My earliest job was before I even started kindergarten, with my Pop teaching me how to write so I could hand write his invoices. I was paid a whole dollar a week and I am sure the weekly trips to the store for candy were included in my wages.
By the time I had graduated high school, my resume was quite lengthy.
My jobs had ranged from working in retail — where I lied about my age and bought so many clothes that Mama somehow still had to give me money — to being such a terrible waitress, the owner of the restaurant actually paid me when I told her I was quitting and told me not to worry about working a notice.
There was a brief stint as a cashier at the Piggly Wiggly one summer, where I am not even sure if I worked long enough to get paid. It had nothing to do with my work ethic and everything to do with the fact my friend, who was my ride, ceremoniously quit one day.
Lamar’s early work history was as lengthy as mine, but far more dangerous. He lied about his age, too, when he was 15, but it was to hang steel not hanging dresses at Cato.
Given the fact we both had our share of yucky jobs, one of the things we have preached to Cole is to figure out a career path early on.
Mine may have been straighter had I listened to Mama. Don’t tell her that; I am still getting law school brochures I never requested.
Lamar tells Cole to always use his brain and not his back. Cole listens intently to his father’s advice, nodding his affirmation that he will use his brain.
“Follow your bliss and you never work a day in your life,” is my advice.
“Where did your bliss get you?” Cole asked.
Good grief, I muttered under my breath.
Why does this child have to analyze everything?
So far, I am waiting for my bliss to find a clear path but it hasn’t happened.
I lied and told Cole bliss is also the journey and the experience that can lead you to several other great opportunities.
He soaked that all in until he said: “So, what you’re saying is, you haven’t found bliss yet, right?”
The last few weeks, Cole had been trying to decide between a basketball hoop and a new bike. After he broke down the price with his allowance, he announced he would be 12 before he got either one. “I need more allowance,” he said.
“You can always do more stuff around here,” I offered. “If you want to do some more chores, we don’t mind giving you more allowance.”
“How much more?” he asked.
“Well, it depends on what you do.”
“What will I need to do to get about $100?” he asked sincerely.
That would be a lot of dishes, dusting and other miscellaneous duties he would have to do. And I would need a part time job to pay him for the extra chores.
“I need a job,” he stated.
Off to his room he went.
After a while, he emerged, sign in hand which stated: “The Pig Shack Is Open For Business – With Prices so Low, Pigs go Mad.”
The Pig Shack has had many variations over the years – it began a few years ago as a café, where Cole posted a menu of peanut butter sandwiches and lemonade, but soon realized restaurants were tricky ventures. And we were out of peanut butter and lemonade.
The next incarnation of The Pig Shack was a thrift store, where Cole offered his toys, Pokemon cards and other assorted items for sale. The kicker was, he wanted us to pay for them and then give them back to him afterwards.
The Pig Shack had a good run as a friendship bracelet store a few summers ago, when those plastic band bracelets were in style.
I told Cole he was following the trend but the coupons he gave us for free products ate heavily into any profit. And those plastic bands were not cheap and guess who the supplier was?
The Pig Shack has even been an art museum, where Cole would display his art work.
“Are you re-opening The Pig Shack?” I asked, giving a nod to the sign.
“Kind of,” he replied. “I think I have a solid slogan, I just need to build on this concept.”
“What did you have in mind?”
Cole stood in front of me, poised to deliver a speech.
“I think I am ready to open up The Pig Shack for investors. My biggest problem in the past has been not having enough fundage to support my efforts. I can’t do it on my allowance alone, and let’s face it, Mama, The Pig Shack could have a worldwide fan base – if I had the right backing.
“So, I am hoping you and Daddy will invest in The Pig Shack and help me expand into maybe a bigger area. You know, beyond home. And I think I will need some marketing and advertising, so I will need a budget for that. I also need more merchandise to sell, which takes money.
So, I am opening up The Pig Shack for investors.”
Where he came up with this, I do not know. But I was impressed.
“What will my percentage of the business be?” I asked.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, if I give you money, how much of The Pig Shack will be mine?”
He hadn’t thought about this. He wanted money; not people to have their fingers in his pie.
“I thought you would just give me money….” he began.
“I understand what you thought, but, if you have investors, they need something in return.”
He considered this. “What’s it called if I just take your money?”
“It’s called ‘being a child.'”
“Then let’s stick with that for now,” he said. “I can begin my corporate expansion after I finish being a child.”
Like other great entrepreneurs before him, my child had a goal in mind; he just needed to find someone to put up the money for him first.