Supreme Commander of the Universe


Today’s prompt asks if, as a child, you wanted to have the same, or a different job than your parents when you grew up.

I’ll start with my Dad because I can say with certainty that I did not want a job like him when I was a kid. Actually, I had no idea what he really did until I was nearly graduating high school. Dad worked for IBM. IBM is a huge corporation with a multitude of different types of jobs but, when you hear “IBM” you automatically think computers. I thought my Dad worked with computers. He was certainly always on the one we had at home and he had a laptop before long before people realized it wasn’t something that only existed in the Star Trek universe.

My Dad did not actually work with computers. He was an engineer. A civil engineer to be exact. When I figured this out, I was completely confused as to why IBM would need a civil engineer. IBM built computers, not buildings.

Wrong again.

Dad was responsible for managing the building of new IBM buildings, maintaining current infrastructure and remodeling new space that was acquired. I suppose all those IBM employees did need space to work in right?

It was a big promotion that moved the family to Montreal in 2002. When I asked my Dad what his new job was, he would tell me he had been promoted to “Supreme Commander of the Universe”. Funny, but not so informative.

Living in Montreal, I finally got a better understanding of what he actually did. I got to see the buildings he was working on. There are two of them in the business district that I had to pass on my way to McGill everyday. He took me on tours and explained the unique methods of heating, wiring, etc that would be more economic for IBM and environmentally friendly. I don’t really remember what they were exactly, but the temperature control system stuck with me. In one building, water was circulated through the walls and floors. The water was heated or cooled depending on the season and then circulated throughout the building. This was a new concept to me. I thought it was interesting.

My mom’s job was a little more straight forward. She worked in Hematology and Blood Bank at the local hospital. I think it was learning about her job that got me interested in science. I thought studying the little vials of blood that got sent to her via the “Blood-vator” was pretty cool. The “Blood-vator” was a foam canister that blood was sent down to the lab in. It came down a chute from the floors above, kind of like a elevator, but for blood. Hence “Blood-vator”.

The hematology part of my mom’s job was interesting, but I was not a fan of blood bank. The blood bank was where blood and other fluids were stored for transfusions and such. Those big bags of blood made my stomach turn. I was a little squeamish, which makes no sense since I worked with cadavers during my undergrad, but I think it was just the blood. Big bags of blood or guts with blood were disturbing, but just plain guts, that I could handle.

Working in a hospital required shift work. As a child, it appeared that my mom handled it well, but as I got a little older, I realized I was not a night person. There was just no way I would be able to work the evening or night shifts that my mom did for a week at a time. Especially since you were alone on a night shift in blood bank. I can’t imagine how she stayed a wake on a slow night.

I knew engineering and shift work were not for me. I remember wanting to be like Anne of Green Gables. A teacher and a writer. I have no idea how that aspiration morphed into a career in science. Even when I had settled on science, I said I never wanted to do research, yet, here I am. Research.

I wonder how many children actually grow up and become what they said they wanted to be.

17 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. trentpmcd
    Nov 04, 2015 @ 19:22:38

    I did not grow up to be what I wanted to be. Not even close! But then, it’s hard to say exactly what I’ve been.


    • Somber Scribbler
      Nov 05, 2015 @ 09:36:35

      I think most careers are hard to define these days. Few people are one thing for their whole working lives. What did you want to be as a kid?


      • trentpmcd
        Nov 05, 2015 @ 09:50:04

        It depends on how far back you go…. As a little boy I wanted to be an astronaut. Actually, I still want to be an astronaut 😉 That changed to astronomer a little later. Since I got bored of looking at stars but thought how they worked was the most exciting thing ever, I changed to astrophysicist. Later that changed to nuclear physicist, but when I discovered what that meant in the real world I changed it to just simple “theoretical physicist”. So unlike you I want to get into research. Of course lately I’m much more into administration and management, fields that held zero interest to me as a child.

      • Somber Scribbler
        Nov 05, 2015 @ 10:49:07

        You have a definite theme going on there! I think a lot of us end up in jobs that we were unaware of the existence of as a children.

      • trentpmcd
        Nov 05, 2015 @ 11:13:18

        I did have a theme going on, but it all went amiss when I started college! very long story short – Math degree, became an Air Traffic Controller, moved into IT, still there. No physics whatsoever!

  2. CB
    Nov 05, 2015 @ 00:55:01

    Your parents had some pretty cool careers. My dad was an admin type person in the Navy and my mom stayed home to raise me and my sister. I didn’t really know what I wanted to be when I was young, I just knew I wouldn’t go military and I wouldn’t ever choose to be financially dependent on a man.

    What kind of research do you do?


    • Somber Scribbler
      Nov 05, 2015 @ 09:47:52

      Did your Dad being in the Navy cause your family to move a lot? I was always thankful my Dad didn’t take the promotion until I was basically done high school. Moving is hard.
      I do research in low vision. Mostly low vision related to aging, like macular degeneration.


      • CB
        Nov 06, 2015 @ 10:06:05

        Oddly enough he stayed stationed in Virginia his entire military career.

        Your research sounds interesting.

  3. Carrie Lynn
    Nov 05, 2015 @ 02:52:10

    Thanks for sharing this. It was such a wonderful read. My Papa was in pharmaceuticals and his family was into health sciences and my Mama was into banking and her family was mostly in business. My maternal grandfather was one a General in the Army and was once the head of the Department of Defense. I guess I got my influence from my father’s side. Both my grandparents were doctors and my grandfather was running his own hospital. I wanted to be a doctor then and had enrolled in pre-med but studying in the city with its lights and glamour sucked me badly and ended up going to nursing school instead. After my first year in nursing, I knew I knew I was in the right career. Funny how people in our lives influence us of our career choices.


    • Somber Scribbler
      Nov 05, 2015 @ 09:52:27

      Wow, that’s a big variety of careers. I’m not sure I know what all of my grandparents did. Now I want to find out!
      I’m glad you found what was right for you. With my friend having cancer and being in and out of hospital, I see how important nurses are. The doctors may fix her body, but it is the nurses that help her deal with it and get through it.


      • Carrie Lynn
        Nov 06, 2015 @ 01:15:39

        I definitely agree with you. I took care of both my parents who had cancer and my mother’s sister who had renal failure, and my maternal grandmother who had both stroke and heart attack. If only there is a “one kind of care that fits all” it would be easy but, no. Care is fitted with each person’s needs, ability to understand and cope, level of acceptance and mind set to fight the disease. My healing process took years too after all of my diseased loved ones passed. Now I am afraid to go to a clinic or hospital and have myself checked up. My blood pressure shoots up every time.

      • Somber Scribbler
        Nov 06, 2015 @ 12:25:10

        Can’t blame you for your fear. I would feel the same after what you have gone through. I would remind myself that early detection and possible treatment is better than the alternative of long suffering.

  4. weebluebirdie
    Nov 05, 2015 @ 06:00:25

    I assumed I was going to be an artist or a writer. Then I realised I had to earn money to survive, and those careers got squeezed until they stopped. I don’t even keep company with artists these days, except one, my oldest friend – but I see him so rarely, he lives abroad. I did write a Tanka about him though – Tanka for absence. My artistic life exists in my blog, or in what I make. Sometimes I’m okay with that. When work is making me angry and resentful, I’m not okay with it.


    • Somber Scribbler
      Nov 05, 2015 @ 09:59:21

      I can relate to that. Maybe you can resume the artist/writer life in retirement. My sister is working at a storage company while she tries to figure out how to make photography work for her. It is good that you guys tried. I didn’t have the guts to try.
      I looked up “Tanka” because I had never heard of it before. They are very pretty and can hold so much meaning in so few words.


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  6. Mental Mama
    Nov 05, 2015 @ 14:30:40

    My dad was a computer programmer and I help people with computer technology, but that’s as close as I could get. Programming held no interest for me at all.


    • Somber Scribbler
      Nov 06, 2015 @ 12:23:28

      I tried to learn some code when I was in bioinformatics. It drove me nuts that you could write so much code and one little dot could be missing and the whole thing would crash. It was like looking for a needle in a hay stack to fix it. No thank you!


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