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     A job: “If you have a job without any aggravations, you don’t have a job.” – Malcom Forbes

My wife likes to make sun tea.

Last week, she set out the glass container and five minutes later it was ready.

It’s been that kind of summer – when it wasn’t raining.

I sympathize with those highway workers posted at the end of a construction zone waiting for the pilot car to arrive so they’d have something to do. Which reminded me, again, of how lucky I am to be retired. It also brought to mind the three hottest jobs of my life.

     Stacking hay.  Back in the day, before all hay was baled, farmers and ranchers used to build haystacks with a front-end loader on a tractor. Dad could pretty much build a stack on his own, but I remember a hired man or neighbor on that stack with a pitchfork moving hay around, pushing it out to the corners, leveling it, so the stack would be more stable. Confession: I rarely was in a haystack. That was for men. The few times I was up there I probably was in the way. What I do recall is that the heat boiled up from that hay – alfalfa was even worse – and it made me wonder if that was what hell was like. I hope I never find out.

     Road construction: One summer while I was in college I hired on with a road-building company in Marietta, Ga., where my aunt and uncle lived. The company used asphalt, not concrete, to pave roads and driveways. My job was to shovel the hot asphalt into places that needed it, such as corners and low spots. Then the workmen with large rakes would distribute it evenly for the mechanized packer. The asphalt when it hit the ground was 275 degrees. I wore out three pairs of heavy leather work boots that summer and when September came, I was done. Forever.

     Punching bales: This was an oddity, but one summer Dad’s round baler must have acted up. The twine encircling the bales wouldn’t stay in place, and so the bales couldn’t be moved or stacked. He handed to me what looked like a screwdriver except that there was a “v” at the end. I placed that tool on the twine on each bale in the field and pushed it in to secure it. It was the hottest and most monotonous work of all time.

Runner-up: Cleaning out grain bins.

Aug. 14, 2019