Over the summer I took on a new job which was nothing like my previous one. You see, in high school and for my first year of college I worked at a restaurant because all my friends worked there and we loved the managers. Shoutout to Val’s restaurant in Holden—best chicken Marsala in North America. But, last summer I took on a new job which I have been able to continue throughout the semester—I became a tennis coach and fitness trainer. Although I am not coaching high level professional players, I have enjoyed my time coaching kids of all ages on the court, running fitness programs off of the court and even offering my fitness advice to members of the club where I coach.
Coaching has offered me a new perspective on what work is and can be due to the many differences between it and working in a restaurant. The biggest being the culture shock from working with Greek restaurant owners (who have been in the United States for a few generations) to working with Italians. Not American Italians, or some dude with dark slicked back hair, I mean from Italy always making hand gestures like it is the end of the world Italians. The Greeks threaten you with kitchen equipment for doing a bad job, the Italians just yell really loud (not that I am doing a bad job I just notice it around me). But what I was not prepared for when taking on the coaching job was what I would hear from the people around me. Kids will just say the most random stuff sometimes and I want to rate a few things that I have not been able to forget since they said them out loud.
“I want to watch this whole place burn down to the ground!” I give this quote a two and a half out of 10 because context is needed here. The fire alarm was going off in the building and it was clear to see the smoke up against the windows from the outside. The building was evacuated and even the tennis courts were evacuated despite them being outside. So, we all sat at picnic tables waiting for this mess to be resolved when this kid stood up on the table and said this. What was far creepier was the joker-like smile he had on his face and when I asked why he said that he just said, “I want to see it all go away.” That kid still haunts my dreams and for that reason I am only giving it a two and a half.
“No, I am being serious, my name is Juan.” His name was not Juan as I found out way too late in the summer. I give this a nine out of 10 because it was funny, I looked like a fool and I am willing to admit in hindsight that it was a good one. This kid spent nearly four weeks with me throughout the summer and for the first two weeks he introduced himself as Juan. He told me time and time again that he had no other name so being the tired and bored coach I was I went with it. I did not find out until I had four days left with this kid that his name was not Juan! I called him Juan to his dad! He fully convinced me and when he told me his real name, I could not get myself to call him anything other than Juan. It was mind blowing that he got me that good so that deserves a nine due to the dedication he had.
“*incessant screaming*” This quote gets a negative one out of 10 because this was the same kid that said the first quote. Man, I really disliked this kid. He would just scream sometimes at my face. It was loud and annoying and just really got to me, but not as much as him pronouncing the game “mafia” as “mu-fee-uh”. Somehow that was worse than the screaming and this gets a negative one.
“Thomas, you are so romantic.” This one gets a one million out of 10 because it was not said by a camper. It was said by one of my Italian bosses while he was making the iconic Italian hand gesture and drinking an espresso. I mean it does not get more Italian than that! I felt as if I was in the mountains of Milan, eating a wonderful Bolognese and drinking the day away one sip at a time to a wonderfully aged red Lambrusco. Despite all the random nonsense the kids sent my way, that one moment will live with me as a pleasant key memory for the rest of my life.