It’s not hard for me to find a few major points in my life, big decisions with multiple consequences. Some of those were good decisions, some, not so good. This morning, though, I’m thinking about what seemed like a very small one at the time. But it changed the entire course of my life.
It was the fall of 1975. I’d dropped out of college after my sophomore year and was working at Goodyear Tire & Rubber in Union City, Tennessee. Along with the wonderful perk of walking through the pungent pleasure of the Banbury mixing unit twice daily, the company offered tuition reimbursement. So, intending to become a mechanical engineer with Goodyear’s financial support, I enrolled in a drafting class and a trig class at UT-Martin. Either due to misreading or mis-remembering my schedule, I missed the first day of the trig class.
On the second day, the teacher began on page 67. Although I’d aced two algebra classes and a geometry class in high school and scored a 30 on the ACT-Math test, I didn’t understand anything that woman talked about that day.
Now, I could have found a math tutor, dug in hard for the next forty-eight hours and been caught up by the next class session. But what I did was walk straight from that classroom to the administration building and drop the class. The next semester, I quit my job, moved to Murray State University and began working on my Industrial Education degree. Instead of being an engineer, I became a shop teacher.
Now this isn’t another verse of “Poor, Poor, Pitiful Me.” I am a teacher at heart and a craftsman by nature. I can’t imagine that being an engineer would have fit as well or have been as rewarding to me as education has been. But, I will never know.
What I do know is that one incident altered my life, changing my work, my associations, where I lived and, likely, the material standard of living for my family. What difference might have been if I’d chosen “challenge” instead of “surrender?” Regardless, I have a good life; I have been blessed.
More important than any of those realizations is the awareness that God is always at work, in the aftermath of my best decisions and of my worst ones. In all things, He is working for my good. Even when it is least apparent to me.
So timely! I have been to two College Algebra classes and have NO idea what they are talking about. I have Algebra for dummies type book and a tutor. Hoping I can dig in and conquer it!
Keep digging, Holly!
Will do! I’m just a little stubborn, 🙂
I ran into a guy last night working behind the deli counter at Whole Foods. I couldn’t place him but he recognized me. I asked where he knew me from and he said he used to work as a forensic scientist at my state agency.
I asked if he was retired – but I doubted he was because he looked too young for that.
“No,” he said, “I quit. Now I am going to school to become an electrician.”
“Are you liking it?” I asked.
“Loving it,” he said.
Now here was a guy with a PHD who couldn’t stand what he was doing and who found a second career he liked. Good for him.
Maybe the world needs more industrial arts teachers who can lead our kids to follow the things they love to do, rather than strive for a degree and a job they can’t stand.
Amen to that, Greg! Great anecdote there. I admire the guy for having the grit to take a different turn and follow something that will be more enjoyable for him. I’ll gladly take the “misery” of lower income over the misery of hating a job/career. Thanks for posting this!