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When Boys Become Men

August 29, 2018

My nephew started a new advernture today. He entered the Missionary Training Center for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Like me, and like his father before him, he became an Mormon missionary.

It’s something that young Mormon boys look forward to. There’s even a song, “I Hope They Call Me On A Mission.” My nephew will spend two weeks at the MTC in Provo, Utah and then fly to his mission assignment. He’ll work in the mission field for two years. At the end of that time, he’ll head back to his home in Washington and join the ranks of Mormon men known as Returned Missionary. It’s a rite of passage that in the eyes of many in the LDS church, he will leave a boy and come back a man.

I’m in the middle of a major repair on my son’s 1991 Chrysler New Yorker 5th Avenue. I’m replacing the power steering pump and alternator. It’s a major repair job. Their are pieces of the engine scattered across my garage. It’s the second time I’ve done this repair.

Although technically it’s the first time, I’ve done it. Last time my cousin Nick came and helped me. And by “helped me” I mean he pretty much did the hard parts. This time, I’m not going as fast, but I’m doing the work myself.

Five years ago, shortly after we moved to this neighborhood, my neighbor started helping me repair cars. I had plenty of tools, but not a lot of experience with major repairs and not a lot of confidence. I was a boy.

I hesitate to call myself a car guy. But, I remind myself that every car guy I know “knows a guy.” In other words, every expert has an additional expert that he goes to. People come to me for car advice and I in turn go to my friend. And he in turn goes to his expert.

Somewhere in the past couple years I went from being the apprentice to the journeyman. I went from boy to man.

My first real job out of college was working for WordPerfect corporation. I started as a telephone technician. I had worked that job in college and I also worked a summer job rewiring the entire BYU campus. I was “the wiring guy.” WordPerfect was building a brand new campus in Orem.

The new buildings had lots of wiring. Thousands of lines. And every single 4 pair cable had to have the wires in exactly the right order: Blue/White, Orange/White, Green/White, Brown/White, Slate/White. If any of the wires got crossed, computers wouldn’t work. Phones wouldn’t work. My job at WordPerfect was to install new phones. It was someone else’s job to pull the wire and make sure it was properly punched down.

But, occasionally, when they just couldn’t figure out what was wrong, they called me. We didn’t have fancy trace equipment back in 1988. We had toners and sniffers. Basically, you put an electronic tone on a line and then you took tool that detected that tone and waved it around the wiring closet hoping to hear it start chirping.

It occured to me that even as a young kid, (Okay, I was 25, but that was very young compared to today) I had a profession. I only stayed in the telecome team for about a year. But, it was the first time I was doing a “real” job. I was no longer doing a job. I had switched to a career.

In a corporate sense, I had gone from boy to man.

I enjoy working with interns and new employees. Generally, you only get one chance to grow up. The transition, whether it’s in your religion, your hobbies, or your profession is the time when boys become men.

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

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(c) 2018 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

One Comment
  1. Interesting read Rodney!

    Keep it up and looking forward to reading more! 🙂

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