Posted by: Kathryn Hulick | October 20, 2010

Adventure Island

Montreal, Canada. Summer 2010.

Photo taken by Suzanne Hulick

Want to know the crappiest summer job ever? Not pizza delivery boy. Not lawn mowing. Not even burger flipping. Been there, done that.

Here it is: Amusement park custodian. One: you’re a custodian. A garbage man. The kid everyone feels sorry for and wonders, is he on probation? Is this like, a youth detention job?

Two: guess what fat lady + burger and fries + tilt-a-whirl equals? That’s right, a big stinking pile of vomit. I used to keep tabs of every vomit-call, but stopped when I got to 50. It was just too depressing.

Three: all those rides. And video games! And curly fries and milkshakes! But who can’t go on any of them? Who has to bring a sandwich from home so he doesn’t spend his minimum wage on $5 sodas?

Me. Chester McCleary. High school sophomore-to-be and lowly Adventure Island amusement park custodian.

I thought it would be fun. Honestly, I did! My buddies and I love this place. Last year, on a rainy day when there was no line, we went on the Insane Twist Monster thirty times in a row and then had a pizza eating contest and I was the only one who didn’t throw up. The amusement park custodian gods of karma should have smiled upon me for that one.

Now, I can’t even look at the Insane Twist Monster without seeing the trash can to the right which is once again overflowing, even though I just emptied it an hour ago.

I walk over towards the can, kind of hunched to hid the stupid dancing bear in a hula skirt on my bright yellow vest. I’m picking up wrappers and disgusting cheesy plates that fell on the ground, touching as few molecules of the filth as possible, when I feel eyes on me.

Horror of horrors. It’s a girl. I just know it is. But it can’t be THE girl, can it? The amusement park gods of karma aren’t that cruel?

“Hey Ches-terrr!” Ilana Jacobs draws out my name in a high-pitched squeal that I bet the whole park can hear, and I wish I could just melt into a puddle of dissolved teenage boy. I bet I would look just like up-chucked mountain dew.

I turn around, then immediately realize how stupid that was. I could have pretended it wasn’t me. I could have told her there’s this weird guy who looks just like me working at Adventure Island. She probably would have laughed in that magic, crystalline way that makes my insides fall apart.

Too late for that.

“Hey,” I say, keeping my left arm nonchalantly over the hula bear.

“Nice vest.” She giggles, but it’s not crystalline. It’s like shards of glass piercing my soul.

OK, that simile was a little over-the-top, but we’re talking major humiliation here.

“Mghmmfss,” I say. It was supposed to sound like something clever and funny and macho all at the same time, but my brain ran away to cower with my balls.

She walks away to join the line. I sit down on the ground next to a sour patch kids wrapper.

I pick it up and drop it in my plastic bag.

“Honda Accord,” I repeat to myself. “Honda Accord.”

It’s my mantra. Every stupid penny I earn here goes toward a car. And it’s not even for me. It’s for my mom.

 

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