The XIs is a year that is known for studying the Renaissance and having one of the most important jobs in the Job Program: working the printing press. I remember when my sister’s friend Maude broke her fingers in the printing press. I was only eight-years-old when I heard this. My sister rushed home and told my parents that somebody broke their finger working on the printing press. Looking down at my small, weak fingers, I freaked out. Luckily, I was in the VIIIs so I had three years of safe, healthy fingers ahead of me.
In the XIs, when I was two months into the year, I was just about to take my first turn on the printing press. Looking down at my fingers, the same fingers I had three years ago, I took the lever and began my historic first print run. I was apprehensive before I took to the press. I had helped the person printing before me by moving the printed attendance cards to the empty tables so there was space to put the new attendance cards. Every time I got close to that beastly metal machine, my fingers quivered. I even dropped the attendance cards, which was how much my fingers were quivering.
Just like Thanos, my turn on the printing press was inevitable and I knew what was coming. My sister’s words from all those years ago, “Maude broke her fingers” and “There was a loud crack” echoed through my noggin. But like all things in life, I’m going to need to do, I just had to get it over with so I stepped up to the printing press with determination in my eyes. Okay, so this whole struggle was an internal struggle, walking up to the press I probably looked like a madman, I was making all kinds of weird faces and doing weird things with my hands. In retrospect, that explains why my printing press partners were suppressing laughter and looking at me. At the time, I was too absorbed in my struggle to notice. I learned how to work the press only thirty or so minutes before my first time so everything I did, I second guessed myself, nothing felt natural. I was nervous and anxious, but these attendance slips had to be printed for the VIIIs or else chaos would ensue.
So just like City and Country had taught me through these many years I have been here, I stepped up to the occasion and pushed through my fears. I walked that walk, and I talked that talk all the way to the printing press and once I got there, stepped on the stepper and it started. Knowing you don’t have complete power over something is a fear of mine and that is exactly why I was scared of the printing press. My eleven-year-old self hated the idea that I just needed to be steady and pay attention to be safe. I thought I needed to control everything, which is what I could not do because the machine was just too strong. I slowed the machine down so slowly that I could drink an entire cup of water at the same speed I could take an entire printed piece of paper out and replace it with a new one. Slowly I started to print faster and faster and as my fears declined I started to have fun. Then the machine almost got my finger stuck in between the many moving metal parts and I freaked out. I jumped back and in doing so, I ruined my second attendance card and stopped printing. Luckily, at the same time on the following week I was offered a chance to right my wrong with the printing press and suddenly my fears were gone.
That’s the great thing about the Jobs Program at City and Country. It takes you out of your comfort zone. Some schools don’t require social interaction at all. The Jobs Program forces you to tap into the salesman or the marketing man inside of you and it forces you to talk to adults and other students. It forces you to problem solve in ways that should be taught at schools, but can’t be taught just by doing a complex math problem or trying to answer a tricky question about a book. What the jobs teach are real-life skills in a different way than usual. Sure, they might not teach you how to survive high school and how to party, but the jobs teach you how to communicate, get out of your comfort zone, market a product and sell products. The program teaches you the way of the market (of course in a simplified way, but it is a good stepping off point). Most importantly, the jobs taught me to push past my fears and go for it because you never know if you’re going to break your fingers or not.