Tuesday, June 20, 2006

My Summer Job: Swooped

My mother tells me my standards are too high. My friends tell me mine are too low.

As far as women go, Casanova I am not. For better or for worse about every 3 months I meet a girl who I determine is the girl for me. In between and after, I'm pretty much a party boy. I have zero control over it. There is zero pattern. I wish I could figure out exactly what I'm drawn to about each of these girls- but there is no real common trait other than their innate ability to hold my interest.

Enter Abby. Abby is the girl everyone has their eye on. Cute, funny, witty- if you have a free moment you want to be around her. It so happens that I spent my first two weeks as a camp counselor with her- at first shadowing and then I became her "Co" or specific co-counselor.

Abby and I got along well. Feeling eachother out, our banter was at first light, but once we realized we shared the same screwed up sense of humor- things clicked. Being a pretty straightforward guy, I figured I'd ask her to go out with me. So, after a day ushering around kids, I did- dinner and ice skating. She said yes. Not a super enthusiastic yes, but a yes nonetheless. I'm terrible at reading women, so maybe on the inside she was jumping for joy, but I took it for what it was: not a no.

Then things started to get complicated. Enter Justin. Justin and I had gotten along really well at camp. We both shared a general cynical sense of humor about the job (even though we both liked it) and we had some common background. One of these shared backgrounds was hockey and it just so happened that when I was talking with Abby about skating he happened to overhear. Now I'll never know how much of the conversation he heard, (although judging from what has happened since, I'd guess alot) but it was enough for him to assume that this was more a work get together and less a date. Now being a total idiot, I didn't have the sense to tell him off- he was a nice guy, I didn't want to seem like a jerk.

So the night of our date arrived, I hadn't heard from Justin. That is until I pulled into the parking lot of the ice rink, where immediately my phone rang. I saw the number and cursed. A lot. I picked it up, Justin was on the line, on his way down, excited to be skating. I was fuming. In my head I was screaming "TELL HIM OFF YOU MORON" but I couldn't. So my date became a threesome, with another guy. To say I was not happy might be the understatement of the century.

The three of us walked over to my favorite Mexican dive restaurant and for a moment I thought I might be saved from a very unlikely source. As soon as we were done eating and Justin was done regaling us with stories of his mansion on a mountain, my good buddy Tim called Justin. Tim had the tact to explain to Justin what was going on and plan of sorts was hatched. Tim would come down and meet Justin and the two of them would take off together to go plan a party for later that evening. So as we left the mexican restaurant I was reasonably optimistic I could take the date from wreck to passable. As it turned out it went from wreck to just above catastrophic proportions.

To be continued...

Saturday, June 10, 2006

My Summer Job: "Child Opposition Disorder"

"Joey" is a small kid. Not tiny, but definitely small for his age. So my initial thought when he started hitting other kids in our group of 6 and 7 year olds, was that he was getting picked on for being small. I was wrong. Joey was going out of his way to hit kids, make them mad and then coming crying to me when they hit back. Usually, I ignore this sort of crap- boys will be boys and such.

My co-counselors (in my group) have all been much nicer than me. This may be because they are all female, who knows. In an altercation, they might spend a minute or two sorting it out, asking about people feel etc. In that same time span, I might tell a kid "Then don't sit next to him." And point my finger angrily in the direction of the rest of the group. I've come to realize, that, in general, parents at this camp suck. I'm not going to coddle little Timmy because he got kicked in a soccer drill. Suck it up, toughen up and get your butt back in the game. However, back to Joey.

It is camp policy to keep parent's informed of their child's behavior- the good and the bad. It's a good idea and also covers our asses in case kids start rambling about the evil counselors and their time out corner. So, while I was off moving water cooloers, my poor co-counselor was left to talk to a mildly psychotic parent. Joey's mom apparently turned a bit hostile, asserting that her son "went to a rigid Catholic school" and that this was "his time to go a bit wild." Yeah, that's all good and well lady, but when your son decks a kid in the face it is a little beyond "wild."

The next encounter with Joey's parental unit I was privy to. His dad came to pick him up and immediately asked to speak with me and my co-counselor. The conversation went a little like this:

Dad: Well, what's the issue?
Greg: This week Chris has had a lot of issues listening and getting along with the other kids.
Dad: He's a good kid. My wife talked to you already, he's a good kid.
Greg: I know, it's just our policy to let you know when we are having problems. We want to communicate with you.
Dad: Joey also has a condition. You're aware of ADD?
Greg: (I happen to think ADD is nothing a ruler to the head can't cure but whatever) Yessir.
Dad: Well Joey has a condition where he doesn't like to follow rules. It's called Child Opposition Disorder.
Greg: (silence)
Dad: They do the opposite of what the rule is.
Greg: Oh.

The conversation pretty much ended here. I stood in stunned disbelief. A condition where the child doesn't want to follow rules? Umm... I think I've heard of that... HOW ABOUT BEING A KID? How typical for some crock doctor to make a disorder up for crappy parenting. Next they'll be a miracle drug to cure this "disorder."

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of my interaction with Joey is that my tough love is actually paying off. Towards the end of the week he was showing signs of improvement. Sadly, it was his last week.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Introduction: My Summer Job

About a month ago a friend asked me what exactly I would be doing this summer. What I should have said was "Getting an internship at a film studio." Instead I mumbled the truth "I have no idea." So, he proposed an idea: Work at a kid's sports camp. Barring an act of God, I realized I would never get a job, much less one I might actually enjoy. So, I showed for a relaxed interview with the Camp Director and was hired on the spot. I had no idea what I was in for.

The first of many surprises was figuring out just how damn old I was. At 20, I'm one of the oldest counselors. This sucks. When a 17 year old says he's only doing this job because he's in high school and doesn't have any responsibility, you can only imagine the voice in my head "Uh.. aren't you in college?" Furthermore, another justification I used for taking this job, meeting girls, was shot to hell the first day. There are a few attractive girls around my age and by "a few" I mean the following:

"Michelle" Sophomore in college, has a boyfriend
"Jamie" Junior in college, recently moved in with boyfriend
"Becky" Freshman in college, rumored to be Mormon

That about sums it up. The rest are in the 16-17 range and frankly, not on my radar in the slightest.

So, girls out of the picture I was still stoked on the job. Until I was informed, as part of my job "training" I would be taking Lifeguard training or as I now refer to it: the sixth circle of hell. To all of you swimmers out there who are now smirking, allow me to remind you of the following facts: 1. I hate swimming 2. I'm in college.

These two facts are indicative of both my lack of enthusiasm for swimming 500 meters a day and my utter lack of fitness to be even able to attempt such a feat. Much less diving to the bottom of a 10 foot dive tank, rescue a paralyzed victim, perform a spinal hold, swim him to the surface, strap him to a board and perform CPR. This was not in the job description. The job description as it was loosely described to me was "You play with kids all day, umm... that's about it."

I'm more than a week into my lifeguard training and 3 days into camp and already the above description is completely inadequate. In the next few weeks you'll meet a camper who routinely pretends to be a jail inmate, my Lifeguard instructor who may want to see me drown, and of course witness me attempt to handle being a lifeguard, swim instructor and role model to about 300 kids a week.

If nothing else, it'll be interesting.