Part III: Adam's Saga
Are There Any Good Careers Left?
In the previous episode, Susan and Ben tried to jump-start Adam's career exploration while he was still in middle school. To no avail.
But high school was to be different.
His high school experience got off to an inauspicious start. An upperclassman stopped the gaping freshman and said, "Hey, have you seen the swimming pool yet? It's cool! Just go up the stairs to the stairs to the very top." Adam walked the seven flights to find only an old storage closet. Welcome to the Lincoln High School "community."
Adam had always had a good number sense. For example, when he and his mom were in the supermarket, she'd pick a wedge of cheese, tell him it weighed, for example, .56 pounds and was $6.99 a pound, and in his head, Adam would nearly instantly, get within a nickel of the price. Yet somehow, perhaps because he wasn't developmentally ready, he nearly failed Algebra 1. He felt stupid. And even though he went on to get an A in Geometry and an A- in Algebra II, that failure stayed with him--he felt that if he were intelligent, he wouldn't have gotten a D in Algebra 1.
In his junior year, he attended his school's career day, hopeful he'd come up with a career goal--as much to relieve his mom and Ben as for himself.
With his interest in the Middle East, Adam joined the long line of kids at the State Department table. But the representative informed him, "Foreign Service Officers don't get to choose their country and with 200 countries, you're more likely to end up in an Azerbaijan or Burkina Faso than a France or Italy. And you have to learn the language. Urdu anyone? Plus despite the Foreign Service exam being very demanding, your first two years will be likely be spent mostly on menial tasks such as processing visa applications." Nope
Then he went to the police department table. He said, "It's nonstop pressure, except when there's paperwork. There are the routine car and home alarms, which almost always are false alarms yet require 15 minutes of paperwork. Then you have to make sure your speeding tickets are of the right racial ratio. Really common are the domestic disputes--You're going into dangerous buildings with the couple screaming and once, the guy was behind the door with a knife. The overwhelming majority of us are good cops but the way the media treats us, the community thinks of us as pigs to be scared of or even spit at--and we can't do anything about it except fill out silly paperwork. Cops are people of action, not of paperwork. Being a cop ain't what it used to be." Nope.
The lawyer said, "It used to be a high-minded profession. But with the pressure for more wins to get more billable hours, ethics sometimes takes a backseat to chicanery. And speaking of billable hours, they're expecting 2,100, 2,200, which means you'll spend a lot of time sleeping on an office futon." Nope.
The doctor said, "It's almost impossible to keep up with all the advances. So when patients come in waving internet printouts and implying they know more than I do, sometimes they're right. And then there are the non-compliant patients: Tell them to take a pill, they don't take it. Tell them to stop smoking, they don't stop. Then they sue you. Malpractice insurance may cover the costs but the stress of a suit is terrible. But worst of all are the complicated and contradictory rules and paperwork: the federal, state, and local regulations, plus the insurance company's. It isn't easy being a doctor today." Nope.
Adam walked out of the career fair feeling there were no good careers left.
Yet of all things, a bicycling accident, led him to a great one.
The next episode is HERE.