For a majority of my undergrad college career, I held a variety of jobs. I paid for my schooling, room and board, and I tried to make most of my money in the summer months. I worked in my dad’s accounting department, at a grocery store, interned at the state fair, and worked in the office of the university president. My biggest money maker was working as a bev cart girl at a golf course. I held on to this job for a quite a few years, as it really helped keep my school loans at a minimum.
Although the job was pretty self explanatory, it took some time my first year to get used to it. It was about turning on the charm, flashing toothy grins and delivering quick beverages to the golfers. It was about earning tips. You weren’t out there to make minimum wage, you were there for some big bucks that kids just aren’t used to. I wanted to be the best at my job, so I worked all the hours that were thrown at me and tried to perfect my bev cart persona. At first, I was really quiet and awkward, then I was loud and boisterous, and towards the end, back to being quiet but funny.
Part of the job was cleaning up the clubhouse at night. There was a laundry list of things that needed completed, and it was kind of scary, out in the country putting away golf carts in the middle of the dark. So, I tried to finish as quickly as possible and wait for the last customers to leave. But I am not a hurry, half-ass kind of person. I’m kind of a perfectionist when it comes to cleaning – with gleaming counters and sparkling floors.
Well, as I was cleaning the kitchen one night, I decided to really get under the big industrial-sized ovens and fryer. And low and behold, while cleaning up a couple of hidden old French fries from the ground, there were these candle-like things on the bottom of each appliance. One oven had four! It confused me, as no one told me about blowing these lights out. No, it wasn’t listed in the cleaning manual either. I was confused. But I didn’t want people to think I was inept, so I just went for it. I spent a good 25 minutes lying on my stomach, blowing each of the 7 candles out. I had had a long day already, and using all of my wind power was exhausting. I hoped that the manager wouldn’t make me do that every night, and I took a mental note that it needed to be written down in the manual for future reference.
It was around 11 p.m. that night when I ended up back at my parents’ house.
“Man, I had such a long day at work, Dad,” I said. He was watching a baseball game on TV in the family room.
“Oh, yeah?” he replied, half interested and wanting to get back to the game.
“Yeah, I had to blow out all these candles underneath the ovens, so exhausting,” I said. This got his attention.
“What do you mean, ‘candles underneath the ovens’?” he suddenly seemed very intent on hearing about my cleaning routine.
I then explained to him about the silly little candles and how I was disappointed that this wasn’t listed in the cleaning manual.
“You mean the pilot lights?!?” he yelled. I innocently asked him what a pilot light meant, thinking it was some kind of bright light that kept the oven aerodynamic.
Soon, we rushed out the door, while I called my manager. We ended up having to call some more recruits, and the crowd ended up at the clubhouse, very gassy smelling by then, picking up industrial-sized ovens and lighting the pilot lights. I was made to tell my story over and over again, as middle-aged men just looked at me incredulously, shaking their heads thinking “Wow, what a ‘smart’ girl.”
I finally knew what a pilot light was, and the rest of the clubhouse crew was lectured the next day on keeping to the manual. What was on it was all that needed to happen at night when closing the place up. I’d like to say that I really learned a lesson there, but no, I didn’t. Maybe it was stop being stupid. Lesson not learned.