There are so many of these moments in our lives. Millions of tiny ones and hundreds of enormous, life changing ones. It frightens me to imagine where I might be today if I had made a decision differently and chose to take a different path.
For me, one of the most precarious yet life changing decisions was made when I was 16 years old. My friend, Danny, and I decided to drive 10 miles to Milford, Massachusetts to apply for a job at McDonald’s because it was paying 25 cents over the minimum wage.
There were McDonald’s restaurants much closer than the one in Milford. Many places between our hometown and Milford where we could’ve worked instead. Businesses closer and more convenient to our homes that were hiring high school kids like us. But we chose this particular McDonald’s, and it changed my life.
I meet Bengi, my best friend to this day, at that restaurant. I live with him after high school while he attends college. McDonald’s provides me with a means of survival following high school and later through college. I manage McDonald’s restaurants almost continuously for 13 years, from the age of 16 through 28.
Working at McDonald’s also leads to an armed robbery, an arrest and trial for a crime I did not commit, and decades of post traumatic stress disorder, but that’s okay. It all works out. I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s made me the person I am today.
Bengi eventually brings me to Connecticut where I meet my wife. I’m hired at the school where I have been teaching for 16 years. I meet the most important people in my life today while teaching there.
None of this ever happens if I decide to work anywhere else in 1987.
I know there are many moments like this in my life. A multitude. But this one has always seemed like one of the least likely decisions that I have ever made that yielded the greatest impact on my life.
I am the happiest person I know today. The most fortunate person I know. Blessed with the best life of anyone I know. I wouldn’t trade my life with anyone.
It’s frightening how close I came to missing out on so much.