Here's a fairly recent failed attempt at an engaging prologue.
Hunched over his wooden cane, the prune-faced old man peered up at me from across the counter. “So you’re going to be a banker,” he said.
It was my first week on the job, and his words felt like an invisible force had crashed into me and sucked out my breath. A banker, Dan the banker, Dan the wanker…
“Er, I…” I forced myself to swallow, reaching to loosen my tie. “I uh…” My breath came in shallow gasps. “I suppose so…”
Years ago, on my first journey to Africa, I was collected from Cape Town airport by family friends.
“Africa is dangerous,” they told me. “Always be careful, it’s not safe even here in South Africa. Perhaps you should stay in Cape Town and keep in touch with us.”
A week later, I said a polite goodbye, jumping into a different realm of travel; backpacking. I bussed my way across the country, stopping in hostel after hostel.
Three months later that, I jumped rank again, from backpacker to intrepid traveller. I purchased a bright yellow beach buggy and drove through five countries before returning to Cape Town, selling the car, and flying home.
Back in Canada, after taking a job at the bank, I began to feel as though I’d missed something. To be an intrepid traveller wasn’t enough. There was another echelon, a mysterious and dangerous and extraordinary realm of travel which in every way contradicted the concept of my current stability as a quiet, hardworking banker.
The old man’s hand shook as he placed his cheque on the counter. “Being a banker is a respectable position in society you know.”
I nodded politely, knowing I wasn’t going to be, and couldn’t possibly be, a respectable banker for the rest of my life. One day, I’d leave Canada and become an African Adventurer.