In talking to some of our parents, we have several of our youth working summer jobs for the first time! When I turned 14 I worked in SD. We lived in Rapid City, SD at the time and, since it was close to the Black Hills, jobs were plentiful in the summer. I worked as an ice cream dipper, for Dip-a-lot ice cream one summer. I actually worked my way up to “head dip”, and I also washed a ton of dishes.
One of the strangest places I worked was the Black Hills Dog Track. My dad was reluctant to let me work there…it was a place where people gambled on dogs and drank. But I assured him that I was working in the kitchen. The pay was $2.10/hour which was 30 cents above minimum wage and since some of my money was going to meet family expenses, Dad let it slide.
It turned out he shouldn’t have. Within a week I was asked to do something shady. I’m not sure what was going on, but, every day, I delivered a package downstairs to one of the dog owners and always returned with an envelope. Every time I got back the head chef asked me if anyone was watching. At the end of the week inside my paycheck envelope was my check and two red pills with white crosses on them. When the head chef gave me the envelope, he said, “Just a little something to help you on your day off. Party on, dude!”
As I approached my car, my work buddy met me with two girls hanging on him who might have been 13 at the oldest. He asked me if I got “white crosses” in my check. I laughed and nodded. “Well this is your lucky night! These two can’t wait for a score!” He winked. I didn’t. I thought about it a long time. Took the two pills out of the envelope and dropped them on the ground and drove off. In my rear-view mirror, I watched as the three of them, under the tiny light of a pocket flashlight, searched for their “good time” in the grass.
2 weeks later I found a new job. It only paid minimum wage, but I felt much happier working there.
I often look back on that day as a defining moment in my life and wonder where I’d be today. Why did I say no? Partly because if I’d said “yes”, eventually I would have had to face parents whom I dearly loved. They would have yelled, yes, that I could have endured, but the disappointment in their eyes would have devastated me.
This morning I give thanks for people who count on me. Who love me enough to have hopes and dreams for me. Who hope enough that they will be disappointed if I don’t live into all that God has planned for me.
I didn’t think of it back then, but there is an amazing grace in that, and I’m forever grateful for it. Thanks Mom and Dad!
Your friend and pastor, grateful for the people of grace and hope in my life, Brook