Page 8 - Looking Back-sample-rev
P. 8

14	 ro be rt jensen

 she explained that the alderman gives away charity boxes at Christmas-
 time and this year we were lucky enough to get two of them.

 Rather than feeling grateful, the incident stirred up the negative per-
 ceptions I already had of myself: a tall, clumsy boy worrying about
 what other people thought of me. I wanted to be somebody better, not
 lumped in with every other boy in the class. That was my first taste
 of being ordinary, and I resolved that day that I did not want to be
 ordinary. I wanted to be somebody. Over the years I have donated to
 numerous charities and often wonder if any of the recipients feel the
 same way I felt back then. I believe charity is an act of love and should
 be given either in time or money. I also believe in tough love.

 From that experience I also resolved I would earn my own money
 rather than rely on my parents. So at age twelve, I applied for a paper
 route to deliver the Herald Examiner, Chicago’s afternoon newspaper,
 and thus began my business career. My route was in Bucktown, a Pol-
 ish working-class neighborhood in Chicago, where as it happened, my
 aunt and her Polish husband lived. It took me twenty-five minutes to
 walk to her house after school, and then I would deliver the papers on
 foot. I quickly realized i needed a bicycle, but in those days a new bike
 cost something like $25, an enormous amount for a boy of twelve. Af-
 ter a few months, my father made a deal with me that if I saved half of
 the money, $12.50, he would pay for the other half. It took a year but
 I saved the money. I went to my father and proudly told him I had the
 money; he had decided, however, that I didn’t need a bicycle and he
 wasn’t going to pay for it.

 I was devastated. And I let my mother know how I felt. I knew that my
 father ran the show in our family and what he said usually was the last
 word on the subject. But my mother was a strong woman and took just
 so much. Usually my parents’ discussions were out of earshot to us chil-
 dren, but on that occasion I heard their conversation as she berated him;
 immediately my father relented and I bought my first bike, a brown and
 white Ranger with balloon tires.
   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13