The Accounting Department
As odd as it seems, when I went to high school in the late 1970s, college didn’t seem all that important. Instead of taking a lot of college prep courses, I’d taken half day data processing classes at the brand new vocational school our district had opened. I remember the counselor trying to talk me out of going to the career prep center. She tried to lead me to a more academic path, but I knew that what I wanted was a job and computers sounded like fun and they also sounded like a path to a job, so I stuck to my guns and went to vocational school.
I am the oldest in a family with seven kids, and I knew that if I’d had a plan for my life and really wanted to go to college, my folks would have done what they could to help. I also understood that since I really had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, college seemed like a waste of time and money. I’d earned some cash in high school and I really liked the freedom that came with having my own money. I didn’t really mind the responsibilities that came with it either, so after two years of training in data processing, I graduated from high school and my computer teacher kindly recommended me for a job in the accounting department of a local trucking company, and I entered the full time workforce.
Since I was still living at home and I had a cheap but dependable used car, I was able to spend a lot of my earnings on myself. I bought clothes and tickets to concerts, I went on trips, paid my own car insurance, had a blast, but really had nothing to show for it. I am glad I had that time when the stakes were relatively low and I could make mistakes with little consequence and was able to get a lot of dumb ideas out of my system.
All the time I was working I noticed something about a lot of the people, particularly the women, I worked with. Most of them were not that much older than I was, but most of them seemed so defeated. It wasn’t just one kind of person who fell into this category, but almost everyone seemed miserable. I still don’t know if they felt trapped by their circumstances or if the were just profoundly unhappy, but for the first time I took a good hard look at my future and decided that I needed a better plan for my life.
Luckily too, a lot of my friends did start college right out of high school. None of my friends went away to school, but there were two good universities and a community college all within an easy commute from our homes, so they all worked part time and went to school full time. I wasn’t ready to quit my job, but I did decide to start taking basic classes at the community college in anticipation of going to college full time once I decided on a plan.
I worked at that trucking company for about two years, and learned that sometimes the best thing a job can teach you is what you DON’T want to do with your life. Sometimes a job can give you a place to take a break and gather some resources to make the next big leap. Lest you think everything about that job was terrible, one of my coworkers set me up on a blind date with her fiancée’s divorced buddy. I went out with him a few weeks before I moved away to go to film school, ended up dating him for eight years, and we’ve been married for over twenty five years. All in all, it was not a bad deal, if I do say so myself.