There are certain cliché times when a parent feels his age creeping upward. The first time someone calls you sir. The first gray hair. That first weird pain you just can’t figure out where it came from. But if you have kids, more often than not its some milestone your youngest one reaches. He loses his last baby tooth. He “graduates” from some level of school or other. He gains or loses his first love.
I’m happy, proud and honestly horrified at just such a milestone my younger son has just reached. Horrified mainly because he’s unusually young to have reached it. He’ll be fifteen in a couple weeks.
The boy got his first real job. He’s the new lackey/busboy at the Broadway location of Local Coffee, my long-time office away from home.
He had volunteered to mop up around the Sonterra location after school a few nights. That became one of his favorite things to do. Pretty soon he was donning a rag and a bottle of cleaner and hitting every surface that he could find. At the time, I didn’t think too much of it at the time. The Sonterra location served beer and wine, so he couldn’t get on until he was eighteen. Certainly this was a phase — he’d get tired of working for free at some point in the next three years. Then, while visiting the new location in Alamo Heights, I learned that because they were situated close to an elementary school, they would be dry. One thing led to another and his the boy’s rag and bottle became permanent and paid.
I guess I should have seen this coming. His older brother was a funny kid, a real money grubber. It was a no-brainer when he was fourteen that I should do anything I could to find him a way to make his own money. I got him in as an unpaid floor-sweeper and general shadow at Bicycle-Heaven where he still is today, more than five years later, now obviously paid as a skilled bicycle mechanic.
Seeing his older brother’s example, the exposure he had to cool people and cooler opportunities, had to affect my younger son pretty strongly. That was how things were done, right?
So, horrifying or not, I am proud of him. Some say that the real purpose of college is to learn how to work. Here’s to hoping that work will teach him the same thing. And instead of us paying for that lesson, he’ll get paid instead, allowing him to focus wholly on the learning part of college when that time comes.
Thank you to Local Coffee and the wonderful people behind it, Robbie and Neesha Grubbs. And a huge thank you to Matt Hamlin, the owner of Bicycle Heaven, without whom all this wouldn’t have begun.