I started pushing pizza out of a converted bread truck when I was 11. I quit school with a note from my mother at 16, and never looked back.
I cooked all through the military except for Vietnam. After the war I became the night chef at Fantasia Restaurant, one of the six largest restaurants in New England at the time. Six days a week, twelve hours a day while attending the Chef’s Training Institute in Boston. What I learned in that period has paid off in ways I could never imagine.
I bought a guitar in 1972, much to the ridicule of my adoring family, then entered Berklee College of Music four years later on the G.I. Bill. I studied guitar, piano, theory, writing and arranging. I started gigging with my band in 1975 and played every shit heap from Cape Cod to New Hampshire. It almost killed me.
I have always been disruptive. In a family of twelve, you were disruptive or you starved to death. You develop gallows humor to defend and protect your sanity. I developed my stand up during broken strings and fist fights with my band on the road. In biker bars, it’s be funny… or die.
Along the way helpful friends and family told me I was on a dead end doing food, music and comedy but I didn’t know anything else. My mother was my biggest fan. Always.
In 1982, I took a job on the dock with Dupont and had a very successful career. I soon found myself way over my head in a technical sales position with a G.E.D. Selling radioisotopes. Yikes!
I never thought I would actually get away with it. But I did. It became like shooting fish in a a barrel. A little humor and a lot of street sense can soothe a lot of egos.
My dead end job experience help me crush it, every single day. I did things they’re still talking about. I sold, I played, I performed and joked all the way through it. Because it’s all I knew.
They loved it.
Today, food, music and comedy are ingrained in every part of my life. Comedy gets me everywhere. I can work a room with the best of them. If you can bring a laugh or a smile, you’re always welcome. Anywhere.
That, along with a little street earned emotional intelligence still opens doors. Food is something every young person should be comfortable with if not just for survival. I learned from the best.
And during my darkest hours I can pick up a guitar or sit down at the piano and cross the gates of Heaven. I think every kid should learn to play an instrument. You don’t have to go on the road. Or end up in detox. Long story. 🙂
I took a lot of criticism for my dead end choices back in the day. But they can never take them away from me. They are my comfort in the darkness.
There are no dead end jobs, only dead end people.