If you look close enough at this image, one of those faces does not belong. It’s the stoic one, the one who doesn’t want to be there. This was the face of a teenager who did not want to be in this photo, in front of these trucks, nor in Maryland. Period.
We had just moved from Brooklyn just months before. In the preceding several months, my dad emptied his savings and took a once-in-a-lifetime business opportunity 200 miles away from home, sleeping on his partner’s couch every night and waking up in the pre-dawn hours to load and unload trucks filled with fresh & frozen meats to deliver to his waiting customers. He was 39 years old, consumed with the fire of an entrepreneur, and he was barely just getting started.
As his business grew, so did his time away from family. He no longer came home for dinners, spending his after-work hours roaming strip malls and shopping centers throughout Maryland, prospecting for new business while checking in on his existing customers. I remember having to wait for him to pick me up from school, long after all the other kids had left. I remember all the track meets that he never attended. On the surface level, it all sounds very tragic; and when you’re a teenager, everything is a tragedy.
But like most teenagers, I quickly readjusted, made some new friends and a new life for myself in this new and strange place. Over the years, the resentment would eventually wane and I’d come to appreciate all the sacrifices that my parents endured to chase their dreams while raising a family. He worked hard, so that his family didn’t have to.
Unfortunately for my dad, I am my father’s son after all. So it looks like the joke’s on him :).
Today marks my dad’s last day at his job, after spending 26 years toiling in refrigerators, driving delivery trucks, and schmoozing with Boss-ladies all over the DMV area. Much of everything I do in my business, I learned from this guy (the schmoozing part is hereditary, what can I say?). Though he probably doesn’t hear it very often, we’re all very thankful for all the blood, sweat & tears that he sacrificed for his family and business, and we’re all very proud of what he’s accomplished in his career.
Happy retirement Dad, and may the rest of your days be filled with fishing trips, eating carbs, and stuffing your face with pastries & ice cream with your grandchildren!