Footsteps With My Father


ME: I want to be a teacher when I get older.
MY DAD: Sounds great, if you want to sell shoes in the mall during the summer? 

I believe I was 10 or 11 when my father dropped that one on me. Much to his dismay I was unfazed by it; at my age the thought of working at the mall, in any capacity, sounded even cooler than being a teacher. Although looking back, shoe salesmen in the ’70s (especially in children’s shoe stores) were just about the saddest looking group you could run into at the mall. And they all had a look like they would love to shove a hush puppy up some kids ass the minute their mother’s back was turned.

Each of my answers to the age-old ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’ question was met with a similar response. Policeman: “You go into the ‘wrong’ neighborhood, you’ll get yourself shot (I think I was 6 then). Centerfielder for the Phillies: “I think you probably need to be able to catch for that.”

You get the point.

“Besides, if you want to be a baseball player or something like that, you need to have something to fall back on.”

My dad’s always been a big proponent of the ‘something to fall back on’ philosophy. So much so that if I actually ever had become the Phillies’ centerfielder, I would have no doubt felt guilty for not having devoted enough time to weaving a safety net. So I don’t know why I was so surprised when he said to me the other day (just 30 years later), “You should get your Teaching Certificate. It’s a good thing to have in your back pocket.”

THE LESSON: Life always has more value than life insurance. Pay at least as much attention to yourself as you would to someone else, chances are you were right all along.

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