so many weeks, caught my eye and prompted me to set up an interview.

At this point, I didn’t know what I’d be doing if I indeed did get a job, but this was my final hope, and I was in no position to be picky. So I put my pride and my good sense to the side, sailed through the interview like a graceful swan and was offered a job on the spot. It was only then that I learned the nature of my employment.

I sold vacuum cleaners. Yes, that’s right. Vacuum cleaners. The Kirby Sentria model with an aluminum die cast shell, an assortment of attachments and even the shampooer. It was a beautiful machine, but that didn’t disguise the fact that I was going door-to-door trying to sell a very expensive vacuum under the pretense of a free carpet shampoo.

Eventually after two weeks, I quit, and again returned to my state of nothingness. The hysterics of unemployment and searching the help-wanted ads returned, and in a twist of fate that not even Stephen King could contrive, I actually accidentally answered The Ad once again. Believe me. I couldn’t make this up.

Luckily, this time I wasn’t sucked in (pun intended) by their charm, but that didn’t prevent me from performing some other pretty oddball jobs during the rest of the summer. I learned how to deliver telephone directories, guarded a gate at the Sioux Empire Fair and worked as a laundry-girl at the Avera McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls.

At one point in the summer, I even considered giving plasma. But that would have been random. Like a monkey wearing a leotard in an opera. Such is my life.