I’m eligible to retire from my job. I have enough points to fully retire under the KPERS system, where I have been contributing from each paycheck for about 30 years. I’m going back and forth on this, but if I do take retirement, I need to find at least a part-time job for a few more years. This has gotten me thinking about what might have been had I chosen one of the other careers I had considered back in my younger days. Had I chosen a different path, what might have happened? Here are a few possibilities.
Sportswriter. Get paid for watching sports? Sign me up! Frankly, trying to catch on with a newspaper and scraping by covering high school games waiting for the Internet age to catch up, I probably wouldn’t have survived. It is unlikely that I become a senior reporter at ESPN the Magazine. Clearly, their loss.
Geologist. I took many geology and natural science courses while at KU. I even earned pretty good grades while supporting a few bartenders. As I looked at the future, I had no interest in pursuing a doctorate to teach and I couldn’t see joining a big oil company. At the time, the career outlook for geologists was not as promising as it had been, but within a few years, the job market improved. I enjoyed the subject matter but couldn’t see making a career of it.
Central Intelligence Agency. Yes, really. I interviewed with them in college and took a few tests. At the time, the CIA was a shadow of itself and not held in very high regard – same as today. Maybe that’s why they gave me a look. Perhaps instead of the best and brightest, they were accepting pretty good and low-beam. Can you see me defending our country’s freedom? Think Maxwell Smart. That should help you sleep better at night. The CIA and I couldn’t quite come to terms. America’s loss.
Foreign Service Officer. At the time, working in an Embassy or Consulate overseas was a big interest of mine. The entrance requirements were pretty tough and languages were not my strength so getting accepted was a long shot. Working overseas for Americans was still fairly safe then, obviously a lot has changed in 35 years. My luck would have been a station assignment in Tehran during the revolution there, just at the start of my career. First assignment, hostage. I’d still be waiting for Ben Affleck to rescue me. I respect the folks who work in dangerous countries. A tough way to see the world.
Screenwriter. Another writing career (see a pattern yet?). It did not work as a main career and it wasn’t smart to have no backup plan. Not even Maxwell Smart. I have kept it more as a hobby. I’m still waiting for my first sale so don’t expect me to be accepting an Oscar any time soon. My acceptance speech is written.
Private Investigator. Go ahead and laugh, I do. In a bigger city I might have done it, or if I’d become a police officer first, this might have been a more serious consideration. I did bring some experience, I watched every episode of The Rockford Files. I could have driven a Firebird and learned to live in a mobile home, although it would be a long drive from here to the beach. Actually, being a P.I. is something I might come back to in the future (cue the laughter). Does Pontiac still make the Firebird?
And now, a few careers I briefly considered, perhaps over a few cocktails. Musician. I barely play guitar and don’t like audiences. So much for that. Television Station Manager. I could have done this except news people have huge egos (except John Rinkenbaugh of course) and I am not very good at massaging egos, especially mine. Chef. I love to eat but I hate wearing poofy white hats. Elected Official. I have one brief temptation and several people were trying to convince me to run, but I came to my senses (one of the few times). Working with elected officials is one thing but it’s not for me.