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  •  Terrence Ganaway, like many other young men just out of college, works at a fast food outlet. young workers

    To be specific, he works at Jimmy John’s, a submarine sandwich chain who promises “subs so fast you’ll freak.”  Ganaway may have never worked at a fast food place before, but he did bring to the table some speed credentials.

    This is Ganaway’s second job. Most of the year, he plays running back for the St. Louis Rams.  At Baylor he played alongside a quarterback who is so fast you’ll freak, Robert Griffin III.

    People overestimate the bank accounts of the average professional athlete, never considering the high taxes and other burdens laid upon them.  And most players do not make nearly as much as the stars.  A shocking number do end up broke when their playing days end. Still, NFL rookies do not tend to look for other gigs.

    Ganaway told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch “I just wanted to stay fit, stay out of trouble, and really just try to save money and not spend a lot of money.”

    And it’s not a cakewalk either.  Ganaway described the expectation that he work quickly.  He also said that “I’m on the line that makes the sandwiches, I bake bread. Take the cashier spot. I had to sweep the other day. Clean the tables. I mean, all types of stuff. Slice the meat. Wrap the meat.”

    For many young Americans, such beginnings are an expected part of growing up. Andrew Carnegie, the future steel magnate, changed bobbins at a thread factory six days per week.  Larry Bird spent a year working as a town garbageman before playing for Indiana State and later the Boston Celtics. Ronald Reagan flipped hamburgers and washed dormitory tables to help his struggling family.  Low paying entry level jobs teach character, humility, discipline, and motivation.

    “Hard work is a prison sentence only if it does not have meaning.”  National Journalism Center alum Malcolm Gladwell explained this in his work Outliers: The Story of Success. He went on to write that one of the best gifts given by his father was the sight of him happily working at his desk. Washing dishes, making sandwiches, digging ditches, loading trucks, etc. do not pay well, but they allow an aspiring young man or woman entry into the exclusive society of those who have experienced the dignity of difficult work. 

    And that work ethic remains strong. Consider the national coverage of Jhaquiel Reagan of Indianapolis, hired by a local restaurant owner who found him walking ten miles through snow and ice in search of a fast food job.

    Policies of Obama and the federal government have made these opportunities increasingly scarce. Small businesses cannot employ more than fifty people, nor can they assign individuals more than thirty hours per week of work. If they do so, they fall under the crippling provisions of Obamacare burdens.

    Also, liberals all too often speak derisively of such jobs. They complain of the low wages paid. They categorize any growth under a conservative governor as expansion of only this sector. They whine that one individual cannot support a family on income from these positions.  The Left underestimates the work ethic and adaptability of motivated individuals. I personally remember working up to three such jobs while raising a family and studying full time for a college degree.  Lessons learned from this school of hard knocks were as important for future success as any courses taken in college.

    Ganaway understood a concept described by Benjamin Franklin centuries ago, that “trouble springs from idleness, and grievous toil from needless ease.” Despite the material comfort provided by an NFL salary, hard work in a humble position still develop the character and occupy the mind.

    NFL experts cannot predict the future career path of Ganaway.  He remains buried on the depth chart behind superstar Steven Jackson and has already played one fourth of the average NFL career of just under four years.  As it has for others, lessons learned making sandwiches and cleaning bathrooms can help him to rise up the depth chart in football or some other field of endeavor.  

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