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Life and College - It's All Good Until You Burn Dinner

Archive for the ‘Life and College’ Category


After Stella’s summer job fiasco last year, we thought she’d gotten her work plans for the next few months  washed, dried, and completely ironed out. Last summer, she landed a job with a retailer but they rarely gave her (or anyone else there) enough hours to make the drive to the mall worthwhile. If she was lucky she’d be scheduled for 6 or 8 hours a week there – not enough to put a microscopic scratch into her cruise ship-sized college expenses. This summer needed to be different.

I encouraged (forced) her to start applying for work early and she knew she’d probably need to get two jobs just to make a meager teenage living. She applied at dozens of businesses and quickly landed jobs with two retailers. One of them said they could promise her only 1 or 2 days a week. The other one, we’ll call “Jan Sailor Toft,” told her they were eager for help and that she could expect anywhere between 12-20 hours per week. Perfect! Stella found it easy to schedule one job around the other and was soon working 20-24 hours per week between the two of them without any wrinkles.

But things got weird. “Jan Sailor” continued to hire workers and had soon added a half dozen more girls in addition to Stella. Stella’s hours there began to dwindle as did the other girls’ at the store. Eventually, she was down to only 12 hours per week. Then two weeks ago, she was scheduled for just 4 hours on a Friday. The icing on the cake was the cheery voicemail she got from the store manager on Thursday letting her know that her shift for the next day had been cancelled and that she could enjoy the whole day off.  Wow! Lucky her!

Last Friday when Stella checked her schedule, she found that she, along with a number of other girls, had been scheduled for 0 hours the following week. Yup. ZERO hours.  Yeah… I’m thinking that paycheck is going to be really, really, really small. Seriously, is this “Jan Sailor’s” wimpy chicken way of quietly hoping that these girls will get frustrated and quietly fade away since they have no grounds for firing them?  “Jan Sailor” clearly screwed up by hiring too many employees to fill the few hours the store has been allotted by their “powers that be.”

So, Stella is out pounding the pavement again…looking for a job. This makes me anxious because she is changing colleges next fall and I don’t see a lot of prospects for work in the town where this particular school is located unless Stella becomes really good at milking cows or learns how to operate a manure spreader.

But just as all of this was culminating, I got a call from WNYC’s “The Takeaway,” a nationally broadcast public radio show out of New York City.  They wanted to interview Stella and I about the troubles and toils teens are experiencing in their quest for summer work.

How did they know about all of Stella’s job woes? Are they telepathic? Did they bug our house? Peek into our windows? I wasn’t sure but I didn’t care. We were all over this and the next morning, Stella and I were awake at 4:30 a.m. so “The Takeaway” could perform sound checks and gives us a few cues as to how the whole interview would roll. They also advised us that Betsey Stevenson, President Obama’s former chief economist, would also be interviewed.  How cool was that?  Within a half hour, we were being interviewed by John Hockenberry, an extremely articulate host who immediately put us at ease.

Later that day we were able to listen to the interview via an audio link provided on the website and when I heard it,  I was annoyed with the amount of “ums” I said, even though I had tried really, really hard not do say that. And Stella wasn’t too pleased when she heard herself say, “it’s really difficult…” four times. But hey…we did it. We were honored to be a part of the show. And next time, we’ll do better.

As for Stella, she still hasn’t found a job that will give her more than the 0 hours a week she’s getting from “Jan Sailor Toft.”  Maybe her next radio interview will help her land a great summer job.

Here is the link to the show in case you want to enjoy it. It’s only about 8 minutes long max so it shouldn’t take you away from Words With  Friend’s or Bejeweled  or “The Bachelorette” for too long if you decide to give it a listen.

Heard on NPR
Nationally Syndicated WNYC

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