painted floorOne day after school, when I was a 6th grader, my mother wanted to talk to me. The conversation went something like this:

   “John, I put an ad in the Baden News Press and got a grass cutting job for you.”

    “Mom, why did you do that? I didn’t ask for one.”

    “I know, but you need to work.”

    “Why, none of my friends have jobs?”

    “I know. But they should.”

    “Where is the yard that needs to be cut?”

    “In Bellefontaine Neighbors.”

    “Well, how far away is that?”

    “About five miles.”

    “And how will I get there?”

    “Ride your bike.”

And that was it. I had my first official job.

Reluctantly I rode my bike out to Mrs. Enright’s house and began what would become a job that would last well into my college years.

Mrs. Enright was a delightful person, a school teacher and had a large house and yard. After I cut the grass, she asked how much money I wanted. Not being ready for this question, I said $4 per hour. She agreed and I was stunned at my success in negotiating my first salary.

The yard work evolved into more: weeding, mulching, small concrete work and cleaning the pool. And, the long ride back and forth seemed to be much more palatable now that I had a fresh $20 in my pocket.

That was the start of many jobs as a teenager. Work seemed to be a necessity at that time. My parents had little money raising seven boys. So if I wanted anything discretionary it was on my dime.

And then college was looming ahead. My Dad made it clear to me that he would pay for private high school, but I was on my own for college tuition, room and board.

So I set my sights on working several jobs in the summer and making enough to pay the full college load at Mizzou (admittedly very difficult to do with today’s inflated college costs).

And this notion of work never seemed to escape me as I always had a list of chores to do at home as well as a good deal of nightly homework.

Pope Francis, on his recent trip to America, said the following on the topic of employment and minimum wage: “Do good work as work is how you express yourself.”

The other day I decided to paint the floor of my garage. I always wanted that “car dealer floor” look so I bought a kit and set out to complete the task. It was a three-step process: (1) scrub and clean, (2) etching and (3) painting. I underestimated the first two steps as I was focused on the painting step, which was the glitzy part.

But I looked at the floor after the first two steps and it still wasn’t clean. I wanted so badly to just go to step three and paint, fully knowing that it would not yield that sparkled look unless it was cleaned again.

So I did stop and clean again, taking another couple of back breaking hours.

But the result was spectacular. Much more so than painting over dirt.

I wanted a beautiful floor. But it required very hard work. A trait that was drilled into me by my mother.

Thanks Mom,


John Marklin

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