I was discussing jobs the other day with someone.
There’s a lot of them available right here in Marshall County. In recent weeks, help wanted ads from several industries, plus businesses and government entities, have been a part of the classified section of The South Reporter.
Then the conversation swung to being taught a strong work ethic.
He talked about how his dad made him work around the house at a young age. He was expected to do that in addition to his schoolwork. And in the summers, it was definitely time to go to work.
I told him that I did my share of “hard work,” at least that’s what I called it, back in my youth, too.
Before the luxury of having a riding mower, I used a push mower to cut what I thought was a really large yard.
One of my toughest tasks, assigned by my mother, was operating a garden tiller.
She’d leave that note that read something like this: “Barry, use the garden tiller today. Those weeds are getting worse.
“But also be careful around the plants. You might need to use the hoe some, too.” Running that tiller, keeping it in line with it constantly vibrating your hands, was a challenge. But I think I ended up mastering it pretty well.
One of my first summer jobs away from the house was assisting a soft drink delivery driver on his truck.
Most of those days, just like with the yard work, were hot really hot. And those cases of drinks were heavy really heavy.
I can only recall dropping one case and breaking a few.
From that job, I also learned the importance of meeting the needs of customers in a timely fashion. Those convenience stores and grocery stores expected those drinks be delivered when needed. They had customers, too.
Then a little later, I went to work at a printing company. I was doing a little bit of everything from deliveries to binding to operating some equipment, like a numbering machine for invoices. And, of course, I helped unload a lot of boxes of paper off of delivery trucks.
I learned how important these summer jobs were to both me and my mom.
She was working hard to provide for me. And it was important that I go out and earn a little bit of my own spending money.
Plus, through the yard work and the garden work and the summer jobs, I learned to work and the importance of work.
After graduating high school, I attended junior college for a year.
Then, I thought, I’m getting a little tired of school and I think I will just work for a year. I went back to that print shop.
It was good job working for a good man.
But working there full-time also made me realize the importance of getting my college degree and trying to get a job in a field I loved — journalism.
So for the last 36 years, I’ve been in the newspaper business. It has been everything I dreamed of and some I never ever thought about.
And on some days, I’m still lifting boxes or bundles of newspapers.
My mom taught me many good things. And one of those, thank goodness, was a strong work ethic.