First learn job skills, then financial management

Many mornings last winter as I poured a breakfast cup of coffee I’d spot a young man walking past on the street. Besides the fact he was walking, not driving, both his unique attire and demeanour captured my attention. I’d watch him until he was out of sight beyond the neighbour’s woodpile.

Was his garb or his demeanour first to catch my eye? More a combination of the two. His wardrobe choice was so atypical for a teen it might have begun with tips from fashion guru Tim Gunn on TV’s “Project Runway”. Or from copying George Clooney. Invariably he stood out in a business suit or a blazer, buttoned up shirt and tie, with trousers – not jeans – and leather oxfords — not sneakers. I never saw him wear a baseball cap.

Also noteworthy for someone his age he dressed for the weather. On cold stormy mornings he appeared comfortable in a parka , the hood shielding his head. Drizzly mornings, a jacket kept him dry; not for him arriving bedraggled as a homeless kitten.

He strode confidently with purpose like one with a definite goal in mind and strict time limit to reach it. Excellent posture, head up, facing the world head on. He would have been suitably attired to attend a class graduation or some other grand public event.

I was just so taken by his enthusiastic preparedness for wherever he planned to spend his day, whether as a student or an entry level employee. Where might he be off to? A nearby private school? To work in the office of an area business? We have several businesses within 15 minutes walking distance of my house. How far did he have to go to reach his destination? That commitment alone set him apart for persons of any age today.

Who are his parents to have instilled this level of confidence in their young son? I’ve known applicants who dressed with less thought for a crucial job interview. This lad had success in his sights.

It’s been some months since he last walked past my door. Perhaps he has moved from Thornhill , gone on to a distant university. Could also be he’s celebrated a birthday making him eligible to drive.

I hadn’t marked his absence until this morning when a Terrace Standard news item showed a Caledonia class being taught financial literacy by two BMO employees. Three of the four students wear baseball caps. One has barricaded his entire desk top with an overstuffed backpack cleverly precluding taking any notes. No one else has a pen or paper in sight either.

The BMO staffers were explaining to the class financial concepts including the stock market, budgeting, mortgages, saving and investing. All worthwhile knowledge once someone is employed, paying his own way. For this class now, this class topic is putting the horse before the cart.

Employers seek dependable employees who dress appropriately, arrive on time, are prepared to work, to increase their usefulness to the business, and do it cheerfully rather than grousing because their pay scale is lower than the CEO’s.

American journalist Tom Wolfe, quoted in the May 15, 2018 Boston Globe said, “My contention is that status is on everybody’s mind all of the time, whether they’re conscious of it or not.”

This Caledonia class disputes Wolfe’s contention. Unlike the young man who walked by each morning, radiating the status he sought to maintain or achieve, I detect no status climbing clues among the students in this class photo.

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