This summer will be the ninth that I don my apron, and I doubt that this will be my last summer spent gripping a mop.
That being said, this is by far my busiest summer ever. I scamper around Calhoun getting interviews and meeting deadlines as an intern at the Calhoun Times by day and flip burgers and clean bathrooms at Calhoun Bowling Center by night.
And after this summer is over, I have a full course load and a college job waiting for me. As they say, there is no rest for the weary.
But I'm not complaining. If I need to flip a few burgers or type up a few obituaries in order to graduate college without debt and in good standing, then so be it.
My grandmother had a mortgage and four children when she was an undergraduate — I think I can handle some burger flipping.
Plus there's a lot to be said for spending your summers behind a bowling alley snack counter. I meet more people every day than I did in a semester at college.
And the surprise is, they're nice — most of them, at least. It's odd that a job in the service industry can restore one's faith in humanity, but it's true for me. Regardless of whether you're flipping their burgers or they're flipping yours, people react to a friendly smile by smiling right back.
The same has been mostly true with my first stabs at journalism. I always cringe a little when I have to ask someone a question I know they won't want to answer. I am, after all, 19, and most of the people I interview are old enough to be my parents or even grandparents.
But I've found that if you ask questions respectfully and listen — really listen — to answers, most people don't mind being honest and respectful in return. Even if it is a silly teenaged intern asking the questions.
I know that many of my college friends won't spend a minute cleaning, burger flipping or answering to a boss this summer, and some of them may never have to. But I also know that I wouldn't trade this experience for all the summer beach parties in the world.
I can make a mean grilled cheese sandwich, I can format a page of a newspaper and I can clean mens' restrooms without getting sick. But, most importantly, I know the importance of behaving respectfully.
Everyone, from the girl working the counter of your local bowling center to the prominent state politician soliciting your vote, just wants your respect and a friendly smile.
Sarah Welty, whose parents own the Calhoun Bowling Center, also is an intern at the Calhoun Times. She will be a sophomore at Davidson College this fall.