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Garry F. Liday Corporation FINANCIAL COACH
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My First Work Experience PICKING MY WAY TO THE COUNTY FAIR
Many people’s memories of childhood summers are filled with responsibility- free days when the goal was simply to have as much fun as possible before school started back up again. To put it bluntly, that’s not my story. For as long as I can remember, summers were about having fun in addition to working. “Allowance” was not a word in my family’s vocabulary. If we wanted to have money for the summer, we had to earn it ourselves. You might think that I’m here to bemoan the fact that I didn’t have the experience of pure freedom that many youngsters feel during the summer, but it’s just the opposite. The work ethic I have today is the direct result of the values that were instilled in me from a very early age. And it wasn’t like working in the summers meant that there was never any time for fun. In fact, having to work made our leisure time all the sweeter. My dad had a favorite maxim about the value of hard work. “You can have anything you want,” he used to say, “as long as you don’t lie or steal to get it.” At the time, I partially saw it as an excuse for him to tell us to pay for our own stuff. Now, however, I realize that he was outlining a philosophy that’s served me well for decades. If you work hard and don’t cheat people, there’s no limit to what you can do. Dad wanted me to know that, and he wanted me to experience it for myself. My first summers spent working illustrated this concept perfectly. In the small town I grew up in, the county fair was the marquee event of the year. It drew folks from all of the surrounding areas, plus people who had moved away years prior. In a certain sense, it was like an annual town reunion. As a kid, I looked forward to the fair all year. I loved a game that was a combination of pinball and horse racing. If I recall correctly, you had to hit a target with a pinball to advance your horse. Whoever completed the course fastest won a prize.
them, they weren’t going to give us a single nickel to spend at the fair. If I wanted to play that game, I would have to come up with the money myself.
So for long stretches of summer, we picked blackberries. Wild blackberries grew everywhere in our area. They were so prevalent that many local residents thought of them as a scourge. To this day, when I see a blackberry branch on sale at a souvenir shop, I imagine my grandmother rolling over in her grave. But for my sister and I, they were a perfect way to make some pocket money. On countless summer days, we were dropped off at the blackberry fields in the morning and picked up in the early evening. Over the years, we developed tactics to increase our haul. For example, we’d lay two-by-twelves across the tops of bushes so that we could get to the big, juicy berries we couldn’t reach otherwise. My sister was older than me, so I relied on her to share some of her strategic tips. I like to think we were pretty good at it. We certainly made enough to buy our new school clothes and have fun at the fair. Precisely because we had to earn the money we spent at the fair, it made the fair itself feel even more special. Our fun wasn’t something that was handed to us; we had to work for it. I guess I learned at an early age that lemonade tastes better when you squeeze the lemons yourself. That’s a lesson more valuable than 10 tons of blackberries. – Garry Li day
In the eyes of my parents, these games were a form of gambling, something they were not fans of. While they didn’t ban my sister and I from playing
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