Sometimes there are things in my life that I do not recall but someone else tells me they happened. My mother will do this from time to time. She told me that once, when I was but a lad, we were out in the yard playing one day. That day happened to be garbage pick-up day. It wasn’t long before the refuse collection agents came by to gather what we were finished with. Today most garbage trucks are fitted with an arm to grab the can and empty it. As is the case with most things, that wasn’t how it was done back then. A brave fellow would dangle on the back of the truck and get off at each stop to lift and unload the can manually. To my three year old eyes it was a site to behold. What a fun, adventurous occupation, to ride through town hanging on for dear life, rounding up people’s leftovers. No doubt my mother must have beamed with pride on that day when I turned to her and proclaimed “That is what I want to do when I grow up”.
I recall for myself somewhere around first or second grade they decided to test me for the gifted class. I know, I know, but hear me out. There were tests and puzzles and what not, you know all the things that let the rest of us know if a person is truly blessed. I distinctly remember one question the lady asked me. I remember this question because I was scarred by the smirk that I received from her when I answered. She asked me that age old question that would follow me throughout my schooling years, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Without hesitation I replied, “A professional baseball player.”
To my shame, I did not make the gifted cut that day. I fear that with each passing year, the chances of my pro ball career are fleeting. I did not even get that job dangling from garbage trucks. I am employed at a railroad, where ironically I do get to hang on the side of boxcars ( I also get to collect trash from higher up). Along the way I have poked my nose into several other pursuits, many of which I found were not for me, often costing me a loss of funds to learn these lessons. The only thing I know for sure is that whatever occupation I am doing, that does not make me who I am. We tend to pigeon-hole our lives and then, if we are not careful, we lose that sense of wonder. As a child, I dared to dream, to consider new possibilities. Adults along the way tended to beat that out of me. I still have not penned down my career plans like the guidance counselor suggested. I do not know what I want to be when I grow up. I hope I never find out.