My wife's screen saver dredges her picture file and old photos come tumbling onto her monitor in a hypnotic cascade. There are a lot of pictures of my son in there, at various stages of his development. He was a little boy, once upon a time. Now he's a young man. We don't have as many snapshots these days. He's too busy.
He's going to college. He's living away from the home. He's doing his own thing.
And now that thing includes having a job.
Not that he hasn't been working. He's had gigs doing tech work for theater companies. He has done IT for friends, family, and in an ironic stroke of luck, for the Mechanical Engineering department at his school. Most of this was freelance, but it kept him in pizza money and brake pads.
All the while his father kept looking over his shoulder, keeping a steady stream of questions and what sounded like encouragement on the way out but was really more parental nagging. "What about food service?" or "Have you thought about retail?" I just wanted what was best for him. And what better way to find the best thing for him than to mine my own youth. He should be mowing lawns. Or working in a fast food restaurant. With luck he might work his way up to manager and be given his own brown polyester vest. That would be quite the rite of passage.
Unless he wasn't interested in slinging roast beef. Or mowing lawns. Or any of the jobs that his father endured over the course of his proto-career. I remember, sometime after 9/11, he told me earnestly that he wanted to be a fireman. Most five year olds will spend some time planning their career as a first responder. Nevertheless, it made me so very proud. That, it turns out, was really the thing that sons really need to for their fathers.
The good news for both of us is that I'm a pretty easy touch. When he called last week to tell me that he had been offered a job at Best Buy, a position that he had been pursuing for months, it made me feel every bit as pleased as if he had called me from the firehouse. He had gone through a series of interviews and filled out the requisite paperwork and jumped through all the hoops through which he needed to jump. Bravo.
Am I looking forward to a picture of him in his blue shirt? You bet I am.