In the Quiet

A great summer job when I was a teenager was working in the peach packing house. They were always hiring, you got plenty of hours and a paycheck. A nearby packing house has adults, mostly women working there.

Picking peaches could pay well but it is hot work. Today, many guest workers from Mexico do the work. I have always thought it would be a great job for college students. It does not last all summer and does pay well. You are paid at the rate you pick.

My mom occasionally will say she would love to pick peaches in the summer. She knows her body is too worn for the work; but, she is still a worker at heart. We drive by some errant grape vines that need trimming. We both have the urge to start wacking.

My first day working at the packing house produced wave after wave of nausea. The movement of the conveyor belt is a bit much. Today with headphones, you could boogie away the time. I remember the hum and monotony of the work. Lots of thinking filled the air.

I read a blog today about how to get writing insights and one suggestion was exercise. After water aerobics I write well. I have not started meditating. To slow down and collect thoughts is apparently difficult.

The memory of working in the peach packing house brought back a memory. In 1982, my teaching contract was not renewed. The principal told me to tell people that it was due to the layoff which was indeed happening. They reduced 88 positions in the county I worked in.

The truth was, I had a lot of difficulty with the students. Students were able to choose their teacher and it had become easier that year due to the other science teacher being someone the students could run over as easily as me. That teacher chose to not come back the next year.

The fact that I taught 36 to 38 students in five classes each day and was on the lowest rung of the pay scale should have discouraged me. My dad seemed actually happy I lost the job, and I could not understand why.

I did not teach particularly bad students. In later years, I would deal with much more difficult and "bad" students. I was just too young and dumb to handle the situation. I remember I thought it was horrible, and I was so very ashamed. My sister had started having symptoms of schizophrenia and my family was stressed with this unknown territory.

My principal knew I was planning to go to pharmacy school in time. He recommended that as a good opportunity. I was not cut out for teaching.

I needed to work about one more year to attend pharmacy school. My family was stressed. I was out of work. I took a job at the packing house to keep the money rolling in. I remember a young black teacher was so insulted that the teachers felt it was degrading that I worked in the packing house. She was and they said nothing.

At the time, I said nothing which was probably wise. They were saying the same thing about her too. She was a temporary teacher and not in my situation which was fear of the future and being a failure.  All I needed was to be in a big stink from repeating what I heard or saying something to those teachers.

One of my problems with the other teachers were my roots. I did not feel any shame working an honest job. I was not born to money and did not pretend to have genteel roots. Impoverished nobility was not something I related to.

That summer working, I had time to think. I was working in June and knew the job would fizzle in mid August. I had applied for several jobs.

Ronald Reagan made tax cuts for the wealthiest and started his "trickle down" economic stimulus which led to a huge recession in 1982. Congress and he quickly reversed course. In the meantime the area in which I lived had a boom or bust cycle. It was definitely bust.

My summer paycheck would be gone in August and I better find a better situation. I took the open day off and traveled to Atlanta and found a place to live. I had heard you could make $7 an hour working at McDonalds which was a good salary. Apparently, the apartment manager liked me. I took a lease beginning August 1st but she told me I could move in early for free.

I found a job. I would have worked anywhere and turned down three job offers. Not that I wanted to be a teacher but I liked the woman who interviewed me. So I became a teacher. I never intended to make a career of teaching. I had so much fun that year at the school, I signed on for the next year.

Inspiration comes in the quiet. I've always felt that something divine speaks to you and if you slow down you can hear it. I haven't started meditation. But I still plan to.


  1. Peach packing and the like is sure hard work indeed. Sometimes life sure turns us back to what we didn't want to do.

    1. So true.I never meant to be a teacher.

  2. I think I would have wanted to do peach packing, at least for a season. We lived in Medford Oregon for 5 years, home of Harry and David. They had seasonal work packing pears. My kids were young and I didn't want to work while they were young, not in school. We moved before they were in school all day, which is when the pear packing season begins (September). I would have wanted to try pear packing myself.

    Being a teacher is hard work; I admire those that can do it, especially with the class sizes you had between 36-38. Kids are very sharp and observant; know how to push adult buttons so to speak and can take over a classroom, even if they are the best of kids other places.

    I'm glad you did find your niche in teaching at a different location.


    1. I have noticed they hire mostly adult women to pack peaches now. I am sure they save money in they have better workers. As a teenager, it was mostly about the breaks, lunchtime, packing house boyfriend. It was a good experience.
      You do reach a point where you really enjoy your job as a teacher. But some of the stuff you go through is so demoralizing. Losing that job was one of the better things to happen to me in life.

  3. Teaching and/or peach packing: neither are easy jobs.

    1. I can assure you teaching was easier; although, it was not easier that year of my life. Thanks for dropping by.

  4. Work is work. Doesn't matter what it is.
    Interesting path life leads us down sometime.

    1. Exactly, a pet peeve of mine is someone who puts down someone working at a fast food. It's honest work. What could be wrong with that.

  5. Your posts are always such interesting tidbits; intricate pieces of you :-) I believe I'd truly enjoy a summer picking peaches! My very first job was minding the 'cheap' counter at a small jewelry store downtown. I learned right off how you had to keep an eye on the patrons when you worked so near a city bus stop ;-) The proprietor allowed only opera music to play at all times and wore a black fedora and trench coat rain or shine. He was a master engraver and I was fascinated, but after only one try he suggested I take up chasing ping pong balls!
    I feel the same about the "urge to start whacking", especially in blue and yellow meadows:-)

    1. You are so kind in your comment. Thank you.

      Oh I know that was an interesting job to think back on. The proprietor was a study in himself. Thanks for coming by.

  6. Before I had my children, I worked in a dog kennel in the summer. It was hot and stinky work but I loved it. A lot of people don't realize how teachers used to always have second jobs because their pay was so bad. It's better today but they come out of college with so much debt.

    1. I worked a second job so much of my career. Georgia paid teachers better close to the end of my career. However, they have had so pisspour treatment with budget cuts. Budget cuts due to tax breaks for large corporations. I know I still pay 6 percent.


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