More Than a Job

Dennis Friedman

WHEN I WALK AROUND my neighborhood, I see beautiful and expensive automobiles parked on the street. When I look at the garages where these cars should be parked, they’re full of stuff. I just can’t understand why someone would spend thousands of dollars on a vehicle and let it be exposed to theft, vandalism and severe weather, while their garage is used as a storage unit.

Even though I can still fit both our cars in our garage, I’m also guilty of using it for storing things I no longer have any use for. What do I have in our garage? Among the things you’ll find are hundreds of vinyl records, boxes of baseball cards, my late dog’s bowl and leash, and a 1978 payroll stub.

I admit most of the items are purely sentimental, but the old payroll stub isn’t. There’s a reason I held on to it for all these years. It wasn’t because of the huge amount of money I was making at the time. In fact, I was earning just $5.16 an hour, not a whole lot more than 1978’s federal minimum wage of $2.65—and less than I was earning in my previous job.

Still, when I received that payroll check, I knew it was something special. I didn’t just have a new job. For the first time as a college graduate with a history degree, I had a chance for a career. I’d just been hired by a large aerospace corporation with plenty of opportunities for advancement in an industry with seemingly unlimited growth potential.

I knew it would lead to a brighter future—and it did. The lesson I learned back then: When you’re starting out, sometimes the best job offer is the one that pays less.

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