Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Best Things In Life…Are Worked For

It is said that the best things in life are free.  While I love a good bargain (I was raised by the queen of the clearance rack, the duchess of coupons), I must say I disagree with this statement.  The best things in life are worked for.  At minimum, you gain the most satisfaction on something you’ve really worked hard for.

Think about some of the best days of your life.  I’m guessing graduations, weddings, or promotions are at the top.  If you are a female reader, maybe giving birth to your children.  These are all things you’ve had to work for.  That is not to say that you didn’t have help along the way, but the achievement is mostly yours.

Working for what you get is a value that was instilled in me by my parents.  They are high school sweethearts that got married shortly after graduation.  A few years after my parents were married, my father could see that times were changing (in the mid 70’s in the midst of stagflation). While working a full time job, he went back to school full time.  In fact, he completed a four year degree in three-and-a-half.

This work ethic was taught to my brothers and me.  We were expected to get the best possible grades in school that we could.  Good grades equal scholarships for college.  Mom and Dad always provided for our needs and a few wants.  If we “wanted” above what was provided, there was something called "work".  This may be babysitting, mowing lawns (in the case of my brother), or when we were old enough, a part time job after school.

In fact, my motivating factor for my first job was a car.  This was clearly in the category of want.  The summer in between my junior and senior year in high school I worked at the local ice cream parlor owned by my best friend's grandma (and if you think this job was a gimme – think again.  Grandma Polly made you pass a math test as part of the interview). The pay was $4.25/hr, a whole dime above minimum wage.  I started working at the Tastee Treat because my father told me I would be allowed to buy a car once I had $2,000 saved up.  Two grand at $4.25 is a whole lot of time worked.

So much time in fact it wasn’t just working at the Tastee Treat.  It was also working at the local radio station, the Tastee Treat, and the local factory.  The summer between my first two years at college was spent working at the local factory as an intern in the corporate communications department and the Tastee Treat.  If you have been counting, that’s three summers scooping ice cream, one school year on thethe radio station, and two summers at the local factory.  That’s a whole lot of work for a car.

At this point, Dear Reader, you must be thinking my first car must have been some car.  Surely it was a rad sports car.  Maybe a foreign import.  *Sigh*  If only.  All that hard work bought me this:

That’s right, boys and girls.  My first car, which I bought in 1997 was an orange - safety cone ORANGE - 1979 Ford Fiesta.  The family car guy, my uncle Dave, was charged with finding me reliable transportation for $2,000 or less.  I forgot to tell him the car should have style and be cool… or at least not get me laughed at.

But here’s the bottom line:  I worked hard for that car.  I appreciated that car.  It also built character.  Not everyone can pull off driving an orange car with New York plates in Nebraska (I went to school at the University of Nebraska at Kearney.  Go Lopers).

Somewhere along the line the people in this country forgot about hard work and working toward a goal.  We now think we should have our wants handed to us and someone else should take care of the tab.  I worry about where we are going and what we are teaching our children.  This country was built by people that weren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves and do what needed to be done to achieve the goal, whatever it may have been.  Maybe it’s time to get out of our McMansion and our SUV’s.  It’s time to put the Starbucks and iPhones down. It’s time to get to work…

Because the best things in life…are worked for.

Until Tomorrow – Melissa

BTW – this is the kind of car that you eventually get with hard work!

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