It is said that, “He who does not learn the lessons of history is doomed to repeat them.” Apply that to personal life and it comes out as, “If you don’t learn from your mistakes, plan on making them again.”

Early in my freshman year I was sent to the Latin classroom where the teacher asked me why I hadn’t signed up for her class. I told her my schedule wouldn’t let me take both Latin and science, and I had chosen science over Latin because I hoped to be a scientist some day.

With her class listening she began trying to browbeat me into dropping science for Latin. I finally got tired of it and told her that I honestly could not see why anyone would want to learn a dead language that no one spoke anymore. Her class giggled and that comment became so famous among the kids in the school that it found its way into the yearbooks in my freshman and senior years.

That teacher doubled as a counselor. Three years later, when she was counseling each of the kids in my graduating class about college she told me I couldn’t become a chemist, physicist or biologist because my slight color blindness would prevent me from passing the required analysis courses. So, being a typical dumb kid, I believed her and didn’t go to college.

Twenty-four years later, however, after I retired from the Air Force, I took all those courses, breezed through them, and earned an undergraduate degree in chemistry, physics, biology and geology.

The lesson? Never trust advice from anyone with a motive for revenge!

As graduation from college approached in 1974 I began interviewing with school districts that needed a science teacher. Some of the offers were quite attractive, but the Port Arthur, Texas school district topped them all.

For some odd reason those folks really wanted me. They kept on upping the offer. First they offered me a very nice starting salary, then they moved me up 21 years on the salary schedule by giving me credit for my years of military service, and finally they offered to hire Lolly as a school secretary too. So we hired on and I began teaching chemistry and physical science.

Later on, the district created a position for a science teacher to run a district magnet program. I didn’t apply. I loved teaching, and I’d had enough of running programs in the Air Force.

Then I got a call from Charles McBee, the assistant superintendent for personnel who had worked so hard to hire me. “Tom,” he said, “I haven’t received your application for the magnet program director position.”

Suddenly realizing why they had hired me, I applied.

However, during the interviews I ran head on into a medical problem. I thought I was a goner. My oldest brother Bill had died of throat cancer and I had the exact same symptom he’d had, a nasty lump in my throat.

My! Did that throat specialist take a close look at my throat! But when he finished the exam, he smiled. “No sign of anything wrong.”

“But what about the lump?”

“Anything stressful going on in your life?”

I told him about the %$#@! job I didn’t want.

“That’s why you feel a lump — stress.”

So I deliberately blew the last interview, and — what a shame! — I had to go back to my happy lab, where my lump went away!

The lesson?

If a job offer sounds too good to believe, don’t believe it!

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