Why Kids from My Neighborhood Will Never Work at My Company

by Frank Roche on December 16, 2010

in Culture, Recruiting

I walked to school. That started in Kindergarten.

I was the only First Grader selected to learn Latin and be an altar boy. Latin lessons were at 7am. That came after serving mass at 6am. Seven days a week. Twice on Sunday. I wasn’t late.

After mass and Latin lessons, I was a crossing guard. Every morning.

For eight years I walked a mile to school. Half of the year it was dark when I went. Do you think I got a ride? Ever?

My dad was working. He was a cop. He told me I could be in anything as long as I could walk to it or get a ride. He didn’t have time.

My parents marched me down to the Social Security office when I was eight. Got me a Social Security card. It wasn’t a formality. It was so I could work. I was a paperboy. Back then, we delivered the paper and did collections. I walked into customers’ houses and asked them for weekly delivery money. Then I’d walk that money to the newspaper office.

I took a 45-minute bus ride to high school. I’d wait outside in Chicago winters. I didn’t have the option of missing the bus and getting a ride. Miss school? Big trouble.

Before I went to school I had already worked at a dog kennel for an hour. I let hundreds of dogs out and mucked out the kennel each morning. Seven days a week.

We needed bread and milk in my family. I worked to pay for that.

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Which all leads me up to the title of this story: Why Kids from My Neighborhood Will Never Work at My Company. They won’t. Ever.

I walk Snickers the Wonder Dog every morning. On school days like today — it was 19F this morning — parents drive their kids to the bus stop. Idle their cars. And wait for the bus to come.

The kids are high schoolers. And the bus stops in four places around a mile-long circle. So, the farthest any of them would have to walk is an eighth of a mile. They don’t.

The kids in my neighborhood don’t have what it takes to work in my company. (There’s one exception.) They don’t have what it takes to actually work for something. Hell, practically none of them work. They get handouts. They get rides. They’re soft in the belly.

I don’t want kids to have to walk seven miles uphill to school. In a snowstorm. But I don’t want them to be weak-kneed, either. And they won’t get that by being mollycoddled.

I want people who know how to work. Who had to work for something. Who stand for something.

Absent that, you’re gonna have to be pretty amazing to work around me. But I doubt that you’ll make it. Your mom might love you, but she doesn’t work here.

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