When I originally went to college, I wanted to be a secondary school history teacher and a football coach. That’s how I ended up at New Mexico Highlands University in the fall of 1971, a “teacher’s” college. Early in my senior year of high school was the first time I was faced with “what do you want to be when you grow up,” and there was a lot of pressure, because I really didn’t have a clue. The school was recommended by my counselor, who had forced my hand on what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. She went there or knew someone who attended school there, otherwise I hardly would have known it existed. It was two states away from home though, and that seemed good at the time, so I applied and was accepted. I declared my major but changed my mind three times in my first year at NMHU, ending up with Pre-Law, which is dumb in a way because you can get into Law School with just about any declared major.
And I tried. After a ten-year sabbatical of sorts, I earned my degree “with distinction” from the University of New Mexico, majoring in Journalism. There were several changes along the way there too, from Studio Art, Political Science, Communications to Economics. I immediately began studying for the LSAT, the Law School Admissions Test, after graduation. I didn’t attend the ceremonies and they had some difficulty finding my diploma in the Dean’s office. “Oh, you graduated with distinction,” the girl behind the counter said after consulting a list of graduates. She handed me my diploma and a special red cover I had earned for my final GPA.
The LSAT is very difficult to pass, let alone score high enough to gain acceptance into a Law School. I purchased the book and study exercises and got right to it. I was still the night auditor and desk clerk at the Western 6 motel, so I had most of the night to study. I struggled with logic problem after logic problem. Trying to figure out what color hat the woman third in line had on if there were five people in line each with a different color hat, if the third person in the line was not behind the person wearing the blue hat, and the fifth person in line had on a green hat, and the person wearing the yellow hat was not in front of the person in the blue hat. Drove me insane. I did hundreds of these types of questions and finally felt I had a grasp of how to do them well enough to pass the exam. I paid my money at the UNM School of Law, and waited, and studied some more. I always felt special the few times I walked into that building on campus, felt important.
The test date finally arrived and I was early that Saturday morning, still studying logic problems and going over other areas of the test. There are three multiple-“guess” sections in the LSAT: Reading Comprehension Questions, (Piece of cake.) Analytical Reasoning Questions, ( Not so much. These involve an ability to understand a structure of relationships and draw conclusions.) Logical Reasoning Questions. (Where I spent most of my studying time.) The final section was an essay question. My forte. I can baffle them with bullshit better than most. Learned that in summer school taking Political Science classes.
That was the most intense half-day, without a break, I have ever spent in my life. When I walked out, I had a massive headache, desperately needed a cigarette and a drink, and was sure that I had failed. I wasn’t going to be taking it again either, because of the cost. This had been my one shot.
I discovered a few things after taking the test that I didn’t know or didn’t think much about in my zeal to become a lawyer. First-year law students are not allowed to hold down a job. That never would have worked. I had two kids, a mortgage, and wasn’t making enough at the motel as it was. Preference was being given at the time to minorities and women, probably still is. I was neither, so my score and grades had to be killer to get accepted to a law school. Only 12.5% of those taking the test fall into the upper third of test scores, the ones headed to Harvard and Yale. I hadn’t given much thought to where I was going to get the money to go to law school either. I guess I intended to borrow it. Finally, when I got my test scores back, I passed, but was in that 75% of average, just plain average, test scores. I put the test scores and essay in a manila folder where it still is today in my office filing cabinet, never actually applying to the UNM School of Law.
I don’t think I’m really sorry that I didn’t pursue a career in law. There are a lot of broke lawyers out there. All those TV shows that glorify the lawyer life are not very accurate either. A lot of lawyers never try a case in front of a judge or jury. Most of a lawyer’s day is spent doing research. Not all that exciting I suppose.
The reason I got on this subject was because I noticed I have one post on my site that continues to surpass all the others in searches and views. It has been viewed 4,910 of the almost 19,000 views I’ve had on my site since I started. I’ve posted a total of 196 stories since February 2011. If you search “Who invented the light bulb” on Google, its page one, up top. I posted the story June, 14th. It’s a short post about who really invented the light bulb. I have numerous comments from students thanking me for helping them with their homework. I’ve had comments arguing with my conclusions about who really invented the incandescent bulb. My only intention was to show that it wasn’t Thomas Alva Edison, and I point that out. It’s clearly not a concise history of the invention, but it’s billed on Google as though it is.
Where I’m going with this, is I should have stayed on course and taught history in secondary school. Maybe? I love history, especially the misconceptions people have about many historical events. I could have been an assistant football coach, maybe one day moving into the ranks of high school head coaches. But, truth is, I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.