Friday, March 6, 2009


It's not about what you think!

Have you ever been offered an opportunity, a really special opportunity, then been too cowardly to take it? Of course you have. We all have.

Like that fresh-out-of-college job offer. For years I had planned to spend at least a couple of years as a flight attendant (back then we called them Stewardesses)for United Airlines between college graduation and settling into a teaching career. The only fly in the ointment was the UAL requirement for a minimum uniform size. They demanded a minimum size 8; I wore a size 3. In 21st century fashion, that's about a Size 0. Admittedly I could have carried more weight, but I don't think I was skeletal. It didn't matter. United was not an option. American Airlines was. Could I start training in February in Kansas City? Aaaaaaaaaahhhhhh... Kansas. That's east of Colorado. Wrong direction! What did an American Airlines aircraft look like? I couldn't remember ever seeing one, let alone fly on one. What state is Kansas City in?

It was much more comfortable to take the teaching position in California. In the grand scheme of things, that's not a decision I regret. The one I regret has to do with dams, spillways, and a D9 Caterpillar tractor.

If you knew me in the pre-Groveland days, you knew a real girly-girl. Like the character in "Flower Drum Song", I enjoy being a girl. Swirling (or slinkly) skirts, spikey high heels, books, needlework, entertaining, dolls, lace .... Then I got a job with a drinking water/hydroelectric power system. After a few years as a secretary, I found myself in a new role -- providing visual documentation of system conditions and changes. That required being with a camera (or two or more) where the work was being done. It was fascinating. It meant getting dirty. I had my own set of company-provided coveralls, a couple of hard hats, and 2 pairs of rubber boots -- one knee-high for ordinary wet-and-muddy, and one hip-high for the REALLY yucky places. Those had to be specially ordered -- no catalog house stocks boots for women with short, fat feet. One year we had to modify a spillway, allowing it to carry more water and reduce the risk of flooding. We hired a couple of extra Equipment Operators, including one gentleman only a bit younger than my dad who normally worked as a laborer. I liked working with Otto because he had lots of stories to tell about the area through which our pipelines passed -- all 135 miles of pipeline. Otto liked me, maybe because I liked to listen to his stories.

Every afternoon I went down to the job site, perched somewhere out of the way, and filmed the operators at work. They cut material away, moved it someplace else, shaped the new spillway according to the engineering plans, and loaded excess rock and dirt into dump trucks that hauled it off to a spoils area. It was summer. Field crews were on their daylight saving time schedule, 7 to 3:30. I don't do mornings gracefully. I kept the 8-4:30 schedule.

One afternoon Otto called, "Want to drive?" I gulped. "It's easy." he assured me. "You can do it." Aaaaaahhhhhh ... but it's big. It's noisy. Uuuuuuuhhhhhhhhh ... one of the superintendents will come along and catch me playing instead of filming. Some of them really didn't like women on their jobs in the first place.

In the end I declined. No, refused. Didn't have the nerve to try. By the time I realized I really should do it, the cat work was complete and my opportunity was gone.

What opportunity did you let slip away? Why do you regret your decision? Will the opportunity ever come by again? Can you get around your regrets?

Give thanks for the opportunities, especially the ones taken. Look for new opportunities. Don't forget to pray!

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