Minimum Wage and The Struggle of Starting / by Joseph Palumbo

Here's a random thought from the collection of random thoughts that inhabit my head at any given moment - I earn more money in one day in my current job than I earned in an entire summer of lifeguarding in 1994. To be clear, this is not be boasting about how much I make now, but how little I made back then. I was being paid the minimum wage at that time which was an astounding $4.25/hour, which even by 1994 standards wouldn't get you very far. In my case it paid for a small chunk of my textbooks for my first semester at Texas Tech. A semester, I sheepishly add, that netted me a GPA of 0.0 (but that's a story for another time).

Eight hours of working, before taking out taxes, social security, etc. would earn you a whopping $34 a day, which would would buy me a full tank of gas and a bargain bin compact disc (remember those). When I think about it now, especially when putting myself in the mindset of the immature, impatient 18 year old boy that I was, it's a wonder I even showed up to work at all given the meager return on giving up my summer vacation. But, unbeknownst to myself, I was being taught a lesson. 

I guess the point is, without stirring a heated debate about the state of our minimum wage, is that everything in life has a starting point, and starting points are where most people give up or burn out because that's when you see the absolute minimal return for maximum effort invested. My work as a lifeguard was more physically demanding than my job now, but I got paid significantly less However, it was the first line item on my burgeoning resume that demonstrated a number of marketable skills that would qualify me for a better paying job in the future. 

Starting is always the most difficult aspect of anything. The first trip to the gym after a long hiatus. The first day or week without a cigarette. Fumbling your way around syntax errors when you're learning how to code. It's the last layer of the atmosphere of inertia, the last powerful grasp of the gravitational pull of complacency. It's where so many ideas and good intentions burn up due to lack of momentum and perseverance. 

Bottom line: Don't let the minimum wage of your endeavors stop you from receiving the dividends of hardwork.