He had probably not run into too many young men as persistent as I was. I had learned this persistence in my various other commercial ventures as I tried to earn spending money the previous few years. But it was probably this character trait of mine that told the man all he needed to know about my reliability as a worker, so he finally gave me a job. I kept this job for two years, working about 20 to 30 hours a week, a few hours after school and a much longer shift on Saturday. I would bus the tables, sweep and mop floors, wash dishes, make tea in big plastic containers for the customers, pick up trash around the parking lot, clean the restaurant windows, and anything else that the manager, a retired state trooper, could think of. Eventually, he started putting me on the counter to fill orders and to work the cash register, and from there, he even trained me on the grill in back as I will fill in for the short-order cook from time to time. Every so often, the manager would reward my diligent, hard work with small raises in my pay. It was good money for a boy of my age in those days, and I was learning many leadership and life lessons from this job, taking on tremendous responsibility for such a young man.
Moreover, with that money, I was able to buy anything I wanted, including the cool clothes that most people were wearing, the latest records (or 8-track tapes J) of my favorite groups, tickets to the movies, the roller rink, or to Six Flags over Georgia, and even gifts for my girlfriends. And I always seemed to have a girlfriend, although the relationships in those days among young teenagers would usually just last a few weeks or a few months at the most. But I had been very precocious when it came to the opposite sex from about the age of five. I think that was the first time that I kissed a girl. It was on the playground at our church-run kindergarten in New Orleans, and I think her name was Colleen. Her father was a local celebrity on television, but I didn’t care about the money. I only wanted the girl J. I would continue to have various girlfriends over the years until I enlisted in the Army at the age of 18. I kept one girlfriend while I was overseas in Germany, corresponding with her numerous times, and I would date her whenever I returned from my tour overseas, but we eventually broke up toward the end of my enlistment.
After I got out of the Army, I went to work for United Parcel Service (UPS), loading trucks, and enrolled in college, using my VA education benefits to fund my classes. It was there that I met my last girlfriend, a fairly serious relationship (at least it was on my part). I fell hard for her, and it was very painful for me when I came to the conclusion that she was not good for me spiritually (my walk with God was becoming closer and more serious), so I broke up with her. It was a traumatic experience for me, but I was trying to set standards in my life that would put God first in all things, even my relationships with girls and with family. Although I dated a few more girls, that first college girlfriend was my last serious relationship before I finally met my future wife in December 1984.
I pray that God will let your light shine to all those around you wherever you may encounter people in your life.