Saturday, August 03, 2013

Roads Not Taken Part One

Front cover of my yearbook - 1959

From my vantage point in life now I look back with interest and see the roads that I didn't take when I had the opportunity.  I also see the roads that I did take and wonder what why life would be like now had I not taken those roads.


Me in the "Center Square" - our high school yearbook photo and yes, that is me standing in the doorway 1959
Perhaps the first road I chose to take was when I quit my bookkeeping class when I was unfairly accused of helping some of my classmates to cheat.  This one day I had forgotten and left my book and homework home.  My teacher, Mr. King, knew there was cheating going on in his class, which there was.  However, I wasn't involved.  I never cheated in class in my life, a fact that most find hard to believe but it is true.  I just never saw the benefit of cheating, especially risking my reputation for integrity to help fellow classmates who were to lazy to do their homework.




Mr. King called on me and I told him I had forgotten my homework.  I must have been the straw that broke the camel's back
because he erupted and blasted me in front of the whole class. Up until that morning, Mr. King and I had gotten along just fine.

I tried to explain to him that I had really forgotten my homework but he didn't want to hear it.  I left class angry and frustrated.  

I saw our guidance counselor Mr. Kline, who was totally worthless.  We all knew it but what other choice did I have?  As expected I got nowhere with Mr. Kline, he sided with Mr. King.  I forget, but there was some kind of punishment involved.  There was no way I was going to be punished for something I didn't do and something they couldn't prove.  I decided then and there to quit Bookkeeping.  I was a senior and had enough credits to graduate so I didn't need Bookkeeping credits to graduate from high school.



My report card for 12th grade - note that my Bookkeeping grades ceased halfway through the year

And that folks is when the fit hit the shan.  I was told "You can't do that!"  Oh yeah, watch me.  I wasn't about to take blame for something that I DID NOT DO.  Especially when I knew there were classmates of mine who WERE cheating.  Why not go after them?  Of course I was asked to identify them but I wasn't about to rat on anyone.  Because I wouldn't squeal is probably why their attitude hardened on me. Hey, I have to live with my classmates.  I wasn't going to be the stool pigeon.




The next few weeks went by in a blur.  Mr. Cline, the waste that he was, insisted that I could not quit Bookkeeping.  He contacted my Mother, who agreed with him!  I told her that I was quitting.  I was adamant.  I quit.  I told them all "Just watch me."  

Well of course I won the battle but lost the war.  I quit Bookkeeping and did graduate.  But this is where my decision changed my life forever.  Because I quit Bookkeeping I wasn't eligible for the student work program.    That's where Commercial Course students got to work at a local business for half a year and attend their high school senior class for half a year.  I was fucked (although I didn't used the "F" word at that time - didn't find out about that all purpose word until I joined the Army the next year).  



So here is how my decision affected the course of my life from there on out.  When I graduated from high school I didn't have a job.  I couldn't get a job.  I had to join the Army.  And therein begins the next chapter of my life, The Journey of Ronald W. Tipton.  Stay tuned.  




21 comments:

  1. Oprah Winfrey always said that "there are no coincidences in life". It is a set of beliefs I might go along with, why not after all, as we have to deal with the cards that are thrown at us. This particular event in your life shows us who you really are. It takes courage and strength to stand up to that injustice. It was the right thing to do!
    Going to the army was a good experience (from past blogs, I think it was more positive than negative). You are where you are Ron. No regrets but pride in your life's accomplishments. Of course we all come to crossroads and have to make constant choices. Such is life, bringing joy and happiness, sorrow and pain! Learn from the past, don't think of the future but live for today with grace, integrity, dignity...

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    1. Nadege,

      I do remember hearing "there are no coincidences in life." I didn't know that Oprah said it. It is interesting but up until this incident of being accused of cheating, I was a very low profile, some might say a "Casper Milquetoast kind of teenager. But when I was unfairly charged I surprised myself by my reaction. There was no way I was going to take the blame for something I didn't do, especially when I knew so many who were cheating. In fact, I always turned down my classmate's requests to see my homework. Looking back on it now I realize that my bookkeeping teacher was backed into a corner once he made the cheating charge to me. He didn't want to admit he made a mistake which tells you something about his character. And he was a World War II vet who walked funny because his toes were amputated due to frostbite he suffered during the war. He wasn't so brave when he falsely accused me of cheating. When he saw my reaction I'm pretty sure he knew he was wrong but he wouldn't admit it. And I certainly wasn't going to take the blame for something I didn't do.

      As it turned out, joining the Army was the best thing that ever happened to me. I truly believe that if I got a job after school I would have eventually been drafted into the Army and sent to Viet Nam and would probably have been killed or seriously wounded and thus my life would have went a whole different course. And I certainly would not have met Bill. I only met Bill because I met Ron Hampton, my first gay (platonic) friend when I was in the Army. I do believe "there are no coincidences in life."

      Ron

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    2. Ron, I'm glad you are who you are and also am happy you feel right about decisions you made. There's always a lot of your character coming thru these writings. I must admit I don't know about the coincidence thing but I do believe a lot of who we are, our traits and our character, develop from within the womb and the next few very formative ensuing years. If we are instilled with good values I think that core will help us on our course in life which often requires courage, patience, love, confidence and so much more. I once witnessed a child who came from a broken drug addicted family and noted that her contemporaries were already 5 times around the block, so to speak, before she's even started on her path. And even tho it might be more challenging for her to develop her true personality - I believe we all have the ability to be good people.
      Your teacher probably held good principles but coudn't act on them - thoughts and actions not yet congruent. I guess that's where you see true character - one who stands up to be counted for what they believe in.

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  2. I always wonder "what if" and what may have happened had I chose a different path. would I be the person I am today? or would I be dead by now? ya never know what's around the next bend. that's what makes life interesting!

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    1. Anne Marie,

      What do you think of Oprah's comment "there are no coincidences in life?"

      Ron

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    2. I know radio host George Noory of Coast to Coast is also an adamant believer of no such thing as coincidences.

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    3. is there a karma that selects the path we travel, or do we chose our life path based on our own decisions and thoughts? heavy thoughts here...

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    4. I am anxious to find out what other people think about "there are no coincidences in life". Oprah is a big fan of Miriam Williamson (she uses that sentence a lot). I personally think it comes from Buddhism. Maybe your friend Michael can enlighten us on this saying.

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    5. Nadege,

      That is a good question I'll have to ask Dr. Spo. I personally believe each one of us has a "path" set out before us. I still haven't figured out why we're here but I think there is a preplanned "path." I suppose someday we'll find The Answer.

      Ron

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  3. Ron,

    Th only thing we know about the road not taken is things would have been different, wether different good or different bad we cannot know. I think the Army experience was the better choice for you and probably more interesting than sitting at a desk adding column of numbers. You're Mr. King thing is a bit like my Mrs. Rodgers' thing, except she knew I was innocent and was just too cowardly to go after the guilty. How sad.

    Lar

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    1. Lar,

      Were you innocent with the "Mrs. Rodger's thing?" I'm not so sure about that. It isn't what I heard.

      Ron

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  4. Randy in NEB.10:26 PM

    Ron, It sounds like you and I have taken similar paths in life. I realized some time back that if I had re-uped in the Air Force back in 1988. I may not be here now. A lot of guys I knew were sent to Iraq in the first gulf war. Then I might not be here writing this, I think it's no coincidence I came across your blog. Do you ever wonder what your life would be like if you could go back and take a different path? Do or say something else to see what change takes place in life. I think there was a movie some time back called the "Butterfly Effect" that had that premiss for a plot. Like you said all heavy stuff. Before I forget, wishing you and Bill a happy one month wedding anniversary!! July 3 to Aug.3 Take care. Randy.

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    1. Randy,

      I've often thought about how different my life would be just because of a random choice I made. Especially the one I made when I was all set to join the Navy (even had the signed papers) but while waiting for the Navy recruiter to come back from lunch the Army recruiter talked me into joining the Army. My life would have been so much different had not that Navy recruiter gone out to lunch that day when he did.

      Thanks for the well wishes on our wedding. Bill is so happy. Me too but I still feel the same. Bill feels a lot different though and I am so happy for him.

      Ron

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    2. By the way Randy, do you have FaceTime?

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    3. Randy in NEB12:06 AM

      Ron, Not yet but I'm sure I can set it up. Was meaning to sign up for Skype as well. I'll have to get off my butt and do it!

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  5. Interesting post! I find as I gain maturity (that's code for getting older) I look back on the forks in the road. Why did I make the choices I did and what would have been different had I done otherwise. The answer, of course, is 'everything'.

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    1. Harper's Keeper,

      At this time of my life, my "reflection period", I find myself often thinking of what would my life be like had I made a different choice when presented with one at one of the many crossroads of my life. I truly believe I would have made the same choices. Something deep within me make be believe that everything was predestined. However, one does wonder how much my life would have been different. Maybe we really do come back after we die to do it all over again. I've always had a secret suspicion that there was something to reincarnation.

      Ron

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  6. The IRONY: You quit bookkeeping and found a career in banking!!!

    I do NOT believe our paths are already chosen for us. There have been times when I could have taken the easy way out and gone along with the status quo, but NO, I made decisions that made big changes in my life -- too many to go into here. And I don't regret any of them. The ONLY what if I have wondered about is, if I had truly known I was gay at age 21 and followed that life path instead of getting married and having kids. That really wasn't a choice back in the 1960s, but today if were 21 again, I would probably have made a different choice.

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    1. David,

      I do have a feeling our paths were already chosen for us. I don't feel as if I would have made a different decision is faced with a choice. However, I do wonder how much different my life would have been had I made a different choice.

      One thing that leads me to believe that our paths are predestined was that I was quite sure I didn't want to get married and "ruin" two lives. Not that others who chose that path have ruined lives but for me I just knew it wouldn't work out.

      There are a few choices that I have made that I have regretted but not many. I will write about them.

      Ron

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  7. Bow ties are cool, even then.

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    1. Ron,

      Mr. King always wore a bow tie. Back then we chalked up his odd sartorial choice to the fact he was a prisoner or war during World War II. PTSD.

      Ron

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