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White Collar Paperboy

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by Southpaw, Oct 8, 2003.

  1. Southpaw

    Southpaw LawnSite Member
    from Atlanta
    Messages: 88

    My parents were a little older than most and as such so were my siblings. My father was a banker and we were the typical Father Knows Best sitcom story. At an early age I noticed that all the adults in my life wore suits and ties to work, never got dirty at work and we all went to church every Sunday. All of our neighbors, relatives and friends dressed and did the same. I really never paid attention to the auto mechanic, the construction worker or even the old man that cut our neighbor's lawn. We were not rich, but very well off, and we were not snobs either. However, I was taught to never look down on anybody, but the typical "blue collar" work was just not our style.

    College was mandatory and so were chores around the house as well as part time work for our own spending money. My oldest brother had a paper route for six years until time to go to college. My next brother took over for another six years until he moved away to college as well. At age nine, I took over the route and had it for eight years until I too was ready to go away to school.

    One Sunday paper weighs enough by itself, but imagine a 9 year old boy with 88 of those things. Up before dawn, I tried every possible way to decrease the effort needed to get the job done. Roller skates, skateboards, little red wagon, you name it, I tried it. None of these things worked as well as just dragging that heavy bag until it was light enough to carry on my shoulder. My dad helped me open my first checking account and I was in business. Since I was a legacy on this route, everybody knew me very well. Too well when it comes to hanging out with the rowdy boys. Whenever we would do what boys do and run and hide, nobody would get caught except for "Hey, isn't that our paperboy?" My father was very strict and had no tolerance for horseplay and I learned that the hard way if you know what I mean. By age 10, all of my siblings were gone and it was just me and the parents. On my first day of sixth grade, I came racing home to announce my appointment to the student crossing guards. But the bank called. My father died at work while sitting at his desk. He was 53 years old. I quickly went from being the baby of a nuclear family to an only child with a single mom. That damn paper route was completely my own responsibility and my own source of income. My benefits went straight into my college fund, not to be touched until matriculation at the University of my choice.

    My father was never the mechanical type. We had a reel mower, a few tools, but he did not even change his own oil on the cars. Now that he was gone, nobody ever taught me how to do even the most basic of things, but I certainly could balance a checkbook. Without encouragement from mentors, I never pursued any knowledge of trades, skills, or vocational things. My life was put on cruise control to graduate from college, get a 'white collar' job and be who I was suppossed to be. Years passed and my Mom dated a few times. She once told me about one of her dates. He drove a pick up truck and didn't wear a tie to work. That relationship soon fizzled. When I got my driver's license it only took me one week to experience my first flat tire. Oh man, there were no such thing as cell phones. I got out the owner's manual, struggled with the job and about an hour later, I completed the task.

    At age 17, it was time for me to go away to college. I was finally allowed to give up that damn paper route and did some lifeguarding at the pool for the summer and off to school I went.
  2. Southpaw

    Southpaw LawnSite Member
    from Atlanta
    Messages: 88

    After four years of school and lifeguarding in the summers, I earned a degree in Economics and decided that I would take the financial world by storm. I was gonna sell stocks and bonds, mutual funds, IRAs and insurance. After six months without one sale and going broke fast, a friend of mine introduced me to the world of waiting tables and bartending. The economy was horrible in 1986. No jobs to be had, so I picked up my few belongings and moved to a much bigger city to make my fortune. Still waiting tables, but in a much nicer place in the big city. Restaurant management was a poor decision for me to make in those days. Long hours, low pay etc.. but I did that until I became and internal auditor for a large firm. Now I was on my way.

    I did very well for awhile. It really helps when you like what you do. I even started my own auditing firm. But the restaurant business was always there for me when times got tough. They did get tough and stayed tough and I bagged the whole thing and went back into restaurant management. I cannot stress enough how miserable I became. I was a general manager of one of the largest restaurants in town, made good money, well respected by my staff, but Hated it. The general public can wear a man down quickly. I would go to work and dream about owning my own business someday. At the rate I was going, that someday was never going to arrive.

    I never mentioned before that I had some lawn care and landscape experience and even thought about buying my room mates' business back in 1994, but it never happened. As time moved along, I found myself noticing the big LCO trucks and all the workers. So I thought about doing it part time, but that would not work well with restaurant management, so I continued to rot away and dream about it. But I started saving my money and reading up on this whole LCO business. I thought and stressed and then one day I snapped and turned in my notice. My boss was shocked, so were my friends and family. I heard all the negative comments, what were you thinking you idiot. I did not let that bother me at first. I bought all new equipment, went out and did some bidding and lo and behold, I'm and LCO and my own boss.

    This is my first year. I will not make enough money this year to break my previous salary, but I am so much happier now. I'm beginning to build up steam and have a client base. I'm now moving into more landscape projects than lawn mowing and the possibilities are endless. Yes, I have much to learn. So far the biggest challenge has been turning around in small spots with my 12 ft. trailor behind my F150 truck. My tools, my shed and my freedom from this suit and tie world make me very happy. I no longer wear a tie to work. Thirty years have passed since that first Sunday paper was delivered and I know in my heart that my Dad would be proud of me. Even if I am the "Blue Collar" member of his family. Thanks for reading my story!
  3. Team Gopher

    Team Gopher LawnSite Platinum Member
    from -
    Messages: 4,040

    Thanks for sharing your story with us :)
  4. philbarb

    philbarb LawnSite Member
    Messages: 12

    Great story--keep us informed.
  5. KuntryKuzzin

    KuntryKuzzin LawnSite Member
    Messages: 6

    Yours is an inspirational story! I am glad to see that you have persevered! You know society would say to us, that in order for us to be successful that we need the college degree and a big time job, but it's not true! If going out, and working you tailend off and sweating like a dog makes you feel good at the end of the day? Then I hope that God blesses you beyond belief and then someday you can look back on the restaurant gig and it all be just a memory!

    Good Luck!!!
  6. Terrell56

    Terrell56 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 7

    Good Story Southpaw, are you a lefty by any chance? Da!!!

    How much has the economics degree help you understand setting up hourly rates and figuring what you need to charge in order to survive?

    Did you research this area or are you already aware of the misconceptions?
  7. BravesFan

    BravesFan LawnSite Member
    Messages: 233

    Nice story there big guy. I had to laugh about the 12 foot trailer with the F150. I use a 12 footer for my grinder...and a F150 as well. sometimes I feel like an idiot...backing back and forth like 5 times until I get it straight in the driveway.

    This business will treat you well. Don't listen to the negative folks. That whole group is made of people who don't have the GUTS to live the life they want to.

    We only get a SMALL number of years on this planet. Don't settle for anything less than 100% happiness. If you wake up every morning hating what you're doing, it's time for a change.

    Been there...Done that...made the change and dared anyone to open their mouths about it!

  8. John B Laidlaw

    John B Laidlaw LawnSite Member
    Messages: 95

    Great story! I came from a similar back round. Dad was a banker in NYC and he died in a car crash when I was only 11. All of my siblings are wanna-be's white color workers comparing nickle and dimes, have college degrees and BORING lives!
    I wouldn't change my position for anything. While chasing the almighty dollar in computers, I longed for this life. Five years dealing with the corporate world was four years, 363 days to much!! Give me the smell of freshly mowed turf, beautiful sunrises, and the challenges of design/horticulture any day!
    Good luck and never hesitate to ask for help!

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