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Career with a Wrong Turn

Corky Cummings


Two years ago I joined a local service/social organization in San Clemente called The Exchange Club. The group of 38 is made up primarily of
retired men who had distinguished careers and rose to lofty positions in their particular fields. When I first started attending the weekly meetings I felt somewhat inferior in comparing my life’s work in the mortgage industry to what many of these men had accomplished.  

One member retired from the Marines as a 4 Star General and was the Assistant Commandant (2nd in charge of the entire Marine Corp). Another man served in the Secret Service and was assigned to protecting Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and Ford. He fell in love with San Clemente when he would travel with Nixon to the Western White House and retired here several years ago. The stories he tells are quite fascinating, and I always want to hear more.

We have two members who were the Mayor of San Clemente and another member who was the City Manager here. One member was an actual Rocket Scientist for NASA and worked on many of the space missions. He was one of the people credited for getting the Apollo 13 astronauts safely back to earth when an oxygen tank exploded and caused massive damage to the spacecraft.

We have a retired professional bowler and an active professional golfer in the club. There are 3 men who retired from the military as colonels. One was a fighter pilot in Vietnam and later a test pilot for Boeing where he flew many of the newly designed aircraft in the 70’s. Another member travels the world with his wife doing pastoral and missionary work.

Perhaps the most interesting member is a guy who spent almost 28 years in a Florida prison for a murder he didn’t commit. He was released in 2008 thanks to DNA evidence that proved someone else committed the crime.  While he was in prison, he developed a love for music and now has his own band and travels the country performing. He overcame a terrible mistake and is now doing what he loves.

Being around these men with so many accomplishments makes me realize that years ago I made a wrong turn in life and could have done so much more than determining if someone was qualified to purchase or refinance a house. It would be nice to have a career “do over” because unlike my Exchange Club friends, the mortgage industry didn’t provide a lot of good stories to tell my grandkids. However, I guess one positive thing that came from a somewhat nondescript career is that I became a better listener than talker. Not everyone I know can say that.