The road to success is not always a straight shot

“The road of life twists and turns, and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination.” —Don Williams, singer and songwriter

Roads to success are not always easy … or easy to explain, for that matter. But, whatever path to success each of us finds, we like to do our best and know that our work is appreciated.

Feedback is a good gauge to help writers know when their readers are engaged. I love all comments, especially from fans I’ve never met and just happen to cross paths with somewhere. I not only get support, ideas, or suggestions for improvement, but I also gain new friends … like the lady in the grocery store last week. We both had that “searching for something” look when we passed in the aisle. She smiled and asked if I knew where the Velveeta was located. “With the baking supplies,” I replied, adding, “Why they put it there, I’ve never understood.”

“You write that column in the paper,” she said. “I recognize your picture.”

“Guilty!”

“I can’t wait to read it every week,” she said. “I can tell by the way you write, you enjoy what you do.”

“Guilty again … and thank you.”

“It must be wonderful to enjoy a career having always known what your passion was and loving what you do.”

I looked around then said with a chuckle, “I’m sorry. I thought you were talking to me.” Knowing my impulsive humor needed an explanation, I continued. “My road to writing was long and winding. Went to college to be an architect but came out with a degree in psychology and art.”

“So, you started writing with a liberal arts degree. That’s fascinating,” she smiled.

“No,” I continued. “I taught special education for a couple of years but learned that just wasn’t for me. So, on the strength of high school mechanical drawing classes, I got a job drafting house plans for a construction company. When it closed, a friend offered me a job at his weekly newspaper as a photographer utilizing skills acquired at racetracks when I was a drag racing driver.

“Education, construction, photography, drag racing …” she said pausing between each word.

Hoping to dig my way out of a hole that was getting deeper by the minute, I added, “That was just until I decided what I wanted to do. I remained in the newspaper business a few years before also working as an office manager for a tire store chain, a brief stint in the office supply business and a nursing home office manager,” I concluded. “Following those diversions, I knew communication is where I belonged, so I returned to journalism.”

“But, you wound up in newspapers without a journalism education,” my newfound friend followed.

“Well not exactly, I have a master’s in communication and post-graduate work toward a Ph.D. in journalism,” I said, “earned while teaching journalism at Stephen F. Austin State University.”

“And, so you also taught journalism …” she said. “So how long have you been with the newspaper here?”

“I’m not employed by any paper,” I said. “But, I’ve worked as editor and publisher for several newspapers, plus owned a newspaper at one time. My writing is part-time freelance now. My full-time profession is marketing director for an environmental and forestry firm. I was the marketing director for an international manufacturing company for 14 years before that.”

“That is some resume you have,” she said. “It is so nice to meet you, but I better move along. Where did you say the Velveeta is located?”

“Go down about three aisles,” I pointed, “Then …”

“I really do enjoy your columns, please keep writing them,” she said walking away before I could finish the directions.

Guess she figured someone with so many twists and turns in their road of life might not be the best source for the shortest route to the Velveeta.

—Leon Aldridge

Aldridge columns are also published in the Center, Texas, Light and Champion and the Mount Pleasant, Texas, Tribune newspapers.

3 thoughts on “The road to success is not always a straight shot

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