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  • I’m in a position now where I am often sought out as a mentor, and I work with a lot of younger people who are relatively new to the workplace. This is an aspect of my job that I really love. The head that a lot of these folks appear to have on their shoulders really amazes me. When I think of where I was at, at their age – wow, I wasn’t even close to having it as together as they appear to.

    I have to laugh whenever someone asks me, “So, what was your field of study that prepared you for this line of work?” This question never yields a straight answer. It always earns them the first of many stories that they will hear from me. I am, after all, a story-teller! That's something that I learned that I do well.

    My field of study was, and is, an evolving process. It has involved working with what's right in front of me, eliminating what I don’t like, cultivating what I do, and whittling it down until it becomes the ideal job. I love what I do. On any given day, anything might happen that will change the course of my career, and I've learned to keep myself open to those opportunities, and possibilities.

    Growing up, the only thing I wanted to be was a major league baseball player. That was my one and only dream. The only problem was, I was not very athletic. I tried to be – God knows how I tried to be! It didn't help that my feet grew faster than the rest of me did, so I was always tripping over them. I worked really hard at that dream, but when I didn’t make the cut for the little league team at age 10 – yes, back then, you had to try out and be selected, even for little league – that dream kind of crashed on the rocks. I was despondent for weeks after that. I just loved baseball. It took awhile for me to find another thing I was so passionate about.

    All through high school, the idea of going to college never really crossed my mind. I had 3 older brothers and an older sister who all went, but I just didn't see myself there. I remember Dad taking me to a college day thing at Carnegie Tech in Pittsburgh in my sophomore year, and I just felt so out of place there. I still hated school, and the thought of going to college was completely out of my thought processes. I worked in restaurants all through high school, washing dishes, bussing tables, and then waiting tables. I did that long enough to know that I didn’t want a career in the food industry when I grew up.

    Early in my senior year, my friend Cy and I talked about what we would do after we graduated, and we both decided that joining either the Air Force or the Navy would be the way to go. This was the Fall of 1971, when the Viet Nam War was still going strong. I was against the war, but the Navy and Air Force had some good programs for learning a trade, and I was getting concerned about my future. I still had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up!

    We both decided on the Navy’s Nuclear Power program. It was sold as the wave of the future, and besides, the Navy had cooler uniforms. I liked the idea of travelling to see the world, and was tantalized by the romantic notion of having a girl in every port. We would have gone in together on the “Buddy” program right after graduation, but after I threw the biggest party of the year in my parents’ house and they found out about it, I moved to Connecticut with them in the middle of my senior year. So, I was on my own.

    Several great teachers, one in particular who really fired up my imagination, got me to change my thinking and decide to go to college in the Fall, instead of the Navy. Despite a summer spent severely depressed after graduation – so bad that I quit my waiter job and was suicidal for awhile – I started to feel a little better by Fall, and went to college.

    There, I discovered my love of writing. I was recruited to join the school newspaper staff, and also discovered the wonderful world of poetry. Finally, something to be passionate about! I dove into writing with a reckless abandon.

    I also learned all about Nixon and Watergate that Fall, long before the rest of the world seemed to catch on to what was going on. This led me to eliminate my next area of future work considerations – politics. I was so fired up about Nixon and Watergate, I jumped on the "George McGovern for President" bandwagon (there was a lot of room on there!), walked into Democratic Headquarters in Windsor, Ct, and soon found myself as the lead telephone man there. I had a knack for it.

    I poured my heart and soul into that effort, and excitedly awaited the results on Election Night, sure that America would have woken up to the fact that Nixon was bad news by then. McGovern lost in 49 out of the 50 states in a historic landslide! That was my first clue that the American public was completely clueless when it came to politics. I was so devestated and disheartened that I never wanted to have anything to do with politics again, for a very long time after that.
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