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The Grand Otter started her first job today. She's been enraptured at the prospect, after looking for over a year with only two interviews granted in that time. She almost consigned herself to the ranks of those who would never find suitable employment until a friend vouched for her and that second interview went well. Now, performance time looms. Serving tables three to nine, her school day extended until well after dark, her days shifting from long and empty to surprisingly short and full.

I had my first paying job at nine, but time's have clearly changed. Fewer menial jobs mean fewer jobs for kids. Only those with work experience need apply, so the conundrum seals itself shut. I can imagine how I might have turned out if I'd been so casually turned away when I first attempted to enter the work force. Kindly people extended chances and I managed to take advantage of them. Minimum wage then amounted to twenty-something bucks an hour today, so I earned more than pocket change and built some self-esteem, too.

Work ennobles, or not, depending; not depending upon the work, but mostly depending upon the person doing the work. I've joyfully labored under some pretty awful conditions and suffered in relative comfort. For me, work never was an end unto itself, but a medium for expression. I believe that every completed task represents a self portrait. I don't think of this perspective so much as pride as self-respect. I do my best. It's what I do.

The Muse and I fetched The Otter from school and shuttled her home to change her pants before dropping her off in the side lot of this small restaurant, so as to avoid the embarrassment of having been shuttled by grandparents. She scurried off into this grand adventure while we wiped away grateful tears. Not that many years ago, she'd first come to summer with us, and the dog decades since had left this outcome anything but certain.

We returned to fetch her back home at the end of this first shift. her enthusiasm no less evident, perhaps enhanced by her first foray into what will shortly melt into the day-to-day. She chirped her plans to open her own bank account. She held a copy of the menu, resolving to memorize it before her second shift starts. We left her striding up the drive, her dad appearing out of the shadows to embrace her. Some days pay bigger dividends than even an onerous initial investment prefaces.

©2016 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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