The One with the Party Captain

par*ty cap*tain |pärtē kaptən|(n) the individual in command of a social gathering of children, typically involving cake, mini-golf and silly string, as in: Did you see that little boy hit the party captain with his golf club? 

It takes a certain kind of person to be a party captain: a person with fortitude, grit, determination, and the ability to clean silly string. I have none of these qualities, yet, for eighteen months, I was a party captain. I didn’t set out to lose every shred of dignity I had. I’d wanted to work at The Gap or Orange Julius, both stores in the nearby mall, but in my college town, the lucky few who got those coveted positions held on tight until they were graduated, and then bequeathed them to younger siblings, sort of like rent controlled apartments in New York City.

After months of searching, I landed a part-time gig at Putt-Putt Mini-Golf and Arcade. Once the manager saw my keen skill at handing out golf clubs and game tokens, I was promoted to party captain. I’d always wanted to be a captain (who doesn’t?), and it came with a raise of ten cents per hour. This was no ordinary captain though. The job description, if there was one, was to organize kids’ birthday parties.

Any one of these captains would have been better.

Any one of these captains would have been better.

I was told that a typical party would unfold like this: First the kids would play a round of mini-golf while I would help them and hand out small prizes along the course. Then they’d go to the pavilion to eat hot dogs for lunch, sing happy birthday, cut the cake, and open presents. Finally they each would get tokens to use in the video game room.

What actually happened was this: The first party I captained was for a seven-year-old boy and his thirteen friends. I knew things were going to be rough when one of the boys stood atop the picnic table in the pavilion as if he was claiming it for his country, “No girls allowed. This is boys only. Girls are stoopid.” Being a girl myself, this presented a problem.

Everything went downhill from there. The boys ran around the golf course, much to the chagrin of other paying customers, and refused to be corralled. Because playing mini-golf was stoopid.

They swung their putters in the air, pretending they were in sword fights and shouting, “En guard.” One hit me in the back with a putter by accident. I think.

They threw all of balls into the woods behind the course and stuffed the prizes from their goody bags into the holes on the greens. The prizes were stoopid.

They ate their hot dogs, which were not stoopid.

The birthday boy refused to blow out the candles on the cake. Candles were stoopid, as was cake. The cake they smeared all over the picnic table and benches.

Next they sprayed silly string around the pavilion. Which then embedded itself in the lattice work and the wood planks. (Where did they get the silly string?) I later found the stuff in my hair, down my shirt and in my pockets.

Then they decided they’d had enough and demanded to be released to play video games. They banged the putters on the tables in unison shouting, “Game room! Game room!” The game room was definitely NOT stoopid.

And in the end I got exactly $0 tip.

To be fair, not all of the parties were like this. Most of them were much, much worse.


Did you have a part-time job while you were in school? What was your most favorite or least favorite job? 

Have a great weekend, everyone! 



  1. LOVE your last line here! And NO TIP! Criminal!

    I had never heard the term “party captain” before. This makes my job at the local pharmacy took tame!

    Hope you and Reggie have a great weekend!

    Hugs from Ecuador,


    1. Ha! Come to think of it, the parties with boys always thought the cake was stoopid. The parties with girls, on the other hand, thought the cake was the best part of the whole thing.
      The addiction starts early. 🙂


  2. 13 year old boys are stoopid. Very stoopid. What a job. It could have been so fun. I didn’ t have anything as glamorous as being a party captain. Poor me. I babysat and worked at the local Dairy Burger where I made a mean chili dog and dipped swirl cones were my specialty. Ah…memories.


  3. Captain, I think what you had there were Viking children.

    I worked at a pizza place in high school. It was a pretty good gig. A lot of interesting characters went in and out of that joint.


      1. My first job was in a bakery and that was exactly the problem. Sell a doughnut, eat a doughnut. I miss my high school metabolism.

        I missed this post. It didn’t show up in my reader, so I’m glad O pointed it out. People who don’t tip brave party captains are stoopid.


      2. Even as party captain, I ate more than my share of leftover cake. And it wasn’t even very good cake.

        P.S. A couple of your recent posts didn’t make it into my WP reader either. Strange. Luckily I caught them in my Feedly reader.


  4. Oh…Captain, My Captain. That sounded disastrous, hope you made it to The Gap your senior year. But at least you weren’t a substitute teacher for middle school during your “transition period” … yeah that was the worst gig of my life. Junior high school does suck and so do the kids. But at least I got plenty of material for my book, which I hope will amaze someone some day 🙂 Luckily there were no golf clubs allowed in school.


  5. Haa, I think having experience of a dodgy job is character building! Sounds more interesting than inputting data all day long in any case.

    I worked at a summer camp for a month where I concluded that I could not be a teacher! Groups of prepubescent boys are absolutely uncontrollable, I agree!


  6. Oh funny! That does NOT sound like a job I would like! I happened to discuss my high school job this week on the blog (really at Brain, Child). I worked in a candy store and the best and worst part was the same–eating the candy.


    1. Loved that post on Brain, Child. People often say that after working in a place like a candy store or ice cream shop, you naturally get sick of the goodies. Clearly these people have never met me.


  7. Oh, goodness… Maybe THIS is why I decided not to have children (the ingrates! Ha)… I can’t imagine how horrifying that party must have been (and I have to wonder – what kind of parents would allow their kids to think that was acceptable behavior? Maybe it’s the whole group-think mentality and normally well-behaved boys joined in with the others?)

    My paying-for-college job was as a waitress at Pizza Hut. Ha. I still joke around, picking up the phone and answering it, “Pizza Hut. Making it Great.” 😉 The other job was working at a beach where I ran the snack bar, ticket booth, and – most notably – scooped goose crap off the beach each morning. Oh – and I cleaned toilets as well.


    1. I really hope that those boys grew up to be productive members of society. Maybe one of them is on the PGA professional golf tour. 🙂

      Sounds like you were a jack of ALL trades at your beach job. Oh, the things we do to earn a buck when we’re in school.


  8. Wow, that sounds miserable, Jackie! When I read things like this, my immediate thought is: WHERE ARE THE PARENTS??? How on earth? They should’ve been held accountable for their kids’ behavior! As for me, I had about 20 different parttime jobs, ranging from waitress to printer press operator. I think my “favorite” was a job as a squid cleaner in a small restaurant in Santa Cruz, CA. Notable memory from the job: being cornered in the freezer by my boss’s 70 year old father who tried to french kiss me. Unreal. Again, it’s all about the parents…


    1. Oh, Julia! First, pardon me for saying, “Ew.” That sounds terrible. And in a freezer?!?

      Second, how great is Santa Cruz! I love that you lived there. They have a lovely arcade off the boardwalk where once I got to show off my rusty air hockey skills, courtesy of aforementioned job. 🙂


  9. Yikes, how did you keep from hurtin’ those little monsters? Lol! I had a summer job as a lifeguard once that was shockingly similar – plus I got sunburned (didn’t last very long at that one). Some jobs are clearly only meant to be fodder for writing!


  10. Sounds like a perfect storm of stoopid, Ms. C. I kind of doubt I would have had your patience. And by ‘kind of’ I mean seriously. Hahaha… your pictures make me wonder how those Captain’s would react!


  11. You poor thing! I did birthday parties for about 8 years, and I made it clear to the parents that THEY were in charge of discipline and I was never left alone with the kids. Of course, a lot of the parents were certifiable themselves, but as far as worst job ever, you win. If you can call it winning.


  12. I’m visiting via Omawarisan, and I’ve got to ask, Where were these kidddos’ parents?? Having raised one son myself, I remember birthday parties when he was little. All those sweets served only to make them even MORE hyper, and it was frighteningly easy to lose control (like what happened to you). This must have been a nightmare for someone still in college — thankfully, you survived to entertain us with it!


    1. Hi Debbie! You’re so right. The sweets were like a ticking time bomb. From the time they ate the cake, I knew I had about 15 minutes before the bottom dropped out and they became *really* unmanageable. 🙂


What's on your mind?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s