Dateline: 18 August 2005
As I’ve mentioned in a previous blog entry, my oldest son, Roy, made some money in past summers by helping his mother bake bread and sell it at the farmer’s market. It was a good experience for him. But Marlene and I felt that this summer he needed a more regular job of some sort. He wanted a job too. One that he could, hopefully, make more money at because he is saving to buy a car. This is a good thing because I have told my boys I will not be buying a vehicle for them. They will have to earn it themselves. If a boy earns his car he will appreciate and care for it better than if it is given to him. I know this because I had to work and save to buy my first car.
Finding a decent summer job for a 17-year-old when you live in the country can be kind of difficult. It seems like the typical kid-job these days involves working in town at a retail store or a fast-food restaurant. I did not want my son doing these kinds of jobs. I wanted him doing physical work. A 17-year-old needs physical work. A farm job would have been nice but they are few and far between these days. So Marlene and I were praying about this, and Roy was too.
Last winter, as we were thinking about this, it occurred to me that the lumber yard in Moravia might be able to use a teen for summer help. I’ve done business at this lumberyard for at least 25 years and I know the manager fairly well. His name is Ed. So, with the snow still on the ground, I asked Ed about a summer job for my son. He said that sometimes they hire a student for the summer and to mention it to him again in the spring.
As spring neared, I casually mentioned the job a couple more times. Ed wasn’t saying yes or no. Finally, school was near closing for summer and we were thinking the job was not going to pan out. Marlene took Roy to a nearby Methodist summer camp to apply for a job as a dish washer (we heard there was an opening). It was the only thing that we could find. I wasn’t too thrilled about a dishwashing job but if that was the way it worked out, that would be fine.
Then, a couple days later, Ed asks me if my son found a job yet. I said no but he had applied for the dishwashing job. Ed said he had decided to hire a teenager for the summer and had another boy in mind but to have Roy stop down and see him.
This was a positive development, but Roy was not very enthused with the idea when I told him. He is a reserved and somewhat shy boy. He is also very self conscious. He was afraid he would not know how to do something or that he would make a mistake. I think it is normal for a teenager to feel this way. Washing dishes would surely be a lot easier to figure out and less likely to lead to embarrassment. I told Roy that he did not have the dishwashing job and God had presented him with another opportunity. He needed to go talk with Ed.
Would I go with him for the interview? No, I would not. I told him I was not going to hold his hand (he did not like me saying this). He said he did not even know who Ed was. I told him he’s the oldest guy in the place, to just go in and ask for Ed and tell him who you are.
Well, I set up an interview time with Ed and dropped Roy off an hour before closing on a Wednesday. He was quiet as we drove to the lumberyard. I coached him about shaking Ed’s hand firmly and looking him in the eye when he talked and to speak clearly; not to mumble, not to speak so softly that he could not be heard. He remained quiet and, when we got there, he resolutely got out of the car. “God bless you.” I said as he departed.
I stayed in the car and prayed. Marlene was doing the same at home. We were nervous about this little interview too.
Time passed. A full half hour later he came back out to the car with a grin. “How’d it go?” I asked. “Good,” he replied (he is not a person of many words). I asked him questions about what had happened. He responded to the questions. Then he blurted out, “Now I’m really nervous!” I asked why. “Because I think I might actually get the job.”
I went into the lumber yard two days later and Ed waved me into his office. He told me he had a couple concerns about hiring my boy. I listened carefully. First, he thought Roy might be too shy, too quiet. But more than that, he wasn’t sure if he could physically handle the work. I could see why he would think these things. I wondered them myself. I figured the other kid Ed had in mind was probably some sort of body building football player and he was going to get the job. So I said, “Ed, you’ve hired a lot of people over the years and you know who is going to work out and who isn’t. If you don’t think Roy is a good fit for the job, that’s okay. No problem.”
Then Ed said something I did not expect. “I’d like to give him a try to see how he does.” I wasn’t sure I heard him right. I think I said something like, “Really?”
Well that was a Friday afternoon. Roy started his new job on the following Monday (the first Monday of his summer vacation) at 7:30 am. Marlene would take him the six miles into Moravia and I would pick him up at 5:00 on my way back home from work.
I waited for him in the car outside the store after his first day. He came out smiling. He said his day had gone good. He told me he had worked hard. It had been a brutally hot day and his t-shirt was soaked with sweat. His arms and neck were dirty. It was a beautiful sight.
When I went to pick him up the next day I went into the store about 15 minutes before closing. Ed waved me into his office. I steeled myself for bad news. “How’s he doing?” I asked. “He’s going to work out fine!” Ed replied. Then he joked about how everyone there was taking bets that first day about whether or not he would come back the second day. I breathed a sigh of relief. Ed’s approval was like music to my ears.
This has been a hot summer. Roy has been working 5 days a week and 4 hours on Saturday mornings. He continues to come home sweaty and dirty. He helps load lumber, drywall, concrete blocks, and and other building materials into customer’s vehicles. He unloads and stacks lumber from delivery trucks. He goes on deliveries to job sites. He has learned to drive a fork lift. He carries a radio on his hip to communicate with the people inside the store. He has not missed a day of work. He has lost weight. He has developed muscles that needed to be developed. He is meeting all kinds of people and getting to know some of them. One customer even gave him a three dollar tip the other day. He has learned a lot. He has gained self confidence. He loves his job. It is a good job, for so many reasons. And the pay (which was not even an issue- -I’d have paid them to put him to work!) is good too. Roy has saved almost all he has made.
Now there are only a couple weeks left before my son goes back to school. He has been homeschooled all but the last two years when we paid for him to go to a Christian school. But this year he will be attending a vocational program at the public school for 1/2 day and do homeschool the other half.
I never would have thought one of my children would ever be going to public school (Marlene and I were attending homeschool meetings when Roy was still in the womb), but I think this is going to be a good thing. It is a brand new graphic arts program. The class size is limited to 16 kids. The teacher is highly qualified and new (and full of enthusiasm). I checked the guy out behind the scenes and we all met with him a couple days ago. Another good thing is that Roy’s good friend, Kasey, another homeschooled boy, will be in the same class. And Roy is really looking forward to the program. He has a great opportunity to learn a useful skill. We are feeling very good about it.
Better yet, Ed says Roy can continue to work on weekends and vacations until business slows down in the winter. It looks like he will have a summer job waiting for him next year.
To sum it up, this summer job has been, as Marlene says, “a God thing.” We are so thankful for the Lord’s care and provision in our son’s life.