Ten years ago, this month, I executed a decision that would not only end up proving to be more substantial than I could have ever imagined, but it was probably the BEST risk I’ve ever taken.
Having graduated college 6 months earlier my life was primed for the next big step. It was time to enter the professional work force and begin building up to my career.
The job search was long, tiring, and a major pain-in-the-ass. What sort of work could a 22-year-old kid with a degree in Broadcast Journalism find in Nebraska that lived up to the dreams and desires that had begun to take form over the last 4 years?
While skimming the Help Wanted ads in the newspaper I came across an ad for a bartending “college” offering a 40-hour crash course for a relatively reasonable price. If figured it couldn’t hurt since I wanted to become more diverse in my skill set since most of my practical work experience was working in the back stocking room of a department store, and being a cook at KFC.
In no time (or 40-hours if you’re going to be picky) I learned 93 different cocktails, and mixed drinks, passed my practical drink making exam, was the only person in my class to ace the written final, and earned my certification.
While this little bit of extra education helped me secure numerous interviews at establishments, because of my 100% lack in actual serving experience, they were hesitant to hire me.
Finally, I came across a sports bar that was looking for an additional door guy to check IDs most evenings, and during certain special events during the week. After an excellent interview with one of the night managers, I was not only offered $7.50/hour to sit on a bar stool all night checking the IDs of anyone who looked under 35; he also stated that he’d do what he could to get me on as Bar Back after I’d been there a couple of months.
Upon reflection this was the perfect job for that particular moment in my life. Who can argue with a paid gig where your primary duties are to check IDs and take out the trash when the majority of the cans filled up. The rest of the time I was allowed to write, do crossword puzzles, watch football on one of the dozens of flat screens around the restaurant/bar, and being the personable person I was chat with the servers who would come spend the occasional break in the stool next to me.
It was only a few weeks later that I interviewed for a job at a local company the roasted its own coffee beans, produced various flavors of teas/cocoas/cappuccino mixes, and leased various brewing machines to numerous companies and businesses throughout the Midwest. I was originally hired as a Receiving Specialist, of which I can barely recall the actual duties assigned to me. That position was dissolved within my first month of employment. I was given the choice of being unemployed, or taking a position in the workshop where I would clean, refurbish, and assemble the machines we leased out.
This was a no-brainer.
As the months came and went, I continued to average work weeks of 60-70 hours; practically banking most of my income since my bills were minimal living at my folks house.
Around Halloween I began looking for an apartment to get with a college buddy of mine who lived in the same city. My father, who knew some of my down-the-road plans, basically smacked me with some knowledge saying, “Do it now before you lock yourself in to something here.”
His words obviously hit home because that very night at the sports bar I began writing a detailed list of everything I needed to do if I were take this big of a step in my life.
Rigorous planning began. After about 2 months all of my ducks were in a row and I was ready to take that first giant step.
If memory serves me correctly it was January 4th, 2004 when my father and I packed up the family minivan, along with “my” ’96 Toyota Camry, and began the 3-day trek across roughly 1400 miles of the United States. I was moving.
Destination: Los Angeles.
-to be continued-
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