Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Working at the car wash...

I forgot about writing today’s post until late last night, after the lights were out and I was lying in bed. Something I ate yesterday at lunch made me feel uncomfortable for the remainder of the day, so I was unwilling to get up and write at that point, or to even give it much thought in all honesty, so I told myself I’d blog about whatever I happened to dream about.

I ended up dreaming about, well, I’m not exactly sure, but it was reminiscent of the summers I spent in Ocean City, Maryland. The dream involved a bunch of young friends, including myself, who all worked together at the beach.

That was my summer for four years, starting after junior year in high school and lasting until the summer after my sophomore year at college. It was every high-school (and college) kids’ dream: renting an apartment at the beach with friends for the entire time school was out. No parents, no rules, no teachers, just you, your friends, parties, the beach, and work - so that you could fund it all. In retrospect, I can’t believe my mother let me do it.

Each summer was different, having as they did a different combination of roommates, a new apartment, and normally a change of jobs, but all were the same in most other respects. There was always too much sun, too much drinking, and too much work.

What I woke up thinking about this morning was my various places of employment. I’ve already blogged a bit about my stint at Candy Kitchen, which was my first, and second, job in Ocean City. But I worked there solo, no roommates or friends being stupid enough to work alongside me. It was all inside work, with no tips -- not the most desirable or lucrative gig in town.

But I did wise up and accept help from my roommates and friends after this, as did most people, which left businesses with four, five, or even more friends all working for them at the same time -- both a good and bad thing for a proprietor. On the up side you could have one of us call a roommate if they were short shifted, but there was also the possibility of us inviting our friends to frequent the establishment, and in this case somehow those tabs never totaled up to nearly what they should have.

Take for instance the summer I lived with seven other roommates. There were five guys and three girls living in that three-level apartment on 94th Street. Five of us, that’s five eighths, people, ended up working at the same restaurant; between us we held most every job they offered, from laundress, to hostess, to bar keep, to server, to busboy, to cocktail waitress. The photos from that summer’s employee party look almost the same as the photos from our house parties.

Or the summer when I worked at Ocean City’s one and only car wash. My friend Dorothea, who now leaves regular comments here on Me and You and Ellie, hooked me up with this job. In fact, all of the girls who worked there were in my high school graduating class, all on the advice of Dorothea.
Looking back on this job is quite comical: five girls (or what it six?), working two at a time, in bikinis, at a roadside car wash in Ocean City. And the bikinis were matching. It was a sort of skimpy uniform. Almost like these guys'. We made pretty good tips there, and spent a lot of time between cars just sitting in our beach chairs working on our tans and reading (I still remember reading the Thorn Birds that summer). Plus we had each other, all already friends, to hang with. Friends, sun, a pay check, and good tips.

Why isn’t work more like that now? We have our annual holiday party, celebrate each others’ birthdays, and I like my coworkers, but my current job is not nearly as fun as those summer jobs from long ago.

I’m game to try something new. Anyone have any good leads ? I’m an excellent scooper of ice cream, weigher of fudge, dryer of cars, washer of restaurant linen, cocktail waitress (in the sand, no less), and more.

Get back to me with any ideas (and please ignore the fact that I am blogging, while on the clock, from my current place of employment).


Anonymous said...

Well, Beth I did have some standards. You started begging me to go when you were 14 and I held out until you were 16 at which point I gave in and look how you turned out.

Me, You, or Ellie said...

Hmmm, maybe you should open up a place where I can get my car washed while enjoying cocktails in the sand?

I think you'd be very successful!


Me, You, or Ellie said...

Oh, I like this, but the idea of a carwash in the sand may not fly. Oh, wait, Jacquie. You mean YOU'RE drinking on the sand while your car is getting serviced elsewhere? Okay, that works.

I think the washing of restaurant linens and the drying of cars calls out for some kind of linen/chamois hybrid. Which can also triple as a towel for sun-bathing cocktail drinkers.

That's it! Invent the towel/linen/drying rag miracle fiber, Beth, and all your troubles will be over.

You're welcome.

martyjoco said...

Beth, thanks ever so much to the link to the CAR WASH video! Blinkin' brilliant.

I've never been to Ocean City, so maybe that's why I can't even conceive of a car wash staffed by bikini-clad college cuties. Wow. I was a steak house hostess in hot pants and boat sneakers in the early 70's (a uniform development we welcomed when hot pants were invented, since the coverage was an improvement over mini-skirts when leaning over to bus tables) but...? Guess it makes more sense than the coveralls those guys in the video are wearing... if you have sun screen.

Excellent ad hoc post. Hope tummy feels better now.

Dorothea OC headhunter said...

boy did that make me smile :-)
I will post some pics later when I find them. Let's not forget poor Tommy, the lone guy who had to get the cars in and fix all the problems, while dealing with 6 girls and all their issues!
Best summer job I ever had...remember the $50 tip from Cadillac man?!
I hope I'm as willing to send my girls off to the beach for summer work as Pat and Sally were.
I'm sure Ocean City MD still has a job waiting for you, but your current roommates have bedtimes so it may not be as wild as the late 1980's