For 30 years Mark Carlson was a park ranger. After changing his major several times and graduating from CSUF, he couldn’t find a job as a teacher, so he worked as a groundskeeper for the state parks, but in less than a year he was promoted to park ranger. His degree in anthropology helped him get the job and he quickly promoted to a management position. Now he’s retired, but works part time as a property manager. As a legit adult, with houses, a career, and a long-term relationship, Carlson sat down to chat about what it’s like ‘adulting’ in the real world.
How do you know you chose the right major?
[Anthropology] interested me, and I found it fascinating. It was a subject I would enjoy teaching and I think I could have gotten some useful information across to the students.
How do you know you’re doing the right thing in life?
I could pay my bills and have enough time and money to enjoy my life–ski, play, buy a house or two.
Do you think voting matters?
Yes, I do very much, because when I went to Saddleback College I was 19 and I couldn’t vote. You couldn’t vote until you were 21 then and I could be drafted and be sent to Vietnam at 18. I couldn’t even vote on the people who were gonna do that to me.
Is being an adult difficult?
Its harder than I expected in my youth and sometimes I wonder why my parents didn’t educate me a little bit more in things like finances and how to buy a house and that sort of thing.
How do you manage debt?
Don’t acquire it. I’m raised by my very tight fisted Swedish father and I learned to only buy what you need when you have the cash, except for a house, but then you have to get a loan for that. I just feel bad for kids today because everything’s so expensive and just getting through school, you know, I mean, in 1968 I was paying $107.50 a quarter at UCLA for tuition. But I worked at the dorms there and got paid $2.50 an hour, which was pretty big money then. I was a dishwasher, I was a kitchen person, the state employed students who needed work. You could eat there too, so that made it doable. My parents divorced and so the financial support didn’t come through for UCLA like they’d told me to expect.
Do you know what ‘Netflix and chill’ means?
Oh yeah, yeah, Netflix streams movies from a service you can pay for and chill is what I tend to do a lot. Sit down and relax and don’t raise my blood pressure. Chillax.