The Hand Me Down That I Will Never Outgrow
In the 21st century, it is hard for a third generation American to fathom entering America on a boat with just a Bible and few dollars in my hand. The scope of that kind of bravery is beyond me. My family’s American story began in this classic way. When my Grandparents came off the boat from Sicily they settled and took over a small, run down hair salon and completely transformed it into a booming business. This could not have been an easy transition from fresh immigrant to successful small business owner. The key for them was definitely hard work. My mother is a successful small business owner too. Both my mom and grandparents hold the same key that opens the door of success. Throughout generations of passing this special key down, it has landed in between my fingers. It has blessed me with a creed based on my roots. Blood is thicker than water. My family has shaped me into the person I am today. Their teachings have provided me with an American creed based off of hard work and personal connections, the two main ingredients to becoming successful within a community.
My grandparents must have had more of those ingredients to spare. I’m not sure how I would have survived the affair. Getting off a ship at Ellis Island would have just been too overwhelming for me. But they did it. When the ship docked, they left and somehow carried on. With absolutely no connection to America,and little to no English language, they went on to find their way. Speaking in very broken English, my Grandfather told me, “It was a very frightening experience. At the time I still thought they might not take me or that I might not be able to find a way to stay” (Geni). Settling in Yonkers, New York, the construction business, which was the family business back in Italy, was not my grandfather’s cup of tea. He was still plenty willing to work hard and put in the hours, but sledgehammers would be replaced by scissors. My Grandparents saw a hair salon for sale and thought it would be a great opportunity for the both of them. Without any experience with business, they were able to build a successful shop due to their great relationships with customers and hard work ethic. My Grandparents’ great humor and hospitality created an extremely loyal bond with their customers. Business experts understand that “a connection culture in the workplace can impact customer experience,” and my grandfather’s salon was evidence of this (Morgan). My Grandparents’ name spread around the small community. The once little, vacant hair salon boomed into a well running business. This skill is still very much in demand, “most entrepreneurs, and members of any small team, naively assume that the key to their success is hard work, dedication, and long hours in the business. In reality, their effectiveness is usually more related to how well they develop their work relationships” (Zwilling). Building connections with customers remains a timeless skill as important as any notion of hard work. My Grandparents success made that idea extremely evident.
My mother would pick up on those connections from working in that same salon. At the young age of 16, my Mom started working for my Grandparents. After school and on weekends, she would come by the shop, answer the phone, work the cash register and most importantly entertain the customers with conversation. Similar to Nono and Nona, my mother began to create bonds with the customers who came to the shop. She also learned the value of hard work. Nono was relentless about her being independent. He never wanted my mother to rely on a man. He drove her to excel academically. One time she had an pneumonia and Nono made me her go to school, she was rushed to the hospital later that day. But the message was instilled. In dental school, she took loans and worked as a dental assistant during her schooling. After graduating from Tufts Dental school, she believed the hard work she put in would pay off. And this still rings true for many people. “Regardless of party affiliation, Americans do strongly agree that work ethic, values and a good education are ‘absolutely essential’ for helping people achieve the American Dream” (Scios). After working for 13 years under different dentists, my mom learned the very important lessons of good business, and she opened her own practice. She kept the lessons her parents taught her about hard work, hospitality, and amiability and applied them to her own business. This practice has formed my mother's business into something much more personal than your regular dental office. My mom and her patients have a connection that goes past dentistry. This connection she has formed with her patients is the key to success my grandparents had given to her and has helped her office thrive for many years now.
Like my mother, I have taking in those special ingredients that shape the key of success. As an infant, I’ve been suffering from severe migraines. I’ve thought about giving up on fighting back so many times. The thought of just staying home in bed and getting homeschooled has crossed my mind many times. I talk to Grandpa about this all of the time. He doesn’t understand migraines and I don’t think he’s ever had a headache, or at least he won’t allow himself to have a headache. But, he helps me by telling me the same things I’m sure he told my Mom. My Grandfather just reminds me that I should stay focused on the future and that just like my mother I need to be smart and strong-willed (Geni). Education and hard work ethic is everything he’ll tell me and we have my mother as an example.
My American creed is laid out before me. It provides a clear path to happiness through achievement. I know that wherever I go I will need to create personal connections with the people in my community. These connections and my strong work ethic will allow me to thrive. My creed is so useful because it is not just about business; it is about everything. I have to be open to connecting to other people and allow them to feel connected to me because my ultimate goal is that everyone will have the opportunity to use these morals and become successful.
Morgan, Blake. "How Having A Culture Of Connection Can Impact Your Customer Experience." Forbes, 28 Feb. 2018, www.forbes.com/sites/martinzwilling/2016/01/07/your-success-at-work-depends-on-peer-relationships/#58f041e725aa. Accessed 7 June 2019.
Geni, John. Personal Interview. 1 June 2019.
Scios, Brian. "Hard Work Is Essential For Achieving The American Dream, But Is It Enough?" Public Agenda, 1 Oct. 2012, www.publicagenda.org/press-releases/hard-work-is-essential-for-achieving-the-american-dream-but-is-it-enough-americans-are-divided-according-to-a-new-survey. Accessed 7 June 2019.
Zwilling, Martin. "Your Success At Work Depends On Peer Relationships." Forbes, 7 Jan. 2016, www.forbes.com/sites/martinzwilling/2016/01/07/your-success-at-work-depends-on-peer-relationships/#58f041e725aa. Accessed 7 June 2019.