I went out and got a job pumping gas, the only job I could get but it was far away. I would hitch hike to work, which in those days everyone did it and being a younger kid, I could usually get a ride. My shift was from 4pm to 12 midnight six days a week. Pay at this time was $2.65 an hour. One guy that gave me a ride had a car to sell an old Ford Falcon. He told me that the only problem was a leaking freeze plug. “Just fill it up everytime you drive it and carry extra jugs of water.”
He sold it to me on a payment plan for $45. I didn’t have a drivers license yet, but these were different times. I drove that car for over a year to get to work and back. I couldn’t drive it to school because I wasn’t old enough to drive and get a parking pass.
The gas station pay was small and I had to learn a way to make more money even though I had no skills or marketable knowledge. Part of my job was washing the windows of cars that pulled up to full service. Back then many gas stations had full service and self-service was not as popular. I realized something one day, this guy pulled up to full service in and I grabbed the squeegee and started to touch his windshield. He started to yell no no, don’t put that dirty water on my car.
The next day, I bought a bottle of Windex and started using that. Amazing, I started to get some tips.
Then I thought what else could I do? There were a couple of neighborhood kids that would hang around the parking lot always getting air in their tires. I did my first joint venture with them. I bought wheel cleaner and as I did the windshield – one of them would wipe off their wheel rims. We would split our tips and the customers were happy.
The hours were not very conducive for going to High School and making it to class, let alone have good grades. Eventually, it became too much to go to school and I quit school. I knew my future was limited. I did the best thing that I could was to finish High School and then join the Army. In the strict military environment there were several gaps, mainly that they continued to do things the same way because that was the way it was always done. I was able to see a gap and communicate a way to improve the process and became known as the “idea guy.”