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I Didn’t Get The Job And That Has Made All The Difference

November 25, 2013

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Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken

You are no doubt familiar with Frost’s famous poem. Interestingly, most people (including me for years) misunderstand the poem. We think that picking the least travelled road made all the difference. That’s what he says, after all.

I had my own case of taking the “road less traveled.” While a student at BYU I desperately wanted to get a job teaching at the Missionary Training Center (MTC). You may remember it was there where I Found Out I Was A Jerk. Just as Elder McGee had helped me, I wanted to help others.

(Stay with me, this gets back to business in just a second!)

In order to get a job at the MTC, you had to do two things. First you had to be good with the language. I was a very good sign language interpreter. I had no “hearing accent.” I knew ASL well enough that most deaf people couldn’t tell if I was deaf or hearing when I signed with them.

The second thing you needed was a recommendation from the man who was in charge of the mission where you had served. I had been a missionary in two locations and therefore had two men to get approvals from. One was named Simmons, and I had served under him in Chicago for 18 months. The last three months of my mission in 1985 had been in California under a man named Van Alfin.

I applied for a teaching position confident in my ability to get a job. I waited.

Then, I waited some more.

I waited even more.

Finally, I approached my friend who was in charge of hiring.

What’s up with my application?

Ah. . . .there’s a . . .complication.

Oh?

We aren’t going to hire you.

Okay. . .why?

I’m not supposed to tell you this. Well, they told me to make up a reason. ‘Tell him he doesn’t sign well enough’ was their suggestion. I told them I can’t tell him that. He’s signs as well as I do, and I’m deaf! It’s your recommendation from the mission president in California. He didn’t approve. I’m sorry.

I was really upset. It wasn’t fair! I was immensely qualified for the position. It just wasn’t right. Since I didn’t get that job, I went looking for other jobs. I ended up going to work in the BYU telephone office. My job was to install and disconnect phones (Pull it . . NOW!)

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That job led to me going to work for WordPerfect Corporation as a telephone technician. (Back Where It All Began.)

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WordPerfect led directly to a job at Microsoft. (How Not To Quit A Job.)

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(Photo Credit: Jelson25 via Wikicommons)

My experience at Microsoft has brought me a long career as an IT manager, president of a startup, a technical author, travel, and the finances to afford to adopt lots of kids.

Taking the road less travelled by has made all the difference.

But, how is Frost’s poem misunderstood?

Both paths were less travelled by. Frost is telling us that we all find ourselves at crossroads at times in our lives. And when we reach that point, the choices are often equally good. From the poem:

Then took the other, as just as fair
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

The point is that we cannot go back.

I doubted if I should ever come back

But, the choices we make absolutely set us on one path or the other. It does no good to “ages and ages hence” look back and sigh about the road not taken. I often wonder what my life would have been like had I gotten that job teaching sign language to new missionaries. I can say with near certainty, I would not be here writing about it for you. I would probably not have the family I do. I caught the Microsoft wave just as the stock hit the market right. We were fortunate to have the money needed to adopt ten children.

So, while I can look back, I’m not regretting my decision one bit. I do agree with Frost that the road I took has made all the difference.

The Road Not Taken
Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife and thirteen children.

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

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