Friday, July 10, 2009

First Week of First Job Done

From July 6 to August 14, I will be working with the Greening of Detroit, an environmental organization that hires high schoolers every summer to pitch in and help clean and preserve the natural areas of Detroit. My grandmother essentially got me the job. She took my sister and I (she didn't get it) to the first orientation, to the tree planting tryouts, to the job interview, to the employment certification office, and to the final orientation. I knew nothing about it until she told me. And, if I remember clearly, about eighty students out of maybe six hundred that tried to get the job were hired. Lucky me, and thank you, thank you, thank you, Granny!

An exciting and exhausting week. The first day merely consisted of us dividing into crew teams, and getting to know our team mates. Mine's a cool group. All African-American except for crew leader Kate, who speaks a little slang and has braided hair.

The second day, we went to a work site to perform all the activities we'd ultimately be doing for the entire six weeks of work. That included: using tools such as a pick axe, spade shovel, lumber carriers, axe-and-pry (not actually name), etc. (for some reason, there are strange names for each of them); watering trees with buckets of water from various neighborhood fire hydrants; identifying trees; pruning tree branches; and mulching new trees. Pretty straight forward. One extraordinary event of that day, though. This is the first time I'd ever had a bee land on me, and I didn't get scared. This bumblebee was on my shoulder, and I turned surprised and said, "Hello." I thought it would fly away if I ignored it, but it crawled on the back of my neck. It tickled, and I nervously laughed and squirmed, a la Linguini of Ratatouille. I got a few strange looks. Still laughing, I managed to ask, "Is there a bee on my head?" One of them looked under my work helmet, and was shocked to find a bumblebee stuck in my hair! He shooed it away and I was OK. Cool.

The third day consisted solely of tree watering. Again, straight forward with a side of the extraordinary (to me): this day, I rode the bus all the way home for the first time in my life. All by myself. I know I'm seventeen, but stuff like this fascinates me. I actually fell asleep for a moment too much, and missed my exit by a few blocks. No real biggie; I passed a Little Caesars, so I got something to eat on the way. Also, while we were working, one of the students found a lost baby bird. And put a bucket over it. Shame, shame. There was nothing we could do for the poor little thing. Kate fed it a small worm she found, but we put it in a bush for temporary protection from cats. I wonder if it's true that human contact on a baby bird causes the mother not to take the baby back.

The forth day, we went to our worksite in River Rouge Park. Man was that placed filled with mosquitos! So irritating were they that I got frustrated and couldn't really concentrate on the work. This day, I had to wake up at five in the morning and catch a bus to work. First time. Pretty cool. I'm part of the working class now!

Finally, today, being scheduled as a shorter day, we worked on the site again. Mosquitos bugged us again, but we strayed ourselves well with bug repellate, and used additional clothing to cover our skin. Bites persisted, though.

It feels good to finally have a job. Exhausting as it is, the exercise will be very helpful to my health. And we get paid to work and play games in between work, so that's pretty cool. Five more weeks to go!

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