Un-dream jobs create unique resume

Posted: Sunday, September 19, 2004

Lately, I've been wondering how it is a person ends up doing whatever it is they do for a living.

How, for instance, does a person or should I say, dude become a professional surfer? Although it's great work if you can get it, "surfer dude" is not a career choice high on even the grooviest guidance counselor's list.

I think I'm just jealous not because I want to get paid to catch a gnarly wave. I'm jealous because it seems to me that to become a professional surfer you'd have to love surfing so much you were practicing hangin' 10 in the womb and there was no question what you were going to be or totally try like hell to be when you grew up.

I'm jealous because I was never in lust enough with any one thing to know: THAT'S what I want to be when I grow up. For years, I've kept a cold little room in the basement of my heart for those lucky, evil little 8-year-olds who somehow knew, when they grew up, they wanted to be a doctor, trucker, firefighter, actor or whatever and that's exactly what they became.

If you're like me, and one day find your parents have remodeled your room with disturbingly green carpet and you still don't know what you what to be, even after four years of partying I mean college but have to find a way to pay for your crappy, overpriced studio apartment, there's only one thing to do. Get a crappy, underpaid job make that, a series of crappy, underpaid jobs.

In the past, to make a living, I have loaded trucks with pork products, sorted semi-famous people's mail, chauffeured without a license, answered phones, ordered office supplies, tagged spotted owls, counted saplings, tested oil and sludge samples, collected urine and even grosser fluids from monkeys, tested (and sometimes tasted) wine as a lab technician for a large winery.

One thing about not knowing what you want to be when you grow up, to find out, you're forced to be a lot of things. I've never held a sane person's idea of a dream job, but I have done a wide range of stuff and some of it not a lot of people get to do. So I have mixed feelings about my job history.

Sure, part of me wishes I would have gone to law school and sued my way into a Park Avenue address and a summer beach house or become a surgeon and sliced my way into the driver's seat of a set of Porsches, a different colored Carrera for each month of the year.

Another part of me wishes I would have started every boy's dream, a garage band, and pulled overtime shifts at the local overpriced coffee shop to pay for studio time to record the next big college radio hit.

But the biggest part of me is kind of glad, in a sick way, to have had so many crummy jobs. For better or worse, my past employment has taken me to many ordinary places a lot of boys and girls have been and led me into a few exotic situations no man or woman should ever find him- or herself in with another primate.

The simple fact is, without those experiences, I wouldn't be the shining example of humanity and semi-pro hack writer I am today.

Despite growing up in California, I never had the attitude, let alone the talent, to be a surfer dude. Although I'm sure it would have been killer to hang with the surfer babes, I was apparently destined for a less-tanned lifestyle.

And that's OK. As lame as it sounds, in my head I wear the crummy jobs I've had like badges of honor and I'm kind of proud to have accumulated such an outstanding collection. I wouldn't trade any part of the mess that is my resume even the monkey fluids.

Mark Harrison is a reporter for the Peninsula Clarion.

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