LIES & LOVES
(The world through a man child’s eyes)
When I was a child, my mother always told me to I could be anything I wanted to be (as long as it was legal) and she would support me. I was 8 and I wanted to be a jockey. Now I am 6’8” and no horse would let me race it, let alone be the ‘best’ at it.
When I was 12, I decided I wanted to be an astronaut. I shared this with a family member (great-uncle, that was involved in the Mercury program) and was told I should use my height and play basketball, THAT was where the money was. Give up THAT dream and play ball. As I hated basketball and found no support for the space program from a person involved, another dream dies.
When I was 16, I wanted to play high school football. This was shattered by BOTH parents. ‘You could get yourself killed!’ they exclaimed. ‘We will NOT sign the release form for you to play’ One more dream shot down in its prime. So I became a track and field star (not hard, as I was in a small school and had no true competition.
At 17, my dream was now ‘firm’ and I decided I would try out for the Olympic high jumping team, and would go to college on a track scholarship. I had no takers, but was informed by my high school counselor that there were sever colleges that would offer me a basketball scholarship. Did I mention how much I ‘loved’ basketball? Well, suffice it to say, I decided not to go to college.
At 18, I had made up my mind and signed up for the Army. Since I was 18, there was nothing my mother could do except cry and pray that no wars broke out while I was in. Dad, on the other hand; helped me decide which branch to join.
After I got out, I found myself working as a waiter and a bouncer (two different places). Of course, neither of my folks was particularly happy about my choices of income, especially the bouncing. Hmmm, I am starting to see a pattern here.
I got married way too early and although my mom was against it initially, she did support my final decision and welcomed my wife into the family. Not so for the rest of the family as she was White and I am Black. I didn’t care much because I wasn’t raised to care much. That marriage ended when she cheated on me repeatedly, even though the marital vows stated we would not do this to each other. Oh well, live and learn and I moved on.
I moved on, about 500 miles away and started another life for myself. I found myself working as a waiter and then became a manager. As a manager, I found what I was truly looking for out of a career – I was able to be directly responsible for how people felt about themselves (my employees were all happy) and how the public felt about where I worked (I had many regulars and word of mouth customers because of how well I treated people). NOW I am happy! Except –
I was laid off from where I had worked as the restaurant chain went through hard times and closed many of their stores nation-wide. Still, I wasn’t too worried, there was always work for someone willing to work. I found another restaurant.
This was and is probably the best place to work anywhere in the world. As it is a family owned and operated store, I did not have to worry about stocks crashing and forcing closures. I built up a larger customer base than I had before, but this time, it was an INTERNATIONAL base! I really enjoyed what I did, and I was making more money a year than BOTH my parents put together! Speaking of those ‘support you in whatever you do’ parents, they came up one year for some holiday, and took my roommate aside and told him how disappointed they were that I was “wasting my life as a waiter”. Of course, he pointed out to them how happy I was and how much money I was making ‘just being a waiter’ and they mostly kept quiet about that, mostly.
I was noticed by the owner and the management, and was invited to become a manager, of course I accepted! NOW I was REALLY in ‘7th Heaven! I was able to teach ALL the waiters to do what I did to make the money I made, while bringing back more customers. Because of me, the restaurant had gone from a ‘small’ $1 million a year operation for the five years before I started managing, to (when I left) $6.8 million a year store with more regulars and happier employees! I worked with all the management staff and we received the first bonuses ever given out from the owners, not just once a year, but TWICE a year! That was a nice ‘extra’ $4k a year money to have in the bank!
During this time, I got remarried (and still am), and she is the best EVER! And I know she actually was awake during our wedding vows as she has stayed by my side even after I was diagnosed with MS (something Dad took nearly 2 YEARS to even acknowledge!), she has stayed with me even after I had to leave my job because of this disease, and she has supported me going back to school while she works.
Of course, once I got my FIRST degree, my folks didn’t say, ‘Congratulations, you are the FIRST in our family with a college degree (I was), no, Dad wondered what I planed to do with it, and Mom, now that I am about to get my MBA (another first, by the way) is wondering how long before I get my DOCTORATE!
What happened to the ‘Anything you do with your life, we will support you’? What happened to ‘As long as you are happy and your work pays the bills, that is good enough’? I know, in my heart of hearts, that even if I get a doctorate, Dad will just say, ‘So, how much money does it pay?’ Well, I already know what I am going to do; once I finish THIS degree, I MIGHT go for one more degree (I am thinking an Executive MBA), eventually I am going back to what I love – Restaurant Management1 I already have a job if I ask, back with my old company and, as they are having trouble filling those positions in their newest store (in HAWAII), I just might take my wife away to the island!
Who am I kidding? I won’t take that Hawaiian job because my wife wouldn’t want to leave her mother over here, and she probably wouldn’t let me go alone. That’s alright, I would be just as happy at the original store, or maybe I will go to another restaurant, we do have hundreds around here, and they are ALWAYS hiring management people!
So, let me see: parents may tell you they will support you, but what they really mean is they will support you as long as you do what THEY want you to do. And IF you are tall you CAN’T be a professional jockey, basketball might be where the ‘real’ money is, but the chances of even being invited to a tryout, let alone making a team, is so slight, you may as well play the lotto!
My final suggestion is ‘simple’, whatever you decide to do, don’t depend on other to support your decision; just try to do what you want (as long as it is legal). Failure IS an option, it is NOT a ‘final’ option; it is just a failure. You can recover from a failure (unless you were base jumping and forgot you chute, but even then, it COULD happen, you could walk away! just don’t try it, please!). One final thing, IF you make how happy YOU are dependent on others, you will likely NEVER be happy! Life is short, just do your best.