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Senior Correspondent

If you had it to do all over again, would choose the same or a different career? And if you’d choose a different career, which one? A friend recently asked me these very questions. I offered an answer “right off the top of my head.” Following my spontaneous response however, I took the time to ponder his questions more deeply.

My hasty answer was, “If I had it to do all over again, I think I’d be an economist.” During the next couple of weeks, however, I thought more and more about his question, and about my hasty answer. Yes, I am interested in the subject of economics. And maybe, if I could start all over again, I would have become an economist. But maybe not.

I think I was six years old when I made my first spontaneous career decision. It was at the Floral Park (New York) Fireman’s Day Parade where I decided to become a volunteer fireman. I’m sure I envisioned myself riding on that shiny, red fire truck with those two handsome Dalmatian dogs. And some years later, during my Boy Scout days, I decided I’d be a forest ranger. I think that I held onto that dream a bit longer than the volunteer fireman dream.

Yeah, I think I would have liked to have been an economist. But I’m also interested in meteorology. Maybe I would have enjoyed a career as a weatherman. Hey, you know what? There’s something really interesting here — I’m attracted to both economics and weather. Just today it occurred to me that those two professions have something significant in common. Both an economist and a weatherman can be wrong 50 percent of the time and still keep their job. I hope this doesn’t imply something negative about my self-confidence.

Some years ago, I created a list of potential “three day careers.” That is, jobs which I’d like to do for three days only. Three days would be all I’d need to get the flavor of the experience. For example, I figure it would be a kick to drive a big rig truck for three days only. Having known a couple of big rig drivers, I understand that being a long-haul truck driver can be a pretty lonely profession. So three days is likely all I would want. And I’d accept the opportunity on one condition — that I never had to drive the truck in traffic. Only on wide open roads where pulling into a filling station or greasy-spoon diner means coasting into a sixteen acre lot with seven or eight hundred feet of roadway available for my arrival and departure.

I think it would be fun to be a bartender for three days only. And get to listen to all of the stories, real and imagined, as told by the patrons sitting across the bar. I think I’d especially like the assignment in kind of a dicey neighborhood, for I think that rubbing shoulders with the various subcultures would be interesting. And I’d accept that assignment under the following two conditions: first, no violence. Second, someone else would wash the glasses. Yep, three days only.

How about you? If you could start all over again, what career might you choose? And if you could have any job for three days only, which job (or jobs) would you choose?

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