I got my first job when I was 15. I was doing well in school, and begged my mom to let me get a job for a few hours a week. She allowed me to apply for jobs as long as I maintained my current academic level and that it didn’t interfere with anything I was currently involved in. Since it’s difficult to get a job before 16 (a lot of companies won’t hire even with parental permission) I think my mom thought it would take my entire 15th year to find a job.
I had a job a week later at a local pizza shop.
I worked two to three times a week usually on the weekends but sometimes during the week. In hindsight, I learned more from my pizza shop job than many other jobs I’ve held.
One thing I will never forget was a man named Charles.
Charles was a Master’s degree holding, active airline pilot who also happened to be our pizza delivery driver. I remember when I first met him thinking ”what is someone like him working here?!”
Charles intrigued me. He was in his late 40′s, drove a mini-van and had one of the biggest hearts I’ve ever met. He was charismatic, well-educated and sweet. It was none of my business, but given everything I knew about Charles I needed to know why he was delivering pizzas almost every weekend.
During one of my breaks on a particularly slow night, I sat down to talk to him. I admitted my curiosity and needed to know why a man of his expertise was delivering pizzas. He explained that while he was a licensed pilot, due to a recent airline take-over, flying hours were slim, that as a father to three, husband to a wife who was unable to work her job due to cancer and Christmas fast approaching, delivering pizzas was a no-brainer. He worked when the kids were in bed and when he wasn’t away flying. He explained that though he and his wife had an emergency fund in place, they blew through it when there was an insurance mixup/delay with her disability claims. That no job would ever be too low for him when it came to providing for his wife and children.
He also explained that if and when I became a mother the conversation we were having would make much more sense. He understood that though a 15-year-old may respect what he was doing, only a parent with perspective would really understand what he was doing.
I wish I still knew Charles. He was a great man who taught me more than he’ll ever know. The conversation we had that friday evening was one of my first lessons on perspective and humility. Life lessons that go a long way.
Have you ever met a ‘Charles’?