Leaving the lab to hunt mosquitoes in the swamp
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“My Economy” tells the story of the new economic normal through the eyes of people trying to make it, because we know the only numbers that really matter are the ones in your economy.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, millions of people have left their jobs, sometimes for better-paying jobs, sometimes leaving the workforce entirely. Mel Glenn in the Denver, Colorado, metro area, decided to leave her job during the pandemic — but not for better pay. She explains her decision to become what she calls a “mosquito hunter.”
My name is Mel Glenn, and I am a mosquito control technician in the Denver area. I’m basically a mosquito hunter. I get my muck boots on, walk out into the cattails, and I take a dipper — which is just a long stick with a cup at the end — and I look for the mosquito larva in the water.
Before, in early 2020, I had been working in a water quality lab. I decided to leave because during the pandemic we were told we were essential workers, and that I would have to be in the lab with my co-workers every day. I didn’t feel comfortable being around all those people.
Through a friend, I was able to get an interview with this company. I had done a season of mosquito control before, so I knew I had the experience for it. And I knew that I would just be driving around by myself in a truck, and so I thought that would probably be a lot safer [than working in the lab]. They said, basically, “you’re hired.” They’re always looking for people. And not everybody loves stinky swamps like I do. It was a big pay cut — about [a] $7 pay cut — from my full-time, year-round lab job to a seasonal position.
The field season is wrapping up. After that, I don’t know. There’s no plan yet. I will have to try to find some way to make up at least some of my income. If I find another job, as summer rolls around, I’ll have to quit that job. You know, it doesn’t look great on applications or resumes when you’re constantly quitting a job at the same month every year. I just know that this is what I want to do and I have faith in myself to make it work.
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