I’m sitting at the kitchen table at 6:30 in the morning. I’m 9. The light is cold and gray at this hour in suburban Detroit. My dad sits across from me as I quietly eat my Honey Nut Cheerios.
“Dad? Do you like your job?”
My father, my hero, looked at me a little cross-eyed through his brown plastic-framed glasses. Almost like he was amused.
“Yeah, I like my job.”
But his answer was flat. Like he was trying to do what he thought was right for me. Set a good example and all that.
“Dad? Do you really like your job?”
My dad straightened his tie and got ready to level with me.
“Marc, it wouldn’t be called work if it was supposed to be fun.”
And he went back to eating his pre-work Cheerios.And it was at that moment that I made a decision. Not your silly, 9-year old I-want-to-become-Han-Solo-and-fly-the-Millenium-Falcon decision but a major, lifelong, world-view decision.
I not only wanted to like my job, I wanted to love it.
Growing up in suburban Detroit means you’re growing up in a company town. Everything in some way or another is tied to the auto industry. Your parents may not work directly for one of the big auto companies but the auto industry makes the Detroit economy go ‘round.
When I was growing up, friends would suddenly move away or move into the neighborhood.
I asked my mom, “What happened to Jimmy? Where’d he go?”
My mom told me that Jimmy’s dad, an engineer for an auto-related company, was transferred to Tulsa and so the family had to move for his dad’s job. I was perplexed. I couldn’t understand this line of thinking. But I was in the minority. My mother, like many at the time, believed that a job was the most important thing in life. You studied hard, went to college, and then took a job wherever you got one.