Hot Fun In The
Memorable Summer Jobs
by Chuck Musciano
The summer between high school and college, 1978, had two memorable jobs for me.
My first was as a cashier in a souvenir store at the Great Adventure Amusement Park in Jackson, NJ. My store was between the log flume ride and a disco they had set up to capitalize on the disco dance craze. Over and over, they blared the same eight songs, all night long. To this day, when I hear "Last Dance" by Donna Summers, I flash back to my cash register and the aisles of vinyl junk that people would buy.
Everyone who came in the store was soaking wet from the log flume ride. They would pull wads of soaking wet money from their pockets and spread it out on the counter. I would let it dry on a shelf below my register to keep from having all the money get stuck together in the cash drawer.
In those days, cash registers were purely mechanical, with big round buttons and a rectangular thing you hit with the heel of your hand to record an item. The buttons stayed pushed in until you hit the thing, which rung the sale and released the buttons. I would get bored and start making patterns in the buttons and then inadvertantly hit the "record" button. Then my manager would have to sign an overring slip for some amount like $987,654.32 or $121,212.12.
On break, you could buy candy from roaming vendors, who would take your dollar, give you your candy, and four quarters in change. My first brush with corruption!
After about four weeks, I switched jobs and became a "poll coder" for the Gallup Organization. Me and about 10 other people sat in a big room with stacks of poll results in front of us. We had to read each response and write a numeric code in the margin that would later be keypunched into the computer. It was horribly dull.
My favorite poll was the "Marijuana Usage" poll, a big project at Gallup. It was taken in two parts, the first administered by a Gallup representative who visited your house, and the second which was left to be completed in private by the pollee. We were coding the "private" results, which had one question that asked "when did you last smoke marijuana?" My favorite response was "about ten minutes ago, with the Gallup representative"!
NEXT: The Eiffel Tower Ice Skating Show
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March 10, 2002
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