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I’ve had some interesting jobs over the years. The work wasn’t weird or remarkable like what you see on the Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs. Well, some of it was. I’ve been a caddie, a busboy, a maintenance hand, and a waiter. I’ve hung drywall, peddled CDs at a music store, sold jeans at JC Penney, bounced at a bar, and bartended at that same bar. Then there are the various publications I’ve done turns on. But when I think about all the hours of labor over the years, I realize that it wasn’t the job that made the work interesting. It was my various (and, um, eclectic) bosses. I mean, some of the stuff these folks said and did … well, you’d need to hear it to believe it. I’m changing names, but all the following stories are absolutely true.
There was George, my boss at another magazine. George was known for passing off overly bizarre ideas as sheer brilliance. Actually, George thought everything he said and did was sheer brilliance. One time, he was telling us editors about his pet cat back in New Hampshire. George knew the right way to massage his cat so that the cat became docile and submissive. And he was confident that if instructed in the right manner, anyone could massage a cat and achieve a similar result.
“Adam, I want you to write a story called ‘How to Massage a Cat.’ ”
I laughed. It sounded like a well-timed, funny joke.
“Seriously, I’ll tell you how to do it, and you can practice on your cat.”
“But, George, I don’t have a cat.”
“Then use your friend’s cat.”
“I’m not close enough with anyone that has a cat whereby I can ask to borrow their cat so I can practice my cat massage.”
“Adam, why are you making this difficult? There’s a dumpster not more than 10 feet behind this building. I’ve seen at least four cats out there. Practice on one of them.”
I didn’t write the story. I also quit that job.
There was LaMont, who told me that when I wait on a table, I must find something to apologize for.
“What if I didn’t do anything wrong?” I asked.
“Inevitably, you will, so you might as well apologize beforehand,” he said.
“Like wearing my moon boots in July in case it might snow?”
“Well, that’s just ridiculous, isn’t it, Adam?”
I suppose so, which is why many patrons of Il Davide in Pepper Pike, Ohio, received some strange preemptive apologies from me.
And there was Mike, my boss at Record Town. He was just weird -- the only person I’ve ever met whose favorite band of all time was Queensryche. I’m sure there are some metalheads out there who do still listen to “Jet City Woman,” but a record store manager whose favorite band was Queensryche? Isn’t that like the editor of the Wall Street Journal saying his favorite book is Potty Time with Elmo?
I might just be crowing for no reason. After all, these jobs weren’t really bad, and neither were the bosses. (Okay, George was a bad boss.) This is subjective logic, after all. Using said logic, I also happen to have quite a long list of jobs that I thank my lucky stars I haven’t had (don’t worry, I won’t bore you by naming them all). And right around the top of that list, or at least in the top 10, would be any job that involves working on a Broadway show.
All those people who love Spamalot and The Producers? They most likely don’t know that it takes a ridiculous amount of work, and all those creative types together means confrontation. But having read our behind-the-scenes Broadway story on Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical (click here), lo and behold, I’ve gained a newfound appreciation for Broadway. The grueling number of hours the cast puts into preparing for the show, the design and development of the sets, the intricate detail that goes into the costumes and makeup -- it’s all so very impressive (not as impressive as a cat massage but more impressive than sitting through Cats the musical). That said, I still have no desire to ever work on a Broadway show, and it still makes my top 10 list of jobs that I give thanks for having never had. But I’ll actually go see a production now. And I think I’ll probably really like it. Just don’t sit George anywhere near me. And if the encore happens to be Queensryche’s “Silent Lucidity,” I probably wouldn’t complain. Yet if I do, I apologize.
Send Adam your stories from the skies. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.