I have a young grandson who is having trouble deciding what he wants to be when he grows up. He keeps encountering new occupations and changing his mind.
When he started school, he decided he wanted to be a principal. I think he liked the idea of being able to tell the teacher what to do instead of the other way around.
When he and his mother took some “thank you for your service” cookies to a firehall one Christmas, he decided he wanted to be a fireman.
For a while, he wanted to be an accountant like his mother.
Now he has a new occupational goal. He has decided he wants to be the man who counts the cans and bottles at the recycling depot. He thinks it is a cool job because it uses math.
I can understand his career choice. When I was his age, I wanted to be a garbage collector. It was the era of TV westerns, of cowboys and gunslingers. I liked horses. In our small town, the garbage was collected in a wagon pulled by two horses. Without needing guidance from a driver, the horses would plod along at walking speed, stopping at every house, and the garbage men would empty the garbage pails into the back of the wagon. It was a very efficient and environmentally friendly way to do it. And I thought working with the horses would be great.
I actually realized that dream, sort of. My first full-time job was as “garbage boy” in an ice cream factory. It was a cool job, in more ways than one. I started work the day after I finished high school and eventually worked in that factory for six summers. That job helped pay my way through university as I completed both a BA and an MA.
Then, late one night, after I got home from working in the factory, I got a phone call inviting me to move to the other end of the country and become an editor and writer.
I accepted the call.