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Unless you’re a trust fund baby or an offspring of the independently wealthy, you likely had a summer job while you were in school. I know I had a variety of summer jobs and the experiences could be turned into a novella someday. Hmm.

While many were mundane, most of them had their moments of interest along the way.

I can almost hear you and the Pink Ladies and the Thunderbirds singin’
“Uh Well-a well-a well-a huh …Tell me more, tell me more.”

I’ll share one such unique happening from my jobs of summer.

This one is from a summer in my college days when I worked in a shipping department for a local manufacturer.

As summer jobs go, it was OK. It involved packing and shipping boxes to clients in a decent working environment. I even learned a few packing tricks that helped me out later with personal mailings.

It was a department of 7 or 8 workers. I seamlessly filled in for employees during their week or two of summer vacation.

About mid-July, there was one week when nobody had vacations. The supervisor, Mr. Carlson called me into his office the preceding Friday.

He said, “I need you around because two more guys have vacations coming up. But nobody is off this week. If management sees you standing around, they’ll make me let you go. You’re a good worker, so I want to keep you on. So, for next week, I am going to give you a special assignment.”

Now, about twenty or thirty yards north of the plant were several Quonset huts used to store parts. My special assignment was to stay out of plain view of management, reorganize parts that were already organized, and fill an occasional order when necessary.

There really wasn’t a lot to do in the hut I discovered when I arrived for work on Monday. After a quick mental inventory, I learned that some of the parts were roundish plastic balls and since nobody else was there and not much else to do for the week, I decided to make a life decision. I taught myself how to juggle.

I dropped a lot of balls at first but soon I progressed from 2 repetitions to 10 to 20. I set my personal goal at 50 by week’s end. Not that I wanted to go to the circus or anything, I was just trying to keep myself sane.

Now in this factory, the guy who drove the forklift was higher in the food chain than the other workers. Jose was the forklift driver.

While exiled in the Quonset Hut, occasionally Jose had to retrieve parts for an order. He’d wheel the machine into the hut flamboyantly declaring, “Jefe Jefe, I’ve got a HOT one.”

I’d pull some plastic parts of the shelf and fill the order for Jose.

He’d smiled and politely say, “Gracias.”

I’d reply, “Your Welcome.”

Then we both nodded and smiled.

As the week progressed, we bonded. Jose must have felt for my exile to the hut because he’d stop by to chat on occasion.

Personally, I didn’t care about the solitude. I was getting paid $5.25 an hour to learn how to juggle. But, every day, I’d hear the familiar whir of the forklift, then hear Jose saying, “Jefe Jefe, I’ve got a hot one,” and I’d fill the order.

On Friday, my week long banishment was about to conclude. I was up to a consistent repetition of 40 juggles by then and the shelves looked pretty good.

I recognized the familiar whir of the forklift.

Now if you ever watched “That 70’s Show” on TV, what ensued won’t seem that unusual to you, given the culture of that era.

True to form, Jose came in the hut, albeit a little later than usual, about 4 PM, an hour before quitting time. He rang out his familiar greeting, “Jefe Jefe, I’ve got a hot one.”

Then he looked over his shoulder to make sure the coast was clear and added with a grin, “I’ve got a hot one …and seex cold ones.”

He pulled a 6 pack of cold beer from behind the forklift and we cemented our friendship in the Quonset Hut over the brew until the shift was over.

That was my favorite summer job moment. I welcome you to share yours.

EPILOGUE: I don’t specifically recall, but I think my quest for 50 on the juggling was not achieved. I was up to 47 before the “cold ones” arrived but retained the skill proficient enough to entertain folks from time to time.

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The summer solstice is on us once again signaling summer’s start. It happened this Monday passed at 6:34 PM. Some call it the longest day of the year. I contend all the days are 24 hours. But, in terms of sunlight there’s more of it on the solstice than any other day of the year.

This particular summer solstice was a rare one since the full moon accompanied the sun reaching its highest apex in the Northern Hemisphere on the very same day. Some media outlets claimed this particular event was referred to by Algonquin tribes as the Strawberry Moon, an event that last occurred in 1967 and will not happen again until 2062.

Actually, the Algonquians and most indigenous tribes referred to EVERY full moon around this time of year as the Strawberry Moon since none of them marked time by the Julian Calendar having not yet had the misfortune of meeting any Romans, let alone Julius Caesar.

Time was measured by the phases of the moon. The moon in June often signaled the beginning of ripening of the strawberry and a time to gather its fruit, ergo the namesake of that moon.

Inquisitively I thought perhaps the event would render the moon to be a weird red strawberry hue, but no. Just like the Blue Moon is not blue, simply a term for two full moons in the same month, the Strawberry Moon is not red, simply a term coined by the Algonquians for the full moon in June.

Every June has its Strawberry Moon. Just like every rose has its thorn, just like every cowboy sings his same sad song.

Speaking of songs, there is no Dark Side of the Moon. Despite whatever Pink Floyd was smoking, the moon is roundish, it has no sides.

Just like a basketball is round, it too has no sides. Although, if there is a dark side of a basketball it measures 73-9 in circumference, but unlike Saturn, the Golden State moon has no rings this year. A fickle celestial body is this moon.

All sorts of special moons pop up every year it seems. In a previous Wedwand post from 2013, it was observed that:

The “Super Moon” happened this past weekend. Some reports called it the largest moon of 2013. Wedwand refuses to comment on the specifics of the largest moon seen in 2013, but rumor has it, a Walmart near a Flippin Arkansas also had a sighting.

Many myths about the moon have been perpetrated. However, today we have learned that:

The Blue Moon isn’t blue, the strawberry moon is not red, or even sweet and juicy, Sadly. I must add to the misinformation of myths that the man in the moon isn’t real. A shocking revelation, I know.

I leave you with perhaps the most inane song about the moon ever written containing the classic lyric, “Mr. Moon come on through. When Mr. Sun goes we’ll be counting on you.” To perpetuate the earworm, here’s the song as performed by Paul Revere and the Raiders in 1969: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qG4OWT4GWLU

Me, I’ve got an incredible craving for green cheese and moon pies.

Footnote: In case you missed it, here’s the full Wedwand post referenced above:
https://wedwand.wordpress.com/2013/06/26/scattering-summer-solstice-thoughts/

IMG_0857I struggle to articulate something relevant to say in light of the events of this past week.

Once again another violent tragedy has happened resulting in the loss of innocent lives. Our collective hearts break for the victims of such a senseless act.

What is most upsetting is that instead of sympathy and empathy for victims of tragedy, many want to find blame. The right blames the left. The left blames the right. Mystified, the middle sits silently and nods. And in the process of this blame game, few reach out to help.

Talk show spin doctors spout bigoted misconceptions as truth. News stations slant the story to fit their agenda. Sadly, many people then echo what the media pundits preach as truth.

Nobody seems to seek unity in these United States we call America. Everybody just wants to win, wants to say I told you so, wants to say I’m right. You’re wrong.

What’s wrong is very few of our so called leaders seeks a path to harmony and accord. Some of the quotes I’ve heard in the wake of this most recent tragedy do nothing to promote peace. Many of our leaders don’t lead and are the root cause of this divisiveness.

It begins with the election process. A proliferation of negative ads flood the airwaves every year at election time. The goal is to get the candidate elected whatever the cost. With very few exceptions, the mission of the candidate seems to be to slam the opponent, not focus on the facts.

This negativity perpetuates itself after the elections. Apparently our politicians think negativity got them elected, so why not keep it going.

What nobody seems to want to notice is that once the candidate is in office all promises are off the board. Public servants? Scoff, please at that misnomer. Most politicians serve only themselves and their special interest contributors, not the public.

The upcoming elections will talk about red states and blue states, but little will be said about united states. Little will be said about a collective harmony in our nation, acknowledging that we are all different yet need to embrace that difference to live in peaceful co-existence. That truth should be self-evident.

Is there hope? Only if we break down the walls of intolerance and learn to accept people for who they are. To not try and impose our will on others. To acknowledge our differences, yet celebrate our sameness. To not rely on the rhetoric of the spin doctors but make our own informed decision. To reach out and help someone in need.

Maybe something like a mutual pledge to each other of our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

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