A lesson in money…

When I was in my early teens, I asked my Dad for money to buy a new pair of soccer cleats for summer camp. Instead of giving me the money, he told me to get a job. “OK, why the change of heart?” I asked. “You have always given me money in the past.”

He said his reasoning had three parts. First, my Dad figured at least one of the three restaurants in our neighborhood needed a summer dishwasher. He also thought I could use some responsibility. And he was just plain old sick of giving me money.

So he sent me on my way and I hit the road. At the first restaurant I visited, Rose’s, I approached a man who was sitting on a bucket near the loading dock. Not knowing who he was or what he did at the restaurant, I simply asked him if I could have a job.

“Are you a good worker?” this first generation New England Italian named Carlo questioned.

“I have never had a job before but my Dad thinks I am or else he wouldn’t have sent me up here to talk to you,” I replied.

“Well, what can you do?” he asked.

“Pretty much everything, I guess, but my Dad says I should wash dishes,” I answered.

“Well then, do you want to work in the mornings or at night?” he queried.

I thought for a moment and, knowing the last things I wanted to give up as a kid were those awesome nights catching fireflies and chasing sunsets on the beach I replied, “Mornings if at all possible, sir.”

“OK, Mr. Dishwasher,” he finished, “be here tomorrow morning at six o’clock and we will see how it goes.”

“Thanks,” I said proudly as I turned to walk home.

Fifteen minutes after beginning my first ever job search, I was gainfully employed, back home and ready to head off to the beach to enjoy my last day of careless childhood freedom.

“How much are they going to pay you?” my Dad questioned when he heard the news. “How long will it take to earn enough money to buy those cleats?”

“I don’t know, I never asked about money,” I replied.

“Then how will you know if they are paying you fairly?” he asked.

“If I work hard and they keep needing me to do stuff then I guess they will pay me enough to keep working,” I answered.

How does this story end?

I began working that next morning and continued, basically seven days a week for eight consecutive summers, before graduating from college and moving to Florida to begin Navy flight school (my first “real” job).

I bought my soccer cleats after only a week of work that first summer and then, as I got older, fishing gear, an outboard engine, a windsurfer and a car.

And by the time I left Rose’s for the Navy, I had progressed to do every job the restaurant offered from dishwasher to prep cook, bus boy, server, chef, bartender and baker. I even mowed the lawn and painted the place on more than one occasion. My mornings always started by washing dishes.

In all those years we never did talk about money. And I never had to ask my Dad to borrow another penny. Do what you love and the money will follow.