I was only a third grader when I first tasted the fruits of entrepreneurship. My first job was as an independent contractor.
The scene: the only domino parlour in Hamlin, Texas. 1946. I was a likeable tow-head who came by everyday after school to say hidy to the town sages. Came by so often, bugged them so much -- they finally gave me a job. Later in life, I realized it was a defensive move on their part designed to keep me busy, out of their hair.
At first, my assignments were simple: sweep the joint and carry out the trash. Soon, ours was the cleanest domino parlour in Texas. But I was a high energy kid and quickly ran out of something to do. That's when one of the elders hit upon the perfect job, one with a higher degree of difficulty.
They expanded my responsibilities: I would swat flies. Furthermore, I would be paid an incentive. A penny a fly. The only rule was simple. No swatting on or near the table-tops where the domino games were underway. Might inadvertently knock some over and reveal who had the double six.
At first, the work was difficult. The walls were dark and so were the flies. Plus, the flies seemed to be drawn to the old men and often landed in places where I knew I was forbidden to swat even though it was not in the rules.
Things were going well and in no time I had murdered enough flies to afford the nine-cent ticket to the Saturday matinee at the local movie house.
But there was trouble in Paradise. I was beginning to amass a small fortune. Enough for two movie tickets, popcorn and candy. That's when the elders put a tail on me. They discovered I was opening the back screen door and letting more flies in.
Naturally, they fired me. Said it was for cause. For a while, I pondered becoming a labor lawyer.