Friday, October 12, 2007

Good stuff

The day I turned 16, my mom looked at me and said, "Get your ass in the minivan, kid. We're getting you a job." I had worked at the pool's concession stand every summer for a few years, but she was referring to something that didn't pay in all the snow-cones you can eat. We drove around that afternoon, and I put in applications all over town. (All over town meaning everywhere that didn't serve burgers at a drive-thru--I refused to work in fast food.) In the end, I got a job at a small greenhouse working for a man named Bob.

At the time, it just felt like a job. I realized I worked a bit more than other kids my age. I didn't take off the Saturday of Homecoming to get my hair and makeup done before the dance. I took off an hour early to dig the dirt out from underneath my fingernails and throw on my gown. I generally liked my job, though. It was painfully hot in the greenhouse in the summer (like working inside a ziploc bag), but I looked amazing--tan from all that sun and strong from hoisting 100 pound bags of soil. Plus, I loved our small town customers.

And, as cliche as it sounds, holidays at the greenhouse were magic. In the fall, families came to pick out pumpkins. There is nothing cuter than watching a little kid wrap his arms around a pumpkin that weighs as much as he does and then scrunch up his face and grunt as he tries to lift it. In the winter, we sold Christmas trees. I remember tying one to the top of a family's minivan. It was just before closing time one night, and it had started to snow. Bob came out to give me a hand. As the family pulled away and we stood next to the trees all lined up under a string of white lights, snow falling on our heads, he said, "This is good stuff, kid." And it was.


Today was my last day in child psych. My attending physician asked me what I want to be when I grow up. Actually, what he said was, "You want to do psychiatry, right?" He was surprised when I told him no. He said, "Wow. You worked really hard during this rotation, and the whole time you knew you weren't interested in it...huh. That's actually really impressive." As I left the building today, I was stopped by four others--two physicians, a nurse, and a social worker--who wanted to thank me for all my work.

As I walked to my car, I called my mom. I said, "Listen, I just want to thank you for loading my ass in the van and making me get a job ten years ago. The stuff I learned when I learned how to work...well, that stuff is turning out to be more valuable than all my formal education. I mean, I know how to work. Really work." She laughed a little and told me I was welcome. (She enjoys these occasional little "thanks for the parenting" calls more than she admits.)

Bob was right--that job was good stuff. It taught me most of what I really need to know to be a doctor. In the end, it's all about work.

11 comments:

Maria said...

I think it is great that you thought to call her to thank her...I don't think we do that enough, you know? We don't thank the people who act as a bridge to help us cross over. If we did, I bet the world would be more like we imagine it could be.

dive said...

When you love what you're doing, work can be its own reward, T.
Good stuff indeed.

Ms. Avarice said...

Me too. Actually I hadn't even turned sixteen yet, started submitting applications so that I'd have a job by my birthday. It was my dad who loaded me into the van and told me to pull my own weight. He taught from experience. Even with a muscular dystrophy, he worked until about 5 years before he died.

Mums are great, too! I call mine after my women's studies classes saying, "thanks for letting me play in the dirt with boys" and stuff. Isn't it nice to be mom's friend? I love it.

jenny said...

Good post, you never learn what you need to know as a teenager until you leave your teens!

OC said...

I'm glad you called your Mom to thank her too. It's amazing how much a difference little things like that make. It's also interesting how a job that you had just to get work experience teaches you more than how to not spend the whole paycheck at once.

Cheryl said...

That was good stuff. My daughter just turned 14 and she's looking for a job. I hope she finds one; I think it would do her good.

Mme Benaut said...

This is heartwarming "stuff" Terroni. I didn't doubt for a minute that you would be a "worker', no matter the age, nor the capacity. Your psych rotation seemed to go by very quickly. What's next?

Terroni said...

I actually have 3 more weeks of psych at a different location--a state psych hospital for adults. I'm sure there will be interesting stories from this experience. I'm working with a notoriously good-looking attending and a notoriously awkward student.

Mme Benaut said...

Ooh la la! Just because he (she?) is notoriously good-looking doesn't necessarily mean you can't flirt little one. I'm assuming that the awkward student is not you - can't imagine that!
Pop over to ADP and see the little baby that I found!

Kate Isis said...

At least this way your getting to see all aspects of the industry beforee you need to decide what you want to do. I wish we had that in my field, try everything before you decide.
I didn't have much encouragement from the parents to do anything, I envy that, your lucky. :)))

nina said...

This is a wonderful post hon.