McLean, VA (written by Craig Wilson/USA Today) -- The girls behind the counter at Mueller's Bakery in Bay Head, N.J., are a no-nonsense lot. They're not there to chitchat. Good thing, too. There are pastries to devour.
When I pulled on the "Take a Number!" dispenser the other day, I discovered I was No. 8. I thought this was good news, until I realized they were serving No. 50 at the time. You do the math. I got some coffee and went out front to sit on the bench.
But the line moves quickly, and sometimes people aren't there when their numbers are called. That's a good thing.
"No. 70!" one of the girls yells. "No. 70?"
She did not linger long.
The chain is pulled on the "Now Serving" sign, it flops forward to 72, and so it goes. Can No. 8 be far behind?
With the Fourth of July holiday just around the corner, the parade of people waiting for the famous crumb cakes at Mueller's will only get longer, as it will at similar seaside institutions around the country, whether the house specialty is a lobster roll or blueberry pie.
Despite the fact there are mornings the line never ends, the girls at Mueller's should consider themselves lucky. Fewer than three in 10 teenagers have jobs this summer, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employment for 16- to 19-year-olds has fallen to the lowest level since World War II.
Not that even in the good old days, a summer job always meant being a bronzed lifeguard. MentalFloss.com just listed some summer jobs that got celebrities on their way.
Beyoncé swept the floor at her mother's beauty salon. Mick Jagger sold ice cream. Brad Pitt dressed as a giant chicken to promote an El Pollo Loco restaurant. Legendary actor Jimmy Stewart painted lines down the middle of the road.
I mowed lawns. And a good job I did. My blades were sharp. My rows were straight. I never had a complaint. I still judge baseball fields by how well the grass is cut. And yes, there's an art to the whole thing. It's not just walking back and forth, you know. The perk was the smell of fresh-cut grass.
My brother dug graves one summer, as did Rod Stewart. He would come home filthy and tired but always added that he never got any complaints, either. I never thought that quite fair, considering his clientele.
As for the girls at Mueller's, I can only hope their perk is getting to sample the goods.
"No. 8! No. 8?"