Never too early to be responsible

continued from The Ripple Effect Volume II …

About two years after Reynolds Congdon passed, I saw his son, Don Congdon, who now owned Congdon’s Hardware on the main street of our little town. I approached him, with my heart beating out of my chest. I said, “Mr. Congdon, your dad promised me a job as a delivery boy when I turned 16.” He responded, “Yes, I know. He told me.” Wow, I could hardly believe it! It had been over three years since I since I had asked. So, on the day I turned 16, I took the driver’s test, and the following day I went to work for Congdon’s Hardware. I had to re-organize my schedule at school so I could get out early enough to work a few hours every day, after school. I worked late on Friday nights and all-day Saturdays. In those days, no stores were open on Sunday. I looked forward to summer and full-time work.

When I first started working at Congdon’s I learned to cut glass, repair windows and window screens. I was in charge of setting up the new bicycles, wheelbarrows, and toys when they came in. I waited on customers and made deliveries each day. After a few months, I began checking in new merchandise. I’d check the price we paid on the vendor’s invoice, calculate our markup, then price, and put new stock on the shelves. I worked hard. On Friday nights, if things were slow, I’d make it my responsibility to do inventory on all the pain, then go down into the dirt basement and bring up all the colors we had run low on in pints, quarts, and gallons.

I know, looking back on it now that much of my most important learning during my high school years weren’t in the classroom, they were at Congdon’s Hardware. I learned the importance of taking the initiative and being responsible. I learned the math involved in weights and measures (we sold putty and nails by the pound), a myriad of screws and bolt sizes, and how to calculate markup on new merchandize. I acquired customer service skills, learned how to go the extra mile and the list may go on.

I feel sorry for young people today who get no practical experience in life. Instead of growing up, they have extended adolescence. I challenge you to give your children and other young people in your work as much responsibility and they can handle as fast as they can handle it. Delegate responsibility to everyone in your world as fast as they can handle it.

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