Although this blog was created to discuss my life in education, I find it difficult not to mention my total work experience. After all, we are the summary of our experiences divided into our trials and many tribulations. My brother and I were up late talking about how many different jobs we have had. We both counted them out and were chagrined to know we had both had some thirty or more jobs. What follows next are some memoirs of what John Lennon would refer to as a Working Class Hero. I am going to exorcise these demons anyway, so you might as well sit back and enjoy.


If you have ever seen the Robin Williams movie, “One Hour Photo,” everything he talks about with regards to processing people’s pictures is 100% true! Everything from trying to spot your junior pornographers (they always want only one set), to the people that take pictures of nothing but apples sitting in baskets. Hundreds of pictures of apples in baskets. The occasional skin pic and the crazy Russian, apple lover, who wanted his 36 shots “cut into five sets of five…NOT FOUR,” was nothing compared to the plastic surgeon who liked to take pictures of his work. He would photograph every step of his trade. From the first slices of skin to the bare muscles of the face. The unnerving part was his smile next to the pile of goo in plastic dish that was some rich woman’s face. What was even more creepy was that he looked like the TALL MAN from Phantasm!


I had just finished giving one of my best auditions. I thanked the casting people for their time and  I thought I heard someone ask me something.  “I’m sorry,” I said, “I didn’t hear you.” What followed next was one of the most surreal experiences I remember having as an actor in Chicago.  It was right up there with the guy who wanted me to read for the part of the gay Tuba. The casting director or whomever, started screaming at me and hurling obscenities towards me. He had stated how irritated he was with how I behaved and that I have no business talking to him while he was doing such and such. I said a few things back and the next thing I know, this guy and I were in a shouting match over absolutely nothing. I finally walked away with a quip about his mother being like porcupine (finish that joke on your own) and walked into the waiting room. Greeting me were about twenty other hopefuls looking at me as if I had defecated on the floor. I paused, threw up both thumbs and ecstatically stated, “Nailed it!” I walked out the door and into the Chicago night. It was the last audition I ever gave!


In high school worked the grill at Dairy Queen. My bosses were a married couple with kids. They were super friendly and cool. It was a franchise for them, so he would work the kitchen with us grill men, while his wife would work the front counter. Grandma had a hand in the business too as the cake decorator. I was pushed from the grill to the front counter within a couple of months. Now, I was super freaking awesome at making shakes and blizzards, but for some reason making a simple cone was rocket science to me. Every cone I attempted to make ended up looking like the Leaning Tower Of Pisa. It baffled me how I could master Shakespeare but I simply could not make a damn ice cream cone!  You should have seen the looks on people’s faces when I attempted to serve them these diagonal Picasso like structures. Women would cackle in laughter, men simply shook their heads, but the kids, the kids would look at me as if I had three heads…all leaning to one side or the other. STUPID CONES!


Hard Rock Cafe is quite possibly the greatest oxymoron of all time. They should really name it Pop Music Bistro. The closest they got to playing Hard Rock was inviting Tonic to play there on the main stage. It was like listening to Cold Play covering Black Sabbath songs.  It was an awkward time! The election of 2000 was in full recount mode and I had four ladies that were impossibly demanding. “Sugar, I need a glass, a glass of ice, and a glass of diet coke so I can mix it myself.” They were running me so hard I couldn’t get to my other guests, and felt horrible. This woman, the three glass mixer, accused me of not paying enough attention to them. I lashed back, “I do have other people to wait on you know.” Her friends shot back, “DO YOU KNOW WHO YOUR TALKING TOO? THIS IS MISS PLUS SIZE 2000 AND SHE DESERVES RESPECT!” Lacking the humility to let stuff go, I smiled and said, “SINCE WHEN DO THEY GIVE OUT AWARDS FOR BEING FAT!?” I was fired the next day. It was the first time I had ever been fired from a job.


“Why do you want to work here?” Frankly, as a candidate, I think it is the most arrogant, self-aggrandizing, question, that ultimately reveals nothing about what a person can do for your company.  That question wreaks of insecurity.  I once reversed the question on an interview panel. They got defensive and the interview turned hostile, revealing all I needed to know. I hate that question. Half the time I want to come up with an answer like this (que Jack Nicholson voice) “Well, I think there are many answers to that question.  I have discussed the school with people who work here and their answers were…very interesting. I am very particular about what school I choose to work for, but the answer to your question can be given in three parts. One. Practically speaking you have an opening and I have the skills you require. Two. If I don’t know why I want to work here, why am I here to begin with? What would motivate someone to work on a campus they know nothing about? Three. You called me. So, let me ask you… why do you want me… to work for you?”

As always thank you for reading Tales From The Red Pen. I bid you adieu. Like, comment, subscribe, most importantly…SHARE!