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