It Will All Work Out

There are probably worse summer jobs than picking strawberries. Oh, I guess I could think of something, but it would take several decades.

“Hey, Red,” the chubby-cheeked field boss called out to me. The nickname “Red” hailed from the fact that my mother had provided her 12-year-old son with a cowboy hat of that particular hue.

“Red, be sure and pick those strawberry plants clean,” the foreman, whom I shall call Royal Payne, intoned in a manner designed to embarrass me into greater devotion to the task at hand. Out of the corner of my eye I had seen Royal lifting up the plants I had just picked. It seems he had found a small number of berries (it couldn’t have been more than several hundred) still remaining on the first 7 feet of the row I was working on. These were likely of the Camouflage Sweet variety, so it could hardly be expected that I would spot every last one of them.

The only thing more annoying than Mr. Payne was the cold early-morning dew. And the only thing more annoying than that was the furnace-like heat that the sun provided approximately 13 seconds after rising.

You might be thinking, I’ll bet the pay was rather low, too. That’s where you’re wrong. The pay didn’t rise to the level of low. “Abysmal” would be the more accurate term.

I’ve gotta get out of this field of labor, I told myself. I need a job that recognizes my true abilities.

“We need somebody to answer the phone down here at the funeral home,” Mr. Allred, the local mortician, mentioned to my dad one day. “Of course, it’s just for tonight,” he added.

The Allred Funeral Home also maintained the town’s only ambulance service. If a citizen had a sudden attack of, oh, I don’t know, say pregnancy or something, they’d call Allred’s for a ride to the hospital.

Dad signed me up for the one-night funeral home gig. “Just be sure to not let the phone ring too long before you answer it,” he advised. “It could be a matter of life or death.”

I figured either way Mr. Allred would come out ahead, given the two services he provided.

In the end, the most exciting thing that happened that evening was me scaring myself half to death by playing spooky music on the funeral home’s parlor organ. Fortunately there were no open caskets in the room, or it would have been a truly mortifying experience.

“You need to find a steady summer job,” Dad said a while later. “And I just happen to know of one that’s available.”

I could hardly wait.

“Mary’s Magic Mirror is looking for someone to sweep up hair, empty the wastebaskets, and wash the windows,” Dad explained.

Back before the days of Kwik Kuts and other “unisex” hairstyling joints, women would go to a “beauty shop” to get their hair all fixed up. A boy would not be caught dead in such a place.

“Now, with you being a boy and all,” Mary said to me my first night on the job, “you might need a tip or two on how to sweep.”

What did she think I was, some inexperienced kid or something? I’d already held two jobs, for pity’s sake! I will admit that I learned a lot working at the beauty shop, such as how to avoid detection whenever I suspected a classmate might be walking by the well-cleaned front window. I didn’t want to be known as Mary’s Magic boy.

Summer jobs can be a royal, well, you know. Still, it’s important that “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10).

Just a reminder that Ecclesiastes is in the Bible, which points to Jesus, who swept up a lot of sawdust in His time.

Leave a Comment

It Will All Work Out

Guide magazine only prints true stories. However, we do publish some imaginative stories on the Guide website. If you want to share your story with our online readers, click below.

Claim Your Thumbuddy

See if you can add another Thumbuddy to your collection.

Enter your claim code*