The Huddle: Our best and worst summer jobs

Even though summer is nearly over, we were inspired by Rachel Maddow this week, when she told Jimmy Fallon about her worst summer job. What was your best (or worst) summer job? 


Anna Pulley: My first job ever was waitressing at a retirement home for $5.25 an hour (and no tips). In my two-month tenure there, I was pinched, berated for the shoddy quality of creamed corn, “chased” (can you be chased by an octogenarian with a walker?) by a gentleman named Odie (like the dog in Garfield), who, true to his name, barked at me while slowly inching his way toward me. Some time later, Odie was found crawling the hallways of the retirement home naked from the waist down. Despite these less-than-stellar qualities, he was actually pretty funny. Every day, he would ask the wait staff to slip him some liquor in his coffee, even though there was no booze allowed on the premises. And every time he would ask, startled, “What do you mean they got no booze? What am I supposed to do?” An excellent question, Odie. And one that propelled me to greater employment shores—the shoe department at Mervyn’s in the mall. 

Daniela Costa: I’m going to share my best, because I’d rather not think about what a horrible barista I was. I got a summer gig just before my last year of university as a research assistant of sorts for a historical agency. I got to spend a bunch of time at the city archives looking at old phonebook records and tax assessments through microfiche readers. And on special occasions, fire insurance plans! That’s not faked enthusiasm. I got to do a lot of funky research and writing around old buildings and sites. Plus, I got paid! Winning all around.

Erin Faith Wilson: I picked up a summer job my sophomore year of high school at Taco Bell and my life was never the same. My friends worked there, too, but they quit after a few weeks—but not me! I clearly loved the way my hair smelled of greasy taco meat every day and I came to terms with gaining a few pounds due to free food while on the clock. I must have really liked the way melted cheese was stuck to the seat of my pants and learning that the cinnamon twists were actually fried noodles. Yes, I gave it everything I had for a whole year and was literally so good at making tacos that they offered me a management position once I turned 18. Sadly, the position was not exactly where I saw my life headed so I quit the summer before I left for college, but always wonder what it would have felt like to have “manger” on my name tag. 


Lucy Hallowell: The summer before college I worked in the maintenance department of this company that made like electron guns or something. The maintenance department consisted of two giant, middle-aged men and me. I mowed lawns, spread gravel in the parking lot, changed the oil on trucks, and made retaining walls out of old railroad ties. The guys thought it was hilarious to watch me try to lift the stuff they could lift easily. The low point of the summer was when the boss who was a severely anal-retentive guy (we would get in trouble if we did not perfectly perpendicular to the curb) bought a new backhoe. My job was to pressure wash it until it shone. It was over 90 degrees and for two days I wore a rubber raincoat and rubber rain pants while I washed it with 200 degree water. I have never sweated so much in my life or been covered with more grease and mud. And all that for the princely sum of six bucks an hour.

Kim Hoffman: I got a summer internship at a PR agency in London when I was 21. My mom’s British, so I had all these ideas floating through my head that I’d try to get a dual citizenship and live in some basement flat in London. Turns out, I missed America way too much and never thought about it again when I came back in August. But for those summer months in the UK, I made a ton of instant coffee and tea, set up conference meetings like a pro, fetched editors’ dry cleaning, drug store photos that needed picking up, workout clothes they left at home, you name it—and even though much of it was typical intern bitch work, I loved every weird, confusing, fast-paced second of it. Sure, I fell down a flight of stairs after coming in from a windy rainstorm that knocked me off my feet, got completely lost when I was supposed to drop off sample juices and pick up a contract by a certain time, with no working phone or map to guide me, only that spare piece of paper your boss hands you with chicken scratch for directions (the laws of being an intern require handwritten instructions be 80% unreadable). I took charge at that job though, and eventually approached the people I admired the most after observing who was who. I went to this fabulous gay guy named Giles who needed an extra hand with press releases and press boards. Then I approached a senior editor named Dee. I thought she was so brilliant and self-assured—she made no apologies. Whenever I hear the song “Acceptable In the ’80s” or anything by Seal, I think about that space and how much Cadbury I shamelessly ate at my desk.