The Best Job I Ever Had
The year I learned that the secret of wellbeing lies in service
“You’ll leave here after four years with an education few people have had access to in the history of mankind. What are you planning to do with it?”
It was a good question, set forth by consumer advocate Ralph Nader as he spoke before an embarrassingly empty hall at our (then) conservative university. I was pretty conservative myself, and certainly no fan of the wildly liberal public avenger. But I found the opportunity to hear such an iconic figure irresistible, even if most of my fellow students felt otherwise.
“There’s a world out there filled with problems and suffering and injustice,” Mr. Nader continued. “There’s a desperate need for crusaders. And you just want to get a job?”
The derision he injected into those last three words reverberated inside the echo chamber of my mind, etching upon my psyche an unequivocal contempt toward employment for the sake of mere employment.
It was 1981, during my junior year at the University of California, Davis, and I still had no idea what I wanted to do when I grew up. But in those closing moments of his address, Ralph Nader awakened within me the passionate desire to do something — anything — as long as it might make a difference, as long as it would truly matter.
And so I left the lecture hall that evening feeling like Archimedes, looking for my fulcrum to move the world. And my search led me to The House.
No other name could have better described it.