Mike, I can't believe this, (actually I can) I just PMed you about a story I wanted to tell you over a pop and it's about the same thing.
I hired a guy in Victoria BC in 1978 as a retail sales guy, he started one morning and at 10 Am he asked me if he could talk to me. I listened to what he had to say and he told me that this job wasn't for him and he wanted to quit because the veteran staff was riding him pretty hard. I told him that I'd watch and take care of things as they came along and at least work till noon...Sure enough the older guys where giving him a hard time and I took them aside and suggested they back off. At noon, my new guy came up to me again and said he really wanted to quit...now the older guys wouldn't even talk to him, if he had a question they told him that maybe he should run to Daddy, (Me). I laughed and again, reassured him that I would take care of it and to finish out the day as he was here already...I saw a lot of potential in this kid and wanted to see what was going to happen...At about 2 PM one of the older techs (that had been giving my new employee a hard time) had a job and came up to me and asked where the ball joints where for the car we just put 4 tires on and that we needed to get them ordered right away if we wanted that car to leave by 5 PM. The new guy calmly walked by and in a quiet voice with no malice told the tech that he put the ball joints on his parts cart 20 minutes earlier. At the end of the day the new employee came up to me and thanked me for the opportunity and said that he wouldn't be coming back in in the morning. I told him that that was fine, but, that I guess I was wrong about him and that I wished him well and shook his hand. The employee then asked what I meant about being wrong about him...I told him that I thought he had great potential and that just because some guys gave him a ribbing he needed to toughen up a bit if he was going to make it anywhere...My new guy agreed to come back the next day, and the next and after the week was over he told me he was starting to enjoy the job. After 35 years, he's now the manager running and running a very profitable operation.
I still keep in touch and as your 16 year old apprentice, he still appreciates to this day that I didn't let him walk. What I saw in that kid 35 years ago was how he intently listened to every word anybody told him, this told me that he had the desire, even when he wasn't comfortable with his surroundings, I never saw him standing still...always working. He sold 12 tires on his first day, that told me he had the ability...all that was missing was the confidence and when a person has 3 excellent qualities and is only missing one...you've got an individual that can be molded and become productive, for the company and for himself.
I went back to BC in 2006 and had a long visit with this man and as with your 16 year old apprentice, he told me that, that day drastically changed his life and thanked me for it.