Anyone from a working-class family knows that the best way to light a fire under the rear end of a lazy kid is to force him to earn his keep, and there’s nothing better than a job in the wonderful world of minimum-wage service industries to teach both work ethic and humility to someone.
Apparently, despite his being a billionaire, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has a bit of working-class in him when it comes to parenting.
Jones’ son Stephen was, in the view of his father, turning into one of those lazy kids, so Papa Jerry made the kid interview at Wendy’s in order to throw a little respect for hard work into him, according to a report in The Dallas Morning News.
Jones was friends with the franchisee at a local outlet for the fast-food giant, a Mr. Hammer, and convinced his buddy to take his son on and teach him a few lessons.
Hammer gave Stephen the dirtiest jobs in the joint, too. The younger Jones got a chance to clean the griddles and the grease pits and shine up the grills for a day’s worth of big square slabs of beef. And what’s more, he did that at 8 in the morning.
The whole thing started like a typical Hollywood teen-movie plot; Stephen was hosting a house party with 30 kids in the Jones family pool when Jerry got home early and, enraged, saw not the high school football player who had big dreams of college and the NFL but a typical rich man’s kid, spoiled and arrogant.
Jones ended the pool party, then turned to Stephen and demanded that he put on a suit; they were going on a field trip.
When his son asked him where to, Jerry said, “We’re going on a little job interview.”
Stephen Jones might have been the best-dressed high school kid ever to interview for a job shoveling slime and spending the rest of the day getting the smell of stearic acid — the beef-fat component that is the reason you don’t want to stand downwind of a fast-food dumpster on a hot day — out of his clothes.
Stephen knew he wasn’t in any position to argue, so he just listened as his dad lectured him.
As recalled to The Morning News, “I didn’t want to say much because I knew I wasn’t in a good position to say anything so we got in that car and he said, ‘Well, we’re headed over to Wendy’s. … You need to get your work ethic up. Obviously, you couldn’t handle being your own boss so we’ll just have you report every morning to Wendy’s and see how that goes.'”
Fortunately, sometimes a kid isn’t all bad; sometimes all he needs is for dear old Dad to do some man-up parenting. The story ended happily enough. As Stephen tells it:
“(Jerry) says, ‘Hey Stephen, you fired up about this job?’ ‘Yes, sir. I’ll be ready to go to work.’ And he goes, ‘Well, are you learning anything from this?’ ‘Yes, I have.’ And he goes, ‘Well, what?’ ‘Well, I shouldn’t have been home. I should’ve been working.’”
“He goes, ‘You know what? I’m a big believer in maybe a second chance. I already talked to Mr. Hammer — I’ve already told him that we were maybe going to do this. If you think you can get it right, we’ll give you one more chance.’
“I can promise you, I was never within five miles of my house for the rest of my summer workouts and jobs during my next two years. It was a valuable lesson. It was certainly a point well made. It was a point that needed to be made, and it was certainly something I learned from.”
Stephen turned out just fine. Besides getting his college degree from Arkansas for free thanks to playing linebacker for the football team for four years, the skills Jones picked up in college have elevated him all the way to chief operating officer and executive vice president of the family business in Dallas.
Indeed, Stephen Jones has gone from ’80s teen slacker movie in real life to being potentially the next owner of the team.
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