"I am a teacher, and when I was younger, I would take summer jobs to supplement my income. One summer, I worked for a bricklayer named Jerry and heard an amazing story! I worked for Jerry in the mid 90’s, so the story either happened in the early 90’s or in the 80’s. Here goes:"
"The setting for the story was a community of small rural towns which had only only one brick contractor. Jerry began his career as a bricklayer working for this contractor, a real j#rk. J#rk and J#rk’s son (adult working the business with his father) would harass, belittle, and humiliate all their employees on a regular basis."
"No work was ever good enough and employees were told they weren’t worth what they were paid. Not only did J#rk mistreat his employees; but, he was equally rude to other subcontractors and to the general contractors who hired him. Since he was the only bricklayer in the community, there was nothing anyone could do about it."
"Needless to say, the turnover rate for the brick business was very high. The only person that stuck with J#rk and Company was Jerry. Jerry told me that his father had instilled a self-confidence in him that Jerry could do anything he set his mind to do and that he should not evaluate himself according to what others said; but, rather by the facts."
"Although Jerry was belittled by J#rk and Son as were all other employees; Jerry was becoming a very good bricklayer. Jerry knew he was good; J#rk knew Jerry was good; but, J#rk didn’t know that Jerry knew he was good. Not only was Jerry a good bricklayer; he was very respectful to the boss who disrespected him. J#rk thought that Jerry was a naive pushover who was buying his head games. That would prove to be a HUGE mistake on his part."
"One day, Jerry was doing an exceptionally good job of laying brick. Not only was his craftsmanship amazing, he was laying brick at a high rate of speed so that he was making his boss lots of money. Of course, J#rk and Son were belittling his work as though he was doing the very opposite. This scenario was being observed by the general contractor of the project. After work that day, the general contractor asked Jerry to stay behind so he could talk to him."
"As did every other construction worker in the community, General Contractor hated working with J#rk. General Contractor told Jerry that he had heard J#rk and Son belittling him; and told him that he disagreed with everything J#rk was saying. He asked Jerry if he had ever considered going into business for himself. Jerry said that he would like to do that some day."
"General Contractor then said that he would loan Jerry the money to buy a mixer (the most expensive piece of equipment needed to start a brick business) if Jerry would indeed start said business. The only hitch was that Jerry would need to pay for the mixer whenever he could and that he would subcontract under General Contractor. Jerry agreed to those terms and prepared to begin his new venture."
"Jerry respectfully told J#rk and Son his plans and gave his notice. The two mocked Jerry ruthlessly and laughed him to scorn. J#rk told Jerry, “You’ll be back in two months begging to return to your job—you’ll never make it as a subcontractor!” Two months later, rather than collapsing as J#rk predicted, Jerry was still in business and going strong."
"One year later, Jerry’s business was booming and a drunk J#rk showed up at Jerry’s house and begged him to come back to work with J#rk and Son. “Jerry, you’re the best employee I ever had.” Jerry replied, “Why didn’t you ever tell me that when I was working for you?” J#rk couldn’t answer the question; and, Jerry obviously didn’t accept the offer for employment. Two years after beginning his entrepreneurial adventure, Jerry heard that J#rk and Son went out of business."
"Jerry said that he never intended to harm J#rk and Son when he accepted General Contractor’s offer. He said that looking back on things he realized that he had become J#rk’s greatest nightmare. I can’t say that General Contractor intended no harm!
I thought the most amazing thing about the story was how that Jerry maintained his self-esteem in spite of all the ridicule. I also gained a respect for Jerry’s father who instilled an unshakable self-confidence in Jerry!"