With Labor Day comes the unofficial end of summer. It’s time for kids to give up their summer jobs and go back to school. Well, except for Nancy Drew. She doesn’t have a summer job to give up. Or a school to go back to, for that matter.
At least her “special friend” Ned Nickerson is gainfully employed during the summer. Sometimes he’s a camp counselor. Sometimes he’s an insurance salesman. Should he pursue one these jobs as a career after graduation?
Let’s see how they compare.
Obviously Ned needs to be nearby to help Nancy solve mysteries. And selling life insurance does indeed make him very mobile. In The Mystery of the Tolling Bell, Nancy is staying in Candleton many hours away from River Heights. She wakes up in a roadside ditch, in a semi-conscious state, and walks off to find a phone. Presently a car comes speeding down the road.
As she shouted and waved the driver braked and the car came to a halt. At the steering wheel was Ned Nickerson, a friend of Nancy’s, who was staying nearby to sell insurance to parents of two college friends.
So how mobile is a camp counselor? Camps don’t exactly move around, so you can’t expect Ned to always be near Nancy’s mysteries. Or can you? In Password to Larkspur Lane, Helen Corning Archer asks Nancy to solve a mystery at her grandparents home on Sylvan Lake.
When Bess heard about the invitation to the Cornings’, she gave a whoop of delight. “Guess what?” she said. “I just finished talking to Dave. He and Burt are going to that very lake as camp counselors. It happened suddenly when three old counselors dropped out. You’ll probably hear from Ned soon.”
OK, let’s call that a tie.
I’m just going to go ahead and give this one to being a camp counselor. In Password to Larkspur Lane, Ned and his chums waste no time rowing across the lake to see the girls.
All wore dark blue Bermuda shorts with white shirts bearing the name Camp Hiawatha. “Here we are!” husky, blond Burt Eddleton exclaimed with a grin. “The world’s greatest camp counselors!”
See, not only are the uniforms sharp, but they make the boys feel like a million bucks.
If Ned’s going to help Nancy solve mysteries, he needs a lot of time off. In general, camp counselors need to stay on-premises. But, then again, Ned sure does leave a lot.
In The Clue of the Dancing Puppet, Ned and the boys take time off to see Nancy in a play. They fly in from camp. For just a couple of hours. Then fly back to camp. Yep.
So what about selling insurance? How flexible is that job? In The Double Jinx Mystery, Nancy asks Ned to spend a few days helping her sleuth.
“Great. I’m tired of cooking my own meals. I’ll come right away.”
“You’re sure it won’t interfere with your making an insurance sale?” Nancy questioned.
“No,” he assured her. “I’ve sold enough so far to entitle me to a little vacation.”
Uh-oh. That slacker attitude has me a little worried. Especially since it also shows that Ned might not fully grasp the importance of office politics in advancing a career. In The Crooked Banister, Ned, Burt and Dave (who apparently are now all selling insurance) blow off an office function, saying “We’d rather spend it with you girls than go on the company’s picnic.”
Whatever career path Ned chooses, he’s going to need a large enough salary to support Nancy’s tearoom habit. I honestly don’t know how much camp counselors make, but selling insurance — even as a part-time summer job — seems to be rather lucrative. In The Mysterious Mannequin, Ned spends the whole book working very hard and makes a sale!
When Nancy arrived home she found Ned there, lying on a porch chaise. “Life at summer camp when I was a counselor was never like this insurance work,” he said, getting up. He explained that he had been trying to sell a policy to a couple in River Heights. “They were hard to get, but I sold ‘em!”
So that’s a plus. Ned does indeed earn money selling insurance.
But then again, he immediately spends it all. Going to Turkey with Nancy. On two days’ notice. Because a message in a Turkish rug told them to.
So maybe it all boils down to this. Which job does Nancy show the most interest in?
In The Mysterious Mannequin, Ned and Nancy take a boat ride to a quaint bookshop.
Ned said he had picked a lovely picnic spot along the Upper River. Nancy tried hard not to miss any of the beautiful scenery along the way or any of Ned’s conversation. This ranged from some of his amusing adventures trying to sell life insurance to the upcoming football schedule of Emerson College. But her mind kept wandering back to the mystery of the mannequin.
Really Nancy? You can’t even pay attention long enough to feign interest in Ned’s job? Well, maybe she’d rather spend hours talking to Ned about being a camp counselor. Let’s see. In The Secret of the Wooden Lady, Nancy informs Ned that she’s heading out of town to search for a mysterious prowler.
“Here you are off to Boston on a ghost hunt,” Ned explained, “and I thought we’d see a lot of each other before I left for my counselor job at camp.”
“Oh I’m sorry, Ned,” said Nancy, “but Captain Easterly really needs our help”
OK, so clearly Nancy doesn’t care about either job! And I’m beginning to wonder how she truly feels about Ned.
Look, Ned, just go on back to Emerson College. Play football. Go to dances. Hang out with your fraternity brothers.
You’re young, you have your whole life ahead you! No need to make any serious decisions now.