Tuesday, May 23, 2006

"...we have this deeply held myth of the man who suceeds by his own efforts."

Essay from American Street.

I am lucky to be one of those people who went to a state school back in the halcyon days when Pell grants made it easy for the children of the working class. I am doubly lucky to have had my path eased by mentors and generous colleagues; not that I didn’t work my ass off each time someone offered me a chance…but the chance was there first and the help was there afterwards. I am triply lucky to be in a profession that has landed squarely in the nexus of technology and human interaction, which is not only a great deal of fun, but also provides me with an enviably transferrable skill set.

It has been my accidental good fortune to have been in the food business. The story is not very interesting and the benefits are mundane. There are notable exceptions, but for the most part getting rich is not an everyday part of being in food service. But job security and not going hungry (literally) are more important in the long run.

My father's career as an auto mechanic spanned an era. His specialty was repairing automatic transmissions, which any mechanic worth his salt will agree put him in the top drawer with talent. He grabbed that specialty in the fifties, when automatic transmissions were first produced, and continued for thirty-plus years, letting go just in time for technology to transform his and many other careers in auto repair.

All of which is to say this...
Choice is important. And so is hard work, flesibility and native gifts. But after all that has been taken into account, career trajectories are as uncertain and uncontrollable as housing at the base of a volcano. I guess that's why I don't like worship of the marketplace that has displaced religion in the minds and politics of so many otherwise smart people.

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