My First Taste of Working Life: Weekly SparkOct 26th, 2012 | By Henry
My father, obm, was my first employer. How he became so sheds light on some of the gifts he gave me.
He owned and operated a small Kinkos-like store at which my two older sisters worked on weekends. For a few hours in the morning, they took customer orders, made copies, and processed payments. And they got a paycheck.
“I want to work, too!” I complained.
There was only one problem: Xerox machines 30 years ago were mammoth. At age nine, I couldn’t even reach the “start” button.
But my father believed in the value of earning things (as our Sages say, Hasoneh matanos yichyeh: the one who hates gifts will live). He wanted me to have the opportunity to work, create value, and earn reward. So he went out and bought me a stepping stool and showed me the ropes.
When a customer would give his order, I’d shlep the stool over to the copier and do my job. And I made more than a few mistakes. But I got the hang of it.
Part of the weekend shift meant coming a half hour early to vacuum the front stairs and clean the two bathrooms. I’m pretty sure most of my nine year-old friends weren’t similarly occupied at that age. I’m certain they didn’t experience the pleasure and satisfaction that comes from working hard, providing something of value, and getting a paycheck.
My father wasn’t afraid to work hard or to fail at an undertaking and he invested in my appreciation for the same gifts. May his memory be a blessing.