A collection of distilled sarcastic wisdom, numerous photographs, discussions of books and stuff to learn and more stuff to think about from a retired economics professor turned blogger and photographer.
A few blocks away from our home is a produce stand in the corner of a parking lot. Every summer the stand is stocked with fresh farm produce including corn, cantaloupe, honey dews, watermelons, berries of all kinds, and other produce in season. For five summers, a college-age girl has worked at this stand. This summer, working here meant surviving over 20 hot summer days in excess of 100 degrees. Day in and day out you could find her there almost every summer day. She greeted her customers with a quick and friendly smile and was always ready to be helpful picking out melons and corn and helping customers load their cars.
Having spent 45 years working with college young people, I am always interested in finding out about college kids. This young lady worked here every summer to help work her way through college. She graduated this past spring with a degree in communications and started her first full-time regular job yesterday. She said that, at least, the office will be air-conditioned. I told her that I wouldn't have much incentive to buy corn and melons there if she were no longer working at the stand. She said all of her customers were telling her the same thing.
I told her that if getting a college degree was important enough to her to spend five summers working in the hot summer temperatures (at least an awning was over the produce stand), she could accomplish anything. She responded with appreciation for hearing those words. I never learned her name. But her perseverance, good humor, and cheerful greetings made an indelible and lasting impression on me. I have seen too many people of all ages give up when the going got a little tough, when the temperatures got too hot or too cold, when long hours of tedious effort seemed to mean going nowhere. I have seen too many kids of college age expect to have a luxurious standard of living financed by parents and student loans with all of their spare time spent on trivial activities like texting and having a generally good time.
Having worked my way through four years of undergraduate college scrubbing toilets, sweeping offices, working half the nights and going to eight o'clocks with heavy eyes, and completing another four years of college with my wife and I both working, ending up with four college degrees and four kids (ultimately five), my heart goes out to anyone who is prepared to sacrifice their personal comfort and greed to do whatever it takes to accomplish their goals. I wish our produce stand young lady every success, just as I wish all those who have what it takes to persevere to accomplish their goals every success. And I pity all those who expect someone else to take care of their every little need without lifting a finger themselves. But who will I buy corn and melons from next summer? Maybe her replacement, another college kid working their way, will be there to greet us.