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.