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OPINION: Ignoring Dad’s career advice proved key to making him happy

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Phil Egan

They say “Father Knows Best,” but that old adage doesn’t always apply when giving a son career advice.

If my father had had his way I’d be an electrical engineer today, not a writer. For anyone who knows my disinterest in math and sciences, the very idea of me as an engineer is a subject of mirth.

Nevertheless, my Dad bought me books like ‘The Boy Engineer’ and’ ‘Physics for Fun.’ Though a successful electrical contractor himself, he had to pull out of electrical engineering classes at the University of Toronto when I decided to be born.

When I told him, at age 11, I had no interest in pursuing his dream he was, well, – miffed. What could I possibly make of my life if I wasn’t going to be an engineer, he wanted to know.

When I told him I was thinking about studying law, he determined I would become a labour law specialist and work at his firm. But, his plans were dashed once again.

In my third year of university I fell madly in love with a beautiful blonde flight attendant. To my father’s dismay, I quit university on the spot and joined the travel industry. Nine weeks later, I was married and selling air charters.

My father was convinced I had ruined my life, and it took something dramatic to change his attitude.

Not long after joining Sarnia’s own Great Lakes Airlines, I called him one day at work.

“Hey Dad, guess what?” I told him. “It turns out that, as the parent of an airline employee, you’re entitled to some pretty significant airline discounts yourself.”

“Give me an example,” he said.

“Well – you can go to London, England round-trip for $64,” I replied.

“Book your mother and me this weekend,” he ordered.

My parents spent the next three years travelling to the U.K., Fiji, Rome, India and other places on airline discounts.

Then I broke my father’s heart again. When I told him, at age 29, I was leaving the airline business to join a holiday company; he told my brothers and sisters he was planning to put me up for adoption.

As things turned out, I eventually became a partner in my own holiday company and my parent’s ability to travel the world multiplied to include full vacations and cruises.

Which just goes to show that, sometimes, ignoring your father’s career advice is the best way to make him happy.



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