Dream Job #1:
When I was 5 years old, I loved hanging out on the back balcony of our apartment in Taiwan. We were on the 3rd floor, and I felt like a spy peaking over the balcony ledge, watching everything below me go by.
The empty lot behind our building eventually was bought out by a developer, and soon some big machines showed up to dig a very big hole in the ground. I suspected the hole was for the mafia to bury dead bodies, but I over heard my parents talking about a new apartment complex being built.
Construction workers poured in to build the giant building. I went on the balcony daily to check on their progress. I would also call period meetings with my 3-year-old brother to discuss how the project is going.
I noticed that most of the construction workers were men. They carried heavy bags of concrete mixes and long pieces of steel material across the site. I thought they were the strongest men in the world and I respected them. They wore ball caps and short sleeve t-shirts. One day when I was checking on their progress, I noticed a woman amongst the workers. She wore a big straw hat and a long sleeve shirt to shield her from the sun. She was carrying heavy bags of concrete alongside the men. That impressed me greatly! She is as strong as the men!
My mother always taught me that jobs that require heavy lifting or involving dirt belong to men. But this lady in the construction site didn’t follow my mother’s rules.
Suddenly, I realized my calling. I want to be a construction worker! I want to be strong like that lady in the construction site, and work with my buddies.
Excited, I ran to my mother and told her that I want to be a construction worker when I grow up. My mother didn’t approve because construction work belonged to a group of people she referred to as uneducated men. I pleaded with her that there’s a lady in the construction site behind our building. We couldn’t come to an agreement that I’ll have a bright future as a construction worker.
Dream Job #2:
Fast forward 2 years. I was 7 years old. My father acquired our first car. It was a baby blue Ford Laser hatchback. It was a very exciting time.
Prior to this car, we have always used borrowed cars for transportation when needed. Now we have our own! In the borrowed cars, my mother always said we had to keep it clean because it was not ours, so no eating crackers in the back seat. So I’m assuming we will now be allowed to make a mess because this is our own car.
“Here, Angela, spread these crumbs on the seat, and on the floor! You can be messy in our own car! While you’re at it, throw some crumbs in your hair too.”
That never happened.
The borrowed cars were always automatic. But this Ford Laser is a 5-speed car. I was fascinated by the gear shifting while my father is driving. I thought it required a lot of intricate movements of all four appendages, while keeping one’s eyes on the road. I figured my father was the smartest man in the world, because he can pilot such a complex machine with ease while talking to my mother at the same time. I sat on the hump in the middle of the back seat, staring at the gear box, waiting for the next shift to happen.
Sometimes I get to sit in the front passenger seat if my mother agrees to take the back seat. Then one day, my dad said to me, “How would you like to do the shifting for me while I drive?”
I couldn’t believe my luck! Me? I get to do the shifting? I would love that! I already knew that the inscribed numbers on the shift nob corresponded to the gear. But I was too young to understand what shifting really meant. So my father would tell me when to shift. When he was pressing down on the clutch, he would say, “2nd gear!”, “3rd gear”, “4th gear”, “back to 3rd gear!”. I shifted from the passenger seat, using my left hand. It was music to my ears to hear the engine change gear each time I shifted the stick. I was playing an important part of this complex machine operation.
I just graduated from a crumb-spreading passenger to a co-pilot. I was shifting gear. Hey, I may as well be driving this thing, and I was only 7! None of my friends believed me when I told them I was driving on my own. But do they know about driving anyway? I was convinced that I was gifted.
One day during an outing, I was shifting gear for my father. A light bulb went off in my head. I should do this for a living when I grow up. What better way to show off my talent then to do this all day long, and be a taxi driver! Oh yes, this is better than being a construction worker! I was so sure my mother would like this.
I can just imagine my mother greeting a neighbor, “Hi, this is my daughter. She is a very talented taxi driver. Here, Angela, show Mrs. Lu how you shift that gear so flawlessly.”
I shared my dream job description with my mother. Surprisingly, she wasn’t pleased.
Dream Job #3:
Somewhere along the line, I figured that I wanted to save the world. I wanted to help. I had no idea what I’ll do, but I wanted to do something good.
Then we moved to Canada, and I couldn’t speak English. It took so long to look up all the words in the dictionary; it was impossible for me to have a normal conversation. I worked harder than ever just to get an average grade in school. I didn’t get into a university because of my grades, so I went to a local college and took repeated courses until I improved my grade point average to get into a university.
By the time I finished my degree, I was battered and bruised. I have long forgotten any dream jobs I’ve ever had. Just getting a job would be good enough. I got a job, got laid off, and got another job. I never dreamed of being an accountant. After all, I’ve never seen a super hero with a hidden identify as an accountant. There are movies about doctors, lawyers, fire fighters, but no accountants.
Today, as I sit here at the airport, waiting for my flight to Botswana, I realized that I have my dream job. I work with some of the most brilliant minds I know. The opportunities are abundant. And I have options like this one—taking on an assignment to help a non-profit organization in a world with high HIV population. It blows my mind.
Be warned that you will get more random thoughts posts like this one. I have lots of random thoughts.
This is Dad.
Your dream jobs reminded me that when I also at my age of 5, one day my Grandpa took me with him to a Shianghai style public bath. After bath everyone lay on a reclining chair in the rest area. There was a guy to give service of foot massage, of course with charge.
As almost everyone wanted to have this optional service, the guy became so popular and apparently made a handsome income that day. Going home, I told my mother that I wanted to be foot massagist. You can imagine the result I got.
Angela, both Mom and I agree that, though you have not obtained the dream jobs you wanted, we are very proud of what your are going to do in the coming 4 weeks. It must be an important contribution to a Botswana!
The car was a 4 speed 😛
The car was a FOUR speed stick.
4 speed? Really? I guess they don't make those anymore. Thanks for pointing that out.