The Question of the Month is hosted by Michael G D'Agostino from A Life Examined. The first Monday of each month I'll be answering a question posed by Michael prior to event day. Click on the link to his blog for more participants.
Here is this month's question:
“What’s the best job you’ve ever had?”
Retirement certainly has a plus side and is an especially good gig if you've got a great pension plan or some other generous access to financial resources with the good health to enjoy it all. Unfortunately, though I've got the health, I am limited by the finance part, but then again aren't most of us? I'm enjoying a lot of aspects of retirement, but it's not as good as the best job I've ever had.
Perhaps it's my glass half full attitude that's made my work life seem so blessed. In every job that I've had over the years I've always managed to find something good about each of them. There has been no job that I've absolutely hated. On the contrary, I've been thankful to have had the employment that I have found--or has found me--and each job contributed something positive to my life besides the obvious benefit of a paycheck. A positive attitude does wonders for what can potentially be a tedious and uncomfortable circumstance.
My employment history has included stints as a golf caddy, construction worker, telephone solicitor, delivery person, limo driver, warehouse worker, dishwasher, marketing research data collector, retail sales associate, show promoter, general business manager, cold caller, and entertainer. I can't say that I loved every one of these jobs, but each one served a purpose in its season and added value to my personal growth.
Of all of the jobs in my life, the ones related to the entertainment industry have been the best. Growing up in a family that regularly worked professional gigs as a juggling act, I fell in love with being on stage, entertaining before audiences, and the whole lifestyle that went with the profession. Since my father had a normal day job, we had bookings set up for weekends, evenings, or vacation times. Juggling was a sideline for our family, but it was a great way to pick up extra money and have a darn good time while doing so. Early in my life I decided that one day I wanted to have a full-time career in the entertainment industry.
In 1975 the opportunity to fulfill the dream I had so long harbored was presented to me with an offer to join the Ken Griffin Magic and Illusion Show. The Griffin's were a seasoned husband and wife team with a notable history in the entertainment industry. They had written a book--Illusion Show Know How--which gained them a large following among working magicians as well as the dreamers who hoped to one day to pursue careers in stage magic. Starting my solo entertainment career with the Griffins was an ideal way to break into the business.
|Emulating the flamboyant 70's style of disco magic, here I am at the conclusion of the famous Houdini Metamorphosis Trunk Escape as presented with the Ken Griffin Magic Show at the 1976 Abbott's Magic Get-Together in Colon, Michigan. Being on stage can feel pretty great!|
The World of Fantasy
I was living my dream with the Ken Griffin Show, but I still had a fantasy about touring without having to do the booking and promoting work. Then my fantasy became a reality as I entered a world of fantasy. That is, The World of Fantasy Players, a troupe run by magic entertainer and diverse businessman Philip Morris from Charlotte, North Carolina.
On visiting a Ken Griffin Show performance in Gastonia, North Carolina, Philip Morris offered my wife and I a job with his touring show. The World of Fantasy Players presented theatrical stage versions of popular children's stories that incorporated music, dance, and magic. Each year the show toured throughout the U.S. and Canada for about nine months. With the blessing of the Griffins, my wife and I accepted Philip's offer to join the Players troupe.
As the story turns out, my stint with The World of Fantasy Players became the best job I ever had. In my first two years I was a featured performer in the show doing juggling and magic while my wife was one of the actors. In 1981 I took over as road manager and remained in that position until 1991 when I continued working for Philip Morris managing a costume distribution warehouse in the Los Angeles area.
There were many things that made my job with the World of Fantasy Players great. For one thing the extent of the travel was an opportunity that I would have unlikely achieved on my own. Yearly we crisscrossed North American visiting major places as well as small towns many have never heard of yet been to. All of this travel--transportation and lodging--was paid by the company and even though we often kept a very busy performance schedule, there was almost always time to sight see and to enjoy the local color of the places we visited.
Decent lodging was always included as part of the package. Especially after I took over management of our road affairs, I made sure that we stayed in nice places that provided the comfort of home away from home. When my kids were small we could travel with them with no problems. Later after they started becoming school age we left the road life to settle down.
Would I do something like this again if I had a chance? As long as my wife was game to go I'd take a similar job for sure. Doing exactly what I was doing twenty years ago maybe not so much (though with a show crew doing all of the heavier work it might not be so bad), but I wouldn't mind going back to some kind of touring life.
When I hear rock and roll stars or other big entertainers complain about life on the road I have to laugh. They have it made. Posh hotels, deluxe transportation, and many other perks--doesn't sound like all that bad of a life to me. I suppose there are some who have it rougher than others, but over all most of them don't know the kind of life where the stage stars are also the roadies and drivers. But it's not a bad life when all the conditions are right. And even if the conditions are not always right, you sure can get some good stories out of it.
Battle of the Bands Results: Another Brick in the Wall
Another Battle has been waged and it's time for the winner announcement. On September 1st my song pick was "Another Brick in the Wall" between Daria Plyushko and Gavino Loche. I had a pretty good idea who would win in this one, but I didn't expect quite the lopsided outcome.
After many listenings of the song I was torn. Sometimes I was in a "Lazy" mood and got into the chill of the Plyushko version. In the end though I had to hand my vote to the guitar wizardry of Gavino Loche. I had a lot of voters who went the same way as I did.
Final Voting Results:
Daria Plyushko 7
Gavino Loche 27
Another Battle of the Bands will be coming your way on Tuesday September 15th. That post will be part of an occasional series I'll be doing of versions of some of my favorite songs. I'm going to try to tie these posts to "Soundtrack of my Life" posts on my Wrote By Rote blog.
Have you had a job that has especially stood out for you? Have you had any jobs that involved extensive traveling or being away from home a lot? Is there still a special dream job beyond your horizon?