Ask Hot Chicks Dig Smart Men, Edition the First

Tuesday, June 21, 2011
As you all know, I have been bereft of ideas here at Hot Chicks Dig Smart Men, and so I solicited the peanut gallery for suggestions. In true Hot Chicks and Smart Men fashion, I received many ideas, so I'm making good on my end of the bargain and answering your questions.

Today's selection is from Beatrice in Paris, who asks,
If you could do ANYTHING and get paid for it, what would that be?
Well, damn. You couldn't start with something easy? Just kidding, Beatrice. It's a deep question, and deserves a considered response.

I think a great many of us spend a considerable portion of our adult, working lives wondering what we'd like to be when we grow up. As we get older, that list gets pared down due to practical considerations like the cost benefit analysis of the education required to qualify for the occupation, family obligations that may prohibit the execution of job requirements, or an inability to fulfill the physical demands of the job. Like all things in life, it's a trade off, and I think mature, responsible adults attempt to manage their occupational passions with the obligations they've taken on, in order to achieve a balanced, nuanced life.

I think it's fair to say that's what's happened to me. While fortune favors the prepared mind, I've been extraordinarily lucky in the "right place, right time, right preparation" department on a professional basis. The result has been my job of the last ten years - work that challenges me, suits my lifestyle and family obligations, and pays far more than I ever thought I'd make when I started on my civilian career. I like my job, my co-workers, and my boss (my bitching and moaning notwithstanding), and I love the financial security and freedom it affords me.

But I'd be a big liar, liar, pants on fire if I tried to tell you that I was passionate about it, or that it fulfills my life's ambition.

If I could do ANYTHING, without the limitations of age, physical capability, family obligations, financial considerations? Well, I think I'd have to choose Legal Aid Attorney.

This will come as no surprise to those who know me well. You see, in addition to a dedication to the idea of service, there are certain things about our Great Republic whose inherent unfairness simply make me apoplectic with rage. And one of those things is the inability of the poor and disenfranchised to get the help they need to stick up for themselves in a legal sense. The issues are endless - eviction, foreclosure, slumlords, wrongful termination, discrimination, an inability to get a quality education, immigration, food insecurity, affordable housing, etc., ad naseum. Most of the people living in poverty in this country have no recourse when someone with more money, more connections, and better opportunities decides that they want an outcome that disadvantages the poor. And that's just wrong.

I realize that such advocates for the poor don't always win. In fact, I'd be profoundly surprised if their win/loss ratio was more than 50/50. But they do win sometimes, and they're fighting the good fight. That matters, and while I suspect their frustrations are legion, their examples shine in my heart, just like the examples of all who fight for those who can't fight for themselves (yes, Eric, I am looking at you).

So why haven't I gotten off my ass and done something about it? Well, it's that whole cost/benefit analysis thing I referred to earlier. This plan did not occur to me until I was in my forties, Law School is bloody expensive, and Legal Aid Attorneys make shit. I'm sure you can do the math.

So I'll stick with Systems Engineering, contributing to the world in other ways until I can retire and enter the ranks of charitable volunteers on a dedicated basis instead of on an ad hoc one. I intend to do so as a phlebotomist, but who knows? Maybe I'll end up volunteering down at Legal Aid, instead.


Thanks for your question, Beatrice.

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8 comments:

Warner said...

Well, given a choice, since 16 I've wanted to be professional technical theater, stage and lighting design.

I wound up as professional technical television, spending 34 years working for one of the big networks, the last 15 as their Transmission Engineer.

Along the way I got a couple of off-off-Broadway lighting design credits and worked on a lot of off-off-Broadway shows.

Came pretty close I think.

kenect - what a Transmission Engineer does

Eric said...

I am embarrassed and touched; I must also admit I've become jaded enough in my career that I don't know if I'd do this if I felt I had an option not to. But thank you.

Janiece said...

Eric, you may be jaded, but you still believe in the process, and you do your best by your clients, because that's what your oath and your dedication to the Constitution demands.

Those things count.

Phiala said...

Drat. Blogger ate my comment.

Recreated:

You're a better person than I am, even in choice of dream jobs.

I'd be doing much what I am now - science, fiber arts, writing - but in very different proportions. Trying to balance them is rough. I'd also be teaching those things more.

Janiece said...

Phiala, I wouldn't say "better." Our passions simply lie in different areas. 'Cause teaching as an avocation is its own kind of wonderful.

filelalaine said...

Honorable aspiration. Careful, your answer is showing a little bit of your softer side :)

I work with kids with autism. Psychology is my second career and I got into it because I wanted to work with children with special needs. I wanted it fiercely, was chomping at the bits in grad school... until I actually started. Because theory and reality rarely match. I still believe in the work and I love the kiddos but everything else (bureaucracy, school systems, funding, parents who resist change as much as they want progress) is a constant thorn in my side. Show me a job that's all roses, I'd consider changing careers again.

Stacey said...

Good Choice! I'd want to advocacy work in similar field - gerontology probably. So many people don't understand their rights as patients or choices as older people. I've done it for family and a few friends and I'd have to say it would be nice if I could help others in this way and take some of the pressure off.
I do like the job I have for now and that's good enough.

beatrice in Paris said...

Thanks for your answer. I've looked into suing somebody who deserves to rot in hell and I discovered the cost was ten grand. Ten friggin' grand! For a civil claim!
If I could do anything and be paid for it, it would be a medical advocate. However, they don't really exist in the land of many cheeses. Plus, I'd need to be really healthy! In the meantime, I teach...