I’ve had a lot of jobs.
I’ve worked as a dishwasher at Pizza Hut, a busboy at a country club, a student newspaper cartoonist, a Subway sandwich artist, a Hardee’s employee, a munitions systems specialist, a bay orderly, an insurance clerk, a movie theater concessions worker, a computer lab attendant, a PR specialist for a fringe theatre company, a webcast interviewer, and a customer service specialist. I’ve been a customer service specialist more than anything else, for ten years now.
The difference between agent and specialist is slim at some jobs and wide at others. What it comes down to is that as a specialist you get to voice your opinion about how *you* think things should go down. You may not get to do what you think should happen, but at least you get to mention it. In my current job, I write documentation, train customers, and answer customer service tickets.
The list I put at the beginning of this is a list of things I got paid to do. I volunteered at a ton of other things, like being a DJ in college, but I never saw any money from it. I guess I could add a few roles I’ve played where I got a stipend and my extra work in films as well, but it’s really not enough to count.
The money I make from CDs, books, and T-Shirts basically just goes to producing more of the same. I’ve been waiting decades now for something to happen, what I’ve heard people call the “Harry Potter” syndrome lately. It’s basically that you’re sitting there living a basic existence, when someone appears and reveals to you that you were meant for great things and hands you the keys to a fantastic world.
When I was an adolescent, I thought this would actually be based in magic of some sort. You might well have called it the “Narnia Syndrome” or the “Oz Syndrome” at that point. I was convinced that I was going to open a door some day and have a green field with unicorns facing me instead of a closet full of dusty boxes.
When I was in my teens, Second City was going to be my gateway. I had attended a workshop at the Illinois State Theatre Festival and was convinced that I was on my way to do improv for the rest of my life. I went to that workshop and ONLY that workshop for the rest of the festival. However, convincing your parents to let you go to Chicago by yourself when you’re 16 is not easy. Later, I decided I wanted to go to Baraboo, Wisconsin to go to clown college. Unfortunately, it had moved to Florida and (as this was not yet the age of the Internet) I thought that it had closed. This is still something I find saddening, because my parents actually seemed down with the idea.
Then, when I was in my 20s, I was convinced that this entity was going to be MTV. There are tapes and tapes in the MTV archives of my sorry self trying to get them to pick me for some show or another, or play my fan-made video on a show.
When that didn’t pan out, I started to think that I was above this kind of thinking. Then, I was whisked away to Canada by my friend Tracy. I stayed there for six months, and didn’t have to work because rent was so cheap. Also, I legally COULDN’T work, so I didn’t feel bad about it. Unfortunately, instead of completing a comic book or writing a novel, I ended up watching sixteen hours of TV a day. As I grew up very sheltered, I’m now pretty much back up to speed with the rest of the population, but it had no other real benefit.
I came to believe that I need a day job in order to create. I needed something to focus my attention, so when my time was my own I would realize how valuable it is. I was convinced that if I didn’t have to work a day job to support myself, I’d never create anything.
Now I’m 36 and have a daughter. I can honestly say that if my life consisted of going somewhere to write for the hours that I currently spend working a job, and then hanging out with her like I normally do, I’d be plenty focused. As it stands I have about an hour and a half a day to write, make music, and draw. I read on the bus and watch TV when I do chores.
What I’m saying is, bring on the Magic Kingdom. I’m ready.
That being said, if you’re from work and reading this, I really do like working here and this should in no way imply that I’m looking for a new job. I’m simply hoping for a no job. Also, that doesn’t mean I want you to fire me. I’m looking for a no job in the sense that I want to not need a job FIRST and then have no job. As long as I need a job, I want to work here. Right now, I need a job. As long as I work here, I will do a very very good job, even if I want to not need a job.