When Hard Work Pays Off? Be Thankful.

aaron and mower

20 years later, this kid’s taking charge

Regular readers may remember that my son, the 21 YO, has become a responsible go-to guy at our local Bed, Bath & Beyond. A handful of you may also recall that he’s been there for nearly eighteen months as he decided that ‘spinning one’s wheels, academically’ at a very good and expensive private college was not a good use of his college fund. Ergo, he came home, found a job, and still splits his time between his mom’s home 4 miles away and here.

To date, he’s not yet figured out what might him suit him in college but in the meantime, he busts his hump at BB&B. He runs stock replenishment in late evening, and/or early morning. He has been trained as a bridal registry specialist (he now has a favorite china pattern). He steers bridal couples around the store and points out all the stuff that a new home needs. He sets up statements – what we called displays in my retail days – and is the store Keurig expert. (Good for us – he brings home the latest flavors and blends for us to sample.) He’s a hard goods whiz. (Did you know that OXO makes several different lines, and that “release quality” in a 9×9 baking pan is a quantifiable variable? No? Me neither.)

He’s learned to be pleasant: to rude people, to people with dumb questions, to people who are just dying to be smart-asses but have nowhere else for their smart-assery. He’s learned the difference between ignorant and stupid. (One is solved by gentle education, he now knows, but both must be treated with respect.)

He doesn’t run and hide when the grim-faced folks from corporate stalk the aisles. (My guess is they’re grim-faced but here I  draw upon my own experience in retail. They may be charming, lovely people. But I doubt it.)

In short, he has asked to do more, learn more, and take on more responsibility. To quote the 21YO – “There’s a difference between showing up, showing up to work, and taking charge.”

The other day, he walked in with a sheaf of papers.

“Hey Dad,” he said.

“Yes, son?,” I answered in my best Ward Cleaver.

“Can you go through this stuff with me pretty soon?”

“Stuff? Whatcha got?”

“It’s for my health insurance. Arlene (not her real name) is moving so I’m getting her old job.”

“Say what?” I asked.

“That’s right. I’m fulltime now. Starting next week, anyway. I’ll be in charge of IC. Inventory control – check all the prices, handle the price changes that come down every day, check sales against SKUs, all that stuff. Still be doing a lot of my old stuff. I even get some keys.”

“Don’t know how much of a raise, John’s (his manager) out on vacation ‘til next week, but I got the promotion. So I got my own health insurance. Just want you to make sure I do the paperwork right.”

“Dude,” I said. “Nice.”

“That’s right. Work hard. Learn stuff. Don’t screw up the same thing more than once. Paid off. Weird, I know, right?”

It’s November. A time to be thankful.


The Beginning
About David Stanley

Teacher & science guy, writer, musician, coach, skier and bike racer, I am interested… in everything; your story, food & spirits and music and everything in the natural world, spirit & sport. My son is 22 and still needs his Dad. I am 56 and so do I.
I blog on life and death, cancer and sports, kids and education at http://dstan58.blogspot.com/

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  1. Larry says:

    I like this story. I respect the way he pulled him out of a situation that was not working and got himself into something else. The fact that he is working hard, learning and growing is awesome. I say you do indeed have much to be thankful for. You’ve raised a good young man.

  2. Jason says:

    This is great. What a wonderful story. Now if i could just finish my time machine, go back, and act like your son instead of the accountability dodging youth that I was. Thanks for sharing.


  3. This is a true testament to the value of hard work. I am still having a hard time taking more on when I can’t even grasp what is being handed to me.

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