Tag Archives: High school

The Grounds Crew

One summer I worked for the grounds crew at my high school with some other kids.  I attended (as a day student) an all boys, private boarding school.  The campus had these impressive, old, stone buildings built in the 1920’s by an eccentric Ayn Randish woman.  I worked with this kid named Sean who was a year behind me but my but much larger and muscular.  We hit it off because we both listened to Pink Floyd. I remember one time I was assigned to work with the little Vietnamese kid.  I wanted to work with Sean.  I felt like I was stuck with the nerd group.  It felt humiliating.

The permanent employees were a bunch of older guys.  There was Rodney (an anorexic Irishman), Lou (a seemingly semi-retarded Frenchman). The maintenance guys call the lunch truck the “garbage truck”.  “Garbage truck is right!” Lou would always say anytime someone mentioned it as if he had just come up with a new joke on the spur of the moment.  There was Paul, a large gray-haired man Sean and I called ‘Cerebral’ which was short for cerebral palsy.  Their leader was some big, tan, muscled douche bag with a bushy mustache.  He took a liking to Sean but seemed to not respect me.  I assume because I was not a muscular kid like Sean.  I remember there was one younger guy with the buzz cut who talked about drugs all the time.  There was also a teacher from my school who worked there. I forget his name but he always seemed embarrassed to be working with us.  I think his wife had left him that year which was a common thing for faculty wives to do at my school as I recall.  I guess the all boys environment was tough on marriages.

The older crew members were not that motivated. One time I walked past a classroom and saw one of them just sitting in a chair in the dark.  He told me he was riding out the clock until our next coffee break.

Much of our work involved the sewage filter area.  There were two big square areas filled with sand.  A large white pipe emerged from one of the corners of each square which extended to the middle of the square.  Every so often sewage would come out of the pipe and pour out onto the sand. The sand filtered the water out from the sewage.  After it dried, we shoveled out the sand with the shit on it into a wheelbarrow.  We would then push it up a ramp and dump it in the woods surrounding the squares.   That never seemed like a great system to me but I might not be remembering it correctly.

I remember it was hard to get the wheelbarrow up the ramp.  I had to get a running start, which was difficult pushing the wheelbarrow through sand.  If I had enough momentum by the time I hit the ramp I could make it to the top.  If not, typically the wheelbarrow would tip over and all the sand would pour out.  Then the other kids would laugh and ridicule me.  I remember feeling very humiliated when that happened. Sean was able to do it every time.

Most of the time we were assigned to go to the shit squares we goofed off and did not do anything.  Sometimes we would sit around and dip chewing tobacco.  We would listen to Sebastian (a local Howard Stern clone) on the radio.  We would whip crab apples at each other.  We even constructed a crab apple city we named Crabappolis.  It was a boring job.  The days seemed to drag, especially down at the sewage area. Working in restaurants certainly involved more pressure.

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