As a young man, I recall fondly the experience of finding my first big kid job out of college. I was seeking an important position at a big time bank and thought my initial interview went well. I hadn’t learned the in’s and out’s of the interview process yet, so when I was set up to talk with the president after my initial experience, I assumed things were in my favor. My resume was prepared in stellar fashion as assured by several of my college professors. I lacked the experience at the time, so I was banking on my education, knowledge and general go getter attitude to get me the job.
Patrick was a stud, at least that’s what I remember thinking to myself back then. He was good looking, well dressed, and spoke in a way that demanded your attention, (not to mention he was the president of the bank). He was articulate, and had a very inviting persona. Everything I had imagined I’d like to be. He was also the complete opposite of my dad. During the final interview process, Patrick asked me what my father did for a living. He also asked me things like “who paid for my college,” and “did I ever help my dad with his trade?” Unconventional questioning I thought, but what did I know? Patrick and I wrapped up our quizitive conversation with the obligatory handshake, and then he did something that changed the way I looked at the workplace forever. He left me with a request to go home that day and ask my dad if I could squeeze his hand for 1 minute non-stop.
A little background of where I was at the time of that night. I was in Portland, OR for probably what would have been my third year attending college. I left my small hometown in the middle of rural Alaska three summers prior in search of experiencing life on my own. I had sporadically seen my dad since then and figured this was a great opportunity to really connect with him. I knew I couldn’t actually squeeze his hand that night, so I brainstormed ways to report back to Patrick in lieu of completing the actual task he had asked of me. That night’s conversation with my dad probably didn’t make much sense to him, but it has become one of the most pivotal forms of advice I’ve ever received from the strongest figure in my life.
The next morning I couldn’t wait to report back to the president at the bank about my conversation with my dad. I had devised a plan of asking my dad to describe his hands to me, in detail – better than a picture. I have to remind you, that at that time, cell phones were barely available and if it was major, you called and left your number on a pager. I remember my dad laughing as he tried his best to explain his callused, bruised and deformed hands that came with nearly 30 yrs of construction experience. I don’t remember how long me and my dad talked that night, but I remember it was longer than normal. My dad is a man of few words, and to him, less was always more effective. I guess I must have gotten a little teary eyed when I was chatting with Patrick about my talk with my dad that night. Patrick brought the moment full circle when he asked me why I thought he asked what my parents did for a living and to go and squeeze my dad’s hand for 1 minute straight.
I left that bank nearly five years after Patrick hired me. Still to this day I hear from Patrick every now and then and he, predictably so, is doing quite well for himself. We shared a moment that day, one that was instilled in me by my dad. It eventually came up in conversation just a short time ago about why Patrick hired me in the first place. I wasn’t the most qualified applicant by far. His reply seemed like he had been rehearsing it for years. He said, “I’ve always hired people who can appreciate the help of others. People who respect the hardship others have endured to get where they are, and a person who does not put money as his only goal in life. People exactly like you.”
Then it hit me. Thank you dad. Thank you for not protecting and coddling me. Thank you for making sure I never developed the mentality that I deserve or have the right to something; I need to work for it. Thank you for reminding me of the sacrifices you made to raise me to know that it’s not about the size of the house, how expensive the restaurant is, or how big the tv is that hangs on the wall. Thank you for making me clean my room, for assigning chores without being paid for it. Thank you for making me wash the dishes every other month. I know now that it’s not because we didn’t have the money to hire someone to do it, it’s because you wanted to instill in me that nothing comes without work. Nothing comes free. Thank you for making me a man, thank you for teaching me how to teach children how to appreciate the effort in experiencing difficulties and learn the ability to work with others to get things done. Thank you for being different than Patrick.
Happy Father’s Day Pops.