Labor Day, for whatever reason, drifted me back to my arrival in Chicago, alone, at the ripe old age of 19. $47. No friends. No job.
Day two in the Windy City the job hunt was on. Recognizing the name Hertz, I entered the building and presented myself at reception. I had walked there in a rain and wind storm, and looked like a drowned rat. "Can I help you?" asks the receptionist. Yes, I'd like a job with Hertz. What kind of Job? Well, I am a VERY good secretary. We don't need any secretaries. Well, what do you need. Truth is, if she'd said cleaning lady I'd have said ... Oh, I am a very good cleaner.
In the meantime a gentleman was standing quietly in the foyer space. He said, 'young lady, come back to my office." The man was Mr. Ferguson, general manager for this office. (Note to younger people: Bosses did not have first names in the 1950's) He listened, asked if I had a resume. No, but I had graduation certificates from Leigh Junior Commercial College at age 15, showing high grades, head Prefect honor, and a recommendation letter from the Headmaster. Imagine where that would get today's young people.
Finally, Mr. Ferguson said: Well, we do have one opening in accounting. Wonderful, says an enthusiastic me - I have two years in accountng - including double entry bookkeeping. Never mind the fact I was trained in pounds, shillings and pence. Let's give it a shot, when can you start? exclaims Mr. Ferguson. My excited response: Today? Tomorrow?
I left there thinking, goodness - that was easy; how smart am I? Patting myself on the back at my brillint accomlishment. Turns out I was a bit premature with my self-praise. Mr. Ferguson had a big heart, he also had a daughter my age who, instead of looking for a job, was headed to Loyola. He was afraid what might happen to me. He gave me a chance.
Without someone being willing to take a chance on me - or you - who knows? When I hear someone say he or she is self-made, I suggest "look back, discover people who helped you along the way." I have never met a self-made person.
As a wise and successful friend advised - do not judge by the outward appearance; listen to the story. Whenever possible, offer a chance. It could become a lifeline.
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