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26 February 2016

Friday Question NOT from the Book of Questions So, what were your parent's occupations? And how if at all did their jobs influence you?
My dad was a psychiatrist. My mom's job was to manage the home and all of us until she returned to practice as a family doctor.

My dad's speciality in forensic psychiatry gave me a lifelong interest in criminal law. My mom and dad both focused on providing services to lower income people (and my dad did quite a bit of government work) and I think that oriented me toward public service.
posted by bearwife 26 February | 11:49
My father was an electronics engineer -- he worked for those AT&T plants that made the circuit boards that went into telephones. (Back when telephones sounded good and were a pleasure to use.) I'm pretty sure the only job my mother ever had outside the home was secretary at the local high school before she got married. Then she got stuck taking care of 4 kids plus Dad, whom she collectively referred to as "You People."
posted by JanetLand 26 February | 13:21
My dad worked for an industrial parts company, and stopped working on health grounds after a heart attack and a stroke. I think the biggest influence this had on me is how seriously I take a healthy work-life balance; while work wasn't the biggest contributor to his health problems, I'm convinced it was a significant factor.

My mum worked pretty much her entire career until recently for a government department. Having a mum and a sister doing government work has definitely reinforced my lefty socialist political tendencies, and especially my love for the NHS.
posted by ARobotNinja 26 February | 13:27
Four parents (yay, divorce!). Mom was a (retired) accounts executive at a corporation that will remain nameless. She was the first woman to ever get to achieve the level of success she did at said corporation. Her home life, sanity and any possibility of ever being a decent human were all sacrificed to the cause. My step-dad was born on third and thinks he hit a triple. He hasn't really done much in life outside of skate on his parent's wealth. To hear him tell it, he's worked hard for everything he has achieved, something something something. He has been 'retired' for nearly twenty years already. My father (deceased) was an early computer programmer. (Msali's mild brush with fame, Steve Wozniak once had dinner at my house). He's been dead for twenty years. My stepmother was in academia, and once my father passed, she moved back to Europe and married some EU technocrat and is also 'retired'.

Both my stepfather and stepmother come from old money, while my biological parents did not. My father came from very humble beginnings in fact, and he worked very hard for everything he had. My mother has always been neurotically, pathologically ambitious.

All four of my parents are/were extroverts. I couldn't be further from. Not a single one of them were at all surprised when I became a translator. I think they all agree it suits me very well.
posted by msali 26 February | 14:57
My Mom was a beautician, who took off from that to raise us kids then she managed a commercial photography business until it was sold. She's always been creative; made everything, and I gained my love for good design from her.

My Dad was a sole practitioner business attorney and worked long weekday hours, but on weekends he reverted to his roots of dirt poor farm family and spent all his time driving the tractor, having animals around, planting things, building stuff. I was his main helper and have always enjoyed the process of building things, but don't have his green thumb.

I enjoy my work detailing building designs, even if the pay is minimal.

What I gained from them was an individualistic attitude and expectation to always do one's best. They were never part of "society" and after I was 10 y.o., we lived way out on a small "farm". I was quite content on my own, without playmates. My brother was an inside type math nerd and wasn't the active kid.
posted by mightshould 26 February | 17:55
My Father was a police officer until he was injured in a motorbike accident. As far as I know, he's worked as a security guard since but, after he ran off with my mother's best friend and abandoned his four kids, I don't really know for sure. He could have been dead for decades for all I know or care. My Mother was a bookkeeper for pretty much her entire career. With bringing up four kids on her own (and we sure didn't make that easy for her) through the '60s and '70s, she never had the chance to get the qualifications to become an accountant, on top of dealing with rampant gender discrimination and the 'shame' of a 'broken home'.

I don't think my parents occupations had any real effect on me. The only real impact my Father had, I think, is an overwhelming view that being a Father means more than being a sperm donor and, no matter what, being there for your kids is the absolute most important role you have.
posted by dg 26 February | 19:14
My dad started out as a sociology professor when I was quite young, but left academia to make more money. He became a fairly successful market research executive. He traveled a great deal for work, mostly internationally, and I think that made me wish to never do the same in my career.

I honestly don't know what my mom did for work for my first ten years or so. I think it may have been in the market research field too, but all I really remember is that she had office jobs. The at some point she got laid off and briefly had her own market research firm, which I guess failed. Then for, I think, about three years or so she sat around in her bathrobe on the computer (she worked as a sysop for Compuserve, but that was unpaid). Then in her late 40s, she went to court reporting school and started a new career, which I think she enjoyed for about 10 years or so, kind of part-time, until an early retirement. During the time she was in court reporting school, I was starting college, and resenting the crap out of having to take out student loans because my parents were paying for her schooling. I frankly saw her as a bit of a dilettante sometimes and a bit selfish (but in retrospect I think there was some depression going on there with her).

I'm a lawyer, and I don't know that my parents' careers had anything to do with that. However, I don't think I would ever have gone to law school if my dad hasn't told me that I was a disappointment for "only" going to college and "only" being a paralegal. Whether law school was ultimately a good choice for me, despite my reasons for going, I'm not sure about yet.
posted by amro 26 February | 19:42
Dad was a electronics technician (enlisted of course, working on radar, comm & navigation equipment) in the Navy. He retired from the military after 20+ years. He worked for a variety of for profit companies and is now an civilian electronics technician on a base.

Mom was a SAHM until I was in high school when she got a part-time retail job through a friend. I'm rather happy she went back to work when she did as she would have been screwed beyond belief when their marriage imploded when I was in college.

I'm not sure how it affected me beyond knowing the military world was not for me and my own experiences told me retail was also not for me. I guess there's the thought that I would never be a SAHM as that would require me to be too dependent on someone.
posted by bluesapphires 27 February | 08:45
My father had a career as an Insurance Underwriter in Surplus Lines and Special Risks, one of the few interesting parts of the Insurance Biz, because of what they were insuring: large buildings, works of art, and in the L.A. office celebrities against disfigurement (Jimmy Durante's nose, Betty Grable's legs) in the days before CGI could replace anything. He did business with Lloyds of London, which is the 'Stock Exchange' of insurance, with wealthy individuals buying 'shares' of large risks on a big open 'trading floor'... fascinating. His all-time favorite client was Dodger Stadium, because (1) it was big & well-known and (2) it had less claims against it than most other big stadiums.

My mother was a teacher before she married my father, then immediately became 'housewife and mother', with volunteer outlets with her college's alumni group (which she was 2000 miles away from), her old sorority (which had chapters in several universities around here) and a Republican Womens Group (from the Eisenhower Era to the Reagan Era). When I was put in a Private Middle School (to get out of those 'awful L.A. public schools'), she helped pay for it by working as a substitute teacher (but never where I would be in her class). And when I moved on to high school, she went full-time as the school's Librarian.

My father's first career advice to me was "stay away from Insurance" (like I had an uncle who worked for years as a designer for General Motors who said "don't buy GM cars"). Of all the advice he gave me, it was one of the last that I disregarded, when I took an Accounting job at a Life Insurance company (which is a whole different kind of insurance - but we also insured celebrities, just against death). And in college, I got to reduce my student loans by working at the University Library, which my mother did NOT advise against.
posted by oneswellfoop 27 February | 16:32
I don't know what my parents did when we lived in Australia, I think my mum stayed at home; I don't remember her going out to work.

When we came to England in the 1960s my mum worked as a machinist in a clothing factory, and later got a job as a dinner lady in a school (this was the Midlands, where you have 'breakfast, dinner and tea', not 'breakfast, lunch and dinner').

She was a dinner lady for about ten years, and then got a job in the kitchens of a hospital where she worked until she was too ill to work any more (she died of COPD aged 56).

My dad initially worked as a butcher when we came to the UK, and then got a job in a solicitors' office as a clerk. The firm acted for the local Diocese and I think he did a lot of filing of old title deeds. He used to work at the butcher's on a Saturday, and sometimes helped his brother prepare meat in his butcher's shop on Sundays. He also played piano in a 'combo' that used to play at local working men's clubs.

It's surprising he was able to hold down so many jobs, because he was a raging alcoholic. And despite both my parents working full time, we were dirt poor, probably due to so much of the money being spent on booze.
posted by Senyar 27 February | 19:53
My mother was a mouser. I think my dad was too. I saw no reason not to follow in their pawprints.
posted by Trilby 28 February | 15:22
My father did a number of things. He farmed, worked in construction, then worked as a driver, first of a school bus, then as a trucker. My mother was a teacher, and she definitely has a vocation for it, so it's more or less the only thing she ever wanted to do, though sometimes if she couldn't get a teaching job she'd do other kinds of jobs. Even during the 15 years she was a stay at home mom, she tutored kids for money, and now that she's retired she does a lot of volunteer tutoring and teaches in her church's Vacation Bible School during the summer.

I'm an editor and a writer. I can't say their choice of jobs influenced mine. I never wanted to farm, work in construction, drive a truck, or teach. My mother was very disappointed that I didn't want to be a teacher, and she has never gotten over it even though it's over twenty years now since I took the path untaught. I still get occasional resentful comments about how I "should have at least considered it". When I called her to tell her I'd lost my job four years ago she suggested that perhaps I could get a job teaching at a community college. (I minded that less than her, "Now you'll have time to clean your house.") When my niece decided to become a teacher (at the age of seven!) and subsequently entered teacher's college and became a high school English and history teacher, I thought surely that would pacify my mother. No, it didn't.

I will say that they did give me one vocational gift in that they both really love to work with their hands and make things and are very good at it. My father is an award-winning woodworker and my mother is an excellent seamstress and knitter and can embroider as well as being very handy at upholstering and other decorating skills. They planned and built the house I grew up in, and when I say they built it, I mean they literally built it, doing all the work themselves with maybe a little help from a neighbour or family member when there was a two-man job. I don't remember a tradesperson ever coming to the house when I was growing up. If anything needed to be fixed or remodeled, they did it themselves. When I watched Mad Men, I saw a number of sixties-era props that were identical to items my family was using well into the nineties. Everything had to last, and nothing went into the garbage until it was truly garbage. My love of making things and my hatred of waste came from them and has been defining characteristic of my lifestyle as well as informing the type of writing I do, so I suppose in the end though I didn't choose to do what they did for a living, they did have a significant impact on the work I do.
posted by Orange Swan 28 February | 16:02
My father ran The Bridgeport Bed Spring Co. for many years. It had been his father's factory. I've always had a thing for bunk beds.
posted by Pips 28 February | 23:13
My father was a firefighter, and on his off-days he drove a delivery truck for a frozen food wholesaler. Mom worked a variety of jobs over the years, a couple of them volunteer work. But, the one most people remember her for is as a secretary/receptionist for a local ophthalmologist.

The biggest lesson I got from them is that the whole "work hard and you will succeed" mantra is baloney. Dad worked his ass off, often to the detriment of his health, and they really struggled. They were no spendthrifts. We lived very modestly.
posted by Thorzdad 29 February | 08:39
I couldn't begin to tell you what my dad did. Officially, his most recent title was "Outreach Program Manager III" in Continuing Studies at the university, but that encompassed a ton of stuff. It all centered around health promotion and social marketing.

So he did health promotion for people with developmental disabilities, was a lead poisoning prevention czar for a while, taught classes on how to reach, inform, motivate and persuade for health and social change, and then merged into doing more with this Buddhist peace movement in Sri Lanka, which ALSO meant that he ended up being a kay North American contact for tsunami relief in 2004.

It soon became apparent to me that 1) he needed an assistant, badly (and Reghan, who did it for the longest time, was a saint); 2) you really can do whatever you want when you find a willing supervisor, and 3) there were jobs out there that you would never imagine existing when you think, "When I grow up, I want to be a fireman dinosaur astronaut princess doctor!"

His father was a plastic surgeon who moved the family to places like India and Peru to do work with people like leprosy patients. His mother told all five kids, "Don't go into nonprofit or social work." They all did, to some degree.

My mom was a piano teacher out of our home. Every afternoon, I'd come home and some kid would be plunking out the two-finger version of the theme from "Beauty and the Beast."

It's hard to separate her job from the general respect for music and participation in ensembles. Still, I think it was nice to have a well tuned piano always sitting there, open and ready for me to noodle around on, with a lot of classic yet easy piano music for me to experiment with. I learned to play by ear, and it was tremendously helpful as I became both a cellist and a semi-professional singer.
posted by Madamina 29 February | 10:31
This has been a very interesting thread!
posted by amro 29 February | 21:38
Hmmmm, I just realized that I didn't address influence on me in my answer. Which I guess makes it clear that the influence is "none at all." :)
posted by JanetLand 01 March | 11:59
[unless being a smartass like my mother counts]
posted by JanetLand 01 March | 12:00
Werner Herzog motivational posters || OMG! "BUNNY VS. MONKEY"