“That’ll be $5.30,” I recite for what seems to be the hundredth time of the day. As my customer reaches for his wallet, I peer out of the sliding fiberglass windows of my concession stand. The aroma of soft pretzels and funnel cakes wafts up from the midway as I watch children frolic from ride to ride. Every summer, thousands of people come to DelGrosso’s Amusement Park for what my great-grandfather coined, “Old-fashioned fun at family prices”. While other kids my age were going camping or building sandcastles, I was counting change and handing out hamburgers. With the entire family proudly watching on, I became the next potato salad protégé, not only learning the value of hard work, but also encountering the importance of family, perseverance, and of course, washing your hands. Despite its challenges, I believe working with my family has been a learning experience I wouldn‘t trade for the world.
First jobs can be intimidating enough, but trying to live up to an entire family’s expectations can be overwhelming. Whether it’s my Uncle Joey complaining that I put too many peppers on his cheese steak or my Aunt MaryAnn badgering everyone about changing the dishwater between metals and plastics, everyone has an opinion on how things should be done, and no one is shy about telling you how they feel. But, like my Aunt MaryAnn always says, “If it’s the truth, you can say it,“ and this blunt criticism is a constant reminder of a greater purpose. I have learned that the quality and consistency of a product are important, but the attitude and effort you put forth are as well. Simply completing tasks is not enough, it’s going the extra mile that isn’t required that makes our family business so special and successful.
Inevitably, working with family brings us closer together. Seeing each other every day and experiencing the daily grind displays the best (and worst) qualities and abilities that may have gone unnoticed. When the cash register jams I call my cousin Peter, and when we all need some comic relief, Uncle Jimmy sings “It’s Christmastime” in July. On the flip side, there’s always Uncle Bo and Uncle Joey punching each other in the back room because they can’t decide where to put the new roller coaster. These events inspire me to learn about my family, appreciate the uniqueness of each person and what they contribute, and discover more about the things that are important to me: tradition, work ethic and family values.
After all the board room arguments, fist fights and unsolicited advice, the force that drives us to succeed is love. My family pushes me to achieve the goals that I have set and encourages me to always do the best that I can. They have instilled in me a sense of community by always giving back to the people that surround and support them. Without my family’s ability to believe in me, I would not have the drive to succeed or be the person I am today.
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