COLUMN: Perry Bergson — Dec. 2, 2013

Perry
Perry Bergson
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Bergson

I began working at age 12.

Once a week I would walk a few blocks to Prosvita Hall, a small club that was available for rentals.

On those evenings, I was a jack-of-all-trades at bingos. I would check bingos on the cards. I would take snacks to people. I would help set up before and clean up after.

I might even work at the front taking money.

I did it for the princely sum of $2.35 an hour, a number that will stun younger readers.

While that money was important to a youngster, it’s the lessons that I learned from those early jobs that I carry with me three-and-a-half decades later.

My first “real” job was at a sports store, where I worked the till, sold stuff and sharpened skates. I left there to move across the street to a drugstore, where I stocked shelves, sharing the job with one of my best friends.

My last school job, the one I worked at age 16 and 17 when I was in Grades 11-12, was at a Co-op grocery store. It pushed me further than any other job ever had and I grew the most there.

Maybe it was the age. Maybe it was the work. For some reason, the responsibility I was given there agreed with me.

By my final months there, I was working 20-30 hours a week.

I went straight to work from school on Mondays, working until midnight doing our major shelf stocking and facing of the product for the week.

Other days I would work for a couple of hours after school, with longer hours again on the weekend.

Music fans will remember the British rock band The Who, a favourite of mine when I was that age. I can tell you where I was on Dec. 17, 1982 because of them.

My buddy and I always turned on the radio and listened to it over the loudspeakers, back in the pre-Internet, pre-iPod, pre-laptop, pre-iTunes, pre-satellite radio days when radio was relevant to me. That night The Who played what was billed as their final show and it was simulcast on 92 CITI-FM, then a powerful Winnipeg radio station.

We blasted it over the loud speakers, giving me a chance to say farewell to the band. (Little did I know that they would still be performing 30 years later.)

It was one of many highlights in the job that really set me up to succeed later in life.

I’ll never forget one of my aunts telling me at a family reunion “Don’t rush it. You have the rest of your life to work.”

I heard what she said and I obviously remembered it. But I didn’t heed it.

I liked to be independent with my money, buying my own stereo, hockey equipment and clothes as I got older. I also knew that I would need to have some loot in the bank for university.

You never forget hard work. And if you’re lucky, you develop a taste for it.

Prince Albert teens are fortunate that the job market means that there is no end to the opportunities available to them here. Let me add one more to the list.

The Daily Herald is looking for carriers who wish to work early mornings -- adult or younger -- for six-day-per-week delivery. Don’t listen to what you hear; our circulation is actually growing.

If one day per week is better suited to your life, we have vacancies to deliver Rural Roots and the flyers, which happens once a week, ideally on Thursday.

Call Lorraine Brassard at the Daily Herald (306-764-4276 ext 255) if you’re interested.

 

• • •

 

I have a lot of friends who are soldiers so I was horrified to hear about a pair of suicides with links to CFB Shilo.

If you didn’t hear, one of the two soldiers who died last week was found just off the base. The other had been transferred to a reserve unit in Alberta and was found in distress there.

For those who don’t know, the base at Shilo is about 30 kilometres from Brandon, my home of more than two decades prior to my move to Prince Albert. You can’t help but meet soldiers in Brandon.

I had friends deployed to Afghanistan and worried about them every day while they were there. One of them, more of an acquaintance than an actual friend, lost her life there.

So I care about the people who serve us and I’m saddened to hear when any of their lives end prematurely.

The suicide rate in Canada in 2009 was 11.5 people per 100,000.

In the last three years, there has been an average of more than 58,000 people in service per year. In 2010, there were 12 suicides, in 2011 there were 21 and in 2012 there were 10.

In the U.S. there have been 245 suicides by the end of October, with 349 in 2012. The Americans have more than 1.4 million soldiers on active duty.

If you do the math, the rate of suicide is roughly equal.

The Canadian Forces investigate every case, which is a good thing.

But there’s a nagging feeling I have that not enough is being done for our active service and retired veterans. I don’t blame the Conservatives any more than I blame the Liberals; they both have had the opportunity to make things right and I don’t think they have.

There aren’t simple solutions to helping anyone who is suicidal, whether they are in the military or not.

With Remembrance Day just a couple of weeks behind us, take a moment to think about the active and retired veterans who chose to take their lives this year, for whatever reason. May they also rest in peace.

 

 

Perry Bergson is the Daily Herald’s managing editor. You can reach him at 765-1302 or by email at perry.bergson@paherald.sk.ca

Organizations: Daily Herald, Prince Albert, Canadian Forces Conservatives

Geographic location: Winnipeg, Brandon, Alberta Afghanistan Canada U.S.

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