Home > College, Jobs, Missouri > The Time I Had The Summer of Netflix

The Time I Had The Summer of Netflix

November 1, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

One summer during college, I decided to just stay in St. Louis. None of my high school friends would be back in Ohio, and I was paying rent on the apartment in St. Louis anyway, so I figured I could get a summer job there and hang out.

Sadly, I overestimated my ability to get a job. I headed to the Loop, which is a little shopping and bar district near campus. I had resumes in hand to give out, and in the hopes of getting a restaurant job, I had been a bit “creative” with my work experience. My brother, as an actor, had essentially also been a professional waiter and bartender for over a decade. He explained that working in the restaurant business was a bit of a Catch-22: They wouldn’t hire you without experience, but you couldn’t get experience without being hired. His recommendation was to lie my ass off. I didn’t want to go too nuts, but I concocted some modest restaurant serving experience.

Sadly, I’m a terrible liar, so my attempts to finagle a job ended up with me sweating, red in the face, and essentially begging for work. I was turned down at every business on the Loop that had openings. Every single one.

I began to get desperate, and wondered what I would do for food. How would I survive on my own with zero income? I eventually decided to submit myself to medical experimentation.

I wasn’t willing to go the full monty, which would be participating in pharmaceutical trials or experimental surgery. But I was perfectly happy to get MRIs or fill out questionnaires for psychological research. I became a neurological guinea pig.

This mostly involved sitting in a dark room, with EKG patches stuck all over me, and watching traumatic videos. Bambi’s mother died on a loop in one corner, while bodies being shoveled into a mass grave played opposite. For this, I would be paid $15/hour. Sometimes, the terrible videos would be interrupted with something happy, like a puppy frolicking in a field, but would then go right back to showing protesters being shot. This just served to make the depressing and shocking videos seem even worse. But I went back time and time again so that I could at least pay for food. Normally such experiments would only get you college credit, but during the summers when there were few students around, they paid in cash. The other participants included fellow students, but also a lot of adults who were down on their luck. I was also called in for memory tests, exams designed to determine whether I was subconsciously racist, and computer programs that forced me to do mental math on the fly. The experimenter actually came in and talked to me on that last one, since she was concerned that I was overly “distracted.” “No,” I explained, “I’m just really bad at math.” My results ended up being disqualified.

Despite living so close to a research university, there were only so many experiments available each week. The rest of my time was spent sitting in my apartment, and slowly losing my mind. Only one of my friends had stayed the summer, and she was neck-deep in actual research that benefited humanity, and so was unavailable to entertain me. She would later run to me as a savior that summer, but that’s for another post.

Worried that I would snap one day and start running the streets naked in 95+ degree weather, I got a Netflix subscription. This was before instant streaming, so I had to wait for the DVDs to be mailed to me, and had to trudge to the communal mailbox to send them back each day. I took out three movies at a time, and watched 2-3 movies per day, nearly every day of that summer. I dubbed that time The Summer of Netflix, and it was very relaxing. I mostly tried to pick happy comedies after being forced to watch death and destruction for money. I’d go do my experiment, then come back, watch movies, and drink beer.

It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend having a summer like this once in your life.

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Categories: College, Jobs, Missouri
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  1. November 22, 2011 at 9:49 am

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