You ever see the Mike Judge masterpiece Office Space? That was a rhetorical question, as everyone has and if you haven’t you need to go home and watch it tonight.
Set in Austin, Texas, home of Grandex, the 2005 National Championship winning Texas Longhorns and Tito’s Vodka, it tackles the classic burnout environment of working in an unappreciated cubicle. I can’t watch it too often because it gives me an existential crisis, leading me to ponder my life choices. More specifically, the question I always ruminate on (usually at the time of the month when I pay my student loans): what if I never went to college? What would I be doing right now if I didn’t get that degree?
Renaissance Faire Jouster
In high school, I wrote a paper about what I wanted to be when I grew up. I think it is shitty enough we ask 18-year-old kids to pick what they want to do for the rest of their life, so 15-16 year old me had no idea what I wanted to do. I’d just watched the Family Guy episode where Peter became a Renaissance Faire jouster and I really hated my English teacher (thanks for teaching me nothing, Ms. Gill), so I wrote about being a Renaissance Faire jouster. I got a C+ on it, mostly because I cited Family Guy and a Knight’s Tale, one of Heath Ledger’s best movies. You’d be the king of the nerds and probably pick up lots of wenches because who can resist the allure of the armor? I’d definitely be the fan favorite, tilting foes across the country driving my beat up Kia.
On super shitty days, I still think about my high school/college summer job in the golf business, caddying in the hot sun to ungrateful hole diggers that shoot 95 every round. These people spend $100k a year on their membership and associated fees that come with a private country club membership and are still terrible. I did this for 11 years to pay for my rent in college as well as for beer money. At the time, I made $80-100 per bag and $50 a putter, meaning I could earn $300 American or more to walk with 40-60 lbs. of bullshit and find stray balls. I worked with many people that were 50+ that seemed to enjoy the 80s way too much or needed some spare money. I was even on the bag for my buddy winning a club championship, but no, this is not on my resume because no one cares.
Road Sign Holder
Sometimes I think about what my dad told me. “Go work for the government, it’s a tit that never runs out of milk”. My old man was all about that job security. How hard can it be to hold a construction sign? Are there different techniques? I’m sure when it’s hot or cold it sucks, but it can’t be that hard. There will always be road work so I doubt robots will take over this job. The people watching, I imagine, is top notch.
After I got my BA in Criminology, my dad upgraded his expectations of me. He was always asking when I’d be a cop. I grew up in a low-crime area, and cops started out making $60k and could retire by 55 with full pension. Writing high school kids speeding tickets and going on domestic violence calls wasn’t my calling, and my time interning with the police doing research reaffirmed this. A lot of the reason cops are fat is they spend most of their time sitting in a cruiser. Might as well be an office job that requires you to carry a gun and deal with shit heads. No thanks.
My good buddy Pete is an electrician. He makes bank doing side jobs and has a steady 40-hour work week working for a power plant. You get to work with your hands and make money – sign me up! His early onset of joint pain don’t seem ideal, but I’m sure a few aspirin a day will be just what the doctor ordered.
Just kidding. Damn Irish Curse.
Restaurant and/or Bar Owner
Who hasn’t thought about owning a bar or opening their own restaurant? I sure as shit have. I don’t even have to hire other high school graduates because there are plenty of people with degrees out there waiting for baby boomers to retire. Only problem is my lack of experience, lack of credit and lack of management knowledge. May or may not have to brush up on these things first.
Knowing what I know now, it’s hard to trade in the four years of undergrad and two years of grad school for the unknown. Sure it sucks to pay loans like 70% of my fellow recent grads do, but the memories and friendships from college, as well as the fact college grads earn more in the long run make it seem like a great idea.
Still, the allure of not being a cubicle warrior, to get out and do things, is always there. My boss, who has a PhD, often talks about giving up the academic office life to go work in sanitation and honestly, I get it. I’ve found that the more money you make, the less you do. Shit rolls downhill so hopefully as I move up, a fatter paycheck and fewer responsibilities works out for me. Maybe one day, I’ll finally get to see what I’d do if I had a million dollars….