I'm not sure who signs up to be an astronaut; the job looks like there are some real high moments, but on the downside there is the freeze dried food, long time in confined places, bursting into flames on reentry, and absolutely no way to walk off the job. Not that walking off the job is a good litmus test for what makes a good career choice, but if you are in the middle of orbiting our lunar satellite and you disagree with a call made by your supervisor in Houston, you can not very easily rattle the boss's day with a pithy one liner and do the slow motion movie stroll out to your car in the parking-lot. Being an astronaut in outer-space is one of those gigs that I assume keeps your full attention. I can imagine an astronaut picking up the phone out of habit on the first ring and having to explain to his mother, who is calling for advice with leaking faucet, "Umm, Mom, I'm right in the middle of something, I'll call you back."
Not that the school business is parallel to taking off from Cape Canaveral, but it is a gig that I have been neck deep in for nearly 20 years, and I have increasingly found myself thinking, "Well, I couldn't leave now, I'm right in the middle of something." Do you ever find yourself having the winning the lottery fantasy? You see yourself collecting all that cash. There have been times when I have spontaneously had that thought and I could see myself walking away, but more often than not, I find myself having the lottery fantasy in response to some reality I am facing, and the lottery dream is only a reminder that regardless of whether or not I picked the right six numbers on a lotto ticket or not, the work that I was doing would still have to get done before I left to collect my cash.
That seems to be the truth for most of the educators I know. They get into this gig with the big dream that they are going to have summers off, but the truth it, the job sucks them in. Their afternoons begin to fill with coaching and clubs, their weekends with grading and even though from time to time, a loved one says, "Well it sounds like you are working too hard, maybe you should look for a different job," every educator I know sits up straight at that moment and, more often than not says, "Leave? Oh, I couldn't leave, I am right in the middle of something."
This gig may not pay the most, and sometimes the work is a little messy and overwhelming, but I wouldn't trade our industry for one that was easier to walk away from.