Dream Job

I was in the top 5% of my high school class. I probably could have been in the top 1% or even have had a shot to get close to spot number 1 if I were inclined to give it a try. But most of the time the difference between getting a 95 average in a class and a 99 average in a class was a matter of taking on silly extra projects, brown-nosing, and poring over every graded assignment and complaining until you were shrill about the unfairness of every point deduction until the teacher would just give in out of sheer exhaustion. I didn’t much care for any of that, I respected my time and my teachers too much. School, for me, has always been about learning and the content of the class. Grades, instead of inducing stress and anxiety, have always been a mere curiosity for me. I appreciate feedback that can be learned from, and for that, grades can have some marginal value. Sure, some students were just as lazy as me, but smarter, and so had higher grades. But it seemed to me the students around me with the highest of grades cared more about the letters and numbers on a report card than they did about the content of their classes.

Once in a while, throughout my schooling, there would be some discussion, paper or project about what career we wished to enter. My peers’ selections ran the gamut from Police Officer, Doctor, Astronaut, House Wife, Horse Trainer, Pilot, Programmer, Teacher, Construction Worker, Architect, Lawyer, President, Veterinarian, Mechanic, etc. But when I really stopped to think of it during those assignments, there was one thing that always popped up for me as my dream job; a drawbridge operator.

I would see those guys when we would drive past them, up in their booths, just waiting for a ship to come by, and it always seemed to me like the best job in the world. They sit in a spacious office, up high in the air so they must have terrific views to look out at. They’re all alone for 8+ hours without anyone to bother them. They have air conditioning and heat. And all they really have to do is listen for the radio for when a ship calls to them for the bridge to be raised. I can imagine eight hours, five days a week of nearly uninterrupted reading and writing, playing video games or watching movies on a laptop, working on independent software projects, maybe launching a website here or there when I get inspired, creating digital art and music. – All with a guaranteed regular income. It seemed like the perfect job.

My teachers were always dismayed. They told me to take the assignment seriously. I was too gifted. It would be a waste of my talent and mind to babysit a bridge all day. They warned me I would be bored and lonely. They pushed me towards more “challenging” careers. Their efforts were clearly in vain. They failed to see that the real waste would be for me to give up my varied interests and lose my love of having a free, wandering mind, for the sake of a stressful career full of office politics, bureaucracy, and mind-numbing specialization.

Having failed to be able to get my dream job, I have opted for the next best thing, part-time land-lording through my 20′s leading to a retirement in my early 30′s.

You can do more with the gift of talent and mind than merely leasing it to the highest bidder.

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