Occupations of Parents
July 8, 2004 9:26 AM   Subscribe

Who is your daddy and what does he do? And while we're at it, how about your mom? Do or did they enjoy their careers?
posted by luriete to Work & Money (77 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
Props for the Arnie quote :)

Dad is an ex-Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, now exec. Mom sells clothing for female pilots. I think they enjoy their work.
posted by adampsyche at 9:40 AM on July 8, 2004

Both my dad and step-mom work for NSA, though I have no idea what the actually do there. (Honestly!) My mom is an astrologer, and is actually quite famous in the astrological community. I can only assume they enjoy their work.
posted by emptybowl at 9:53 AM on July 8, 2004

My dad is the Bell in the Bell-LaPadula model and does computer stuff. My mom's an anesthesiologist.

My dad loves figuring things out and my mom loves working in a high-stress environment, so I think they both like their careers.
posted by jragon at 9:58 AM on July 8, 2004

My folks are both retired.

Dad started as a grunt chemist and worked his way to General Manager of the Special Products division of Coca-Cola Foods (this is primarily the Minute Maid company). Has several patents on flavor processing. Enjoyed his work a little too much - we're trying hard to keep him retired. Was one of those "one company for life" men (and has the gold watch to prove it).

Mom has been many flavors of the standard administrative assistant. Ended up working for higher ups in the county school system. Also enjoyed her work a lot. Was one of those secretaries who truly kept the gears in motion at her jobs.

As a musician, I am, of course, a tremendous disappointment.
posted by Sangre Azul at 10:05 AM on July 8, 2004

My dad owned a computer intergration company from 1975 to about 1998 doing mostly government contracts. Sold it. He now has a organic cattle farm and is looking into buying a slaughter house in central VA.

My mom raised me and now volunteers as a Court Apointed Special Advocate for kids.
posted by trbrts at 10:09 AM on July 8, 2004

Response by poster: I find this so interesting.

My father is the assistant dean of the school of social work at UC Berkeley and writes books on welfare and tax reform. He's also a huge proponent of semipostal stamps.

My mother is a textile artist, weaver/spinner/dyer/knitter, travel agent for deutschbank, although she was for the first half of her adult life a schoolteacher.
posted by luriete at 10:10 AM on July 8, 2004

My dad worked his way up in Polaroid, first as a machinist and eventually a draftsman. He retired after 30 years, right before he would have been laid off.

After the divorce, when Mom had to get a job, she worked a variety of shit jobs. She was a housekeeper for some rich folks and then became a receptionist when she needed some health benifits.

I sometimes wish i was adopted.
posted by bondcliff at 10:12 AM on July 8, 2004

My dad was an actuary for General American from the time he finished college through his recent retirement. I get the impression that he enjoyed most of his time there.

My mom has worked as a nurse in various part/full-time incarnations since before I was born. She's a night supervisor now and works a few nights each week, at her discretion (they always want more of her time). I think she must enjoy her work, mainly because from my POV, she could certainly stop any time she likes, but she carries on.

Both my parents, while retired/discretionarily employed, keep up a level of daily activity that I find pretty gosh darn inspiring.
posted by clever sheep at 10:28 AM on July 8, 2004

My father is a retired Air Force MSgt (23 years). My mom spent all of her time raising 4 kids while Dad was in Greenland 1959 (1 year), Philippines 1966 (6 months, then we joined him for a year) and finally Vietnam 1968-69 (with many shorter overseas jaunts in between i.e., Guam, Thailand).

After Vietnam, he moved back with us and continued on many short trips for the USAF until he retired in 1979. He then worked for a family-owned oil company and retired due to illness in 1995.

My mother worked for 10+ years at the local school district as a cook and is now retired as well. I always thought that my father liked his Air Force gig but we all knew that it took a toll on my mother. I'm not sure she enjoyed being a military wife.
posted by Jikido at 10:34 AM on July 8, 2004

Man, do I ever feel insignificant!

My father is the managing editor (read: 2nd-in-command) of a decently-sized-for-the-area-but-still-pretty-small rural newspaper, and moonlights as an adjunct professor of journalism at UMass; my mom is a professor teaching the RN nursing program at a local community college, and also works as a nurse proper on the weekends.

emptybowl, I'd be surprised if you did know what your parents did at the NSA...I mean, it's the NSA for crying out loud ;)

And jragon, as someone who knows what said model is, color me impressed! :)
posted by cyrusdogstar at 10:42 AM on July 8, 2004

My dad is some sort of engineer for Caltrans. I guess he builds freeways, since that's what I usually saw him doing when I'd visit him.

My stepdad is a long haul truck driver. He uses many of the freeways that my dad presumably was responsible for.

My mom is the birth control nurse at a college. Before that she was a regular nurse. I think she likes the college thing more, especially now tat all of my friends and little sister's friends are well past college age... :)

As to happiness, they're probably happy at work, I guess.
posted by togdon at 10:44 AM on July 8, 2004

My dad was a manager for the same restaurant equipment repair company for 20+ years before a merger and being fired. After a nice little squable and lawsuit with his former company, he opened up his own business as the only distributor for a filter line (some kind of filter for restaurants. He's got MAD restaurant connections). He hated his old job, but loves his new job- namely being his own man and not having to babysit manage other people.

My mom is a nurse- technically a "Clinical Nurse Expert," though I still don't know what the means exactly. She is know as the Restrains expert, has helped open up some new hospitals around the Atlanta area, and ensures the hospital passes JHACO (it's in insane and rigorous test that all hospitals go through that they prepare for year-round. Think of it as health inspections, but they actually make sure you're up to standard). She started out as an RN and worked her way up through the ranks and enjoys her job as far as I know.
posted by jmd82 at 10:47 AM on July 8, 2004

My dad's a psychiatrist (majored in aeronautical engineering, and then decided he wanted to work with people senior year). Funny for a man who is such an introvert. He likes his work, but like many physicians, isn't really enjoying it as much. HMO reimbursement and billing sucks. Mental health HMO billing is even worse. Even knowing that, I'm still entering the field.

My mom was a psych nurse (I get to say then met in a psych hospital). She's now a freelancing photostylist, but she spends almost all her time at Hallmark now, arranging their ornaments, picture frames, and other stuff for photographs in their catalogs.
posted by gramcracker at 11:14 AM on July 8, 2004

My dad was a fine art photographer in New York when I was young. Then he went in for early retirement and my parents moved, got screwed in a bad business deal, and we lost almost everything. We spent most of my childhood at or near the poverty line; I am no stranger to government cheese.

My dad drifted between various jobs during this time -- he was variously a newspaper deliveryman, a postal worker, a school bus driver, and a car salesman. With the exception of one or two odd jobs while dad was out of work, mom has been a stay-at-home; she has intermittently dabbled in various Amway-type schemes (Avon, Mary Kay, Discovery Toys), run a small baby sitting service, and is now focused on her cat breeding operation.

And no, neither of them are particularly happy.

Much less romantic than the Pullitzer prize winners and life-long company men.
posted by jammer at 11:18 AM on July 8, 2004

I'm the son of a preacher man, kinda.

My dad's been a hospital chaplain for almost 25 years; before that he was an associate pastor. He's also a chaplain in the National Guard. My mom's been a church secretary of one type or another for about 17 years. They're divorced, go figure. I guess they both like their jobs.
posted by mbd1mbd1 at 11:22 AM on July 8, 2004

Best answer: My mother is a biker, and a graduate of the streets. She grew up in an orphanage before they let her loose on society. She's crazy, but nice enough if you're on her good side.

My father is an arabic warlord, nightclub baron, and the head of a vast criminal empire. He seems happy.

I wish I were joking.
posted by Jairus at 11:31 AM on July 8, 2004 [3 favorites]

My father was a life-long AT&T employee (electrical engineer) after leaving a 4-year stint in the Navy. He loved the Navy, absolutely hated all 35 years with AT&T. If it weren't for his strong sense of obligation to our family, he probably would have quit and become a farm hand or something else where he could be outside and work with his hands more. He's been retired for about 8 years.

My mother was an algebra teacher, then an actuarial assistant, then met my father and married. After having 3 kids, she re-entered the workforce as a legal secretary, then got an accounting degree and became an accountant for the state. She did that for 15 years, hating most of it, and quit one day out of the blue when her boss pissed her off over some minor matter. Then she went to college for another year to renew her teaching certificate, after which she taught a full high-school curriculum, as the only teacher, for a group of girls in a "reform school" institution. She did that for one year, seemed to like it, but quit because the school district didn't pay her what she should have been paid for an equivalent teacher in a normal school. Finally, she worked for about a year and a half as a custodial house-parent at an institution for the mentally retarded. While this was primarily so she could cross the threshhold up to a higher state pension level, she truly enjoyed that work. She would go back and visit the residents frequently, taking them gifts. She's been retired for 12 years now.
posted by yesster at 11:34 AM on July 8, 2004

My father got his start helping fix the F-15 and F-16 engines design flaws with heat intake with Pratt and Whitney, then got a call from his friend who worked at Digital to come a join the computer sales force which at the time was very small. He made his money doing this and eventually moved around to take jobs doing VP of Sales and Marketing at various places. He still is a VP at an Israeli IT company.

My mom started working for my great aunt after high school and spent all her time there until she met her first husband who supported her until they divorsed. She got her real estate license and sold homes for a few years, but finally went back to my great aunt after my sister and I were in middle school. After that she took time off and quit smoking and decided that she wanted to just work at Barns and Nobel, something easy and less stressful.

I love this topic.
posted by Derek at 11:37 AM on July 8, 2004

My Dad has almost always been in Real Estate. He started with Jim Walter homes, was an agent, a broker, an agency owner, a developer of commercial and residential property.

He's also an active musician, producer and owns his own small indie label. He plays with Molten Mike and Lucian All Stars.

Mom schooled for biology, but became a housewife instead, though she owned a landscape business with her sister for many years.
posted by tomierna at 11:42 AM on July 8, 2004

My father was originally a minister (went to seminary and everything), but that didn't really work out and he ended up starting a furniture refinishing business, which he still runs. My mother keeps house and raises children - quite a substantial career given the size of my family.
posted by Mars Saxman at 11:46 AM on July 8, 2004

My dad's an ass-kicker, he specializes in people who ask silly questions.

Actually Dad's a retired accountant/comptroler (as are 2 uncles and a brother, I dropped out before I finished my accouniting degree, thank god).

Mom's dead. She was an english major turned stay-at-home mom.
posted by Mick at 11:48 AM on July 8, 2004

Mum was finished high school and on her own at 16. First she worked in insurance, and then she put herself through teacher's college and started teaching at the age of 18. When she quit at 26 to take fifteen years off to stay home and raise eight kids (five biological, three fostered), she was already a principal. During her time at home, she took in sewing, tutored and sold produce from her garden. She went back to teaching at 40 and retired three weeks ago at the age of 65. Oh, and she did a B.A. at night school during her late forties. But I don't think she's done yet. She wants to write a book about what's wrong with the educational system in Ontario, and continues to tutor. She enjoyed teaching.

Dad left school at 15, did some assorted jobs while waiting to be old enough to apply to be a Mountie, got turned down for the Mounties because of his allergies, then became a carpenter's apprentice, then quit to take over his aging father's farm. He farmed for over twenty years, then handed the farm over to his oldest son, then worked in construction and as a carpenter for a few years until his severe rheumatoid arthritis forced him to quit. For the next ten years he did just odd jobs like driving a school bus, due to his disabilities. He was the only person who could handle driving the "special ed" kids - at one point he went into the hospital for two weeks and the special ed kids went through four different drivers. At the age of 55 he took trucker training and starting working as a trucker. At 65 he still does that and won't be retiring until he must. He also does carpentry on the side, despite his arthritis, which never improves much. He has enjoyed all his jobs except driving the school bus full of disturbed kids.
posted by orange swan at 11:59 AM on July 8, 2004

Pops is a metalurgist for a small company owned by the son of the founder. He hates it with a passion, but it near retirement, at which point I envision him turning from the disgruntled angry bitter man I've always known into some sort of benevolent journeyman.

Mom is a church bookkeeper. She'd be happy if it weren't for council politics.
posted by Ufez Jones at 12:03 PM on July 8, 2004

My biological father was in the Navy and has been bouncing around various HVAC jobs ever since. I believe he loves this work, but can't find a company he wants to stay with.

My stepfather is a plumber by trade. He ran his own business when I was young, but had to give it up after his clients stopped paying. He worked for the local hospital for 12 years in the Engineering Dept but hated it. He now is a project manager for all the new business developments in the Denver/Boulder area. I think he likes this much better, but is a little uncomfortable being the boss. He also wishes he had spent his post-teen years in college instead of "wasting time with the boys" because he has health problems related to 30 years of manual labor.

My mother attended nursing school and was an RN for several years before meeting my father. She got married, had me, divorced my father, moved to be close to a friend, and met my stepfather. She spent several years at home producing three more children before deciding to go back to school. She has been a high school teacher for four years and loves it, but hates the public school system and lazy students.
posted by dual_action at 12:06 PM on July 8, 2004

Cool topic.

My mom works for a social services agency in NH. Up until a few months ago she was a caseworker making sure that people with disabilities were receiving and using their Social Security benefits, now she runs the training program. Before that she was the head of the women's program at a shelter for homeless veterans. She still tells me she doesn't know what she's going to be when she grows up. She grumbles about her job, but I think she likes helping people.

Her husband is an accountant at a fabric company. He seems to take his job seriously, and he's been there for awhile, so I think he likes it.

My dad spent 26 years as an officer in the Air Force working on Titan, Minuteman and Cruise missiles. He retired in 1993 as a Lt. Col., spent a year or so selling real estate and then died of cancer. I'm not sure that he really enjoyed the military, but he was really good at faking it.
posted by bendy at 12:06 PM on July 8, 2004

My father worked for Westinghouse and then for Philips in lighting, first working with lamps and then marketing them. He wound up with LEDs and retired within the past two months, and is now working as a consultant. I think he really enjoyed his job, although he had problems with incompetent managers and complained of witnessing age discrimination, but these things are probably variations on a theme in corporate America.

My mom worked as a lab technician, as a librarian, as an abstract writer for several chemical corporations and environmental journals, as an indexer, and as a fact checker for math textbooks. She is looking for work as a librarian right now to supplement the family's income in the wake of my dad's retirement. She seems to enjoy her work, and she did it from home while my siblings and I were growing up.
posted by alphanerd at 12:09 PM on July 8, 2004

Dad's the maintenance man at a plant where they make generic pharmaceuticals, including, of all things, thalidomide. He likes it better than the heavier maintenance work he did before: he's worked in a couple of coal-mines, in a steel-mill, at a plastic mouldings factory, a pie factory, a place that made hydraulic cranes, and a bunch of other places.

My mother has most recently done some part-time admin work at a hospital. I don't think she enjoyed it all that much. She was a local-government clerk for a long while & before that was a supermarket check-out person.
posted by misteraitch at 12:11 PM on July 8, 2004

Dad was an architect, successful on a local scale. Just about the entire building industry in Charlotte turned out for his funeral, which occured one week before his planned retirement party. I think he was happy. He was from the school that taught a man's primary purpose was to provide for his family, and he did that well. But he always had a harried aura around him as far as work was concerned.

Mom was a nurse for years, then went back to school and got her PhD at 52. Now she's a kick-ass college professor and researcher in the psych/mental health field. Since my dad's death, she works because she wants to, and she wants to because she loves her job. All sorts of awards and grants and student praise is lavished upon her.

(and my brother is co-chair of the National Green Party)
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:12 PM on July 8, 2004

My dad's an engineering professor at the University of Illinois. He enjoys the work because he has more freedom in an academic setting vs. a corporate job, and I think he enjoys working with his grad students (although I don't think he enjoys teaching undergrads very much).

My mom just started working part-time at the university's Asian library after being a stay-at-home mom for most of her life. I assume she enjoys it since she definitely didn't need to work.
posted by gyc at 12:17 PM on July 8, 2004

my dad's a professor (economics). He clearly loves teaching, and often spent more time with his students (grad students) & colleagues than with the family. However, he is also kinda self-pitying about the degree to which he's been "recognized" - you know, he never won a Nobel prize, etc. He is almost 70 but still actively teaching, and involved with other projects, and I'm sure still hopeful about being taken more seriously by mainstream economists.

My mom was a writer, mostly, although she never made a real living at it - did some journalism stuff, published a couple little books on indie presses, published poetry, etc. When they divorced she went to work as a public school teacher, which she never liked, but she was also later diagnosed with MS, and the early symptoms of that very likely interfered with her ability to really take on teaching (it can, and did for her, interfere with cognitive functions). She definitely loved writing, and other creative pursuits, though.
posted by mdn at 12:26 PM on July 8, 2004

When people talk about finding something you like and turning it into a living, they are talking about my Dad. His job is equal parts architect/designer, historian, restaurant-man, laborer, and property manager. Over the last thirty years, he has saved and restored buildings from Louisiana's Historic River Road, some bigger and more historic than others. He always had an interest in Louisiana history, but I don't think he could have ever predicted his path in life when he graduated with a degree in business from the state university.

After college he went to work in the family business (a fuel distributorship) running a gas station and repair shop. At the time he heard that one of the plantations on the River Road was going to be torn down for a new industrial plant. He arranged to move one of the old slave cabins to the same corner that the gas station was located on. After closing the station in the afternoon, he would work on renovating the cabin.

He started with two partners and turned the cabin into a small bar that eventually began selling po-boys. It wasn't much of a place, and his partners eventually moved on to bigger and better things. Nonetheless, as time continued to pass, he worked at both the station and continued to grow the restaurant. Whenever old buildings were going to be torn down in the area, people would let him know and he would do his part to try and save them. He eventually started a collection of old buildings on the corner and the restaurant has now been in business for thirty years catering to tourists visiting plantations in the area, along with the plant workers in the industrial region. The restaurant, however, was never his primary interest.

He enjoys the history and the fact that he saves old buildings. He enjoys the satisfaction and physical work of transforming a tired and weakened old building back to its original glory. Today, he has saved over 30 buildings from destruction and built several successful business within them. The businesses have not ever been greatly successful, in fact some have failed, but they have always provided him the means to pursue his passion. In fact, one of his most recent projects is the development of a plantation life museum.

From my point of view, the best part about his job was that it allowed me to work and play alongside him as I grew up. It was not until I finished college and started working that I realized what a valuable opportunity this had been--for both my Dad and me (as well as my siblings).

My Mom's path has been equally interesting. She began as a teacher, but quit after I was born. At that time, the state announced that a company had plans to build the world's largest hazardous waste dump on the three square miles of property between our family home and the restaurant. My mom was on the forefront of the environmental grassroots movement and fought the company for over ten years all the way up to the state supreme court and back down to the agency that had initially granted the permits. As such, my mom was an environmental activist for almost fifteen years. I don't know that she enjoyed the work, but I know that she is glad she did it.
posted by ajr at 12:32 PM on July 8, 2004 [1 favorite]

my dad was a jazz drummer, my mom's a jazz singer and stock market maven. my mom is such a stressball tho' that i don't know how much she enjoys anything... my dad on the other hand loved what he did with the deepest of passions. he had a spectacular career, playing with everyone from edith piaf to charlie parker. i basically followed in their footsteps (actor/singer), altho' unlike my mom i'm terrible with money, and don't stress much.
posted by t r a c y at 12:34 PM on July 8, 2004

My dad is in the insurance business. Not the personal life insurance variety, but handling various companies and their policies covering fleets of cars, ships, planes, etc. He's worked for three different firms since my family moved to Virginia in 1982, but has always been in that line of work. I think he enjoys it, but he also studied art history in college, and that prompted me to do the same for a while. My mom spends a lot of time at home surrounded by seven family dogs. She frequently safehouses extra dogs from a local animal shelter for weeks at a time before they get adopted. She loves it, but if my parents take on any more animals (joining the dogs are six goats and a donkey) I think they might need to apply for a kennel license. My younger brother and I each moved out on our own years ago, but my younger sister lives at home with them. She has one more year of high school.
posted by emelenjr at 12:37 PM on July 8, 2004

Father = internal medicine physician, Air Force officer, retired in '99.
Mother = O.R. nurse, retired in '04.
Stepmother #1 = Army Guard, sharpshooter.
Stepmother #2 = Mortgage broker/bank officer.
Stepmother #3 (current) = Psych nurse, retired in '03.
posted by davidmsc at 12:48 PM on July 8, 2004

i don't know my dad; never met him. sometimes i'm curious about what he may or may not do, but mostly i'm not. when i was around 5 years old i imagined that he was rich and famous and was going to come rescue me from the depths of poverty. i hold no such illusions now. my bet is he is an alcoholic and is probably in jail or something equally as disappointing. i'm glad he didn't stick around long enough to beat me.

my last step-dad, the father of my several half siblings, moved on after the divorce from my mom, to fall in love with crack cocaine and no one has seen him since.

my mom has held many different positions in many different industries. all of her positions have been entry level and none of them have gone beyond that since she has absolutely no work ethic and is usually fired for one reason or another.

all of my siblings are trying to do something with their lives and having a hard time of anything except for making babies. they are all very good at making babies.

i highly doubt any of these people enjoyed their lives especially since they have no careers. despite all of that (or maybe because of) i am reasonably happy as long as i am not in the same state as any of them.
posted by alicila at 1:03 PM on July 8, 2004

The last I heard, my dad worked as a prison guard. Ironic in my opinion.

Mom was an hospital LPN, but as a single mother before it was cool, she had to find work with kid-friendly hours. At one point she worked all at once for Easter Seals as a rehabilitator of the mentally challenged, a pizza chef at my uncle's bar, and a nurse in a plastic surgeon's office.

Then she became very sick, and now I take care of her like she took care of me.
posted by FunkyHelix at 1:04 PM on July 8, 2004

My dad went to Vietnam in his early 20's after graduating high school and bouncing around a variety of low-paying jobs. He served two tours, then returned home to unemployment and depression. He committed suicide in 1971.

When my parents met, my mom sold typewritters. After my father's death, my mom took a job as a night dispatcher for a trucking company while I lived with my Grandparents. Eventually she worked her way up to management, but the company she worked for (Saint Johnsbury Trucking) declared bankrupcy in the 1990's. She then moved on to a similar job at Preston Trucking, which also declared bankrupcy a few years later, causing her to move on to a third company (whose name escapes me at the moment), which declared bankrupcy about five months before she was set to retire in 2001.

However, that's not the whole story. What my mom really does is volunteer thousands of hours of her time to local historical and historic preservation causes. She started by working on the local bicentential committee in 1975-76, and has become one of the foremost experts on historical preservation in this area. She has served multiple terms on the city planning board and various other local volunteer boards, and has worked tirelessly towards downtown revitalization and development. In 2003 she co-authored a book on the history of my hometown as part of the celebrations surrounding the 200th aniversary of the founding of my hometown. She also purchased and has completely restored a c. 1760 Federal House (which she purchased from the fire department and saved from demoliton).

If my mom's life has taught me anything, its that your job is how you make money, its not your whole life!
posted by anastasiav at 1:32 PM on July 8, 2004

Partner in a tool & die shop. Still in business, so he is talented.
posted by goethean at 1:34 PM on July 8, 2004

Dad: Phycologist, PhD in Sociology, does market & opinion research, political, ONG and commercial stuff. Likes work a lot.

Mom: Sociologist, 2 Masters in Planning, works in Chilean government since Aylwin in 1989. Loves work.
posted by signal at 1:47 PM on July 8, 2004

Dad was a freelance photographer and writer until he and Mom started a co-op management business that they're currently trying to wind down so they can retire. She had been a model / dancer, then a record promoter, then a photographers' assistant, then the Chelsea Fixer, repairing little broken objets d'art.

Their current business has been really profitable, and although they're always mildly pissed off at each other like any business partners, they clearly like working together. I think both of them in their quiet moments resent giving up the careers they had thought were their callings - but they've been pretty happy anyway.
posted by nicwolff at 1:47 PM on July 8, 2004

Mom and Dad met in College. Dad went to Seminary and became a minister (with a flock and everything) for several year before converting to teaching Theology at a private college for 20 some years. Many trips to Africa (where I was conieved, but not born) of the years, mostly Sierra Leone, Ghana, and Egypt.

Over the course of his career, he shifted from theology to ethics, social responsibility and business leadership. He quit teaching to get his CFA and go manage socially responsible (mutual) funds of one sort or another and run his own financial management business. He's been doing this for a number of years now in a variety of locations, but has had some recent interruptions:
* A run for a state legislative seat (lost)
* Financial Officer for a small theological school
* Temporary ministor for a church who's minister was on church-trial for being homosexual

I must say, I'm proud of Dad's many and varried Careers, I hope I do as well.

Mom has always been involved in early childhood education. Preschool teacher, primary school teacher, substitute teacher, cubscout den mother, retired teacher. Lately she's been educating my daughter. Proud of Mom too, she's stuck it out for a long time and really helped the family out.
posted by daver at 1:53 PM on July 8, 2004

My Dad's the (about to retire) president of a community college. After the Navy and a degree in electrical engineering, he started as a math teacher in 1966, and has been there ever since. I still add with my fingers.

My Mom is a nurse, currently at a state-run facilty for the disabled. She was also a visiting nurse and worked for an outfit that contracted with pharmaceutical companies to monitor drug trials.
posted by jalexei at 2:07 PM on July 8, 2004

Mum is currently a loan underwriter at a huge Savings & Loan (which is my line of work before moving to Canada). She likes the work, hates the politics, loan officers and mortage brokers. She's also been a bartender (for a lot of the time I was growing up), a machinist, co-owned a lawn equipment rental place and was a window screen maker/installer. She's retiring in the next year or two.

On preview:
I started to go into the "father" figures that have figured into my life and decided it was better to not vent my anger and disappointment this thread.
posted by deborah at 2:21 PM on July 8, 2004

Damn, do I feel blue collar.

Dad: Construction worker. He's the Labor Foreman, so he does the actual work plus has the responsibility to make sure his subordinates are doing it right. Leaves at dawn, comes home on night. He's getting a lot of physical ailments because of his job, and the company is in danger of shutting down operations within the next year. I don't think he's too happy right now.

Mom: Homemaker. Used to do random part-time, minimum-wage jobs. I think she worked at a dish-making factory once. I think now she's bored just talking to the cats at home.
posted by lychee at 3:03 PM on July 8, 2004

I've never known my father. Never talked to nor laid eyes on him. But my main father-figure was my Grandfather, who (in my lifetime) was a uniform delivery man. He would go to plants & businesses to deliver the shirts and pants to the workers. Honest work that he retired from. He was also a master stewart for the Teamsters during that time, and treated it as a job as well. Both of those together, made him like the job.

My Mother is responsible for accounts receiveable, tax, & insurance for a small, southern-based, fast food company. She's worked there for almost 20 years, and like a lot of companies, they really don't respect the older workers when there is a "changing of the guard"...so to speak. So she's loved it for years, but it's getting harder.
posted by mkelley at 3:05 PM on July 8, 2004

My parents were broke when they came here from Mexico (legally, thanks to my dad's family who used to live here then moved back to Mexico) and neither had more than a 6th grade education or spoke English. Also, my dad couldnt read. My mother taught him after they were married using mexican comic books.

My dad found work as a gardener. Many years later, through his natural charisma I like to think (certainly not his business acumen), he built up his own landscaping company. This was in San Diego and he was soon high in demand among all sorts of real estate tycoons.

My mother took me and my brother back to Mexico so that my dad could save up enough money for a down payment for a house. When we returned, several years later, she got work at a nursery and as a housekeeper to help him out. She has always been very much a "people person" and has taught primary school (ESL!), worked as a counselor, as a sunday school teacher and is very active in charities.

Their story is very much a rags to riches story. When we returned from Mexico, my family and I had to share a 2-bedroom house with two other families. I was on the government lunch program and started working delivering newspapers and whatnot to be able to buy myself anything. Recently, at around the age of 50 my parents are both retired, with two houses on the San Diego coast and a vacation home in Mexico...
posted by vacapinta at 3:12 PM on July 8, 2004

My parents met in the Navy, gave birth to me and got out. Father went the family business route (Grandparents own and create magical liquid stuffs for cars - waxes, polishes, cleaners, acids...) and Mum taught at elementary school to be close to my brother (he fought a blood disease when he was young, and has been coddled ever since.) She bounced around various schools following my brother and last I heard she works with 'special needs' children in a school up in Washington.

Father is paranoid and thinks the Grandparents (along with the rest of the world) are trying to screw him (they make, he distributes, same with my uncles) so I'm not really sure if he is happy.

Mum seemed happy the last time we talked.
posted by Lizc at 3:16 PM on July 8, 2004

As far back as I can recall, Dad's been a boiler operator at a variety of companies, preferring to work the night shift no matter where he is. Currently, he's a stationary engineer (leading, of course, to the jokes that he stays there because he gets to be as stationary as he wants) at a pharmaceutical plant. He likes the night shift, I think, because it's quiet, because it's dark, and because he's probably actually a vampire.

A somewhat tanned and regularly seen out in the daylight vampire.

My mother's done a variety of things. I remember her working for a company that sold garden statues and fountains and things like that, grading exams for schools, being a receptionist for a pediatrician so that we got medical care, staying at home and home-teaching us, then moving out to the Arizona-California-Nevada border, where she worked briefly at the casinos in Laughlin in the money-counting rooms, then started getting her teaching credentials. Now she's teaching special ed kids at the local high school, and seems to be really enjoying that.

My in-laws are a prime example of not having your job be your life. Both of them have spent their lives doing things that sound terribly low-wage (secretarial, clerical, retail, etc.), but my father-in-law spent most of his time doing county and parish council stuff, and my mother-in-law seems to be always on the radio or on the tv whenever there's something about repetitive-strain-injury, which she was a major campaigner for (and now she only occasionally campaigns for it). It makes for a slightly strange household, but, then again, I used to get the house to myself at nights, so I'm not one to talk.
posted by Katemonkey at 4:04 PM on July 8, 2004

I had gyc's dad for a class. I dropped it. He does not enjoy teaching undergrads much.

My folks have changed careers a few times (and have been in and out of school throughout), which to me seems like the only way to stay sane. My mom's starting a faculty position at East Carolina University (after finishing her Ph.D. at 49!), and my dad's getting ready to retire as a commander in the Chicago Police Department and go into public interest law (he received his J.D. at 37 while working as a cop).
posted by Eamon at 4:23 PM on July 8, 2004 [1 favorite]

My mom was the mayor of my hometown for about a decade. My stepdad was a millwright for many years, and before that a boxer, a cowboy, a trapper, and other rugged things like that. They hit the bush a few years back, and are currently running this place, but are getting too old to do so easily, and are trying to sell it.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:25 PM on July 8, 2004

Dad worked as a Merchant Seaman for Standard Oil for years. Mom worked as a checker in various supermarkets and is now retired. Don't know the status of my Dad since we haven't had any contact for over 30 yrs.
posted by lola at 4:38 PM on July 8, 2004

My Daddy was the most important man in our entire city! He was a busdriver, and I found out how important he was when I'd put on my best big-girl dress and go wait at the bottom of our street til he pulled up in the shiny old bus to let me on. Just about everyone in the city took the bus back then, and they all liked my Dad. He would drive them to their jobs, their errands, their families, their field trips, and he'd let me ride right up in the front with him. He'd let me count out change from his big silver money changer and I'd get to open and close the accordian bus doors when people would pull the buzzers to get off. When we'd get to the ice cream store, he's turn around and ask all the people on the bus "does anyone mind if I stop a minute to buy my girl an ice cream?" and no one ever said no.

That's when I also found out how important all us kids were, too - all seven of us.
The people who got on the bus would say "Oh Red, is this your youngest?" "Is this your oldest boy with the paper route?" "Is this the girl who got the high mark on the science project?" Sometimes it was a little shy-making to have everyone know all about you you because your Dad had been bragging so much!

My Dad really liked his job. He often wished he had gone to college, but he started work at 16 so he could help put his younger brother through school. And then when all us kids started coming (those damn Irish Catholic households, heh) well there was just never the time or the money. But he enjoyed his work. He loved all the people that he met, and they loved him. If there's a heaven, Dad is up there shuttling around the cherabim and seraphim, and I have no doubt but that he is a VIP there too.

My Mom stayed home for many years raising us kids, and that was a huge job and she did it so well and so seemingly effortlessly. When the youngest started school, she got a job running the switchboard at a local college and she really enjoyed her work. We liked it too, it was fun to see my Mom blossom into her own person after years of devoting herself us.
posted by madamjujujive at 4:59 PM on July 8, 2004 [16 favorites]

My dad had been in sales all his life. He worked for Westinghouse, was a record jobber for RCA, J.P. Stevens, William Volker, (traveling carpet salesman!) and others too numerous to mention. I used to travel with him on some of his gigs around the state of Montana, back when you could safely leave your little girl in the car with her dolls and make your sales calls! I will never forget flying down the highways of Montana in some giant Chrysler product, sometimes as fast as 100 miles an hour with him at the wheel, as there was no upper speed limit in Montana then. Mom worked at A.T.&T. for a couple years then raised me, my younger brother and sister. Then ran a fulfillment business out of their home (using old DOS-based software!) I never thought to ask them before they retired if they liked their jobs or not, and they never said. But they clearly enjoyed their chief jobs, which was parenting us. Thanks Mom & Dad!
posted by Lynsey at 5:08 PM on July 8, 2004

Dad is a graphic designer in New York City and has had his own firm for over 30 years. Mom has represented the top Japanese fashion designer in the US for decades, consults for the top Japanese cosmetics company, and up until recently was the co-curator of a costume museum in Kyoto, Japan.

They both love what they do and I am more proud of my parents than I can express in words.
posted by gen at 5:23 PM on July 8, 2004

My father has never had a real job in his life.

He was/is a missionary, you see. Met and married my mom, graduated from seminary, did missionary work in Chicago for a few years, then went to Japan (where I was born). About the time I was 13, we left Japan for the Philippines. They remained there for many years after I graduated from high school, and finally "retired" seven years ago. (I say "retired" because they promptly went back to Japan on a half-year per year basis for the next four years.) My dad's actual activities consisted mostly of teaching, although in Japan he set up a student center near several Japanese universities, where students could hang out and play chess or ping pong. Many of the students (now in their forties and fifties) have stayed in touch, and have treated my folks like royalty when they have had reunions. My mother was at various times a librarian, a PTA co-ordinator, pianist-organist, and soccer mom. Now that they're retired, they spend every winter down in Florida, where they are to this day unable to sit still. They make me feel very tired when I think about them sometimes (not to mention proud). I am quite sure that they were and are very happy.
posted by deadcowdan at 6:15 PM on July 8, 2004

Dad started off as an organic chemist, my mother as a high school teacher. (She was always bitter that she had been discouraged by her teachers from studying law when she left school, because it wasn't a suitable profession for a woman. She would have been a great lawyer).

My Dad graduated with a PhD in chemistry, and secured a teaching post in the US at a university in New Mexico. He loved it, my mother hated it. After a year or so my mother became badly depressed and they returned to New Zealand. New Zealand didn't have many university teaching posts in his field, and none were vacant, so he took a job teaching in the science department at a small town polytechnic instead. And there he spent the rest of his working life, until he retired as the head of department.

He worked very hard, and he had a real entrepreneurial streak creating new courses and qualifications and growning the department. (Every cheesemaker in New Zealand has learnt their trade from bootlegged copies of Dad's course notes). I think he like teaching, and he is proud of what he achieved. But I think he was always disappointed that he never went back to doing real science or living in a bigger city.

My mother quit teaching when I was born, and didn't go back to work until my sister started high school. She went from part-time journalism to clerical work for the goverment to adminstration at the local university. I think she enjoyed her work, but because of her strong personality and deepseated beliefs in workers' rights (she was a union representative in pretty much every workplace she was in) she was a magnet for workplace conflicts, which she simultaneously enjoyed, hated, and couldn't walk away from.

In sum, I don't believe either of them were that happy, or really followed their sense of vocation. Instead they felt constrained to minimise the risk to the mortage and family stability. I've tried to learn from this, but ironically the family tradition of risk aversion has been powerfully imprinted - it's been hard to shake off.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 7:29 PM on July 8, 2004

My father's been doing computer graphic design forever, as in, since 1978 or so. For the past 20 or so years he's been laying out the internal newsletter of a biiig company and hating it desperately. My mother was a stay-at-home mom from when I was 3 or 4 until I was about 16, when she got a job painting rug designs for a carpet company. She did that until just recently, when she moved into sales. She's a bit happier, professionally speaking.
posted by furiousthought at 7:38 PM on July 8, 2004

My dad is/was a cartoonist. It was what he wanted to be from the age of 6 or so and spent his entire life getting there and doing it, but it didnt pay enough, now he is a baker. He loved comics more than anything, even when it was terrible and he hated it, it was still what he wanted to do more than anything. Definitely a cautionary tale for me to be careful what you wish for. My stepmom did graphic design and book layouts on the east coast, but couldnt get enough work in the Seattle area when she moved out there. After bouncing around different jobs she is an antiques dealer, and pretty good at it too. I think she loves it.

My mom is some sort of home health nurse, she changes jobs constantly and has done many part-time gigs and multiple things, so its hard for me to remember exactly what. She is an M.R.N. and specializes in the elderly and home health. I think she likes the work, but hates the jobs, or something. My stepfather works for the Washington state ferries. I think he hates it.
posted by lkc at 7:42 PM on July 8, 2004

My father graduated with a BA in Anthropology, which really wasn't all that useful, so he fell into a career in computers. He moved around to a few different jobs, until landing at American Express, then a consulting firm called FGIC. He got his MBA at nights, graduting at just about the time I was born. About 15 years ago he moved to the Gartner Group where he is currently working on enterprise product development. He's also working on another degree, this time in Rabinical studies, which is at the same time a bit strange and also fascinating. I know he loves his job, and he shows up in the paper every once in a while, so it's always exciting to see that.

My mom got her degree in Journalism, and worked at a local tv station for a little while before moving across the country to find work. She ended up also at American Express where she met my father. She quit working for about 20 years to raise me and my sister and did only freelance editing to keep herself sane. Since my sister and I moved out she has started editing RFPs for a local testing company.
posted by Inkoate at 7:58 PM on July 8, 2004

My dad spent 20 years in the navy and retired as a Master Chief. He spent much of my childhood in the early 80's out on submarines in 3 month stints. He still won't say what they were doing out there, but he did finally say one day that they spent a lot of time above the Arctic Circle. Now he is a mail carrier for the USPS and is the prototype for the friendly mailman that knows your name and is nice to your dog even though they bark at him. He also spends a lot of time negotiating union disputes between management and those who work under them as he is the shop steward for his post office.

My mom last had a job around 27 years ago where she worked at the convenience store on an Air Force Base. She met my dad there and they got married. I was born a couple years later and she spent her life taking care of me and my younger brother and my dad. She is very much your typical suburban housewife and I think I've never seen a person have a more difficult and at the same time rewarding job. I have since moved away, but my 21 year old brother is still at home, letting mom wash his laundry and cook his dinner. It is a mutually beneficial arangement as my brother is helpless in domestic tasks and mom wouldn't know what to do with herself if she didn't have someone to take care of.

I think my dad enjoys his job, but more than once he has hinted at the fact that he wishes that he had gone to college, but he's from the old school of providing for family before self-fulfillment. Mom loves being a mom and wife though I think she would be happier if she found something constructive to do with herself besides coddle my brother and dad. I taught her how to use the computer recently so maybe she'll find a hobby online.
posted by chiababe at 8:06 PM on July 8, 2004

I guess I didn't understand the demographics here all that well, was definitely expecting more of you to have retired parents, for sure both of mine are. Oh well...

My dad was a bus driver, did stints in both the Army and Navy (there's a long story for another day), then came home and got his BA for teaching, did fice years as an elementary school teacher and earned his school psychology certificate at night (ABD). Spent just over 30 years as a school psychologist in New Jersey and loved every day--but he was more of a guidance counselor than a test giver and always worked in a high school. His retirement party was pretty amazing.

My Mom started a women's clothing store about the same time as Dad became a psychologist and was very successful, selling it around '95. Successful enough to provide well for me many times. My favorite memories are that no matter where in the world we travelled, some woman would always recognize her and say, "Bobbi, I can't believe it's you--I bought this outfit at your store!" She complained a lot about the pain in her feet but overall I think she loved it.
posted by billsaysthis at 8:28 PM on July 8, 2004

My dad was an administrator for a professional institution, the Institution of Municipal Engineers, for some thirty years (I used to hate the "what does your dad do?" questions as a small kid because there was no simple answer that other kids understood -- later on I began to find the blank stares when I told them funny). He got to do several things he enjoyed over the years, like edit the institution's journal, but in general he disliked his job for the entire time: he even had nightmares about it after he retired. He only worked because there was no acceptable alternative. He blossomed after he retired -- he finally had time to do all the things he really wanted to do rather than having to waste his time working. Sadly, the onset of Parkinson's put a crimp in the end of his life, but he still got nearly fifteen years to enjoy his retirement.

My mum did all sorts of things to start with: worked at the Bank of England, at an advertising agency, and so on. Then became a teacher when I went to school, then later got a second degree in psychology and became an educational psychologist. I think she found it interesting and fulfilling, though she wasn't reluctant about leaving when it came time to retire.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 9:29 PM on July 8, 2004

This is a fascinating thread -- individually, we've got quite an eclectic group of folks here at MeFi, but once we peel the layer back just one generation on all 17K+ of us, wow -- what an amazing history!

Very cool, luriete - thanks for starting this conversation.
posted by davidmsc at 11:23 PM on July 8, 2004

Dad spent most of his life in insurance. First as a claims adjuster, latter he went into sales. The former had regular hours, the latter had lots more money. I think he mostly hated it, and felt pressured into a more white collar job by my mother's background. My dad should have been building houses, being happy, getting rich. He only recently had to give up building projects due to age. Now he only builds wood model airplanes.

Mom started out as a very talented singer and pianist. Moved to NYC for modeling school. Gave it all up to move back to the midwest to marry my dad and make him miserable. There she became a bank teller in her home town, and I think she liked that as the place was full of people who still treated her as the beautiful popular girl she had been. She is now dying of alzheimers.

These people are adopted parents. I suspect my real mother may also have been a musician as my birth name was that of Mozart's son. She was Hungarian, and that's all I know. She was single when I was born, and I hope she is well and happy somewhere.
posted by Goofyy at 12:56 AM on July 9, 2004

My father was a cop in New Zealand until he disappeared (to his wife and kids, anyway). The main male influence in my life was my Grandfather, who (as did many during and after the depression) worked at any number of things inluding mechanic, driving instructor (back when lessons had to be given with every car sold, because most people couldn't drive), engineer in the naval dockyards (where he worked with the asbestos that was the official cause of his death), landcape gardener, launch driver, plus several other things. After marrying my Grandmother, he settled down somewhat and started a career as a lightkeeper, which he stayed at until he retired as Head Instructor for the NZ Lighthouse School (apart from a small break as a meteorologist). After "retiring", he worked in the plumbing supplies industry until he "retired" again and started a lawnmowing business in Australia which he ran until he was in his 80s (I have always thought that retiring for real was what killed him). A book was written about his life, but never completed as the author died and I am in the process of trying to get it published in some form or other. My mother was a bookkeeper and acountant (now semi-retired) and also worked a variety of shitty jobs when she had to to support us.

My Grandfather enjoyed his career, despite the incredible hardships of being a lightkeeper, but I don't think my Mother really enjoyed her career, because she never got the chance to earn what she deserved, having been unable to get a degree because she had to raise 4 kids on her own.
posted by dg at 1:55 AM on July 9, 2004

My father is a builder and my mother a housewife, my father is not very enamored with his occupation, but they are very contented people.
posted by johnnyboy at 2:30 AM on July 9, 2004

Dad is a taxi driver in London, and I cannot believe anyone can negotiate those streets day in day out without wanting to kill someone. He does take tablets for high blood pressure though...
Mum's a part time receptionist at the local doctor's surgery, having previously worked at the local post office (also part time). Both these after about 20 years not working at all.
Both seem pretty happy.
posted by etc at 4:25 AM on July 9, 2004

My family has been in the taxicab business for over 50 years. It's awesome and never dull. My dad made millions and recently "retired" to Flordia where he started his second career in real estate. His five children run his businesses in Georgia. My mother was the heart and soul of our family and she was the happiest person I've ever known.
posted by oh posey at 6:23 AM on July 9, 2004

My da was in advertising for 20 years as a copy writer before he quit and started studying law at the age of 42. After graduating he became editor-in-chief of a magazine on local government and wrote various law and consumer-related books. He's now retired, but still writing and editing.

My mammy was a homemaker by the time I was born, but she was a pianist before that. She toured Indonesia as a 16-year-old girl, accompanying a Dutch stand-up comedian, entertaining the troops. She died in '75.

My stepmother was an office worker with Swissair and Air France for 30 years before she was laid off in the recent airline recession.
posted by prolific at 6:27 AM on July 9, 2004

My Dad is retired from being a senior technologist at Data General, from when there was a Data General. You might have read about him. He loved his job with a sort of angry intensity and would never talk about it at home as he grappled his way up the corporate ladder at work. It was fun growing up knowing about computers from a really early age, but I didn't see him much, even when he lived with us. Before that, he had a weird job working for the Smithsonian travelling around the world with a portable atomic clock setting the time precisely at satellite stations. There are still promo photos of him getting on a plane with the damned thing and stewardesses setting their watches. Hilarious. His web site is done in Front Page.

My Mom became a freelance writer mostly once my Dad moved out and has done that successfully for over 20 years. She is an educational writer primarily and writes Language Arts and English textbooks [sometimes Social Studies, Spanish or Science] as a contractor. She loves it, would never do anything else. She wrote the history book of the town I grew up in with two other women. She is just starting a little hobby antique business on the side doing estate appraisals and selling stuff at weekend antique malls and on Ebay. Her web site is done by hand.
posted by jessamyn at 7:38 AM on July 9, 2004 [1 favorite]

Daddy (heh) started out as a grunt in the Irish post office and rose to general manager of one of the divisions. He reported to the chief executive by the time he left.

Mummy (heh) started out in the very early 70's as a nurse in Belfast where she's from, and saw quite a bit of violence and combat-type work before she got sick of the killing and fled to Dublin where she met my Dad. She worked on and off over the years, taking time out to raise her family (me and two foster siblings who moved on). She did home care work, night work, surgical work, midwifery..pretty much everything.

They both took early retirement and now Dad runs an outreach program for HIV/AIDS victims in Uganda (Masaka / Rakai disctrict), overseeing the operational and financial aspects of it. Mum works in a pre-natal clinic at the hospital where Dad is based.

And that's my folks, folks!
posted by tomcosgrave at 8:54 AM on July 9, 2004

my dad runs a huge auto repair place in southside chicago, my step-mom is a special-ed assitant, my mom is a massage therapist, and my step-dad runs a safe company in tampa.

none of them are happy. also, everybody's in their mid-40s except for my step dad, who's 53.

my step-mom is the closest, i think, cause she's a major control freak and gets what she wants. she's also the reason my dad is unhappy except when he's high. my mom and step-dad aren't that bad (anymore), but my step-dad is never happy, and makes everybody else in that house miserable because of it. he also spends all the money they try to save, so that is a major point of contention between he and my mom.

needless to say, its how you live life, not how you work work, that matters.

my best friend's dad runs this company. they're uh, pretty happy for the most part, of course.
posted by taumeson at 9:05 AM on July 9, 2004

My dad is a writer/producer/director/comedian/host/composer/whatever else he feels like doing within the entertainment industry. He started in radio when he was 16 and will do it till the day he dies. He loves it when he's successful and is a tortured soul when he's not. But he could not have done anything else with his life.

My mom was a singer and a teacher until she stopped working when my brother was born. Overall, I'd say she's pretty unhappy.

Well, that was kind of depressing.
posted by widdershins at 10:06 AM on July 9, 2004

My daddy's rich and my momma's good looking.

Just kidding. Actually my family is the definition of prosaic.

After graduating from high school in Woodside, Queens, NY, my Dad did a tour of duty in Vietnam, worked in the warehouse of a home furnishings company and worked his way into the sales ranks. When I was high school they laid him off and he's worked at various other sales jobs (often two at a time) ever since, currently one is at JC Penney.

Mom was educated to be a teacher and she worked at numerous educational and customer service jobs (often teaching ESL, as an immigrant from Italy [at age 7, raised in a heavily Italian rural Vermont town] herself, she was good at it). Currently she teaches 6th grade in a Catholic School.

We're not very interesting.
posted by jonmc at 11:10 AM on July 9, 2004

My parents are both high school teachers. My dad teaches earth science and my mom teaches social studies.

My dad was also the mayor of Bolingbrook in the early 80s.
posted by SisterHavana at 11:47 PM on July 9, 2004

We're not very interesting.

oh come on jon, all irish-italians are interesting by default, we just can't help it ;-)

this has been a really cool thread, i've thoroughly enjoyed reading every single comment.
posted by t r a c y at 2:06 AM on July 10, 2004

What a fascinating thread. I particularly enjoyed madamjujujive's comment.

My dad is an industrial engineer who grew up in Columbia City, Indiana (small town near Ft. Wayne.) He went to Purdue, then worked for a bunch of companies including Caterpillar, Borg-Warner Chemicals, GE Plastics, and Jacobs, getting an MBA from Ohio University along the way. He worked in Illinois, Houston, and West Virginia, but now he works in Ohio for Aker Kvaerner as a contract engineer for du Pont in West Virginia. He seems to like what he does, particularly when he's doing project-management-type stuff.

My mom grew up in Parkersburg, West Virginia, and got a degree in home ec from Purdue, where she met my dad. She worked for Campbell's Soup in Camden, NJ, where she developed recipes for Campbell's products, took the pictures for the Swanson's frozen dinner boxes, and much more. She then moved into food journalism, where she worked for the Chicago Tribune and the now-defunct Chicago American. She got a master's in journalism at Ohio University and then worked in PR and marketing at a hospital in Parkersburg, WV. (Shortly after I was born at that hospital, she had a phone and typewriter moved into her room so she could work while she'd otherwise be bored.) After my parents divorced, she did PR and marketing at a couple more hospitals, and now she's the senior VP in charge of marketing, strategic planning, managed-care contracting, PR, and a bunch of other stuff at a 750-bed hospital system in Raleigh, NC. She likes what she does, but I think she's looking forward to retirement because she works really hard and her job wears her out. (well, she says it wears her out, but she's very active in church stuff, she's on the board of the local Girl Scout council, a local arts organization, and she's also active in the national hospital marketing organization and was president of it in 1982.) I am unbelievably proud of her and her accomplishments; she does really tough things well, and many of them simultaneously.

My stepmother got her bachelor's from Fairmont State in her small hometown of Fairmont, WV, then promptly decided to get the hell out of Fairmont and got her master's in English at the University of Hawaii. She returned to the mainland and started teaching English at a local community college. She picked up another master's, this time a film degree from Ohio U. She's still teaching English, and she's a full professor now. She loves it except for inter-departmental academic squabbling.

My stepfather grew up in Richmond, got a degree in mechanical engineering from Virginia Tech, and lived in Michigan and then West Virginia while doing engineering work for the B&O Railroad, the C&O Railroad, Chessie System, and CSX (one company, but lots of mergers.) He designed boxcars, couplers, and all sorts of stuff that I found immensely interesting when I was six years old. He also was active in the American Association of Railroads, where he served on a few committees. He took early retirement from CSX, then went to work for the Department of Defense as a civilian railcar inspector and designer for the Army's specialized rail car fleet. He really enjoyed that job, because he traveled about half the time, and he's happiest behind the wheel. He retired from that job a few years ago, and now mainly putters around the house.
posted by Vidiot at 1:40 PM on July 12, 2004

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