“What would you be doing if you weren’t (enter current occupation here)?”
It’s a common question when you’re just getting to know someone and, for some reason, I’ve gotten it a few times recently. The truth is, I don’t plan on switching careers anytime soon. Even on the fairly rare occasion I’m having a bad day at work, I have a hard time seeing myself doing anything else. After the Minnesota Newspaper Association Convention a couple weeks ago, I even described myself as being “on fire for journalism” to a friend.
In all likelihood, I’m a lifer.
Still, there are times I myself wonder what life would be like if I’d chosen a different path.
My answer to the leading question has changed over time. When I started college, the only field I considered aside from communication was education with thoughts of being a high school P.E./health teacher and, hopefully, coaching. I realized, however, that while a majority of the kids one would encounter in such a setting would be great, a couple bad apples can quickly spoil the whole bunch. Not sure I’ve got the patience for that.
Once I settled on communication as a major, my original intentions were to go into radio or television. While I’d always enjoyed writing and reading, print never really crossed my mind. In all honesty, I kind of fell into it on accident – which is actually a funny story, but one for another day.
Up until a few years ago, I always thought that if I ever decided to leave the world of print journalism, I’d head down one of those paths. But this morning as I made the two-hour long trek down I-90 to visit my parents for the day, I slipped into a bit of a daydream about what I would be doing otherwise.
Traffic was light, as it pretty much always is between Worthington and my exit to New Richland in Albert Lea. Many of the vehicles I was passing or were passing me were semis. I started taking notice of the license plates: Oregon, Montana, Texas, Pennsylvania. As each one went in and out of view, I wondered where they’d been, where they were going, what they were hauling.
The truth is, if I was doing anything other than covering sports for the Daily Globe – or any newspaper for that matter – I think I’d be a long-haul trucker. I know it’s not considered to be the most glamorous job, but there’s something about it that has always seemed very appealing to me.
I’ve mentioned in this blog before that if I stay in the same place for too long, I often develop a strong sense of wanderlust. Oftentimes it means I just need a vacation, to get away for a few days, explore and experience something new. But no matter my state of mind, traveling has always been at the forefront of things I want to do in life.
I think that’s why driving truck looks so fascinating to me. I see the plates from other states and imagine all the places and things that driver has seen and the people he or she has met along the way. I imagine a life where Homer and I drive around the country, untethered and experiencing something different every day.
Truthfully, I know I have a tendency to romanticize things. For every fascinating person I met in some far-off state, there would probably be multiple nights spent alone inside the cab of my truck. For every zen-like drive through some beautiful place I was experiencing for the first time, there would be multiple traffic jams and storms that left my nerves frayed on both ends. For every delicious meal at a roadside diner, there would be that many more bad cups of coffee and gas station burritos. For every content, contemplative mile, there would be hours of longing for stability and the idea of “home.”
I’m probably not cut out for life on the road, but the idea of it will always be a happy one for me. I enjoy time behind the wheel. It gives me time to collect my thoughts, think deeply about things or just simply let loose and jam with the radio, belting out off-key notes at the top of my lungs. I guess that’s why I romanticize it, particularly in my weaker moments.
I probably won’t be leaving the newspaper industry anytime soon, if ever. But if anyone’s up for a road trip, I think I’m due.