Hot girl summer is in action — at least for me. Just not in the way I wish. Every summer during my breaks away from school I work my life away because my rent isn’t about to pay itself.

Unlike having a dream internship or something a little less dirty, I spend eight to 10 hours of the day inside a hot, humid factory linking together chains for John Deere. So yeah, hot girl summer is every day for me. It’s easy work and pays well, and the people I work with have included me like one of their own every time I come back to work during my breaks.

By the end of the day I’m hot, sweaty, tired and dirty on my arms and shirt. Once that bell rings at 3 p.m., I’m ready to sit my butt in my air-conditioned car and cool off. Then drive 30 minutes home to shower off the dirt and grime.

Honestly, I’m living the hot girl dream.

When I’m not walking around or talking to other people, I stand and make chains, and it gets boring. Since I can’t use my phone to entertain me, I have a lot of time to think.

My brain sure does cover almost everything. One minute I’m thinking about why must I be an adult and work during my school breaks and other times I think of what I’m going to buy because it’s important to treat yourself.

Most of the time though, I’m thinking of my lunch just waiting to be eaten come break time. Besides quitting time, the lunch bell is my second favorite bell of the workday.

Also, the bells signaling when my shift starts and ends remind me of high school all over again, except I’m not going to a different class just to either stand in the same spot or leave. When we have those glorious food days, I stack that plate up. I love that my job can make me feel like I’m back in high school at times.

Other times when I’m not thinking of what I plan on eating or how excited I am to get in my pajamas after work and sit down and endlessly scroll through my phone, I’m having an internal battle with my anxiety. Those days at work tend to be the worst because I’ll get so in my head. I’ll go back and forth with my brain and tell it to chill and that I am fine, and this too shall pass.

Sometimes not a lot is going on up there and I just zone out. Then I mess up, probably yell some cuss words because I have to tear the chain apart. But getting to use the grinder when I mess up is pretty fun. Who knew power tools are a blast to use?

When the chain still is not coming apart after using the grinder to make it easier to hammer out the pins used to hold it together, I yell some more cuss words and walk away from it before I hammer my finger again.

By the way, I have hammered my left index finger twice, both times breaking the skin and bleeding out like a water fountain. Not a fun time. In those moments, I think to myself, “why in the world aren’t I back at school sitting in lecture on my phone?”

Factory work makes me thankful that I’ve continued my education. My supervisor jokes with me all the time how she is going to call my school and tell them I’m not returning because I just love working at the factory. While it makes me feel appreciated that my hard work while I’m there does not go unnoticed, I couldn’t imagine doing it for 40 years like she has.

It’s labor-intensive work. It is not cut out for everyone. I’ve seen my fair share of people come and go the short time I’ve worked there. Some of the people who have been there for years and whom I’ve gotten the chance to know are welcoming, share the best stories and are hilarious. Even on my worst days they make me smile and laugh.

I know my past summer and winter breaks aren’t the ones I wanted away from college. Something as simple as linking chains together linked me to knowing some of the best people I’ve met so far. Even though I’m not sitting on the beach, I’ll take that hot, humid factory with those crazy folks any day — as long as I get that paycheck at the end of the week.

GRACE KINNICUTT is News Editor for The Vidette. She can be contacted at gkinnic@ilstu.edu Follow her on Twitter at @GKinnicutt 


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