By Mike Johnson
The 1964 comic book ad lists a Schwinn Varsity 10-speed bicycle for $66.95.
A Schwinn Sting-Ray goes for $49.95.
By 1970, I owned both.
At the time, I didnít feel rich. Now I realize I was.
In those days, parents didnít coddle children. You did what you were told, ate what you were fed and offered no lip. Children were seen but not heard. Cause trouble and you received severe punishment.
Youíd rather face a principal or a cop than your father.
There was no ďfuck around and find out.Ē You KNEW what would happen.
Dadís belt for starters. Followed by no TV. Being grounded indoors. Having to shadow dad for a full hour, thinking about what youíd done, as he occasionally looked your way with a glare.
But through grace, luck and chance, I got paper routes by age 11. This was like winning the lottery.
For starters, it got me out of the house at 4am and 3pm every day. No excuses needed. Dad respected the necessity of showing up for a job. I think he was even proud I was learning self-discipline. Less time around him was less chance of trouble.
This escape was so valuable that Iíd have done those routes for free. But they paid me cash money too.
Not paycheck money. Anytime-I-wanted-it money.
All I had to do was knock on the door of a few customers and Iíd collected a week or two of their subscription money. As long as I didnít overspend and stayed current with my newspaper bill, I had cashflow anytime I wanted.
Hence buying the bikes. Which provided even more freedom.
Most kids ranged within blocks of home. My radius was miles.
Most kids had to stretch Easter and Halloween candy throughout the year. I could buy it right from the store.
Most kids were dependent on parents and begging skills. I was a free man, making my own purchase decisions, no groveling required.
Perspective now reveals I desperately needed that contrast.
Getting what I DIDNíT want from home, pushed me to go after what I DID want outside it.
Paper routes did teach me self-discipline. They also taught self-esteem, customer skills, money management and how to sell. They also gifted the joy and solitude of having the world to myself at 4am, an enriching habit Iíve enjoyed ever since.
And of course, they provided the mothership Ė FREEDOM.
Fifty years later, I now see contrast has always been my friend.
Everything you donít want, is doing you the favor of pushing you toward what you do want.
But you have to start. Losers languish. Schwinners get moving.
Thanks to contrast, a better life is within your range.
Love Your Kids? Make Them Work
My Very First Loan
Morning Promises, Morning Lessons
Back to Mike's Warm, Wealthy Wisdoms
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