Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Learning curve

Going back to school after 17 years is a bit daunting. It helps when a fair number of the other members of the class are in the same boat.

When I graduated from high school, I was accepted to an art school out in the midwest. I was not 100% convinced I wanted to go to a 4 year college, but my parents and mentors and so on were all convinced it was best. At the last minute, my plans changed. My brother was working for the Word of Life Ranch that summer, and my family had gone up for a visit. Word of Life International also runs a Bible institute which offers the equivalent of a four year biblical/divinity bachelor's program without any pesky courses outside that field of study. It was such a moving experience, I stayed for the second year term which was more of a pastor/youth pastor training program. It was on that visit that I decided to apply to the Bible Institute.

This was a decision that changed the course of my life. I thoroughly loved the coursework and earned over a 3.8 average the first year and over a 3.5 the second. This was something new for me because academics was always a drudgery before. I had an offer to become a pastor of a small church in New Hampshire, but when my dad got wind of it, he was not happy and demanded that I move on to get a full bachelor's diploma. Being the dutiful son, I did as I was asked and was miserable for two and a half years. Then I met my future wife and the misery subsided until after we got married (that's a joke if you read this dear, I love you more than life itself). In any event, I struggled for motivation while at Lancaster Bible College. It's not the college's fault, I just wasn't really interested. I barely graduated with a C average for a bachelor's in Biblical studies and 30 hours of what would have been a computer sciences degree had LBC been accredited to offer such a thing.

Two and a half years of my post-educational life were spent working for a local internet company here in Lancaster County, and then the  tech bubble burst, and there went any hope of a decent job in that industry. I worked for nearly five years at the PennDOT call center in Lancaster city, until the state gave that contract to an out-of-state company, found myself floating between part-time jobs then ended up  where I have worked for more than nine years. Don't get me wrong, I love the individuals I work with at Friendship Community, and treasure the memories of those friends who have since  passed into the  next world. But it is becoming impossible to support a household on less than $12.00 an hour and I'm just beat up physically and mentally from the unique stresses of this  work.

Enter, a career change.

I've been dabbling in motorcycle repair now for several years. God has gifted me with an ability with tools and with seeing how things fit together. And I love the schooling. My time at YTI's Motorcycle Technology Center has been far from boring.  In fact, I feel much as I did my first days at Word of Life. I'm refreshed, rejuvenated, and excited to awaken every day to a new learning experience.

The ride to work is amazing on those days that I take the scooter. The leaves are falling from the trees and it's moving on toward winter.

We're not doing a whole lot in the lab just yet, but i've gotten to move a few bikes around, practice safe workshop stuff and have learned enough in this first week to keep me wanting to go back for more.

And I still get to ride off to work every day with my ears flapping in the wind.


kz1000st said...

As previously noted I took the Motorcycle Technician course online and got my Certificate. My garage is overflowing right now with my four real bikes, one work project (1991 Honda Nighthawk)and a newcomer that will become a series regular once I get used to it. Out at a repair shop is another project that I actually got running,a 2010 Kymco Like 50cc. Be careful Paul, bikes are like rabbits. They multiply and go out of control but like any pet you hate to part with them. I may have a fire sale next spring if I get the projects running and decide I would rather ride a bike than a scooter.

Joe said...

You should be very proud of your decision to return to school, Paul. It's weird, but as a teacher for over 30 years, I would absolutely dread the thought of having to take any kind of course and of being on the other side of the big desk. I wish you were closer to here; I'd enjoy personal service on my scooter at the hands of somebody who isn't afraid to talk at times about his relationship with the Lord. Wishing you all the best in this new endeavor!

- Joe at Scootin' da Valley

Paul Smith said...

Hah, i need a garage before, I can let my rabbits multiply.

And thanks Joe. My best friend commented today that he hasn't seen me this happy in years.

Paul Smith said...

And Joe, I'd happily travel once in a while if the gas was covered. 😊