Since I was 9 years old (seriously), I have for the most part been independent. At that age, living in a low-rental apartment just north of the “new” Heritage Mall, I used my bike to see the World. Beyond riding it through the inside of an “under construction” Heritage Mall, I would ride as far as I had the confidence to ride, and that included as far east as the Saratoga Restaurant on Calgary Trail, with my friend whose name is lost from me now.
The Saratoga, an 85 year old institution, was at that time, a real “truck stop”. As 9 year olds, my friend and I would bother truck drivers for the opportunity to polish their wheels, for a dollar in compensation… or “donation”. It’s one of my earliest memories of how I earned any kind of money. I specifically recall one time we asked a truck driver if he would let us wash his rig for $5… he laughed at us and probably told us to “get lost”. We lacked the pride to be offended and rode off, looking for the newest adventure.
We were poor, living with my single mom and for a period around that time without electricity in our apartment. Caused by a “billing problem” that only my mom at the time could properly describe. As I think about it, I learned the value of hard work from my mother, who her whole life has had little choice but to work hard, for us kids.
Tonight, my oldest daughter, a bright and humble young-lady, came home from her first shift at the Saratoga restaurant. Her exposure to it has been from the time’s in the last 15-years, when I would take my own family. She clearly was listening when I told these stories of my impoverished youth, or noticed as I relished in my upbringing directly through the restaurant’s own humble ambiance. I know, because when I challenged her to find a job that would pay her more than her current weekend barista salary; she thought of the breakfast patrons and their tips, at the Saratoga.
So, its not lost on me: My daughter, who is 10 years older now than I was when I first loitered the parking lot of the Saratoga, is now working as their newest employee. I am in awe of
two three things.
1) Although I have moved at least 20 times in my life, and climbed at least two difficult career ladders, I am right back living within only a few kilometres of the Saratoga Restaurant
2) I have a bright and balanced daughter, nearly 19 years of age, who is starting her own journey and carrying her own weight. Earning a fair wage, while working hard towards a degree in History, at the University of Alberta
3) I am old
How I judge success in my children is directly linked to my experience. That in it’s own right is unfair. But for me, I am the luckiest guy in the World. I have a daughter who is succeeding on a set of criteria which I value; being someone who is not afraid of hard work in a humble setting. But also on her terms….as someone who found her own way…as no one in our family even knew until yesterday, this was in her plan.