My parents taught me at a very young age that you have to work for what you want in life, it isn’t just handed to you.
I’ve watched other people go through life with no problems, and good things just naturally happened to them. Why them? Why do I have to work my tail off to get what I want, while they do absolutely nothing and still get what they want?
My dad once tried to explain his philosophy to me, that those people who get things handed to them aren’t learning anything and we should feel sorry for them. But it was tough for a 10-year old to understand this, but I think he was trying to prepare me for the “real world,” and that life wasn’t easy.
I began delivering the Penny Saver every week when I was 11 and made $13 a month. Not a lot, but it gave me some spending money.
I graduated to taking over my brother’s Cedar Rapids Gazette route when I was 13, and while it was pretty hard work, it didn’t pay much either. But I liked the fact that I was doing something to be proud of; I was bringing people their newspaper, something I know they relied on. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was developing a work ethic that would follow me the rest of my life.
I was eager to start a real job and applied for a cashier position at McDonald’s when I was 15, telling them that I was 16. (It was before they required proof of age to begin employment) I planned on getting a work permit, but the hassle of the entire process took forever, and by the time I got it, I had already turned 16.
I started working at Bishop’s Buffet in downtown Cedar Rapids soon after I quit McDonald’s, and became pie girl-silverware roller-tray carrier. I made enough money to buy my first car, a 1972 Mercury Marquis. It was a boat and ate gas like crazy, but it was mine.
My father was right. When we’re handed things in life, we tend to take them for granted. When we work for it, we own it, we can say it is our ours. We can say, “I did that.” While all my friend’s parents bought their cars for them, I could say that I did it myself.
Most things in life are not easy, but the rewards greatly outweigh the struggles. And if you love what you do, it doesn’t seem like work.
Week 12 of starting a newspaper finds me in a very good position. I have four months until I am done with classes and six months before I put my first issue out, and I am still right on schedule. Pretty amazing for something that started with the dream of a little girl and an old manual typewriter.
Pretty amazing indeed.