The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #9756   Message #673428
Posted By: Don Firth
21-Mar-02 - 01:31 PM
Thread Name: Best /Worst Job List
Subject: RE: Best /Worst Job List
Best job, worst job. Oh, boy!

Among singing jobs:—Almost all good. I've sung a few times for huge audiences (6,000 on one occasion) and that was pretty exhilarating, but I think my favorite form of performing is the house concert. Seattle's coffeehouses tended to be pretty nice places compared to some others I've seen (your elbows didn't stick to the tables), and coffeehouse gigs were generally pretty good. Of the Seattle coffeehouses, probably the nearest one to a pit, was Pamir House (started out to be an Indian restaurant and failed miserably). I sang there off and on for a couple of years. Usually there were two or three singers on at a time, and we'd swap songs, do off-the-hip duets and trios, and generally act like we were singing at a party. Fun to do, and the audiences seemed to enjoyed it. They kept packing the place. Good times!

"Day jobs." I worked for Boeing as a production illustrator (like drafting, only different) and the job itself wasn't bad, but a lot depended on the supervisor du jour. Some were great to work with, some were power-mad little b****rds!

I also worked for the telephone company as an operator. Eight years. That job generally has a fairly good image with most people (Lili Tomlin notwithstanding). The salary was okay, the bennies were pretty good, the physical surroundings were quite pleasant, but—! You are required to be courteous and accommodating to customers at all times (sometimes not an easy thing, because the customers have no such requirement regarding the operators) while, at the same time, getting them off your board as quickly as possible (the more customers you handle in an hour, the more money the company makes). Your calls were automatically timed, and if you spent an average of more than 25.4 seconds with each customer (AWT=average work time), you got chewed out. You also got chewed out if you were too abrupt with the customers. You were monitored constantly, and if you should inadvertently connect a customer to a wrong number, or key in a wrong "calling card" number (which the computer always caught and corrected), it went on your record. Three "errors" in a month called for disciplinary action. One work survey listed telephone operator as a higher stress job than flight controller, not because of the inherent responsibility, but because of the pressure put on you by supervision. Fairly good money and benefits, but I hated that job!!

A pretty good job was when I was a technical writer under contract to the Bonneville Power Administration (Hey! I worked for the same company Woody Guthrie did!). The writing was fun, but what drove me nuts was the boilerplate paragraphs of government jargon. I once tried to edit some of it to make it actually decipherable by normal humans and was told to leave it as is. All passive sentences. That way, nobody has to take responsibility for anything.

The 2nd best job I ever had was working as an announcer and newscaster at a classical music radio station. I got to program most of the music myself (the folks heard a lot of classic guitar and lute when I was on) and at the top of the hour I would read about five minutes of news. The rest of the time I sat back with a cup of coffee in my hand and my feet propped up, listening to music I like. And they paid me to do this!!

The absolutely worst job was telephone sales. I lasted for two weeks at that one. I couldn't take that much rejection. But I did earn enough money during those two weeks to buy my first Martin guitar (00-18, $95.00 back in 1953. Times have changed).

The best jobs were singing at The Place Next Door and trading songs with Bob Nelson, and singing at Pamir House and trading songs with Alice Stuart.

Don Firth