Wednesday, August 1, 2007

What Did You Want To Be When You Grew Up?

It is amazing for me when I think back to my childhood, and remember what it was I wanted to grow up to be. I loved to watch western shows, like the Lone Ranger and other so called 'cowboy shows'; though the ones I liked best were lawman or loner shows wherein the main character was the good guy, even if only on the edge of goodness. I loved to dress up in western outfits too, with my shiny metal cap guns at my sides, and my faithful air gun in my hands. It wasn't so much I think that I liked cowboys, and the cowboy life, but rather that I liked those characters on television, especially loners, who were portrayed as heroes. I loved Superman, Hercules with Steve Reeves, and I loved pirate movies wherein the pirate was the bad guy who turned good guy. I really liked westerns with those loner heroes too. You know the ones, don't you - like the Lone Ranger or Roy Rogers, or The Rifleman. As time went by I remained mesmerized by shows like Bat Masterson, Have Gun Will Travel, Zoro, Maverick, all those John Wayne movies. Robin Hood, though not a western was another favorite. Then, I guess when I was just about turning into a teen, or maybe a bit before, a new genre of television show was born out of the then current times and world situation - the spy and secret agent shows. I remember being absolutely fascinated by Secret Agent Man, and its sequel The Prisoner. I loved shows like The Saint, The Man From Uncle, I Spy, Sherlock Holmes reruns, and even Get Smart (yes even comedies about this kind of thing were right up my alley). I wanted to be like one of these guys, well maybe not too much like Maxwell Smart, but you get the idea.

As I got older, and was in high school, my taste in films changed a bit; but still the overriding theme was the hero, sometimes shady, sometimes out in the light, but almost always not seen for the true person he really was because of a certain mystique that surrounded him. Bogart movies and things like the Thin Man series of films enthralled me. At that time my choice of careers also changed, and it moved drastically away from anything of the nature of those Hollywood characters for a brief time.I sought of drifted toward wanting to become a veterinarian, but I soon realized I could never afford the schooling for it. Then I thought I would love to become a game warden or conservation officer; in fact I thought it would be better than being a vet, it would be along the lines of what I had always wanted to be and it would include animals, nature, elements of risk and danger, intrigue and adventure. Since I loved animals of all sorts, not as in cuddling them as much as being fascinated by them, and I loved the outdoors for camping, hiking, shooting, archery, hunting, fishing, and so forth, I figured this was for me. When I went to college, I majored in Police Science because some jerk my guidance counselor in high school had steered me that way to get a job as a conservation officer or game warden. Man was he ever so wrong, I should have majored in zoology, or biology, or marine science or something else like them.

Well the next thing you know, there I am about 3/4 of the way through college and I realized the mistake that had been made. Not a good time to change majors, so I started to look toward other jobs, ones I hoped would have an element of danger, risk taking, something with adventure, and something where I could do the right thing like all those characters I enjoyed so much. I did not want to be a cop, not on a local level, so when an opportunity came around to take a test for Border Patrol Agent - I took it. After scoring high in the 90's on the test (out of 100) I thought I would be right in. Yet somehow it took about 2 years of waiting for the government to first hire all those they could hire with test scores as low as in the 70's based, of course, on affirmative action, before then conceded that yes they should hire me. I guess my numerous phone calls, and letters, as well as my two trips to Washington, DC to see some muckety-muck in I&NS HQ paid off. Finally they called me for a job.

They called me one day and told me I had about 2 hours to make up my mind as to whether or not I wanted a Border Patrol Agent slot in Calexico, California. I studied a map, and I saw that the Cleavland National Forest was close by; so I figured it must be Paradise and I would love it there. I said yes, they said I was hired. What a faulty assumption I had made about loving it in Calexico. It was, as I later discovered proverbially a hole along the border, 100 miles from water, and 2 feet from hell. Oh well life went on, and I was a federal agent. It was certainly an adventure, and I have lots of memories good and bad, and lots of 'war' stories to tell. It truly was like the wild west like that portrayed in those shows of my youth, and I have the scars to prove it. As fate would have it, I later transferred to U.S. Customs as a patrol Officer in New York. Then I became a Special Agent with Customs. After 9/11 when the I&NS was abolished, they combined its investigative personnel with U.S. Customs Special Agents under the newly created Department of Homeland Security and specifically within ICE. What a shame such a good agency as the Customs Service was destroyed, and the I&NS likewise, by a knee jerk reaction to 9/11; but that is what happened and I have managed to live with it, as have all the other agents so effected. Yet, it has all been an adventure, sort of like life in a Bogart movie - adventure, romance, intrigue, danger, getting the tough job done all in relatively short clips.

Nowadays there are still times at work when I honestly still can say that it is an an adventure. Heck it was one of those days today. I worked with a great group people today, and they did one heck of a bang-up job because of some really good investigative work on their part that made the job well worth while all over again. Thanks to guys and gals like the team with which I worked today, and thanks to those dreams I had so long ago, and thanks to film and TV heroes that really exemplified the struggle between good versus bad as opposed to the confusing crap they show to kids today, I became what I had wanted to be when I grew up. Not a spy, not a cowboy, not a sheriff, not a masked crusader, not a lone ranger, not a secret agent, not a detective, not a superman, but rather a regular guy who would stand up for Truth, Justice and the American Way (yes I borrowed that line from the old Superman series). It really has been one heck of an adventurous ride so far; and my career will have been going on for 28 years this September. When I look back on it all, I can say that: Life in a Bogart movie (at least when he was the good guy) can be an excellent thing indeed. I can also say, and say it without a doubt, that I grew up to be exactly what I had wanted to be so long ago. I guess that is in essence why I use the signature line that I do in my emails and on forums:

When I look in the mirror, I am happy to see,
some of that nine year old boy, who used to be me.

So, do you see any of your own nine year old self still within you; what did you want to be when you grew up?
All the best,
Glenn B


jennifer said...

Excellent Post! Been to Calexico CA...yuck...I agree with you, terrible place.

First thing I wanted to be was a ME, like Quincy. It was the first grown-up show I'd ever seen. By the time I entered the 7th grade I knew what a ME was so nope!

But I grew up on a farm and always wanted that life with a ton of kids. So I live in the city(35,000) and have a huge garden in the backyard and have a few kids...(4).

So it has been better than the little girl could have dreamed of.(Now I know that guys and girls dream of way different things, but I really agree with the mirror comment.)

I think the older I get the more I realize that we are all this way...a child at heart!

MightyMom said...

I wanted to be a vet for while, but for most of my childhood I wanted to be a Pediatrician. After 2 years of Pre-Med at Baylor I looked long and hard at a) what a MD actually does and b) why did I want to get into medicine in the first place. I decided that the answer to b was for patient contact and the answer to a was not much patient contact. So I changed to Pre-Nursing and here I am today. I mean, who do you really see the most of? This change 1/2 way through college is why on my transcript there are things like "Calculus I, Biology I & II, Chemistry I" listed as electives. That still rankles!
I'd say that I am doing what I always wanted...I'd just put the wrong name to it as a child.

MightyMom said...

Say, I'd be interested to hear any comments you might have to my "Show and Tell" post tonight.