Family and Tradition
I believe that family and tradition are values in my life that formed my past and will guide my future
“Hey young buck.” This was the greeting I received from Rondo every morning during the last six summers as I punched in my time card for work. Rondo was a lifer, an employee for over forty years. Legend has it Rondo once saved the life of my great-grandfather; just one of the many things I’ve learned about my family, and the business that we have been a part of for nearly four generations. Not only has my summer job provided family history lessons, but also strongly influenced my desire to learn.
My first summer at the warehouse was the summer of 2003. Chuck, my first boss, started me in the taping area. My job was to place a piece of twenty-two inch warning tape over the edge of small, single order boxes. A fairly simple task, in fact, it was the most simple task in the entire warehouse. What did I expect? I was working for the first time and I was twelve years old. Even if I was a little disappointed I still understood my responsibility. The box had to be taped and I was the one to do it. If I did not complete my task, I would have failed the company and myself, not to mention a customer I was hardly aware of at the other end. My summer job developed my core value of hard work. I learned that if I had to do a job, I had to do it right.
Each summer as I grew older and gained more experience, my responsibilities grew. The following summer I found myself working in the order filling line. The next summer I was on my own working on odd jobs such as foreign orders or putting stickers on items. After small upgrades each summer, I was finally a shelf stocker. This is considered one of high-ranking warehouse jobs located in the main line. I had the important responsibility of stocking the thousands of shoes in corresponding style number slots and sizes. Finally, I was as productive as any other worker in the warehouse; I was now official. I earned a paycheck each Wednesday, my money was taxed, I had work hours, I had lunch brakes, and I even had to fill out employee forms. My responsibilities grew within my job parallel to my responsibilities outside of work. I was growing up. In my new job I got to know new people, I made money, and I learned to adapt in a completely different environment than my school environment. I had learned not to judge based on first appearance. The warehouse is an old dusty place filled with minorities as workers, workers that would become my friends and people I could trust within the old but steady walls of the building. However, the real pleasure in my work came when I heard the unsteady walk of my grandfather walking on the wooden floor between the aisles of shoes.
On the rare occasion when my grandfather came out of the office section and into the warehouse, I knew immediately what it meant: I would be spending my lunch hour with my grandfather, my uncle, and my brother at Legends, the usual neighborhood restaurant. This happened twice, maybe three times a summer and it was my favorite thing about my job. Looking back at these lunches, I realize that these lunches were where my most fond memories lie. These times provided me with glimpses of the bigger picture. For example, I once complained to my grandfather about the aging warehouse. My grandfather proceeded to explain economic advantages of a working successful warehouse over a new costly new investment. I heard different points of view and the importance of knowing more than one side of a story. These were the times when I learned about the importance of family, hard-work accounting for something, what it means to dedicate yourself to a life’s work, continuity, and finally what it means to be a part of something bigger than just myself.
The conversations we had during these lunches opened a window of passion for me. I found myself eager to ask questions about the family history and the business. As I reflect on these experiences from my summers spent working, I realize that the increasing responsibilities over the years have prepared me well for college and beyond. Rondo’s greeting of, “hey young buck,” will remain in my memory as a reminder of how far I have come and how far I have to go.