My father immigrated to this nation from Israel in 1982. He was considered by law to be a refugee, and was escaping the Israeli conflict with Lebanon that resulted in the unfortunate casualties of many innocent Jews. As a result of the devastation and intifada in Israel, he literally came to this nation empty handed. His father loaned him a mere fifty dollars, leaving him with the message: “Make me, your family, and your country proud, my son.” When first arriving to this country, he faced extreme discrimination and Anti-Semitism. Once a young man with dark features, I can now see how the years of hard work have taken a toll on his body. His leathered face, his calloused hands—these all serve as reminders for his perseverance and hard work.
My father tried several business ventures before becoming a self-made entrepreneur. He started out being an accountant’s assistant at a local firm. Through this work he learned about the intricacies of financial planning. With this skill set, he learned how to manage his money and make investments efficiently. As a result, my father worked laboriously, and embarked on his own business ventures. He eventually found success owning a small liquor store. His hard work and tenacity exemplifies the American Dream, for he literally created for himself a life of riches out of a life of rags.
Because my father values his work, he is grateful for every day of life and success that he experiences. This is why he always imposed the same value upon his children, including me. During the summer I turned eighteen, my father suggested that I begin working my first job. Previously, he had encouraged me to spend my summers studying and spending time with my friends. However, the summer before I began college, he advised me to do some kind of work. He argued that work would provide me with the spending money I would need for my first year of school, and that it would help with the purchasing of other academic materials like books, my laptop, etc. Thus, I decided that it would be appropriate to acquire work at my father’s liquor store. Both my father and I believe that this would be a good transition position for me. With my father as my boss, I could grow comfortable with the idea of working. Moreover, by working for my father I could learn about his business. This would be important knowledge should I consider entering a similar line of work, or even take over his company when he retires. Therefore, there were many advantages for me to work for my father that summer. Not only would I make the money I needed to achieve independence in college, but I would also gain a valuable set of skills that would help me with my own future business ventures.
Despite the advantages of this job, I unfortunately did not take the work as seriously as I had intended. I could not help but get distracted with the social functions occurring with my friends at the time. After a long night spent out with my friends, I ended up oversleeping and was late for my first day of work. Consequently, my father was extremely disappointed in my behavior. He told me, “I could have given this job to many other qualified candidates. But I chose you, my son, to uphold the Moshe tradition, to embody the same family value of work ethic that we all abide by.”
Upon hearing these words, I realized that my father was right. I had not only dishonored him, but I had also dishonored myself. I had compromised the integrity of the business, of the family, and, most importantly, I had compromised my own moral character. Through this experience, I learned to value my father’s word. I also learned about the value of punctuality and work ethic, that without these characteristics my quality of life will suffer dramatically. Additionally, although me father refused to pay me for my work the first two weeks I worked for him, in the end I realized that his disappointment and punishment were appropriate measures to take against my irresponsible behavior.
In addition to this moment, there was another moment while working for my father that also put me in a compromising position. Statistically, liquor stores are one of the most common establishments to experience burglary. Criminals determine that since many customers enter and exit liquor stores on a given day, the stores usually have a large cash flow, and thus find these enterprises the easiest and most beneficial to rob. My father’s business was therefore not immune to this phenomenon. On August 12th, an intruder entered the store, holding the shop at gunpoint. I managed to call the police, however, the intruder began to attack a woman who was a customer in the shop. Nevertheless, the police came to the store, and arrested the criminal.
When my father learned of the predicament, I thought he would be proud of my behavior. In my eyes, I had done made the right decision by calling the authorities. But my father still noted areas of improvement: “What about that young woman? Was it her fault that man came into our store? Did she ask to be attacked? No, she did not. She was a customer in our store. It was your responsibility to protect her. When a customer enters, it’s your job to ensure their satisfaction. That satisfaction not only includes our products, but also includes the safety of our client.”
My father made an extremely important point. Before this incident, I had been consumed by the monetary rewards of my work (i.e. my paycheck). After this traumatic event, I developed a sense of compassion and care for the clients that entered my father’s liquor store. I realized the importance of caring for others, and had my father not spoken to me, perhaps I would have never learned this valuable lesson. From this incident, I thus learned a life lesson; compassion and care for others is one of the most important qualities one could possess. In terms of the robbery, while it was a tumultuous experience, I learned an essential life lesson that money cannot buy. Moreover, my father’s guidance in this situation is ultimately what led me to the conclusions I have drawn about this moment in my life.
Throughout the years, my father has been the utmost role model for me. Once an immigrant, he learned to leave his heritage, family, and country behind in pursuit of a better life. Despite the struggles that accompanied this move, he learned to take advantage of his circumstances, and eventually ran a successful business. Through his experiences, he also developed noteworthy qualities such as work ethic, dedication, and compassion for others. I too have learned these characteristics, for by working with him he has passed these same traits onto me. Because of these lessons I have learned, I value my father as one of the most important and influential figures in my life. Without his personal struggles and his guidance, I honestly would not be the man I am today.