Out with the old, in with the new.
My son isn’t exactly a teenager anymore. He’s 21 now and has been working essentially since he was 16.The day he turned 16 he began filling out applications for the places he wanted to work at. Nobody was hiring. Nobody wanted an inexperienced teenager. He persisted and continued to try to get jobs he wanted, most especially at a grocery store near our house. He had wanted to work there for years, but he couldn’t until he turned 16. They never seemed to be hiring even though we saw people come and go so frequently. It’s the same grocery store I started out at as a young teenager.
All the while he was trying to get a part time job, he also did odd jobs, mostly yard work, lawn care and his favorite, landscaping. His senior year he opted into the work/study program at school and got his first part time job at a local grocery store. It was not the grocery store he wanted. But it was in the meat department and he was excited and he loved it. As the school year came to a close, he decided he really wasn’t cut out for the meat department, and wanted to work in grocery. He kept the job until the end of the school year because he had to.
Shortly after he quit the job and started looking for a part time summer job, the local grocery store he had wanted to work at, finally contacted him. About time. Two years that kid had relentlessly applied and talked to anyone who would listen at the store. And finally. He had an interview and he got the job. It was checking which wasn’t what he had initially wanted, but he was comfortable doing it. He loves people. He loves the customers. But he didn’t want to stand in one place for long hours. He wanted to be moving around, doing things. Grocery. Two and a half years and one transfer to a new store, and he was trained in 5 areas in the store. No increase in pay. Still making just above minimum wage and only getting on average 25 hours a week, when he kept begging for more. Still requesting a change to grocery. They wouldn’t listen. He’s a good worker, loyal to the bone, will come in on days off, will come in early or stay late, but they loved him in checking because he was amazing to the customers, fast and efficient. They didn’t want to lose him, but that only hurt him. Eventually they allowed him to move to the salad bar, which was a little better for him. He got to do a lot of food preparation, and be on his feet moving constantly. And then one day, all of a sudden, they took it away and said we don’t need you back there anymore. Maybe we will see if we have a place for you in grocery but for now we want you back up in checking. Well my friends, for $7.75 (an estimate) an hour, not doing what you want to be doing, doesn’t work for long.
He went next door and applied at a new place. In fact, he didn’t apply. He walked in, asked for the manager, identified who he was and where he worked and basically got the job. They adored him and he loved them and everything the job entailed. Oh, and there’s no uniform. Jeans and t-shirts. What kid doesn’t love that? He loved all that he was told he would be doing. He was excited and energized when he came home and told me.
So today, Monday, March 14, 2016, I watched my son leave for his first full time job with full benefits. It is across the street from our house, he has less than a two minute walking commute. He will be offered all the overtime he can handle, he will be certified today on a Forklift, trash compactor and other odd machines. He will watch videos teaching him how to sort products (the business is like a Goodwill… it is NOT Goodwill). He is the happiest and most excited I have ever seen him. He was up at 4am, dressed, fed and watching his programs on the DVR when I got up at 6am. This kid never gets up before 6am! He was confident, happy…. full of life and energy. An excitement I haven’t seen in so long. He had to be at work at 8am and he told me the hours were killing him, because he just wanted to go.
I can’t tell you how happy I am to see him change and grow and literally become a man in front of me. He had a week of vacation left at the other job. He put his two weeks in and they let him go immediately (thank you!). They gave him his week of vacation and I encouraged him to take it. As excited as he is, I know the transition between a measly 25 hours a week standing around, to 40+ hours a week in constant perpetual motion, will probably be difficult and exhausting. But as long as his mind stays excited and he is happy doing what he is doing, which I am confident he will be, I know he will be just fine.
Ryan I am so proud of you. I am so proud of the man you have become. Yes, I’m filled with pride that I basically rasied you alone, as your father exited your life many, many years ago and before that wasn’t much of a father anyway. I was told a million times I couldn’t do this and you needed a father, and for a long time I believed everyone. It wasn’t true. You are one of the most amazing, courageous, strong, empathetic, kind individuals I have ever known. You are a hard worker, and even when some people in our lives have thought you were lazy, I knew differently. I knew you weren’t where you needed to be. You weren’t doing what you wanted to be doing.
You are going to do great. I am so very very proud. I am so very proud to be your mom!