Supreme Commander of the Universe

NaBloPoMo_2015

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.

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