A man stated on the radio yesterday that some people do not knowthey are farmers until they reach age 40.
I thought this was very interesting. These folks hit 40 and something snaps in them, he said. I wonder if the event is accompanied with one of those open-palmed slaps to the forehead, like you see in the commercials, or is it a quiet little epiphany? If you're already a farmer when this happens, the fellow went on, you couldn't be happier. If you're not a farmer you should well consider becoming one. Pity the poor fellow who is a farmer, but doesn't get the call.
I am not yet 40, so I cannot say for certain, but I do not think I am a farmer. I am one of those persons who nervously jokes about what I will be when I grow up. There are only a few of us, I believe, who know what we truly are. The rest of us are whatever we have become.
My kids have all sorts of ideas about what they want to be. It is, after all, standard conversation to ask children what they want to be when they grow up. I find I ask them frequently. Perhaps I am hoping they will offer up a suggestion I have not yet thought of. They have thus far declared interest in becoming crossing guards, fire fighters, police officers, nurses and teachers. Standard stuff. So far no concert pianists, nuclear physicists or Pulitzer-winning journalists. There is nothing wrong with their list, although I wonder about the advancement possibilities for crossing guards.
I do not believe in predetermination or fate; but as the fellow on the radio intimated, I suspect we are better designed for some tasks than others. It might be genetic. If it is, I bet the biologists working to map the human DNA molecule will soon isolate the ''Work-Specific Gene.'' This will provide us with major insights. With a sample of amniotic fluid the doctor of the future will turn to anxious Mom and Dad and declare, ''It's a computer engineer.'' I can see the proud parents now.
And the farmer, not having to wait until 40, will certainly get a head start.
Douglas P. Bruns writes from Catonsville.