I don't want to derail the thread, but this is a good place to insert a lesson for the youngsters about choosing a career path.

I like my job. I like it because I am particularly well-suited for it, it's entertaining, and it pays well. But another fact that people often don't consider is the fact that I can walk away any time I choose and just ply my trade under my own roof. I don't need a company to work for. These days, you don't even really need an office to be a lawyer. You can do everything you need from a laptop and a cell phone. I don't even need a bunch of tools. Short of getting disbarred (which takes something special), my income-earning potential is secure.

Most jobs today don't have that kind of security. People think of union jobs as offering security, but my observation is that they aren't nearly as secure as some people think. Whenever you are working for a company large enough to have a union, you are working for a company large enough and smart enough to find a justification to fire you if you piss off the wrong person. And the bigger a company is, the more stupid regulations they are going to have. Some jobs are almost impossible to find outside of a giant corporation. You can make a good living working on airplanes with an Airframe & Powerplant license, but there are very few good jobs in that field that exist outside of the corporate umbrella. Maybe you can find a gig at some tiny airport working on private planes, but it certainly won't pay as well as working for Delta or United. Software and IT jobs are another that tend to be grouped into big companies. You'll find some niche jobs that can be done by a guy running his own solo business, but those are rare.

Contrast that with the trades of plumbing and electrical work. Those jobs pay well and you don't have to work for somebody else. If you've got skills, tools, and a van (in that order), you don't need to work for someone else. You may choose to work for a company, but you could always make the decision to go open up your own shop.

Guidance counselors seem to ignore this aspect of choosing a career, but it is a huge factor in your life. This is freedom. This is the difference between having the freedom to stand on your own or being forced to work as a cog in a larger machine.

Even when I was younger, and working jobs where I knew I would get fired if I was found armed, I always did it anyway. So what if they fired me? I knew that job wasn't the end of the line for me anyway. I always knew that I had the skills and drive to make it on my own.

If you can gain the skills and work your way towards a position that gives you the confidence to know that you can thrive without the big company, then you don't have to worry as much about their ridiculous rules. Not everyone will be able to do this. And if you are 50 and stuck in a field that is, by its nature, a big company job, then you may well be stuck. But the younger guys should think about this and plan accordingly. Look for a job that gives you true freedom, not just the freedom to carry a gun (but that's definitely on the list).