Patrick Ryan in Literary Hub:
My dad worked a lot of jobs. As a young man, in Ohio, he repossessed cars for a summer. (“Don’t ever repossess cars,” he told me. “Nobody likes you. I had to carry a baseball bat and keep a loaded pistol in the glove compartment, just in case of trouble.”) He then worked as a desk clerk at a hotel in Washington DC. Later, at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, he stood in a caged room all day and checked out camera equipment to staff photographers. When the Apollo program began to wane in the mid-1970s, he quit ahead of the layoffs that were coming, honed his skill at fixing cars, and got a job as an auto mechanic. But after a few years, the owner retired and sold the garage.
And so my dad mulled around for a bit and flirted with the idea of becoming his own boss. He looked into opening a liquor store, a cafeteria-style restaurant, a wholesale inner tube business. But he lacked the one thing a man with a dream needs to get anywhere: capital. He would become a realtor, he decided. He would sell houses. He got his license and tried that for a while—just as the real estate market in the area was entering a major slump. By coincidence, his marriage to my mother was also in a slump; they separated on the eve of their 23rd wedding anniversary and divorced soon after.