Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Fork in the Road: Two

High school graduation ceremonies were held in Civic Center auditorium on June 11.  About five days later I received a telephone call from a local accounting firm.  They tendered a flat-out job offer.  I had not sought such a position.  I was stunned.  "Why me?'  "We talked to your senior math teacher and explained to him that we wanted a talented math student, one willing to learn our system and who was not necessarily college material.  We don't want a college graduate.  We will teach you our methods, and you will be an earning member of society.  You can start tomorrow!"

I told the caller I would need to think about it.  I would let him know.  I was told not to take too long. They would hold the position open for me until Friday.  Now how does one react to that?

 Y.  Left fork, or right?

What a flattering offer.  The money from the start was more than I had ever dreamed I could earn.  Old Mr. B had such confidence in my ability, and the company such confidence in Mr. B's integrity, that it was a sealed deal before I even knew there was a deal.

I started immediately.  I spent day after unending day putting little numerals in little squares.  Number three pencils and thin-line pens became my stock in trade.  Mathematics is exciting, which is why Mr. B perceived me as an enthusiastic learner.  Little numerals in little squares are not exciting.  In fact, the level of boredom accelerated faster than my ability to spend the money I was taking home.

I started "clubbing."  Yes, I was too young to enter a bar, but there were places.  I found them.  I started fooling with women  I could never take home to mother.  The drinking soon accelerated from weekend nights to a bottle on the nightstand and a snort now and then, then...

Soon I was no longer able to see the little numerals well enough to place them in the little boxes.  In less than six years, that is to say before I was twenty-four years of age, my emotional health was a wreck, my physical health was well on the way to total disrepair, and I was unemployed.

Actually, my first thought was, Thanks, Mr. B, and since you think I'm not college material, I've just decided I will go to college, so there!  Then I called the company and advised them that I was not interested in the offer.

My little fantasy journey down the "wrong" fork is fraught with several difficulties, but it is fantasy.  I would truly be bored to tears in such a job, but the wine, women, and song is a highly unlikely outcome even in the face of such ennui.  I have an addictive personality, hence I stay away from known addictants (spell check says that's not a word;  I respectfully disagree).

I have always believed that I chose the "right" fork in that road, notwithstanding Mr. B was a bit put off by my cavalier response to his attempt to help me along life's highway.

7 comments:

Vee said...

Seriously, a teacher thought you were not college material? No way! He probably just knew how poor our family was and thought that could never happen financially. That was the pre-student loan era. (Not that I'm saying you are old.)

vanilla said...

Vee, for whatever reason, yes, that is what Mr. B told me. Another "fork" that I'm not addressing was choice of college. I had a scholarship to Western State. Given our circumstances, why did I not choose that?

Secondary Roads said...

Helpful people aren't always.

vanilla said...

Chuck, I'm sure he meant well.

Grace said...

I had people tell me I was too smart for the job and that I should go to college.

Maybe Mr. B thought by telling you, in so many words, that you couldn't, you would decide you could....

Shelly said...

Good for you! The fork of college was obviously the one meant for you.

vanilla said...

Grace, perhaps that was his intent, I don't know. Anyway, long as the road was, I got through it!

Shelly, I have never regretted the choice I made at that juncture.