Old Globe Play Inspires KPBS Staff to Talk Jobs
Friday, March 13, 2009
There's a kind of serendipity to the themes in this post, and when this occurs, it always make me happy. Let me see if I can lay out the relationship for you. A musical called Working just opened at The Old Globe Theater. It's a new, re-imagined production of an older musical from Stephen Schwartz, creator of the massive hit Wicked. But Working is actually based on the 1974 book of the same name, written by famed oral historian and radio personality, Studs Terkel. Terkel interviewed Americans about their jobs, what they did all day, and how they identified with their working selves. Inspired by the Globe production and anxious to see it, I decided to ask the people I work with about their job histories. I asked them about their first job, worst job, and dream job. This could be cast as a step towards transparency for KPBS, as I'm publishing the answers. The Old Globe production of Working is also transparent, the work of the crew and stage manager are visible to the audience throughout the play, which is a nice touch by director Gordon Greenberg. Since I asked my colleagues to play along, I have to answer the questions as well. Well, lo and behold, one of my dream jobs is to be Studs Terkel, an oral historian who spent his life capturing the stories of others. Of course, when I was little, my dream job was to be Julie McCoy on The Love Boat, but that throws my serendipity all off, so forget I mentioned her and her perfect teeth, perfect bowl cut, and perfect job. Anyway, do you see the connections or is it just me? A play based on interviews, inspires interviews, which leads to transparency which mirrors the new transparent version of the play, and then the author of this post answers her own question, which leads directly back to the author of the book from which the play was made!!!!!!! Unbelievable!! The only thing missing from this stew of synchronicity is the fact that the play is a musical. I should have had Erik Anderson sing and dance his answers. Despite the lost opportunity, I think you'll enjoy the responses from the KPBS staff. Please share your own answers in the comments below. What was your first job? Worst job? And, the dessert, your dream job? Thanks for playing!
Alison St. John, KPBS Senior Metro Reporter
What was your first job? Chamber maid for the Roxburgh Hotel at the West End in Edinburgh
Worst Job? I was fired from handling customer calls once, because somehow I missed the message that the customer is always right!
What job would I like? Maybe Alistair Cooke in a new incarnation. Not introducing Masterpiece Theatre, but doing something like his “Letters from America!” radio segment that aired every week on the BBC when I was a child.
Erik Anderson, KPBS Anchor/Editor
My first job was de-tassling corn in western Ohio. I was 14. I walked up and down corn rows and pulled the tassel off the tops of six foot tall corn plants. 12 hour days. 2.75 an hour. Hard work. I learned to smoke on this job.
Any job in the world? How about professional poker player. I find the dynamics of the game and the people at the table fascinating. The cards, the players, and the chance to manage a game. Sweet.
Tom Fudge, KPBS Health Care Reporter
What was the worst job you ever had and why?
The worst job I ever had was working as an overnight security guard at an old-folks apartment building. My job was to sit in a room and stay awake all night. I had to watch an electronic board that would light up if any resident pushed an emergency button because they suspected foul play or feared a break in. The building was a locked high-rise in a crime-free suburb. So the residents never had any cause for concern, the board never lit up, and I never had to call the police. Aside from being very boring, this job's hours sucked. In the morning I would be replaced by two young people who tried to tell jokes and make small talk with me when I was exhausted and positively not in the mood. The good news is I didn't have to do this every night, and the occupation was short-lived.
Ana Tintocalis, KPBS Education Reporter
What was your first job? McDonalds cash register (lasted two weeks).
What is the worst job you’ve ever had and why? McDonalds cash register. I was always punching up the wrong orders, getting people very upset.
If you could have any job in the world, what would it be? Fashion designer, expert seamtress.
Maureen Cavanaugh, Host of These Days
First job: Camp counselor at a day camp in the wilds of Queens, New York.
Worst job: The overnight shift at a radio station in West Bountiful, Utah. Duties included once-a-week bathroom cleaning.
Dream job: My job hosting These Days comes close...but the dream includes something about a limousine, an extensive wardrobe allowance and frequent flights to "conduct interviews" in Europe.
Amita Sharma, KPBS Investigative Reporte
My first job was at a boutique called Genie’s Fashions. I’d just turned 18 and it was the summer before college. I loved clothes and fashion but the apparel I had to get people to buy was for middle-aged women. It was a tough sell because my heart wasn’t in it.
My worst job was the summer before college ended. I had taken a temporary post as secretary for a guy who ran a construction firm. On the first day, I arrived at 8 a.m. The BOSS arrived at 8:05. He commanded me to call five people and tell them show up for a meeting at 8:30 a.m. I didn’t like his tone. By 8:10, I was gone.
My dream job is to be a dancer in Indian movies.
Beth Accomando, KPBS Film Critic
What was your first job? Writing film reviews at the UCSD Guardian. I haven’t stopped writing reviews since I was 19.
What is the worst job you’ve ever had and why? I’m sorry to say (or maybe I’m glad to say) that I’ve never had a bad job. I’ve always worked at jobs that involved things I was passionate about – film, education, theater, etc. That has been my guiding rule: pursue work that involves things you love so that it’s never really work. As I told my son, if you could be paid to play video games would there be such a thing as too much work? But I have had a couple of bad bosses who almost made me want to quit jobs that I loved. I hated the bosses I had who got in the way of creativity and who tried to micromanage employees. If you do good work, get things done on time and continue to gain skills and knowledge than you should be allowed some freedom and flexibility in the workplace.
If you could have any job in the world, what would it be? I've always wanted to be a part of Monty Python but they have disbanded and I was never funny enough. I’d love to run an extreme film festival for horror, sci-fi, fantasy, anime and action films that really push the envelope. Or have a blog where championing a film could really do something to help that film or filmmaker get more exposure. I wouldn’t mind teaching or working for a political cause (like first amendment rights or education).
Natalie Walsh, Senior Producer, These Days
What was your first job? Taking orders at the fast-food chicken restaurant called Druthers in Southern Ohio.
What is the worst job you've ever had and why? Taking orders at the fast-food chicken restaurant Druthers. As a senior in high school, I was forced to wear a uniform of orangy-brown polyester pants, smock-top and baseball cap. My friends would come in to "order food" and I wanted to crawl under the counter! My motto was "If I had my druthers, I wouldn't be working at Druthers."
If you could have any job in the world, what would it be? Master gardener for an old villa in France or Italy.
Tim Felten, Technical Director, Morning Edition Editor, A Way With Words
My first job was as a referee for youth soccer in my hometown of Glendora, CA. When I first started, I was 13 or 14 and got to ref the 5 and 6 year olds' games, which is a pretty funny experience. It is basically a pack of 20 kids following and kicking the ball in every direction but the right one, with parents screaming their heads off like crazed fans.
The worst job I've ever had was at IHOP in Point Loma where, at the age of 20, I had to be in to work on Saturday and Sunday at 6am. Needless to say, that job lasted only a few weekends.
Now for my dream job. I would need a time machine to transport myself back in time to the late sixties and early seventies so I could be a studio engineer/producer and session keyboard player for Stax, Atlantic, Essex, Volt, or any of the smaller, lesser-known soul and funk music labels and studios of that period.
Kenny Goldberg, KPBS Health Care Reporter
My first real paid job was as a pizza delivery guy. We carried around portable ovens that kept the pizzas warm. On my very first delivery, I pulled over to the curb, and took the pizza out of the oven. I didn’t realize that I had put the box in upside down. So when I took it out, the box collapsed, and the pizza flopped onto the street.
My first job in media was fantastic, but it was also the worst in terms of my work schedule. My hours were 3am to 9am, five days a week. I was exhausted 24 hours a day.
If I could have any job, I would head up my own health care research foundation.
Nick Stoffel, Morning Edition Producer
What was your first job? Chicken Boy at Hawaiian Teriyaki Chicken stand at Del Mar Fair.
What is the worst job you’ve ever had and why? Chicken Boy at Hawaiian Teriyaki Chicken stand at Del Mar Fair. Just kidding. Collating random pieces of paper for my father's printing business, which is basically the same task over and over and over again for 8 hrs. As you can see, it was boring, but I "liked" it because I was helping out my dad and his biz.
If you could have any job in the world, what would it be? PROFESSIONAL GOLF ANNOUNCER, HOLY #@!*!!! OK, so you get to play the most amazing courses in the world, really classy & rich people eat out of your hand, and you get to whisper phrases like "Simply brilliant chip from Tiger" or "Phil is really beasting the crap out of people on his back nine" for 3 hours on Saturdays and Sundays.
Katie Orr, KPBS Metro Reporter
First job: My first real job was as a lifeguard for a country club in Northern Virginia.
Worst job: Working at Einstein’s Bros. Bagels for a summer. While working there, I cut my finger making a sandwich and had to get six stitches. We got robbed during one of my shifts and I had people constantly screaming at me about how they wanted their bagels. Not fun!
Dream job: I would love to host a travel show! I love going to different places and I think it’d be fun to have someone paying me to do it!
This post is CRAAAZY long - here's a random, pretty image to give you a breather.
Ok, keep reading...
Gloria Penner, Host, Editors Roundtable
What was your first job? My first job was a lesson in subcontracting. It was a beautiful summer, that summer of my 13th year. I spent it with my cousin Herb, who was 11, at a tiny summer bungalow in Rockaway Beach, New York, swimming and playing on the beach. Our countless relatives chipped in a few bucks so we could all escape from the New York City heat. But money was really, really scarce and the pressure was on to earn some money. I turned to babysitting since we were surrounded by little ones in nearby cottages. But I soon found out that I didn’t like anything about giving up my beach time to towing toddlers. So I worked a deal. I walked the neighborhood, got the jobs, collected the $.50 / hour fee and then turned the kids over to Herb. I think I paid him half.
What is the worst job you’ve ever had and why? Another summer job turned out to be the job from hell. I was 23, a graduate student and a newlywed when my husband and I took summer jobs as waterfront counselors in a camp for under-served New York City children. For five weeks, we taught swimming, diving, canoeing, and rowing to kids who had never been involved in water sports, had problems in school, didn’t like discipline, survived the rough streets of the big city, and paid no attention to instruction. My body was burned from the sun. My voice was hoarse from yelling. My stomach hurt from stress. My new marriage was in danger of falling apart. Then the rains came. For the remaining 3 weeks of the camping season, it poured and the dock was underwater; the boats floated away; the waterfront program was suspended; and we recovered, barely.
If you could have any job in the world, what would it be? This is it! My KPBS gig is ever-changing, ever-challenging, and ever-satisfying. Do I sound like Pollyanna? Maybe so. But it’s all true.
John Decker, KPBS Radio Program Director
The first job I ever had was detasseling corn. This is a Midwestern thing. Corn seed growers don’t want their corn to pollinate, so they hire desperate teenagers to schlep through thousands of acres of corn fields and pick the tassels off the corn stalks. Have you ever walked down a row of corn? Yikes! These things try to rip the flesh from your body. Invariably, the irrigation is run the night before so they create a quagmire. Nice. But, when you’re 15 and desperate to make enough money to buy a car, you don’t mind getting up early so you can slog through mud, manure and pesticides to pull flowers off plants. All for less than 3 bucks an hour. I consider it a rite of passage.
Believe it or not, detasseling corn was not the worst job I had. That distinction goes to my time as a housekeeper at a hotel one ski season many years ago. I skipped a semester of college to be a ski bum and soon learned that even ski bums need a job. How else does one afford a lift ticket? So I landed this gig cleaning rooms at the big hotel on the mountain. I wasn’t disgusted so much by the various body fluids I had to clean up as I was by the total disregard people have for themselves. The worst part was having a complete idiot for a boss who never quite understood that those hotel rooms would never come clean. We were fighting the laws of physics! Entropy wins every time! Sheesh. Anyhow, I quickly tired of cleaning up after other people and found work at a bar. I went from crappy job to great job where I skied all day and worked at night. Now that was the life!
The best job is one that requires no work. And you can quote me on that! Therefore, I cannot imagine a job any more satisfying than Being Dad. I am constantly amazed at how easy and fulfilling it is to be there for my daughter. She’s only two and a half, so being there for her looks like making dinner, singing at the table, going to the park, drawing with crayons, reading, petting puppy dogs, riding the trolley, doing our ABCs...all that. What’s refreshing is how completely happy it makes her to have me show love in such deceptively simple ways.
Hank Crook, Producer, These Days and Editors Roundtable
First job? Food Service worker at an Italian Restaurant at SeaWorld
Worst job? Food Service worker at an Italian Restaurant at SeaWorld
If I could have any job in the world, what would it be? Professional Basketball Player
Tammy Carpowich, Director of New Media
What was your first job? Babysitting
What is the worst job you’ve ever had and why? I’ve had lots of bad jobs, but the worst was as a sales clerk for a company that sold exercise clothing. The clothes were hideous, and we had to wear them to “show them off.” The store also had a Stairmaster in the front window – on a pedestal, no less. And when it was slow, we were required to exercise in the window to “entice” customers. Hot lights + no ventilation = sweaty model. I can’t say I brought in any new customers, but I’m pretty sure I scared some away. My career as a shop girl was short-lived, but it made me appreciate the good jobs that came after.
If you could have any job in the world, what would it be? The job I have now, of course. Or novelist. Or full-time mom. Or nurse. Or teacher. Or postal carrier. Or editor at a large publishing house. Or social worker. I’m naturally curious, so lots of jobs appeal to me. I can’t narrow it down to just one.
Leng Caloh, Convergence Editor
What was your first job? Library assistant in the elementary school library in third grade! Well, that wasn't paid. First paid job/internship was library assistant at the American Chamber of Commerce in Manila. (I should've become a librarian!)
What is the worst job you’ve ever had and why? Temping in LA. I had to wear skirts and hose every day - blech!
If you could have any job in the world, what would it be? Aromatherapist
Joanne Faryon, Host and Producer, Envision
My first job: I was 13. I made egg salad sandwiches and hotdogs and sold them at Bingo at the local Polish Community Center.
Worst Job: I landed my first reporter job at a newspaper in Kenora, Ontario - a summer tourist town. Rent was expensive and so to augment my salary I cleaned the bathroom I shared with five men (many of them drunk) in a rooming house. The landlord deducted $50 from my monthly rent. If you had seen the bathroom most mornings you'd know why it was my worst job.
Dream job: I would like to write for 60 Minutes.
Brad Martin, Afternoon Host
First Job: I sold magazines as a kid. One of my best clients was Pulitzer-Prize winning author Conrad Richter. He must have gotten quite a kick out of it - I didn't know he was a literary star at the time!
Worst Job: I was between radio jobs and worked at a motel, where I was given an extra $5 for every room I could clean (bedsheets, toilet, etc, ugh!) and turn around, so it could be rented a second time in one day.
Dream Job: A seat on the US Supreme Court - I, of course, know what is best for everyone.
Kathryn Nelson, Operations Manager
My first job was at Sears. I worked in Cameras and Stationary. I really liked that job. My first and only raise I received was for an additional 10-cents per hour. From time to time I would be called in to work in sporting goods. Larry Byrd (basketball player) actually came in to the sporting goods department while I was working one day. He was so tall (and I’m so short) I came up to his waist.
The worst job I ever had was at Radio Shack. Engineers would come in requesting a certain diode with light emitting blah blah blah and I had no idea what they were talking about. We were not given any training. My boss was mean and actually threw a roll of paper towels at me because she said I wasn’t cleaning the television correctly.
If I could have any job in the world I would like to do the voiceover for a nurturing character on children’s television. Something like Little Bear’s mom, or Little Bill’s mom. They’re always so understanding.
Deanna Mackey, Station Manager
What was your first job? My first "real" paid job outside of babysitting was working at Toys 'R Us in customer service/wrapping during the Christmas season of 1983. What that entailed was taking calls from crazed parents about toys they had to have and shrink wrapping all the toys that overzealous children had ripped off the packaging. This was the year when the Cabbage Patch Kids phenomenon exploded. Most of the calls I received were from parents trying to bribe me to hold back a doll for them. Some would offer to meet me in the back of the building to exchange dolls for cash. I never took anyone up on their offer but I believe the experience is part of the reason I waited as long as I did to have children.
What is the worst job you’ve ever had and why? It wasn't the job, it was the supervisor. I was writing for an editor who wasn't very organized and could barely get the copy edited in time for the newscast. The individual would become so overwhelmed, the minutes leading up to air would be punctuated with his screaming and swearing. It wasn't unlike scenes from the movie Broadcast News. I'd have a knot in my stomach during the whole shift. That was 20 years ago and I know it deeply affected me because to this day I can't tolerate screaming or hysteria at the work place (and who should?).
If you could have any job in the world, what would it be? My current one is pretty good:), but long-term I plan on becoming a novelist and mommy blogger.
Tom Karlo, General Manager
My first job: Delivered newspapers for the San Francisco News Call Bulletin.
Worst Job: I grew up with horses. We boarded our horses at a local stable with 5 other owners. My worst job was cleaning the corals weekly. The money I earned helped to offset my expenses to board my own horse. Yes – I was shoveling %$#&.
My Dream Job: Just got it on Feb. 2, 2009
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