Beat the Heat

Experience has shown me that having fun in the summer can take a little extra work
Aaron To

I take my summer fun seriously. When the days get long and the weather gets hot, I’m fully dedicated to taking advantage of all the good times the season has to offer. This is in part because those times often include fruity alcoholic beverages, but also because growing up I had several summer jobs that showed me just how miserable the time from June to August can be. So I’m making up for lost time, and if I have to do that by sitting by a pool eating Popsicles, then so be it.

While I did have some fun summer jobs, like life guarding and being a camp counselor, one summer in college I fell into the profession of door-to-door window-blinds salesperson. Everyone should be a door-to-door salesperson at some point in life. Not because it offers any kind of great business experience, but because it’s important to know just how many people out there have rabid poodles living in their homes—fluffy, small animals that will come out of nowhere and look strikingly like killer bunnies as they speed toward your ankle, teeth bared.

The summer I sold blinds door to door was an especially hot one in North Carolina. Usually, by the time I knocked, I was breathing heavily and scarily squinting due to the sweat in my eyes. Then, I would spend 95 percent of my time invading the personal space of the homeowner by trying to push open their door just enough to let some of their air conditioning out and onto me. Not surprisingly, I sold very few blinds.

As he explained the windows’ need for blinds, I focused on whether it would be possible to survive a jump out of them.

Since this job was commission based, by mid-July I’d become desperate. So one day when a man suggested I come into his home to check out his windows, I looked around to make sure there were no ankle biters, threw caution to the wind, and stepped inside. After all, he had air conditioning.

Inside, every inch of space in the home was covered in gnome figurines and hundreds of those miniature, weirdly tan troll dolls with the fluffy neon hair. They were on shelves, on tables, and even stacked up the stairs. This was when I realized I was going to be killed, and when the news covered it people were going to say, “Well, what was she thinking going into that house?” and I wouldn’t be there to explain the air-conditioning thing.

We walked to the back of his house, where he showed me a set of windows in his kitchen. As he explained their need for blinds, I focused on whether it would be possible to survive a jump out of them. After several moments I casually looked down at my watchless wrist, declared it was time for me to go, and sprinted past the trolls and out the door, deciding once and for all that I had no future in any kind of sales.

The downside of my door-to-door experience is that because I know how hard it can be out there, I talk to every salesperson who arrives on my step. Last year a guy trying to sell me glass cleaner spit on my front door to show me how well he could clean it up. I thought about suggesting a different, less-disgusting sales method, but decided the $20 I earned in two months on commission hadn’t exactly rendered me an expert in the field.

The upside of my experience is my renewed appreciation of summer. And as you can see from this month’s feature, there are plenty of fun things to be appreciated—and best of all, of the ninety-eight things included, not one of them involves gnomes.