A Valuable Nickel

A Good Man – Chapter 9 – JohnA Passaro

There’s no way to know
What makes one thing happen
Or not happen.
What leads to what.
What destroys what.
What causes what
To flourish or die
Or take another course.

Cheryl Strayed

The year was 1983.

I was a senior in high school.

My dad had been out of work for the better part of the prior two years.

The technological revolution had just started to hit the printing industry.

It hit it hard.

We felt it.

To say my family didn’t have any discretionary income at the time was being kind.

I remember there was an awards dinner after my wrestling season.

My final wrestling season.

I was scheduled to get an award.

I didn’t go.

It cost $10 to attend – $10 that my family didn’t have.

I decided not to let my mother know about the awards dinner because I knew that she would have somehow come up with the $10.

And I also knew she could have used that $10 for something else.

It was more important for me not to put any more financial pressure on my mom than it was for me to receive the award.

So I never told her about it.

I just didn’t go.

Also in 1983, New York State just passed a new law – the bottle return deposit law.

Going forward, all bottles would have a nickel deposit.

This deposit would be paid by the consumer at the time of purchase and would be refunded to them when they returned the empty bottles to the store.

At the time, I had no idea how impactful this new law would be on my life.

My Junior High wrestling coach, Mr. Hurley, had a brother who had just opened up a beverage store.

This new law was adversely affecting his business.

He needed to hire someone.

I needed a job.

My coach brokered the deal.

“John, how would you like a job for the summer?

It’s nothing earth-shattering, but you would be able to get as many hours as you like, and you would be working with good people.

Plus, you get to work in the Hamptons for the summer.

And by the way, the good person I am talking about is my brother, Bill.”

As a teenager, the only thing I heard from my coach’s offer was, “The Hamptons for the summer.”

The “You’ll be working with good people” part had no influence on my taking the job.

But it would be the part that would have the greatest influence on my life.

Read the next chapter – My Boss

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