When my granddaughter complained about her boring summer job, it called to mind the succession of yucky summer jobs I endured from high school through college. My dear Dad, used his many contacts as a grocer and a member of the Jewish community to finagle jobs for me each of those summers. This is how I earned my spending money for the school year. I believe his only consideration was that it be a paid position. That meant working for $1 to $1.25 per hour.
The job descriptions are in order from best to worst.
Use Lestoil, “the liquid detergent modern as can be.”
Lestoil was a blockbuster liquid detergent that was invented in my home town by a prominent member of the local Jewish community. By dint of lots of savvy marketing and tv spots, the sales of this detergent exploded in the mid 1950’s. The summer I worked there,the owner generously provided jobs for the college age kids of his friends. About 6 of my friends and I were hired job to open envelopes that had been mailed into the company in response to a mail in advertising campaign. It was something to the effect of “…in 50 words or less, tell us why you like Lestoil. ” Everyone who responded, got a Lestoil coupon back in the mail. Some days there were dozens of letters and some days very few. Either way, it only kept us occupied for a brief time of our work day, even though we’d draw it out as long as we could. We enjoyed reading out loud some of the more creative uses of Lestoil that customers had discovered, such as washing their own hair with it, or the hair of their dog, at the same time they were washing their car. Another person claimed it had cured his poison ivy.
When we couldn’t draw out the letter opening activity any longer, we screwed around lackadaisicaly filing paper. Getting coffee in the cafeteria was also a good activity to kill time. I had a mild crush on two of the older boys in our group, so that kept things relatively interesting until they both quit the job.
Although Mr. Clean soon came along to give Lestoil some liquid detergent competition, most people in Holyoke remained loyal to our home grown cleaner. I feel quite certain that there’s still a partial bottle of Lestoil in every house in Holyoke with anyone over 60.
“Have a sample of the new Hostess English Muffin”
was the opening line of the spiel I was supposed to memorize before offering a perfectly toasted, dripping with margarine, quarter piece of the new fork- split muffin. The spiel went on from there, at which point my presentation significantly deteriorated and became a mumbo-jumbo that never seemed to make sense as I listened to myself talk. But by then, most potential customers had moved on to the opposite end of the grocery store aisle. I ate the muffin piece myself because it was important that a customer eat it while still warm.
It always amazed me that most people acted as if I were invisible, even when I stuck a sweet basket of english muffins in front of them. If someone did stop to take my offering, I was inappropriately grateful.
This pathetic bit of salesmanship went on for 8 hours a day. I’d arrive at a different super market each morning, all spiffy in my white uniform, my hair pulled back in a pony tail, hopes high . I’d put an apron on after I plugged in the toaster. After rehearsing my spiel about 50 times before I could fall asleep at night, I’d convince myself that I knew it. Each day, I’d find myself mumbling something incoherent again after the first sentence was out of my mouth. I think after the first few weeks, I just dropped the rest of the spiel. It made no difference. Either way, I just kept eating the muffins the customers refused.
The days wore on as did the summer. When the summer ended, I did not eat another bite of an English muffin for at least a decade.
Hold Your Nose
I scraped the bottom of the barrel in the Summer Jobs hierarchy when my father announced he’d found filing work for me at a fat rendering company.
meatandwildgame.about.com › … › Cooking Terms and Techniques › Cooking Terms
Jun 23, 2015 – Definition: A culinary term for melting and clarifying hard animal fat for cooking purposes. Rendering can be done by two methods: dry heat or wet heat. In both methods, the fat is slowly cooked until it melts, and is then strained of impurities from the cooking process.