It’s summer time and that means it is time for college students like me to find, or return to, our crappy summer jobs. No one wants to work, but since “the man” wants us to pay bills and spend $185 dollars on a philosophy text book that I used to level my dorm room desk last semester, we must pick up a few extra hours at a terrible establishment that we complain to the world about over Facebook. This summer, I picked up only my second summer job. And, as it isn’t the greatest in the world, every job I have for the rest of my life will pale in comparison to the first and only job I have ever had up until this point.
I had just turned 16 and the summer was right in front of me. The world seemed to be at my fingertips and I was ready to simply ride around in my new truck with my buddies all summer. Until they all decided to be “responsible” and pick up summer jobs. My buddy Patrick picked up a cashier job at Target, Thomas continued his tenure at Arby’s where he perpetually smelled like roast beef and shame 24 hours a day, Clint was hired at Best Buy, and finally my friend Chance was hired at a children’s party place called “Pump it Up!” Now I know the names of my last two friends make it sound like they should’ve starred alongside Robert Duvall in Lonesome Dove, but it was Texas, and some people had names like that, okay?
Anyway, one night at dinner I sat dejected as I picked at my salad when my mother chimed in, “You know, Stacy could use someone over at McKee’s Pet Place, you should ask her for a job.”
I was actually excited about this. McKee’s was a dog kennel and groomer where people could leave their mutts for a day to get bathed and groomed, or board them overnight if they were going on vacation. I thought, “How awesome is this going to be?! I get to play with puppies ALL DAY LONG!”
I called her that night, and figured I must have NAILED the phone interview because the next day, I got the job. I went in my first day imagining that I would be stationed in a back room where they kept a medium-sized box of puppies that would be playfully dumped all over me every hour to play with. Then I would receive $10 for each hour, and then I would go home and dive into a pile of money on my bed like the kid from Blank Check.
I met a woman at the front desk named Amanda who playfully handed me my schedule for the first day, and I was surprised when it didn’t say, “Puppy Play Room!” for eight hours. Instead it simply read: “Walk Alone’s” on the top with a list of dog names with their corresponding pen number.
“These are the dogs that don’t really get along well with others,” Amanda said. ”You’ll get each one individually and take them out to the back to let them run around and do their business for about twenty minutes, then bring them back and grab another doggie!” she laughed.
Although this wasn’t what I had originally hoped, I figured that I would make the best of it. I grabbed a leash and walked to find the first dog on the list. ”Remy, Gate 201.” I read aloud and I went to find a tiny dog that looked like a sweet mix of two breeds that I had never seen before. Remy looked like he weighed about 5 pounds and completly harmless, so I bent down to pick him up, and he quickly bit my hand, growled, and shit himself in the corner.
What I was not told when I received the job, very easily mind you, was that the “Walk Alone” position worked with dogs that were so full of fear, anger, and aggression that their owners had left them here for good. They would occasionaly go crazy and jump all over you. They also would shit, and shit violently. Mostly on the grass outside, but occasionally in their pen, or on your shoes.
Now I can handle an overly excited and playful pooch, but some of these dogs were so old that if you were not their owner, they viewed you as Micheal Vick. Especially this one yellow lab named Lucy, whose favorite game was to take a huge bite out of my ass every time I wasn’t looking.
The walk alone yard looked exactly how it sounds. It was an enormous fenced in yard in the middle of July in the Texas heat. I believe the “low” everyday I worked was around 103 degrees, and the only shade that was available for me was the 2 inch shadow created by a lightpost outside the dry cleaners next door. Which by the way would move with the sun, and inturn, so would my chair. It looked like a prison yard, if the prison yard smelled like dog shit that was cooking in the Texas sun for eight hours.
Every day, after I clocking out, I would remove all my clothing from my shit covered shoes, to my shit covered shorts, to my shit covered shirt, and toss them in the bed of my truck until I was eventually just in my underwear (I would occasionally have to remove shit covered socks. Yes. Socks.). Then I would drive home with the windows down to hopefully prevent my shit smelling skin from seeping into my seats.
I wish that I could say I did this for two years until I went to college, and it made me a better man. That I learned the value of a dollar and the rewards of hard work. No. I quit after two weeks, maybe even one. I always try to say that it was two weeks to make myself sound like less of a pussy, but let’s be honest it was one week.
So hopefully any other college kids out there dealing with shit jobs won’t have to go through a job that delt with actual fecal matter like I did. It was a harrowing experience that taught me, maybe don’t take the first job you’re offered. Weigh your options. And if you are hired, “right away so you can get started!” realize that you may have to scoop dog shit into an enormous bucket. I threw up twice.