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I saw my older son over the weekend at a race and I'm not sure how it happened but I we ended up talking about his and his brother's jobs. He's a bicycle mechanic and has worked at the same shop for several summers as well as usually some time over the holidays.(They really don't need him over the holidays but I think they've done it to try to keep him the next summer. I usually refer to that time as the Skiguy Scholarship Fund). His brother works at the Panera across the street.

Maybe I mentioned to him that the people at Panera are thrilled because Musicman will be home for the whole week before Thanksgiving and is willing to work the day before Thanksgiving when no one else wants to work. We were also talking about how I could get a certain item at the bike shop for the employee discount(it's a gift for him but we're pretending it's a surprise). He said to talk to the other mechanics and they'd help me out.

Then he said something surprising for him. He said, "We're both stars at our jobs." I had to agree. Last summer they quit having contests for the mechanics and just gave Skiguy the swag, prize or whatever because he always won them. No one complained because when it was something shareable, he shared and otherwise, it was pretty clear that he worked hard and got the most jobs done. One time it was a gift certificate for the shop and basically he told the owners that any of the mechanics could use some for soda or snacks.

Then we talked about how the star thing happened. It started with being reliable and responsible. In his case, it was being the best mechanic they have. (I always loved one of the other mechanic's solution for keeping him through the school year - take classes at a local college and instead of cross country, run around the block a few times). It was also staying until the job was done which in at least one case was midnight to finish about a bazillion(really $25K) dollars of custom bikes that were headed to Europe the next day. Late delivery of a part held everything up until then. He was also willing to have whatever 2 days off a week they gave him - they didn't have to be together and they didn't have to be on the weekend.

For my younger son, it came about because he would work any hours last summer he was offered and because no matter how high maintenance the customer, he stayed cool. I asked him at the beginning of the summer if I could wake him up if they wanted him early and he said, "sure." We live across the street from Panera so if they wanted him, it was about 15 minutes after he knew that he showed up(if he was asleep when they called). He also stayed to close fairly often because someone else didn't show or had left. He was also willing to work any and all holidays.

Help your kid be a star. Teach them that it's important to show up on time and do the best job you can, even if you're starting out washing dishes(which is actually where each of them started out). It's also a favor to teach them that there's pretty much nothing beneath them if they really need a job.


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