August 1982 my brother and I packed up our pick up truck and I left home for the first time to go to college at Washington State University. We arrived on campus 3 days before the dormitories opened. For two nights I slept on the golf course. It wasn’t so bad, at first. It’s pretty warm, even at night, in August, in Pullman. A dorm administrator took pity on me when I went to visit my soon-to-be home, and let me in to register one day before anyone else in the building. What little money I had was being saved for my books; and the only thing I had to eat those two days were a couple of peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches and carrots I’d packed with me when I left my Mom’s house. I have never been hungrier in my life then when they finally opened the dormitory’s cafeteria three days after I had arrived on campus.
I made the decision to arrive on campus three days early in order to find a job before all the other students arrived. It worked. I was hired to work in the dormitory cafeteria. It was a job that barely paid my living expenses during my time in school. I wonder how many kids today would make such a sacrifice today.
Years later after leaving college, attending and graduating from a broadcasting-vocational school I was hired for my first radio job in a little town called Raymond. It paid me only $600 per month and I was paid only once per month. During the one year I held this job I lived on my own. I had no phone because I couldn’t afford it.
Having meat of any kind was maybe a once a week treat. Months later the first time I returned home my Mom cried when she first saw me saying, “You’re so skinny!”. During this time I sold all of my ski equipment to pay for food and rent. I was very lonely. I went to sleep by myself listening to one of the only 3 radio stations that could be picked up in far-away Raymond. Dave Niehaus was my Summer-time pal as I drifted to sleep in my room, in the dark, listening to Mariner games from far away.
I made the decision to work in this low paying job in this tiny far-away town because I wanted to work in radio and they gave this squeaky voiced 21-year old a chance. After they agreed to let me be the broadcast voice of the high school football and basketball games I know I couldn’t refuse. It was a tough year, but I was living a dream come true. I wonder how many young adults would make the same decision in order to reach for their dreams.
It was a few years later when I was working as News Director of an AM/FM radio station in Moses Lake, WA when I was asked to make another huge sacrifice. I was 24 years old and had moved up in income and stature in the radio business and was truly on my way to making a career. But my life had taken on the responsibility of two others. I was now married and my wife and I had a baby daughter. During one of her weekend trips home to Seattle my wife had been offered a good paying job at a Seattle TV station. It was for more money than she and I could make combined in Eastern Washington. Though my resume was still pretty sparse and I wasn’t confident in my ability to get a job in the big market of Seattle I quit my job and moved back to Western Washington. The three of us lived in my in-laws basement for about 4-5 months until I could find work. When I finally did get a job it wasn’t in Seattle. It was at a radio station in Mt. Vernon, WA. We got an apartment in Lynnwood and for nearly 2 years I commuted North, while my wife commuted South.
I made the decision to derail my private career path in order to help build a better life for my family and to cure my wife’s home-sickness for her family and the city in which she grew up. Though I loved Eastern Washington and really liked my job and my career trajectory it wasn’t a hard decision. I knew it would make my wife happy. I wonder if today’s young people know to make similar sacrifices on behalf of the spouse to whom they promised a life together.
One of the most selfish things I ever did was start my own company. I left a job in which I had struggled to build an income that had grown to 6-figures. It had taken 13 years. Upon leaving the job I was faced with zero income, and no immediate clients. My family, which was now a family of five, had to learn to do without a lot of things to which we’d become accustomed. It took a couple of years of sacrifice before my company brought my income back toward previous levels.
I made the decision to start my own business because I knew I didn’t want to work for someone else the rest of my life and knew that I wouldn’t be able to leave anything behind for my kids when my time came to an end. I also wanted to give my wife the opportunity to get back to doing what she loved, radio voice work. She’d moved away from her talent in favor of jobs that paid well and provided a security the radio industry never has. She is now our primary voice talent for Total Broadcasting Service.
My life has never been easy. My parents were lower-middle-income at best, poor at worst, and never provided me with anything outside of the bare necessities. After graduating high school they determined that I was a man and they never provided me anything else, ever. I know others have had it a lot tougher than what I have. Nevertheless, I’m proud of building a life that has allowed me to raise my kids and be happy; to enjoy some niceties.
They say 26 is the new 21. The same as 21 used to be the new 19. Twenty-six is now the age in which kids are becoming adults. Twenty-seven is the age Obamacare no longer allows parents to keep their “kids” on their health insurance plan. And 27 is now the average age in which guys and gals get married for the first time.
I think its sad. Kids have there colleges paid for by either their parents or by our overly generous (and broke) Federal Government. If they get work they expect a middle income lifestyle right away. Too many don’t seem to have any respect for authority. They believe every night is Saturday night. And I wonder if todays kids even know what sacrifice really means.
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