Friday, May 11, 2007

Joe's Excellent Adventure

My son, Joe, chose to get a full time job after a few terms of college left him frustrated. He worked at Safeway for a couple of years, then for a huge local building supply company.

Discovering that full-time work at entry-level wages would not pay the bills when he had a wife and kids - one day - he decided to go back to college. He gave his two week's notice, then began to look for a flexible part-time job to help with tuition.

The freedom he felt that Friday, on his last day of work, went to his head. Literally. No more dress codes, no more hair-cut restrictions, no more workin' for the man. Joe went to a friend's house and convinced him to shave his (Joe's) head, except for a centerline strip a couple of inches wide from brow to nape - a Mohawk.

Now Joe has a round head, deep cheek-dimples on either side of his smile, and large brown eyes. He's my (6'1") baby boy! When he came walking up the sidewalk toward the front door, grinning his huge white grin, with this this this thing on his head, I about had a stroke, which pleased him to no end, of course.

Cassie and Caroline hooped and hollered, and petted his fuzzy little Mohawk. I began to laugh in a few minutes, once I got sort of used to the idea of a critter on my son's head. "It's only for the weekend. I just wanted to have some fun, and to go to the mall to see if people look at me differently." (They did.)

Joe's best friend worked at a small, locally-owned market which was in need of a stock boy, immediately. A glowing report from this friend, listing Joe's work experience, honesty, work ethic, and straight-laced personality, inspired the boss to set up an appointment for an interview with Joe the following Monday.

Perfect! Flexible hours, low-stress job, piece of cake.

Monday rolled around and Joe headed in for his interview, wearing a baseball cap to hide his Mohawk, with plans to shave off his new pet afterwards.

The boss LOVED Joe! (Who wouldn't?) She said, "You're hired! Here's the paperwork, sit here and fill it out."

He did.

His new boss said happily, "I'll get your time clock set up for you today so you can get to work now."

"Wha...?" Joe was confused. "Isn't this just an interview?" he thought, nervously tugging on the bill of his cap.

"First rule: no hats," Karen, the boss, said matter-of-factly.

"Huh? I thought I was just supposed to fill out paperwork today?" Joe asked, beginning to panic now, knowing what was under his hat. Like I said, straight-laced.

"I need you for the 10 - 4 shift today, so, take off the hat and you can get started," she kindly smiled.

Oh boy. Panic seized Joe, but, he's an honest, smart kid, so he told her, "Well, uh, you see, I have a BAD haircut."

"Ah, that's okay. Take off the hat and let's see," Karen said in a friendly tone, eyes now curiously on the hat.

Joe turned red red red, as he slowly removed his cap, and grinned sheepishly at Karen. She simply shrugged, saying, "Heh, it's not so bad," and walked away, leaving him to stock shelves for the next six hours, on his first day of work, with a Mohawk for all the customers to see.

Funny thing, no one teased him. A couple of teenagers and two little kids told him his hair was 'cool'. Joe and I learned a valuable lesson that day: loosen up, man.

We HAVE both loosened up since the Mohawk entered our lives.

Rock the Mohawk!

(Joe worked at the mart for three years, quickly working his way up to checker, and all-around valuable employee. The market was sold the fall that Joe began Gutenberg. He quit to devote his time to his studies, but the market, and the friends he made there, will always hold a warm spot in his heart.)


Pam said...

Aaww, he's such a cutie, with hair, with a mohawk, or bald... What a great kid!

Wandering Coyote said...

Great story, Cherie. That boss lady sounds cool. Not everyone would be so receptive! I have a lot of piercings and sometimes I wonder how that's going to go over when I try to get back into the work force.

Cherie said...

You're right, Pam, he's a great kid!

WC, his boss lady was cool the entire time he worked for her, the best boss he's ever had, way better than the uptight corporate wannabes he'd worked for before. They would have rejected him as soon as the hat came off. Oh well. You and your piercings will find just the right place for you to work, when you are ready, I have no doubt about that.

IndianaJones said...

When my husband and I were planning the move to Eugene for him to attend Gutenberg we both made some drastic changes to our look because we were a bit nervous about finding work, acceptance and so on. I removed two piercings and died my hair to a "normal" color and he grew in his hair and covered tattoos...funny thing is we probably would have been accepted anyway and by year 2 he had a mohawk again and I gave him another tattoo for Christmas that year. Fear of other's reactions is a strange and powerful thing, but the freedom of finding yourself amidst the judgement and realizing there is acceptance out there is equally as powerful.
I hope he will again rock the is good to push the boundaries a little now and then even if it is only your own!

Cherie said...

Summer -"Fear of other's reactions is a strange and powerful thing, but the freedom of finding yourself amidst the judgement and realizing there is acceptance out there is equally as powerful."

Perfect!!! This is what we concluded in our loosening up process. You stated is perfectly.

I don't know if Joe will ever rock the Mohawk again - it had its positive, satisfying effect. He has certainly pushed other boundaries now and then - and so have I, and will continue to do so, because, as you suggest, there is a freedom in sloughing off the chains which others put on us. Personal empowerment is a fine thing!

You are good for me!

Anonymous said...

Happy Mother's Day Cherie. Hope it's great for you.

Cherie said...

Why, thank you, Sandy! Happy Mother's Day to you, too.

Tom is taking the girls and me to Disneyland for Mother's Day, Caroline's birthday, and just because we've been promising the girls FOREVER that we'd take them. Now's the time. :-D

Since Joe (and his brother, Ben) have already visited the land of Mickey, he, Sam, and their friends are staying home to guard the house and have fun!

Happy Mother's Day to all you wonderful Mommies out there. "The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world."

You're the BEST!

deanna said...

Great mohawk rocking story. Happy Mother's Day, Cherie! Tell Mickey hello for me.

Princess Banter said...

you definitely did something right while raising him as he decided to go back to school :) education truly is the best investment there is... and hey, gotta admit, your son can so totally pull off the mohawk!

Cherie said...

Thanks, Deanna. It sure was funny when Joe called me from work that first day, knowing I was expecting him home and he hadn't arrived. He told me what happened with the job and Karen, and I just cracked up laughing. He was laughing, too. Happy Mother's Day to you! Hey, will you take really good notes in church tomorrow? I'm so sad I'll miss it. I want to hear the rest of what he talked about last week. I can always listen on-line, but it'll be awhile until they get it up. Thanks!

princess, I'm going to make sure Joe reads your comments - on the good investment an education is, AND how he totally pulled off the Mohawk! He's
doing GREAT in college, finishing up his first year at a place that challenges, enriches, and satisfies his thirst for knowledge. It has made all the difference in his view of college. Whew.

Thanks, you two!

tshsmom said...

The first time that I "rattled the chains" of conventionality, was when I married L.
I'm glad that Joe's experience worked out as well as mine!
There are definitely times when we need to look at life from the other side. ;)

Cherie said...

Your chain rattling certainly HAS turned out well - thirty years worth! Thanks - and Happy Mother's Day, tshs!

tshsmom said...


Wandering Coyote said...

Happy Mother's Day, Cherie!

Marianne Elixir said...

Happy Happy Mothers Day to a woman I admire. Seriously, your blog about actually stopping to smell the lilacs with your girls won me over completely =)

Deadmanshonda said...

Oh wow. So fun!

Angela said...

i love it!i've had a long standing love affairs with mohawks. wahooo!

i had blue hair and my itty bitty tatoo on my wrist when i worked as a substitute teacher and one day a kid said to me, "is your look acceptable now, or are they just desperate for teachers?" i failed her.

Anonymous said...

Wow - I was feeling like turning red for him when he had to take off the hat!! Fun story.

Cherie said...

Thanks for the Mother's Day wishes WC, tshs, and Elixer. I did have a wonderful day. Saw the Disneyland fireworks from our hotel window! Awesome!

Leisel - it WAS fun!

Angela, your story is hilarious. Little kids with big mouths.....

Desiree - You felt how I felt when I heard the story from Joe. What a kid he is!

I'm back everyone! Disneyland was terrific, as was California Adventure, San Juan Capistrano Mission (did I spell that right?), and Medieval Times, plus a good walk on the beach with Tom and the kids. Good to be home. Still relishing the afterglow -will post soon.

You guys are fantastic!

Anonymous said...

Funny story. The comments hidden here are equally worthy of consideration. Great post! Great comments!