One thing I didn't share before was that during this time in my life (from the time I was a junior in high school) I had a very serious boyfriend. Really my first. I allowed him to manipulate my life far more than was healthy. At the end of my freshman year of college, I chose to switch schools. If I had instead gone back to that school, even if I didn't go in to teaching, my entire second year would have been paid for via grants and scholarships.
Instead, I ended up taking a year off from college. I didn't decide to switch schools until May - when school was ending. It was too late to apply for student loans and all of my grants and scholarships were based on me still attending the first school.
From February until I finished my first year of college, I was working on finding a summer job. In the town I grew up in there were three mills. One manufactured wooden medical products (tongue depressors and the like), one did fabrics (lots of wool) and the other was known for its golf tees (and other products). I would call the HR guy every month or so and ask about working there that summer. I wanted to work there for a couple of reasons. The first being the pay. It was far better than any other summer job I would find in that area. Secondly, I had an "in." My boyfriend's mother worked there and had for about 15 or so years (if not longer).
It worked. I started working at Pride Manufacturing that summer. Welcome to mill life. Now, let me preface this by saying something. Mill work is good money. There are a lot of towns that have mills and they are the lifeblood of the town. I don't mean to sound disrespectful to those who chose to work their all their life (or who have that choice forced on them for lack of other employment opportunities). However, mill life was not for me.
That summer I worked in the paint shop. It was a converted garage. I worked with two men and another woman. My job....sorting painted wood dowels. Have you ever seen these toys?
Yup, I sorted the straight dowels used for making them. The two guys I worked with painted them (they were mixed in large drums) and dried them (again large drums) and the other lady (who didn't work there full-time - I did) sorted them. Boring? Absolutely.
Thankfully I worked with some fun people and it made the time pass pretty fast. Added to that, did I mention I worked in a converted garage? Every so often I would be working and all of the sudden I would have a huge hairy spider drop down in front of me. Yikes! Of course, that would be an understatement!
Then half-way through the summer I found out I wasn't going back to school. I asked to stay on at the mill. Again, good money. I needed to save up for college. I had no plans to make working at this mill my life's work - no matter how good the money. As for how good the people were that I worked with - they threw me a little "going away" party since I would be moving to the main mill. My cake? It had a huge spider and spider web on it. One of the men made it for me.
I was granted the opportunity to stay, but once the summer was over, I was moved to third shift. That meant working Sunday night 10pm until 6am and Monday-Thursday night 11pm until 6am. It was a very long year. I worked on a two-person team. We ran two different sizes of saws. One cut smaller lengths of dowels that were about 4-5 inches in diameter. They were about three feet in length. One of us would load the saw and the other would sit and sort what came off the saw for quality. We filled up burlap bags with the cut pieces. We took turns loading the saw and sorting. Some nights we ran a saw that the did the same thing, but the lengths of the wood were about six feet instead.
I very much disliked the work and the hours, but it was excellent motivation for sending me back to school.
The summer before I returned to school I was again moved to a different job at the mill. As I mentioned, this mill made golf tees. That was (and is) their biggest industry. I spent the summer sorting more dowels as they came off a different type of saw. I worked with a girl I knew from high school. We sat side-by-side and sorted (she was to catch what I missed). I still worked third shift. In order to stay awake we spent the summer playing 20 Questions. Try doing that while wearing ear plugs in a mill with lots of different saws running - it was interesting - but certainly fun.
I was very ready to head back to college in the fall. As for my major....I'll let you know next week what I ended up choosing.
Thanks to Ginny Marie (Lemon Drop Pie) for hosting "My Young Adult Years" at Mommy's Piggy Tales.