How a summer molded a young man, and what you can learn from him


by Mark Pleiss

It was a summer on the brink. A period of time one only wishesthey could have back. So many things that could have come up Mark -but didn’t.

Come, sit upon my lap and hear how my summer broke down intothree pieces that, once you hear, will not only help you throughlife, but maybe even make you a better person. For summer not onlyaffects people from the body and mind, but also the soul. So withno further disclaimer…let us begin.

A Real Job?

Amongst the several thousand lousy things I must do during aperiod of rest and relaxation such as summer, finding a “real job”is undoubtedly one of the most foul. Normally, I return to mybeloved second home at the City of Omaha Parking Meter Department.But this year was different. When I called for the job, I wasdisappointed to learn I had been “laid off.” Though I did feel oldtelling my friends I had been laid off, I soon came to the realitythat I would have to return to my school district to performlandscape work for about three pesos an hour. Getting the job waseasy because, of course, nobody wanted it. And the next thing Iknew, I was waking at 6 a.m. every morning to be bossed around bygrizzled old man named “Big Al” who ruled me with a chip on hisshoulder and a dark bruise on his heart.

So what can we learn from this little endeavor? A collegeeducation is priceless, especially if you’re a guy that isn’t a bigfan of hard labor. Not to say a job in labor, especially if you’rea man like Big Al, who does have a dark corner of my heart tohimself, is any less significant than some job with a piece ofpaper hanging over the desk. But what it should show is that ifyou’re unhappy with your job, no matter how much money you’remaking, it will make your life miserable. Always follow your heart,not your wallet, and find something you would enjoy doing the restof your life. And if the way to finding the job of your dreamsinvolves focusing on your studies, then by God suck it up andstudy.

New car, eh?

The second leg of my summer – when I wasn’t cutting down treesfor the Man – consisted of looking for a car. Being a young boylost in a large world of cars and shady salesmen in a city asexciting as Omaha at times can seem overwhelming. It was a sad daythe Taurus died. I’ll never forget the experience. The phone rangin the middle of the night, sometime around 9:58 p.m.; it was themechanic. I can’t remember the details, only a word here and there,for my mind was spinning: baseball-sized hole in the electricalsystem, cracked head gasket, rancid fluid in radiator. Atapproximately 10:01 p.m., my car was pronounced beyond repairs.Fishing around every car dealership in O-town took about twomonths, but at last I found what I wanted.

But what can we all learn from a summer of talking cars with alegion of slimy salesmen? First of all, the collegiate age isundoubtedly the best age to start learning how to buy a car. Secondof all, whenever you buy a car, never show human emotion. Salesmenfeed off any human blood you pour in their water. Communicate tothem only with an intricate system of blinks and facial gestures.If you find a car, take it to your mechanic before you signanything. And then, whenever they give you their “lowest price,”spit in their face and tell them you’ll walk out right now if youcan’t at least see a 4 in the number.

But most importantly, learn to let go. College is a time ofletting go, bit it family or automobile. Some said the Taurus wasmy best friend, and perhaps that was true. We all have to learn togive our beloved inanimate objects to the scrap yard sometime. Andat this age, it’s not up to mom and dad anymore.


Let’s put it this way. Be careful this year. Never strain theskin that covers your intestines, or you may get a rudesurprise/protrusion. Inguinal hernia surgery may seem fun, but allthe delightful pain medicine aside, it’s really unfun. Especiallywhen the entire procedure takes about a month to smooth out.

So let us remember the good times of summer. The times we holdsacred and the times we’d kill to have back. But of course thepessimistic overtones of this column does overlook a few highpoints, and I could even write about them. But what’s the fun inthat?