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My Mom Told Me Not to Come Home Until I Had My 1st Job

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
November 9, 2023 3:01 am

My Mom Told Me Not to Come Home Until I Had My 1st Job

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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November 9, 2023 3:01 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, our own Russ Jones shares perhaps the best single thing his mom ever told him! 

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To learn more about Nissan's electric vehicle lineup, visit This is Lee Habib and this is Our American Stories, the show where America is the star and the American people. We love to tell stories about work and particularly about first jobs. What was your first job as a teenager or young adult? Most of us have one and they're memories of our first taste of independence, of earning our own money, and sometimes doing things we don't want to do but have to.

In other words, it's a taste of growing up. Here to tell the story of his first job is Russ Jones, our own Russ Jones, a contributor here at Our American Stories. Take it away, Russ. I remember fondly my first job and how it affected how I see my work today. I grew up in Kansas City.

It's a great, great city. My parents owned a public relations firm. My grandpa, who only had a sixth grade education, taught me a lot about work.

He had a girly tattoo from the Navy on his left arm. He smoked about three packs a day of Marlboros and he owned an emergency tow truck business in downtown Kansas City. And boy, did folks love my grandpa. He did what he said he would do for a fair price. He also had a mechanic shop, a four-bay garage. So back in the day in the 60s, a four-bay garage was a big deal. And I used to spend a lot of time there and I saw how hard he worked. It was about two weeks after I turned 16.

This would have been 1976. I was sound asleep in my bed. I was rudely awakened by my mama. She ripped the covers off that bed and she nudged me and she said, you get your little rear end out of that bed.

You are not going to sleep all summer long. I don't want to see the whites of your eyes until you have a job. Well, I had quite a bit of dysfunction in my family and my mom had a lot of issues.

But I've got to tell you, what she did that day was the best thing that ever happened to me. Well, I got into my 1971 yellow Mustang with black racing stripes and I drove all over Kansas City. I applied everywhere. Fast food places, clothing stores, restaurants, you name it. I applied at least 20 or 25 different places driving all over Kansas City.

Nothing came up. And it was about four o'clock, 4 15, and I was driving home. I was on State Line Road. And if you know anything about Kansas City, on one side of State Line Road is Kansas and on the other is Missouri. And we lived about four blocks on the edge of Missouri. And boy, I was driving slow.

I did not want to go home because I did not have a job. But along the way is this big, fancy country club. It's called the Carriage Club and it sits up on a hill and it overlooks the Country Club Plaza. It's one of the largest outdoor shopping districts in the country and it's got fountains and statues from Spain.

It's beautiful. This was a swanky country club. Well, I pulled into the parking lot.

It was about 4 15. Not a good time to apply for a restaurant job, but I pulled in there, went in, chandeliers hanging everywhere. I mean, the place just dripped of money. And there's this young guy in a tuxedo standing there in the main dining room. And I said, sir, I'm here to apply for a job. So he reached under the podium. He pulled out an application and he said, follow me. So I followed him and he took me back to the golfer's lounge, which was a much more informal setting, sat me down on the corner and said, fill this out.

I'll be back in about 10 or 15 minutes. So I filled out the application. And when you're 16, what do you put on an application? You know, I'm marching band. I was in student government.

I was in youth group at church. And I sat there and I waited. He finally shows up and he sits down. Big strapping guy.

Looked like he had played football at one time. Nice clean starched shirt and a black bow tie. He's looking at my application and it's quiet.

It's real quiet. He said, well, it looks like you've done a lot for only being 16 years old. I said, yep.

Well, I'm, I'm very active in school and just trying to experience different opportunities. And it got even more quiet and I was getting nervous. And with a quiver in my voice, I said, sir, I looked at my watch and I said, it's been about eight hours ago, but my mom came upstairs and she kicked me out of bed. And she said, I don't want to see the whites of your eyes until you have a job. He just got the biggest grin on his face.

And he leaned back in his, in his seat. And he said, can you start the day after tomorrow? And I said, you better believe I can. And you know, I showed up early.

I stayed late. I did whatever they needed me to do. And back then it was called a busboy. And I didn't, I wasn't a server, but I cleaned the tables. I set the tables and it was the kind of restaurant that had all kinds of silverware and glasses and plates on the table. And I learned what every piece of utensil was used for. I even learned how to make Caesar salad with anchovies at the table side. I learned so much in that job and I learned to love it. And I think that's where I actually received what I call a gift of hospitality. To this day, I love serving other people and I'm not intimidated by sitting at a fancy table or going to a fancy restaurant. Matter of fact, there are times I've been at a banquet and somebody will whisper to me, I'm not sure which fork to use first and I'll gladly let them know how it works. And by the way, you work yourself in, you work your way in depending on what they bring and sit down in front of you.

If it's a salad, you use the fork on the farthest left and soup spoons usually at the top. But it came to a point where I had to make a decision. That job went so well. I was studying journalism at the University of Missouri at Mizzou, one of the best journalism schools in the country. But things went so well, the general manager called me into his office one day and he said, Russ, you're doing a great job for us here and we think you've got a lot of potential. You know, we need a manager at our poolside grill. This was the kind of club that had three swimming pools, there were tennis courts, even an ice skating rink. And there was a grill that served those outdoor facilities. He said that opportunity is going to come available this coming summer. And this was in the winter time. And I would like to pay you $28,000 a year.

Now remember, this is 1979. I'm a student at the University of Missouri and not a great student, by the way, it took me a while to learn how to do school. But I had to make a decision. Well, I really wanted to go into the media. And I had to turn down that opportunity. But you know, I continued to work at that job all through my freshman and sophomore years of college.

So I was there about four years. I just learned early on not to take work for granted and to take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way and look for the opportunities to learn. And a terrific job on that story by Russ Jones. If you have a great first job story, send them to

The meaning, value and purpose of work. We love sharing those stories with you here on Our American Stories. This is Lee Habib, host of Our American Stories. Every day, we set out to tell the stories of Americans past and present, from small towns to big cities, and from all walks of life, doing extraordinary things.

But we truly can't do this show without you. Our shows are free to listen to, but they're not free to make. If you love what you hear, go to and make a donation to keep the stories coming.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-09 04:34:33 / 2023-11-09 04:39:21 / 5

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