When I Grow Up

At dinner, I usually ask the grandkids what they learned in school {not much, apparently, since it’s usually a short conversation}. Today, I didn’t, but the youngest piped up to her brother and sister, “Well, what did you learn in school today?”

Hmmm. I guess they have been listening.

I tried a little twist tonight, though. I asked them what they wanted to be when they grew up.

The oldest (12, almost 13) said she had always wanted to be a veterinarian and she still does. The youngest (seven, almost eight) batted her eyes and animated “I don’t have a clue!” My grandson (10, almost 11) said matter-of-factly he wanted to be a professional football player. Okay, I offered, but what’s your back-up? A stunt man was his answer!

Ah, the innocence of young life!

But it reminded me of my grammar school days and aspirations. While most kids my age wanted to be doctors or firemen, I wanted to be a — ready — bus driver! As a backup I chose garbage man! I thought {and still do} those were cool jobs.

A little history. When I was about 12, we moved from Paterson to suburban Totowa, which meant I had to take the bus to school. No, not a school bus. Public transportation. I would take the bus from Totowa to downtown Paterson, then walk about a mile to school. After school, I would reverse the route.

I enjoyed my time on the bus, watching people get on or get off and imagine what they were doing on the bus or where they were going. The regular afternoon driver was Mr. Frank DeMaria. He would greet me when I got on the bus and talk to me as he drove, dutifully stopping at the bus stops for more passengers or responding to a buzzer to let someone off. He would ask me about my day. And it wasn’t just me. He would greet all his passengers and engage in conversations with them. And all the time, he handled the bus effortlessly through the narrow streets of Paterson, through sunshine and rain, drizzle and snow. Obviously, Mr. DeMaria made an impression on me.

Tuesdays was also garbage day in Paterson, so naturally I would see the truck every week. They had a driver and a guy hanging off the back, stopping house by house collecting the garbage. After awhile I got used to seeing them and they got used to seeing me. Soon, they would take a “break” when I came by — especially if I missed a week — and we would chat for a minute or two. They would also keep an eye on me as I walked up Straight Street. It was never too hot {although a little stinkier} or too wet {doesn’t every little boy like to play in the rain?} or too cold {that’s why they make gloves}. I thought their job was cool, too.

I remember Sister Mary asking us to write an essay on what we wanted to do when we grew up. Mine, of course, featured a city bus driver and/or garbage man {although I preferred driving}. She was aghast and made my essay the point of her lesson on underachieving.

But it didn’t faze me. In fact, as I got older, I entertained thoughts of being a Greyhound bus driver, an over-the-road truck driver and even a New York City hack {taxi driver}.

Of course, reality doesn’t always mirror young aspirations. To get a little spending money, I took a part time job at the local newspapers … which morphed into a full time job … which morphed into a career. But those early “dreams” never really faded. I did get to drive a bus — a school bus. I never drove over the road, but I did drive my share of trucks. The only taxi driving I did was shuttling kids to and fro activities. And I’ve logged about a million miles behind the wheel — a million miles of freedom and thought and relaxation.

I had my dreams! What about you?

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Stay focused on encouraging thoughts — thoughts of hope and thoughts of faith.

About wisdomfromafather

I'm just an ordinary guy walking along the journey of life.
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6 Responses to When I Grow Up

  1. Deanna says:

    Well there is something I didn’t know! And shame on Sister Mary…

  2. TamrahJo says:

    I wanted to be married to a Montana rancher, with a dozen kids and earn my living writing –
    One out of four children survived, I’m divorced ……
    But I write everyday and getting ready to upload my first e-published book mid-month –
    One outta 3 ain’t bad!

    So enjoyed your post and I think it’s disgraceful how honest labor done via jobs that need doing is seen as “underacheivement” – seems like blue-collar work and ‘worker bees’ have gotten a bad rap in the past years, as far as not being appreciated for the overwhelming value they bring to our daily lives…

    My kids changed their minds a hundred times a year on what they wanted to be when they grew up – although I tried to be realistic when they got in their teens about career options, I also told them, “Go for it – try it, now, when it’s just you and you don’t have a family to support – the worst that will happen is you’ll need to move back home for awhile to save up money for your next grand adventure – – ”

    If I had had that option, I just might have taken the job offer to be a server on a cruise ship – just wasn’t sure what I would do if it didn’t work out – –

    So glad I found your blog – enjoying what I’ve read so far.

  3. Run. says:

    I so enjoy stories like this! When I was a kid I used to “bug” my grandparents all the time, begging them to tell me stories on how life was when they were younger, what were their parents and grandparents like etc.
    I don’t remember who I wanted to be when I was a child, though….. As a teenager I knew it had to be something to do with languages, people and communication, but I’m still looking forward to my morphing-journey.

    • I often write about “the good old days” when I was growing up or the kids were growing up. Feel free to wander around. And good luck morphing … it’s really quite exciting to look back how what you thought would be is.

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