Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The 40 Year Old Rookie

Even the most casual of my half-dozen readers will tell you: I'm often at odds with my job. It's not that I don't enjoy my chosen craft, but the pressure and pace of daily TV news will wear on even the dullest of souls. Don't get me wrong, it's been a blast and then some, but lately, I've grown convinced it's a ludicrous way for a grown man to make a living. That's why Everett Aldridge's recent e-mail was so refreshing.

In it, the Arkansas man weaves a tale of wishful redemption, of staring into space and finding an answer - or maybe just another set of problems. In a clear and world-weary voice, Everett tells of how a dead-end kitchen job forced him to reconsider his current career path:

"As I made my way through the parking lot, the smell of beef juice and mixed veggies followed me. Reaching my car I realised my shoes had been wet since 11:30 am. My feet were tired and I could feel the slime of the day oozing through my wrinkled toes. It was just like any other day the long hours and smell of banquet food made me queezy as I sat at the stop light. I Wondered to myself how long could I do this job before I snapped."

The disillusion tailed him through crosstown traffic...

"As I drove down the same boring old street it seemed nothing had changed, it was the same as every other day, except that tonight, a white NAV( news assault vehicle) had just passed me, flying low with flashers blinking and puffs of smoke rolling from the drivers window. As it changed lanes and moved through traffic disappearing around a corner. That has to be a fun job I thought. Going places you have never been, meeting people with interesting stories..."

Inspired by this stoplight epiphany, Everett answered an ad at a local TV affiliate. Filling out an application, he dropped it off with the station receptionist and returned to his banquet hell. He'd all but forgotten about the interlude until a harried manager called him in for an interview...

"After a short dizzying tour we sat back down in his tiny office, he looked at me, a tired painful look on his face, then glanced at the stack of applications sighed abit and looked back at me and said, "you know , I really don't want to have to go thru this whole stack and you seem like you have a brain, so if you can start tomarrow then the job is yours. Be here at 9 am we can get your paper work started." My heart almost jumped out of my chest, I had done it, tomorrow I will be in Television!!!!!!"

I scored my first job the very same way - from an understaffed production manager teetering on desperation (Thanks, Lori!). But I was a twenty three year old punk at the time; my biggest responsibilty was keeping the girlfriend happy as I fought off sobriety at every turn. Everett's a 40 year old man, with all the baggage that come with it. I commend him for running mid-field into a young man's game and hope it brings him the satisfaction he craves, If nothing else, his story and burgeoning blog have made me rethink my own bitterness of late. Why, its almost enough to convice me I'm right where I ought to be in life.


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