IT'S NEVER TOO LATE
TO CHANGE CAREERS
My wife came home the other night and announced that
she has decided to enter the job market. Or at least consider entering the
"The kids are gone, the dog died, life is just
beginning," she said. "I'm ready for some action."
"So what are you going to do?" I asked, not believing her for a
second. "It's been awhile since you were in the work force."
"I knew you were going to ask," she replied.
"So I went out and took one of those career tests, where they ask all
kinds of personal questions and then tell you exactly the career that
suits your personality."
This was bound to be interesting. "And what, pray tell,
did they come up with for you?"
I could tell she was pleased. "They narrowed it down to
three," she replied. "You're looking at a future hairdresser,
ski instructor or investment banker."
"That's right," she continued. "I haven't
decided which one to pursue just yet. I'm leaning towards ski instructor,
though, because I'll only have to work in the winter."
And, in fact, she's had experience. Growing up in the
Laurentians north of Montreal, she worked in the ski patrol during high
school, where she actually set some poor young skier's broken leg. He's
still limping around Quebec today.
"OK, I can understand ski instructor," I
said, "but how do you explain hairdresser and investment banker? That
seems a little strange."
"How do I know?" she responded. "I just
answered all the questions. Maybe I should invest in a hair salon and then
take it public."
That seemed logical. The whole episode certainly peaked
my interest, though. The next day I decided I wanted to take the test and
see which career best suited me. There was always the chance that I had
completely wasted my life by choosing the wrong occupation. I had to know.
Sure enough, I found my life to be a complete failure.
I answered all the questions, and nowhere in the results did it suggest
that I should own restaurants and retail stores, which is what I've wasted
my life doing.
But I'm only 61, still a young buck with years ahead of
me. It was not too late to start a new career. At least that's what I told
my wife when I announced to her the results of my test.
"Let me guess," she said when I told her our
lives were about to change. "Professional athlete, aerospace
engineer, or rock star."
It was clear she wasn't taking me seriously. But it was
uncanny how she picked a few careers that the study indicated I had
interest. However, the study also spelled out, in bold face, "It is
important to note that interest in an activity does not necessarily
Reluctantly, I had to rule those choices out. I needed
to be realistic. The three choices that were ultimately chosen for me made
all the sense in the world.
"Are you ready?" I asked. "Because you
are looking at a future trial lawyer, management consultant, or
She practically leaped out of her chair to hug me.
"This is so exciting," she squealed. "You can work at the
hair salon I'll be investing in!!"
"Excuse me," I replied, holding her at arm's
length. "I'm a cosmetologist, you're a hairdresser. What could we
possibly have in common? I'll be studying the cosmos while you're
"I think you're confusing cosmetologist with
cosmologist," she patiently explained, pointing out how a couple of
letters can make a difference in careers. "A cosmETologist usually
works in a hair salon."
Oh. That was disturbing. I said nothing and went into
the other room and googled cosmetologist. Applying makeup and cutting hair
clearly had nothing to do with studying the universe. But who was I to
question these career tests?
I went back to where my wife was sitting and crept up
behind her and started braiding her hair. Or I would have if I knew how to
braid. Becoming a cosmetologist was not going to be easy, and might take
years to learn, but it was soothing to remember I was only a young buck of