I STILL WONDER WHAT I WILL BE WHEN I GROW UP

So what do I do? Do you mean what is my occupation? Wow! I have had so many. My earliest memory of working to earn money was when I bagged apples from our backyard apple tree, loaded them in my brother’s ‘Davy Crockett’ wagon and went door-to-door selling apples. My adventures as a door-to-door salesman expanded to marketing our dog’s poop as plant fertilizer door-to-door. I dried it, sieved it through a window screen, added peat moss and some commercial chemical fertilizer. When my mother found out, she insisted that I give back my customers money and had a hard time swallowing the fact that my customers were satisfied and did not want to take back their money. None-the-less, she made me stop my plant fertilizer business. My door-to-door selling started when I was about 6 or 7 years old and continued seasonally before Christmas when I sold Christmas cards door to door. There were a lot of little old ladies who lived in my neighborhood who were regular customers. They would invite me in and give me cookies or candy while they made their selection. Later, I would call on them when I started my snow shoveling business. I also mowed lawns. By the time I reached high school, I worked at a local pet shop cleaning cages, at a local drug store mopping floors and washing windows and during the summer, I worked for the Great Western Sugar Company at their experimental station mating sugar beet plants- even though I was severely allergic to sugar beet pollen. The summer between my junior and senior year of high school, my father got me a job at the University of Colorado working in the largest girls dormitory, Farrand Hall, as a ‘hasher’ on the food line. In the morning, I worked the automatic toast machine and fed it bread. The girls would come through and say, “Good morning, Ringo.” I wore my hair long and the Beatles were popular so I was nicknamed ‘Ringo’. The best thing was that on Friday mornings one or more of the girls coming through the line would ask, ‘Hey Ringo, you wanna go to a party this weekend?” ¬†Wow! Me? A high school kid being asked to a college party by a cool girl. Needless to say, my popularity among my high school friends increased exponentially. Even better, once my junior year began, a skiing buddy and I signed up for a racing clinic at Hidden Valley Ski School. After about two months of the racing clinic, our instructor asked us if we would like to join the Ski School. Well, hell yes! And that spring, we attended instruction clinics and were accepted into the Hidden Valley Ski School as apprentice instructors. So I guess my first real professional occupation was a Ski Instructor.

Having worked at the University of Colorado the summer of my junior year, I returned to work with Family Housing cleaning faculty apartments when they were vacated. The pay was good and I also got several of my high school buddies jobs there. We loved it because we were in Boulder and spent all our spare time hanging out on campus. After a one semester at CU, I spent the winter instructing skiing and saved money to return for summer school and received a draft notice midway through the summer semester. While biding time, I washed pots and pans at an all-night diner and a private girls dorm and helped stock the first K-Mart to open in Boulder. I was living in an apartment with three friends after having taken my draft physical and accepting to go into the Army come February 1967.

The US Army trained me at Ft. Devens, MA and then at the NSA as an electronic signal analyst. The work required a Top Secret Security Crypto Clearance and I spent the next three years analyzing Russian signals from space. I never considered this an occupation as being in the military was not a matter of my volition. Once out of the Army, I went to Japan to go to college because I had been stationed in Japan and needed to follow through on the fascination I had developed for the country. Although I was on a student visa, I got an exception to work ‘arubaito’ (parttime work) as long as I did not do a job that a Japanese citizen could do. The two options were: be a native speaker of English and teach or be foreign talent in Japanese movies, TV, and advertising. I did both and loved it. The money was good and the work was always interesting. So I made movies, was on TV shows and made Japanese whiskey ads etc. After marrying a beautiful Japanese girl and moving on to graduate school in Hawaii, I continued teaching English to foreign students and we both went on to teach English in Iran in 1978. We were just in time for the Iranian Revolution and ended up evacuating in the Spring of 1979. I taught for the Universtiy of Illinois system for about 5 months before leaving for Saudi Arabia to help develop a training program for Gas Plant Operations (not that I knew anything about it). As fate would have it, I learned fast, impressed the ARAMCO people I worked with and ended up spending over 20 years with Aramco as Chief of Staff to a Vice President. Later that same Vice President would ask me to join him at the United Nations where I ended my working life in 2013 and moved to Austin, Texas to join my son and his wife for the birth our grandson, Max.

The next phase of my life has just begun.