I spent one high-school summer pushing soft-serve at a local TCBY. The yogurt came in frozen-wastepaper basket-sized bags that needed a hot-water bath to thaw into lukewarm liquid before they could be loaded into the machines. If we poured the bags in too early, chunks of dairy ice would clog the pipeline and make the dispensers seize up until we removed them by hand. I’d close my eyes, roll up my sleeve and gently plunge my arm into the yogurt vat up past my elbow to dredge for the low-calorie culprit, and would come up for air covered in the flavor of the week. We never washed our hands first.
—Chris Norton (COL ’07)
I worked for the borough of Carlisle, Pennsylvania. I did park maintenance and I was responsible for cleaning every manner of filth that found its way onto park property. A list of some of the things I picked up that summer:
Two hypodermic needles
Leftovers of a bum party—empty cheap alcohol bottles and puke
—Tony Francavilla (COL ’10), dictated to Sam Sweeney (COL ’10)
I used to play poker with the guys in my dorm in high school. One night there were just two of us left—me and a kid two years younger than me who looked five years younger than that. 10 or so other guys sat around the oval table, watching the two of us face off. I played the last hand fast and loose, tossing in stack after stack of chips, sure that he would fold. He looked scared, but kept matching my bets. When the betting ended, he flipped his cards over and stared at my face for some reaction. He had me beat, but I just shook my head at him. He didn’t even bother to look at my cards. I took the chips.
—Sam Sweeney (COL ’10)
Freshman year, thanks to clever marketing on behalf of Victoria’s Secret—remember those IPEX commercials?—I became convinced that all my worldly troubles were the result of wearing a bra and underwear that didn’t match. A job at Victoria’s Secret seemed like the obvious solution: a discount plus the chance to buy the new stuff before anyone else. After exactly 20 minutes on the job, it dawned on me why no one else wanted to the work there: lingerie stores are like perv cesspools. Old men who want you to try things on for them, middle-age couples eager to get it on in the fitting room (why do you think they made that one-customer-at-a-time rule?) and sugar daddies buying the exact same crotchless panties in three different sizes—one for each girlfriend. I needed the money, so I stuck around for nearly three months—just long enough to buy the sluttiest Halloween costume ever.
—Sarah Harman (COL ’09)
In the spring of my freshman year, I learned of an overlooked detail in the Marriott meal plan system. At that time, we could downsize our plans right up to the week before spring break, marking the mid-semester divide. In downsizing, savvy students could recover the difference in cost between large and small meal plans, leaving them with fewer meals, but only half the semester left to consume them in.
When I walked in on a Friday afternoon to do just that, I could already hear the romanticized sounds of samba that I expected to find when I disembarked from the plane in Brazil. With the hefty check of $1,000 that I received from the downsize, I spent a month in Bahia, Brazil taking Portuguese classes and living with a family. For the rest of the semester, I subsisted quite well on the 75 meals that I had gotten in exchange.
—Lauren Gaskill (COL ’07)