Since my work is always trying to dominate my life, and it tries to push everything else important to me out of its selfish way, I have given how I provide for my family a lot of thought lately.
It is interesting to me how we get our various jobs in the first place. I know from studying my family’s history that many had little choice of what they did.
My Scottish ancestors had no choice but to work the coal mines. For several hundred years, the law prohibiting families to move away from the mines amounted to slavery. As families, they had to work long days in the mines for barely enough to eat.
Many of my ancestors followed the sea. This was in an era when being a sailor was as common of a job world wide as working in an office at a computer is now.
Even in the old country, farming has been part of our family work ethic. My Danish family were quite self sufficient and comfortable on their farm. They moved to the United States following a religious movement more than to seek better opportunities.
My Tillack family, who lived in Germany, were seeking better opportunities. They sold their farm and chased after the Australian gold rush in 1855.
After gathering to North America, most of my family took advantage of the most available work opportunity in the west… farming. Hard times in this profession, has over the years, spun my family into other directions. My grandpa Tillack told me of what great losses he experienced in Alberta, Canada during the Great Depression. His sweetheart waited for him to finish barber school so they could have a future together.
My Grandpa Haroldsen saw to it that each of his children had college educations so they could choose to do what they wanted. My dad’s aspirations were in a specialty of agriculture… the egg business. For the time and era, the egg business which he built up was cutting edge modern. This is where my parents raised their family. This was the life I knew as I grew up. I loved the egg business more than my other siblings. And I planned to carry on in the family business with my father. But not long after I was married, the economics of the business change very quickly. Instead of family sized farms producing and distributing eggs regionally, the egg business was taken over by large national corporations. The future was national distribution and marketing. Now any farm with less than a million birds was considered a small unprofitable farm.
My dad and I started a new career in driving. This time instead of driving egg and feed trucks, we drove trucks pulling oversized loads… mobile homes. Again, like my ancestors, our choice of work had more to do with what work was available at the time then it had to do with what I really wanted to do. After all, I had a young family and I felt the weight of responsibility. After a year of pulling mobile homes throughout the Pacific North West, I decided that my responsibilities to be at home at night with my young family was more important than my developing career as a truck driver.
So I was soon back in the egg business, working for one of those large egg companies who had helped gobble our family egg farm’s market share, and my dad started a new career as a bus driver.
So that brings me to here and now. I’m still in the egg business, working for a large national corporation. But in my long work hours, when I can think about such things, I wonder, if I had it to do all over again, what would I CHOOSE to do to provide for my family? Is it too late to change careers? I can’t really afford to start over in the salary scale. As my children choose and prepare for careers of their own, I pray that they look at it very carefully and that they keep their options open.
I think if I could do things over now, I’d live anywhere my Beautiful Wife wanted to instead of where my job is. I’d spend my work day writing something. I don’t know what you can get paid to write. I know that I have read a lot of very poorly written technical manuals. Maybe I could write a troubleshooting guide for the fancy egg processing equipment. I know I would have paid a million bucks for one of those a few weeks ago.