They came up to us as we got out of our car one evening, having just come home after a grocery run. Two young men with purposefully pleasant expressions on their faces.
“Can we have a few moments of your time?” they asked.
Of course I could feel my face arranging itself to be all hard-nosed and skeptical. Been there, I wanted my expression to convey, done that. How bad could it be? They wanted to spread some “good news”? Sell ice-cream? Bring it on. Teaching in secondary school has given me a soft spot for young people, so even though I was sure I would turn them down, I was prepared to do it gently, after letting them have their say.
I tell you gentle reader, I was glad I listened. These were no fly-by-night, out-to-make-an-easy-buck teenagers. These were young men who were prepared to Work (and I don’t capitalize lightly).
Here is what they were offering, in a nutshell: they would wash our car, three nights a week, for $40 a month. Only after we approved their first few washes would we have to start paying them. They even had a contingency plan all worked out in case of rain, and I was amazed to see how fairly they had worked out every niggling detail such that it was, whichever way you looked at it, a win-win situation for all.
I could see respect dawning on my husband’s face. A sales guy himself (and a very accomplished one at that), he has always respected the spirit of enterprise and the courage it takes to execute it. He also shares my love for young people and has done a great deal to motivate and guide many of them.
These guys are not the creme de la creme of the education system. Except for one (whom they very intelligently recruited as the articulate face of their operation) they are not from any of the top schools in Singapore. But they are the sort of people on whose backs the Singapore story is carried. Smart, hardworking, eager, energetic, sincere- to my mind they have more nation-building capacity than any President’s scholar.
Which is why I think they deserve our support. Che Hao, Jian Ming, Kenrick and their associates are ready to wash your car. Are you ready to give them a chance?
That Car Grooming.