Yup I sure was! For ten whole days I wore the badge of honor before tripping and falling flat on my face. For all you folks out there, desperation only leads to craigslist and craigslist only leads to ...
This was two and a half years ago. I was looking for a job, living in Superior and going to school at UWS. I saw the add and called only to leave a message into the great unknown. I remember only bit's and pieces of this, but I received a phone call back quickly and before I knew it, I had the oddest phone interview in the history of man. I could play the mandolin? Sing? "Uhh, ok. You're hired!" The man who I talked to, seemed unsure of himself, desperate, and very hurried. I think that I was his last choice. But I took it. I was to work at a boy scouts camp in Ely, living there for the summer and working as part of the historic team that entertained groups of boys that came back to camp after their adventures over in Boundary Water Land. WOW! But I had to become a Boy Scout. For me, this only meant that I needed for sign a paper and pay a crisp five dollars.
I arrived mentally unprepared for what lay ahead. After getting checked in and signing stuff that stated that I would be happy to be underpaid for a few months of work, I quickly began meeting the folks that I would be in training with for a week and fitted for a uniform. (As I write this, I am literally thinking, "Wow I want to do that again!")
I met the coolest canadian woman my first day, who was going to get married that same summer, and who threaded her ear with... thread. Slowly gadgeing it as she added more and more rings. I tried that later that summer, and thought it very rad, only to have to take it out later for sanitary reasons while taking a nurses aid class... GA! Don't ask me how you plan for your wedding and work at a camp at the same time. But I guess she new how to work it.
Everything seemed to be running smoothly, well that was until my boss showed up. He literally came pre-dressed in voyager costume. He was one of those that took his job to heart. In fact, I believe the poor man was badly placed histories timeline. In a split second after seeing him, I realized what a treat I was in for. My boss, we'll call him Steve, was a man who always came rushing into a room, yelling at his crew (his motley crew of two) trying to get things set up and ready. He was quite disorganized and painfully slow at really getting things done. But the booming sounds that came from his lungs made up for everything he lacked in his preparedness.
So did I mention I was hired to work as a base staff? Does this require that I need to know how to swim well if I work on land? Uh no. But yes indeed, before a week was over, all one hundred of us poor souls were informed that we were about ready to be tested in our water surviving capabilities. I think I was the only one not really aware that this was a requirement. I saw that my roommates took the situation lightly, saying that it was not going to be that bad. They were chipper the day of the test! These girls had worked at camps before. Laughter filled the bunkhouse as they talked about it.
But I knew myself all too well.
That evening we were packed like sardines into a few vehicles and shipped to the local water tank in town. Now I have to say that for Ely being so darn small, it sure has a fricken large pool. We all got out and everyone seemed in good spirits running to the high school lockers to change before lining up at the edge of the pool. Now being that I was unprepared for such a test, I was also unprepared in my gear as well. Therefore, like usual, I put my suit on, but also made sure to cover myself in some cotton material (shorts and a t-shirt). This was also to help my incoming death experience to be all the more rapid.
We all lined up. People were laughing and joking. It was simple! The lifeguards started strolling the edge of the infernal depths. The test began. We would just have to dive in, swim back and forth twice and then do some river paddling. No Sweat!! My palms however were clammy and I was breathing hard as I shuffled forward in line listening and watching each complete the requirements. The pool looked a mile long. A couple boys in the back, became so roundy around the wet tile that one slipped and hit his head, promptly had a seizure behind me. Talk about putting a cherry one one's sunday.
It was my turn. I managed to fake a "dive" swimming one way and then turing around and paddling back. My energy lasted about a minute. As soon as I felt weak and couldn't touch the bottom, I began to panic and yelled at the lifeguard that I needed to get out. I did, and I remained dripping wet on the edge of the pool, while the poor woman came by me frequently to ask if I was all right. I wasn't! I was horribly embarrassed at myself. I could hear faintly the sound of splashing, and managed to look up as everyone else finished with a peculiar ease.
The girl came over to me and said. "Let's do it again." Everyone was done and gone and with a drooping shoulders and cold body, jumped in again with her at my side trying once more to drowned myself.
It was so painful for me. Halfway through the test, I gave up again, swimming to the edge of the pool in order to get out, but the girl began to yell at me and tell me I would do it. Believe it or not, I finished.
I quickly dressed in the lockers overhearing sweet lifeguard talk quite loudly to her friend as they changed. "Signe did real well didn't she?"
Ah shit, I'm too old for this.
For our gold metals, we all were shipped to a Dairy Queen to feast on God's gift to man. One young fellow, strong, tan, Californinan type, lifeguard himself, came over to me as I sat quietly by my roomies at the cramped cold table. "Boy you really can't swim can't you?" Can you he stated matter of fact like. "No", I said. What I should have said was, "Well if you grew up perpetually dehydrated, and the only site of water came from a hose that watered very large gardens and not you, you wouldn't be able to swim either!" I didn't.
Sadly the job didn't last, I freaked out. I lost to my fear of Idon'tknowwhat and went home. Signing myself up for a nurses aid class, I finished the summer in melancholy.
So that's my story of being a Boy Scout. :)
Photos of Hibbing