Chapter 10 Summary
The focus of this chapter is Kiwi as he attempts to find a job that will pay him more money. He realizes that he will never be able to help his family financially on the salary he is currently earning. His plan is to help his father get out of the massive debt he has incurred so that the family will not lose Swamplandia.
Kiwi begins his search for a better paying job by discussing his problem with Vijay, a coworker who has taken Kiwi under his care, trying to make Kiwi less naive about city life. Although Vijay is not an ideal mentor (he uses drugs and cheats on his wife), he does help Kiwi think through his problems and possible solutions.
At first Kiwi thinks he might make a better salary working in what he calls "the restaurant" across the street from the World of Darkness, the amusement park where Kiwi currently works. Vijay points out that the so-called restaurant is really nothing more than a fast-food burger hut where the employees make less than Kiwi does.
While sitting on their break one day, Vijay and Kiwi notice a sea plane make a dramatic landing in one of the artificial water pools outside the World of Darkness. Kiwi asks Vijay how much money he thinks a pilot is paid. Once Vijay tells him, Vijay decides that he will learn to fly a plane. After all, he drove all types of boats and used various mechanical apparatus at Swamplandia. He imagines that flying a plane can be no more complicated than driving a truck, so he confronts his supervisor, Carl Jenks, about promoting him to the position of pilot for the amusement park.
Upon hearing Kiwi's request, Carl asks: "Are you crazy?" He then reminds Kiwi that it was just a few weeks ago that Kiwi broke the vacuum. Carl has also heard that Kiwi has been using drugs (rumors created because of Kiwi's association with Vijay) and that he has been sexually harassing a female coworker (complaints reported because Kiwi developed a crush on the young woman and was very awkward in approaching her). Then Carl announces that Scott, the payroll manager, has claimed that Kiwi has no mind for math because of Kiwi's complaint concerning all the deductions subtracted from his paycheck.
In the end, although he turns down Kiwi's request to become a pilot, Carl offers him the position of lifeguard at one of the World of Darkness's swimming pools. Kiwi asks if this means he is being promoted and Carl answers that that is a good way to think of it, although he does not confirm that Kiwi will be receiving an increase in his wages. Carl does say that Kiwi should not expect to begin at the top (such as becoming a pilot) but rather that Kiwi should realize that everyone has to start at the bottom and work his way up the ladder.