Man, the real world sure is different that I expected

You know, growing-up I had three examples of "real life" to go by: My mom, my Dad, and my Aunt Norie. Each led vastly different lives: Mom was a schoolteacher; Dad was a travelling salesman; and Norie did payroll for the local office of the D.O.T.

Like most schoolteachers, Mom's life existed on two levels--the "regular" hours that looked so attractive, and the reality. On paper, it was a sweet enough deal: Work 7 to 2, 5 days a week, get Summer Vacation and lots of "snow days". Reality wasn't so rosy, with Mom doing lesson plans in her off time, grading papers 'til the wee hours of the morning, and running extra-curriculars all the time.

So yeah, I didn't want to be a teacher.

Dad's job wasn't just bad--it was an anathema. He was gone 10 to 14 hours every day selling groceries to every God-forsaken grocery store in Eastern Kentucky. He put 50,000 miles per year on his car, and only got off on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Actually, scratch that--he would work the following Saturday to make up for the time off. He never got a day off. He never made it to any of my important events.

Yeah, I didn't want that either.

So, Norie--office work in an air-conditioned building from 7:30 to 4:30 every day, with an hour's worth of lunch and never any work to take home. Pay wasn't that great, but it seemed like easy (if mundane) work. Granted, she existed oh the whim of her Benefactor, the all powerful S.F., who would later become the center of the infamous "Blackberry Jam" scandal that brought down the Fletcher administration. And, she was in a female-only profession surrounded by a bunch of catty wide-bottomed women.

Still, this office-work gig seemed to show promise.

The reality? Soul-sucking and ugly. As one Philosopher once opined to me:

This is crap, Harold. I write emails all day, write reports, write test plans. Who does it help? Shuffling paper isn't what life's about!! It's about helping people!

Can't disagree with that. Still, work is (and shows all signs of always being), well, work. Labor, aggravation, politics, triumph, tribute, and some humiliation--all in a day's work. Some folks turn around and see a new house built, a new car rolling off the line. I turn around and see my wife and kids provided-for.

Maybe that's the lesson my Dad was trying to teach me so long ago: It really doesn't matter what you do. Do your best at it and take care of your responsibilities, and the rest will take care of itself.

But yeah, 10 years on in the workaday world, it sure wasn't what I expected. :-)


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