August was always my least favorite summer month. August meant it was the end of summer. School was coming and freedom was gone. The worst part was the terrible pain that would come every August when I’d head to the Dayton High School gym for volleyball tryouts. I knew this was coming every year and yet I did nothing to be proactive, get fit, and avoid the pain. The point of sports and volleyball is to give you a structured place to use your athleticism, right? If this is the point, I never understood it. Instead, I would do the normal summer thing: s’mores, hotdogs, and hamburgers on hamburger buns full of ketchup. Not good. This led to atrophied muscles and an affinity for sleep rather than exercise. That first day of volleyball practice killed me. I would work so hard to impress Schultz but why? She knew what was up. She knew I hadn’t worked hard over the summer. If I had, I’m sure that my performance at volleyball tryouts would have been more surprising for the coaches year to year. I’m sure some girls did what you’re supposed to do: get fit, attend volleyball camps, lift weights, run. But that wasn’t my gig.
This week is the first week of September but for the past three days, I have felt like I was in that echoing high school gym, doing boards at the end of practice. My legs have been so sore that I feel as if I am three times my age. (I don’t actually know what this feels like but in my imagination, it’s awful.) No. My legs are not sore from exercising in a fun way. I was exercising but in the back of a semi at my temporary blue-collar job for Penner-Ash Winery. The people at Penner-Ash are nice, but the work itself is a true bear. Imagine doing lunges for three hours straight. That’s what we do to get the wine bottles off the pallet and onto the conveyor belt. After the first day of that, my legs felt like mush. The next day when I did the same thing, I thought I was going to die right there. Dying in the back of a semi, bottling wine is not my destiny. I’m much more likely to die in a rebel attack in the middle-east where I teach English and tolerance (or at least I would like it if that were in the cards).
The last few days have been rough. I now see why parents who work these sort of jobs go home and usually spend little time helping their kids do their homework. They’re exhausted at the end of the day. That’s why I want to be a teacher. I think all these crazy temp jobs I’ve had give me some good perspective. Life isn’t easy in the real world. Jobs can be tough. Pay can be low. And somehow, people are just learning how to survive.