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In a good week, Danny Eshou will take home $400 in commissions. The money he earns as a salesman pays for his $2,000 quarterly tuition at Tunxis Community College in Farmington.
His parents offered to pay for college and a car, but Eshou, 20, who wants to become a police officer when he graduates in 2012, turned them down.
"I wouldn't want the easy way," said Eshou, who works 32 hours a week as a salesman in the tool department at the Sears store in West Hartford.
"If I had everything given to me, I wouldn't know how to trim a hedge, how to be a mechanic. I wouldn't have the work ethic," he said.
Jobs were plentiful when he graduated from New Britain High School in 2007.
For a while, he sold clothes at Abercrombie & Fitch. His banter with customers was light and playful. "I used to talk to customers as if they had all the money in the world," he said.
Then came the recession. By then he was working at Sears.
"I like working in tools," Eshou said. "A lot more people want to become Mr. and Mrs. Fix-It. They want to save money. They're doing their own repairs. I can show them how to do things."
Before the recession, many of the adults in his life were doing well.
"I knew people making big sales - selling cars, selling houses. These were people I thought had made it. Hang on," he said, answering the phone.
"Yes, we have an impact drill. You want to pick it up today? When you come in tell them Danny is going to be holding it for you. My name is Danny. Ask for me, OK?"