Choices and Chances: it’s nice to get seconds

8 Oct



Choices and Chances

It’s nice to get seconds

By L. Stewart Marsden


The door to my apartment slammed shut, rattling everything.

“Hey Dad!”

Lights are flicked on here and there. My bedroom door opens, and lights spills in, silhouetting the frame of my son Peter.

“Hey, Dad! You awake!” he blared.

“Am now,” I groggily replied.

“Guess what?” (Oh no — another speeding ticket?)

“Stirling just texted me from the Charlotte apartment. My acceptance letter came there! I’m IN!”

* * * * *

My son is 20-years-old. He graduated high school two-and-a-half years ago.

He made choices during his high school years that delayed his entry into college. He’ll admit that if you ask him.

And, he didn’t exactly have the drive to pursue any particular field. Unless you can get paid playing video games (which he avers you can).

So off to community college went he to get his required basic college courses at a MUCH less expensive cost. And he lived with me — so, no tuition.

It was a learning experience.

Along the way Peter (and I) learned much:

  • That if you don’t turn your homework in, you get a bad grade.
  • That if you turn your homework in late, you get a bad grade.
  • That if you drop a class after the drop/add deadline, you get a bad grade.
  • That it’s not the instructor’s fault if you don’t show up in class, or don’t listen in class, and you get a bad grade.

A taste of the real world, albeit not at the university level expense.

He got a job in a local pizza joint bussing tables and doing whatever the owner asked; at times delivering (where the real money is).

Then another pizza restaurant — a chain — where he served as host, and dreamed of becoming a server (where the real money is).

He finally had enough of me, and this summer decided to spread his wings. He moved in with friends who had an apartment in a large city about an hour away. They were students at the state university site located there. They worked for a chain sandwich shop, delivering orders. Peter joined them, and also went to work for the sandwich shop. He delivered orders between the hours of 11 PM and 4 AM (where the real money is).

In the meantime, he took online distance coursework from the community college, and worked on his application.

He had intended to start college — real college (where the real money is) in the fall. But he fouled up his application. He said it was their fault, but regardless whose fault it actually was, he didn’t get in.

“That’s okay,” he thought in a pollyanna-ish way. “I’ll put back money for the spring when I go.”

He forgot about his new expenses, though: rent, food, cable TV, gas. Where the real money is.

Then, one early morning at 2 AM when he had just completed a delivery, three punks jumped him. One brandished a gun and demanded his money, to which Peter replied, “Well, you’d better go ahead and shoot me, ’cause you’re not getting my money!”

They broke his nose, stole his cell phone, and got $20 off him (the real money), then disappeared into the night.

Peter came limping back to my apartment, dazed and confused, and more than a bit discouraged.

To his credit, though, he pushed on, completed his application online and submitted it.

We live in a country where we are free to make choices and act upon them, as long as those actions don’t infringe upon another’s rights. Actually, we are free to make those choices as well. The consequences are a bit different.

But, as my mother might say, “It’s your life.”

Thankfully, like endless waves coming to shore, we have an abundance of choices. And chances.

Oh sure, there are random things that occur over which we have little or no control. Still, we have choices how we will react to those events. With the exception of death. Not a lot you can do about that. Except in Oregon.

But Peter’s future has not been dictated by his past — only colored by it. And he has embarked upon the life-long process of learning how to make good decisions. I hope all of his won’t necessarily be safe decisions. I hope he will take risks from time to time, and learn from the results.

I hope I will always — for as long as I am able — provide him with chance after chance after chance.

And that he will always know, regardless the choice, there will be another chance.

* * * * *

Copyright © by Lawrence S. Marsden, 8 October, 2014



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