I'm a teacher. I got that way by going to teacher school and studying very hard. I went to trainings for the past couple of decades to hone those particular skills that make me the shaper and developer of young minds. Before that, I had imagined all manner of jobs and careers for myself. Some of them I didn't have to imagine, like installing modular furniture or managing the picking operations at a wholesale book warehouse. I don't know if I shaped or molded any minds, young or old, while I was doing those jobs. Since I found myself in supervisory positions in many of the jobs I have had, I will have to imagine that I may have had some sort of effect on those with whom I worked. It does, however, give me chills when I think about myself as being "a good boss." I blame Micheal Scott for that.
Here's what I do know: I still get a Christmas card from one of the guys who worked with me on the crew that unloaded trailers at Target. I didn't have any sort of official title, but since I was the oldest guy in that tight little group, I was the defacto leader. I didn't get any extra money, but I did get to stay late sometimes got to stay late when the other guys messed up sorting the repack boxes at the end of the night. Kind of like the way I got to hang around into the wee small hours of the morning and finish up the books as manager of an Arby's franchise. For that one, at least I got a brown vest and a name tag that was made special for me instead of just a piece of Dymotape label stuck to somebody else's name tag who quit the week before. One of the guys who worked on that same closing crew and at Target with me is still one of my best friends.
And I find out that this legacy may have stretched back even further than that. Last week, a guy who was in Pep Band with me in high school came through town and wanted to go out to dinner with me. That wasn't the only reason for him to be in Oakland, since his son was interested in seeing The Crucible as a possible place to study the Fire Arts. But he made a point of stopping by to see me. And when he introduced me to his wife ad son, he introduced me as a major influence in his life. Thirty-five year ago, and he felt the need to share this with his family. And me. It was flattering and more than a little bit embarrassing, but ultimately it gave me a profound sense of belonging. All those memories I have of those years that I hung out in the band room, cavorting as I did with my friends and associates as Pep Band president, it seems that I was leaving an impression. One that has lasted all these years and was brought back to me last week, gift-wrapped and full of smiles. He bought me dinner. With fries. It was a dinner full of laughter and memories. It made me proud, and helped me imagine that this may have been the plan all along.