Occasionally our family didn’t spend the whole summer at our cottage and so I had to come up with ways of making money other than hunting golf balls.

One way was to pick crabapples at the local Aubin’s Nursery in Carman. We were paid by the bag. I was about 12 or 13 at the time. The person who oversaw the work said that we couldn’t put a lot of leaves and other filler in the bag; we needed to do a clean pick. I understood this: their time value at cleaning up our dirty picks was higher than the time value of the young guys who were picking.

I made one mistake, which I’m actually very proud of, and avoided one mistake, and I’m also very proud of that.

The “mistake” I made was to do “too clean” a pick. Guys around me were putting in a few leaves and I was putting in virtually no leaves. I think they were testing the monitor’s limits and, if I recall correctly, did a good job of it. So I was penalized for my cleaner pick. I’m still proud of it, though, because my view was that, especially at an early age, you should do a job well.

The mistake I didn’t make was to loll around, waiting for the bag to fill itself. It did feel overwhelming. But I realized that the best way to get over the overwhelm was to get to work and take only very short, or no, breaks, so that I could get my money and be home by the early afternoon, with enough time to ride my bike around.

At this point in my work life, I was batting 2 for 2: I learned from each job, made money, acting honorably, and stopped when I had the amount of money I thought I needed.