How To Learn From the Mistakes of My Youth


What follows are two tales from my past where I made the wrong choices. I'm not writing these to complain, as I do not believe in regret; but rather, I write these as cautionary tales for the youth of tomorrow. That they may learn from my mistakes and make better choices in their lives. Head my warnings. Save your soul. Challenge authority. Question everything. Believe in yourself. And do other things that are found on motivational posters with awe-inspiring pictures of nature, people doing extraordinary things, or both.

The Liquor Control Board

So, if you've read some of my other posts, or if you know me personally, you know around what area I live. Well when I was in college, a certain "almost famous" restaurant, that will remain nameless here for potential legal reasons, had opened its first suburban location within minutes of my house. It was so close, and we were so excited about this, that my friends and I frequented this establishment at least once a week if not more. They had a bar area, but being that most of us were underage we stuck to the booths and tables and never even tried to "sneak a drink" because we wanted to come back regularly.

Now as I said there was a regular bar, but there were also tables and booths separated by an empty space. On the night in question, there were four of us in a corner booth far away from the bar area. There was me, my two buddies, and my then girlfriend now wife, all celebrating the end of the school year. I was 21 at the time and had just taken my last final exam of the semester hours earlier, so I decided to unwind with a beer. My friends were each a year younger than me, and at the time my wife was still 17 as her birthday is later in the year, so they each had a pop (soda for those of you outside my native accent area).

We had finished our food and were just sitting around talking when three men entered the bar, stood in front of the door, and started looking around. They were dressed in jeans and t-shirts with no real distinguishable or identifiable items. The biggest of the three proceeded to grab a chair from the bar and sit right next to the main door with a clipboard and pen. One man went and spoke to the manager on duty and some of the staff, while the smallest man started going from table to table. He came to our table first and asked if we were over 21. I said yes, while one of my friends said it was none of his business and to get lost. The man simply turned and went to another table without another word.

We then noticed that he was only going to tables with younger looking people, and started herding everyone towards the corner where we were seated. Since we were given no other instructions or explanations, we paid our tab and tried to leave. I was first to the door and attempted to walk through when the largest man leaned over from his chair, grabbed my arm, and asked what I was doing. When I told him I'm leaving, he angrily told me to sit back down. We asked why and weren't given an answer. Instead, he asked our ages and if we had ID. I said I was 21, showed him my ID, and he said I was free to leave but everyone else had to stay. When I didn't leave, he asked in an annoyed tone why I was still there. I told him my girlfriend drove and I had to wait for her, and that as it was now 11pm she needed to leave soon as she still had a Cinderella license. He dismissed me, told her to wait her turn, and proceeded to call people from the herd over one at a time.

It was only after speaking to the waitress that we learned these men were from the Liquor Control Board and were taking the names of every minor in the restaurant as they were in violation of being in a bar, since there was "no discernible separation between the bar and restaurant areas". They took my friend and girlfriend's information before letting them go, all while I paced back and forth constantly leaving and reentering the place as I waited.
            Had I not been a timid kid that did whatever he was told by an adult, I would have raised a ruckus about him grabbing my arm and holding me against my will without cause. I should have called lawyers, news teams, or anyone else that could have disrupted this "raid" as these men did not display any badges, identify themselves in any way, or even tell us what was happening before I was physically assaulted. I probably had a good court case at the time, but it's been almost 20 years and other than the four of us, I have no way of getting any neutral witnesses from that night. Oh well, nothing bad ever came of it, and I probably saved myself a headache and even more trouble by avoiding a court case, even if I missed out on a minor payout.

After School Jobs

Through most of high school and all through college I worked as a supervisor, cashier, cook, busboy, and waiter at a local restaurant. I knew I was being taken advantage of by management almost my entire time there, but again said nothing because I was a timid little kid that did as he was told. I knew they shaved my hours, as every other person that wrote down their times and tracked it themselves found that their hours were incorrect on their paychecks. Also, I would work from 3pm until well after 11pm five nights a week without taking a break, which means I put in over 40 hours easily; however, my paychecks always came in closer to 37 or 38 hours a week.

When I was working, the managers would disappear for hours on end because I essentially ran the entire back of the house; sending the minors on breaks, replenishing items such as soups or gravies that needed to be heated up in the back prep kitchen before being brought out, and assigning extra cleaning duties on slower nights. All this, without so much as a thank you either verbally or monetarily; and yet I continued to do this due to a high work ethic I placed on myself. Not only that, but I was constantly blamed for everything that went wrong since management knew I wouldn't talk back and that I'd bend over backward to correct the issue, again due to that high work ethic and a misplaced loyalty.

I stayed because I didn't want it to seem like I was jumping jobs on my resume like many other students my age. I would be able to show that I was a loyal, hard worker that could stick it out for the long haul. I lasted eight years before it became so unbearable that I was all but forced to quit. And what did I get out of this? That job isn't even on my resume because, even though I was a supervisor while still in high school, and the best cook there at the time I left, it's completely irrelevant to my current profession and would actually hurt any future employment chances by making my resume seem bloated with useless information. So, I literally gave blood, sweat, and tears, and broke my back, for a job that I got absolutely nothing out of (except for the fact that I met my future wife there, which is the only reason I can't dismiss that time of my life completely).

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  1. If only everyone could learn from the mistakes of their youth!

  2. great post thanks

  3. Wisdom that comes with age... I actually cringe when I think about the silly things I did as a young adult. Although it sounds like you handled the bar situation pretty amazingly!

  4. The mistakes we had in past made us the person we are today. And from that we found a valuable gem.

  5. Wonderful read. We mess up, learn and grow wiser.

  6. Great read. I don't know if I would consider those mistakes, just part of growing up. The so called mistakes and what we do after them are what make us who we are.

  7. Wonderful post! Thanks for sharing :)

  8. It surely is important to learn from your past, and froward the message. Good job!

  9. It´s important to learn from previous experiences. So we can get wiser in the future :)

  10. Congratulations! I've nominated your blog for the Blue Sky Challenge, click the link to learn more about this challenge.

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