In an April 2006 speech to labor leaders in Washington, D.C., Senator John McCain pointed out, “There are jobs that Americans will not do.” To prove his point, he said, “Now, my friends, I’ll offer anybody here $50 an hour if you’ll go pick lettuce in Yuma this season and pick for the whole season. OK? Sign up.” I didn’t take this job offer seriously at the time, but this past summer, it dawned on me: Maybe this is as good as it gets.

I spent the final month of second semester scouring for job openings and filling out every online application I could get my hands on.

I wasn’t picky. I was willing to offer 31 free tastes to each whiny kid at Baskin-Robbins. I would gladly have spent my days behind a counter discussing the late return policy with irritated, irritating customers at Blockbuster. I was even willing to don an apron and listen to Feist CDs on repeat at Starbucks. I would have borne any of these burdens to chip away at tuition and put some cash in my pocket so I could afford just one night of dinner at Epicurean.

I nailed the first section of my applications (name, address and phone number), but then came the inevitable page of empty spaces under “relevant experience.” I searched my imagination to make my previous careers – babysitter and camp counselor – sound relevant . to no avail. Then, I tried to stretch my credentials. For Blockbuster, I went with “frequent renter.” For Starbucks, “Frappuccino-enjoyer.” For P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, “several Chinese friends.”

I hoped that being able to write Georgetown on my applications would give me a one up on the competition. But two months and three seasons of “Two and a Half Men” later, the harsh reality sunk in: I was unemployed. Getting rejected from the 20 Starbucks on my block was the hardest to stomach. I began to rethink my path in life: “Maybe I’m just wasting my time at Georgetown with Aristotle, John Stuart Mill and Walt Whitman. `Nicomachean Ethics’ can teach you a lot, but it can’t teach you how to make an extra-sweet nonfat organic chocolate brownie Frappuccino.”

I did have one consolation: I wasn’t alone. ABC News predicted that 2008 would be “the worst summer job market for teens since 1948.” Researchers at Northeastern University estimated that only about one third of American teenagers would find a summer job. This teenage unemployment is due in part to the recent minimum wage increase, which has forced businesses to cut back. Here lies a dilemma: Raising the minimum wage improves workers’ quality of life and helps them afford rising gas and food costs, but wage hikes also limit job opportunities for the unemployed.

NBC News claimed that teen unemployment stems from the growing number of older workers and illegal and legal immigrants pursuing traditional teenage summer jobs. Employers are reluctant to hire a teenager for three months when they could get a 30-year-old for three years.

If only I could find a minimum-wage, seasonal job that requires little experience . which brings me back to the senator and his generous job offer.

I pulled out my old “Math in Society” book and crunched the numbers: $50 an hour times 40 hours a week times three months of summer equals about $25,000! I worried that, perhaps, the senator was pulling my leg, but then I assured myself – a presidential nominee would never lie, especially a candidate on the Straight Talk Express. However, before I jumped on the “3:10 to Yuma,” I decided to e-mail the senator and ask him if the job offer was still available. Alas, as with every other job I’d applied for, I didn’t get a response.

It’s a shame. Lettuce-picking may not offer dental or a 401(k), but $25,000 dollars beats another month of sitting on the couch watching “Two and a Half Men” reruns.

Andrew Dubbins is a sophomore in the College. He can be reached at BREAKING NEWS appears every other Tuesday.

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

Comments are closed.