There I Was, On That Hot Summer Day...

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There I was, on that hot summer day, hundreds of miles from home on an old beaten down bus. We were on the transit to a neighboring corn field, my cousin and I, in a bus filled with people I don’t know. The conditions are miserable; we wake up at five am, get to the bus stop by 5:45, and continue to detassle throughout the day up until about three o'clock. In the middle of the day, the heat is at its worst; the mud is still present from the previous night, yet the blistering heat waves torture the entire group.

They divide us into smaller groups of eight, two of which are leaders to check on the other six rows. This is my first year trying this job, and I am not really sure what to expect. With my pride and masculinity on the line, the only thing I was sure of was that I was not going to quit. After all, there are plenty of girls out here; some of them are physically in a feeble condition. I wasn’t going to allow my hatred for this keep me from the ultimate goal. I knew that by detassling, I would be able to make quite a large portion of money for a kid that does not have many living expenses. I figured that three weeks of torture would be well worth the end result of about half a thousand dollars.

Everyone says that the first day is always the hardest, but it wasn’t that way for me. On that first morning I arose from my bed, bright and early, with an excitement caused by curiosity that I can not help but relate to a child waking up on Christmas day. The first time I stepped out into the sea corn, like an adventurer lost deep in the thickness of jungle, I was in awe of the vast extent of the land. It stretched on as far as the eye could see, almost as if there was no end. Going into it, I thought I was prepared; I had comfortable sweats for walking, music to listen to, and a sack lunch for once I became hungry. The pair of old, white tennis shoes that I was wearing were comfy and I was without blisters , so it seemed like things were looking up for me. I had been wearing an old, beaten-down t-shirt that had the two thousand Olympics logo on it, and it had held up amiably in the heat; it would have been nice for it to have long sleeves though. By three o’clock the day was over and I was feeling beaten up and abused, but in a good sort of way. It was like the feeling one might get from a good, honest days work. It is a feeling that when I get it, to this day, I am reminded of those hot summer spent years ago in the Nebraskan countryside.

When my cousin and I got home, we both raced for the showers, insistent on removing the grit and grime. It took a solid twenty minutes of scrubbing till it hurt and steaming hot water, but I was finally able to accomplish the act. The rest of the summer day was ours, to do with it as we wished, but neither of us dared to leave the omniscient air-conditioning of the house. After all, we knew what it was like out there. Instead, we chose the safety and security of watching television in the cool and quiet basement, with the far-off troubles of the outside world being blown away in the cool breeze.

The next morning came too soon; unlike the last time, I did not wake up with any of the excitement or wonder of what the next day would consist of. Instead, I woke up with the unexpected aches and pains to accompany the fatigue that seemed to have captured me while I was sleeping. My dad always was threatening me about what it’s going to be like when I would be old and frail. I was beginning to experience it a little too quickly for my liking though. So to counteract these feelings, I decided to hit the snooze button; maybe an extra ten minutes would do the job. I was wrong; the extra time gave me more time to regret having to wake up. It ended up doing the polar opposite of its design.

We were lucky to make it to the bus on time. The extra snooze had made it so we got there right as the last people were boarding and we had to sprint to reach the bus doors before they closed. As I sat down next to some kid I had never seen before, I instantly got the blaring sensation that not all was right and that something was out pf place. I scoped out my surroundings, everything from the floor to the windows, and it took some time before it came to me. I had left my lunch at my cousin’s house on the kitchen counter. My face began to transform into a tomato, how could I be so stupid? I guess in the rush to be on time, it had slipped my mind; and eventually my stomach was going to pay for it.

Once we arrived at the designated corn field, I came to another startling realization: the irrigation of the corn field by the center pivot had turned the rows in between the corn into moats. With every step I took I could feel the water sloshing in my tennis shoes. Oh how I wished that I would have brought boots. The hours spent out there felt like days, even weeks in the unforgiving swamps. Before it was over my feet had turned into pickles from being enveloped in the muddy water mixture for so long. That was the most memorable moment made out there that summer, by far.

After that dramatic event, the rest of the days passed slowly and steadily. I even ended up making a few new friends, including one that I still talk to presently. In the end though, most of the events and people do start to fade, but I always will have that memory of that summer and the life lessons that were learned.





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