Monday, September 01, 2008

What do you want to be when you grow up?

I thought that in honor of Labor Day I might digress from my normal topic of biking and talk instead about jobs and professions. And in spite of the holiday nothing really on organized labor, other than to say I've worked on both sides.

When we are young people always ask us what we want o be when we grow up. Depending on your era, common answers (for boys) was fireman, policeman, astronaut, cowboy, doctor, or even president. All the normal occupations aspired to back in the 60's.

I was no different and as I got older I thought about being a gym teacher. I thought it would be cool to walk around in sweats all day and have ready access to the gym to shoot hoops or something. Then I was going to be a photographer, but started to realize that they didn't make much money.

I figured a business major was where I could do the best, not knowing really what I would do with it except find a good paying job. While in college I got a job working part-time at UPS and ended up becoming a supervisor, again part-time. I was making more money than some others I knew out of school so I figured I didn't need college any more and dropped out with a little over a year to go.

I was always interested in motorcycles and since I had extra time when I got through at UPS, I got a part-time job at a motorcycle accessory shop. When that shop went under a year later due to tax problems I saw that there was still a market for the business and opened my own shop, later quitting UPS.

I soon realized that I couldn't really support the family on the store earnings and started working part-time again; now for a delivery company, DHL. Later I closed the shop and decided that maybe a college education wasn't such a bad thing. By now I was full time at DHL but also was going to school full time.

Once I graduated I got a job as a trainee with an industrial laundry company and within a few months was transferred to their Albany, GA location to take over as plant superintendent while the previous guy was off in the Gulf War. I stayed there for several years before my position was eliminated.

One of my other passions while in Georgia was golf; part of my package was a membership at small country club where I played several times a week. When I lost my job I decided to go back to an agricultural school to become a golf course superintendent, later transferring into the hospitality end of the business.

Before I could finish school I got a call from a consulting company about interviewing for positions they had available. I had started to look for possible alternatives to the golf business since money was very tight.

I was hired by the consulting firm and got on a plane one Sunday afternoon in January to fly to Chicago for my first assignment. Imagine the shock when I got off the plane and it was -19 degrees. I had no winter gloves since they were not normally stocked in SW Georgia. It was so cold that first week that the transmission in the car froze up and we had to drive around the hotel in revers until it warmed up.

I spent about seven months flying back and forth to Chicago before we had another assignment in Ohio, at the Chrysler plant about 15 minutes from my parent's house. Here I was living in Georgia and flying up to Ohio every week and also getting to see my parents. I was sad when that assignment ended and I had to move on to another one in Chicago again.

By now I was getting tired of flying out every Sunday evening and back home on Friday evenings. I barely had time to do anything with the family before it was time to leave again.

I decided to call up some of the contacts I had made at the Chrysler plant and see if they had any openings. Within a month I was working for Chrysler and living with my parents while the kids finished school down in Georgia.

I worked in the plant for two years in production control before landing a corporate job in Auburn Hills at the Chrysler HQ. While here I have had several different positions. of course now with the shaky auto industry the time may come when I will change jobs again, either voluntarily or not.

So getting back to my post title, I guess I can say I'm still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. Hmm, maybe a gym teacher that teaches mountain bike classes?

1 comment:

David M. said...

Very cool post!
Sometimes I wonder if I will be a Computer engineer forever. I thought about being a techer as well.. maybe a math or computer teacher.