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Sweet 16 Jobs I’d Love YOU To Have

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Close a door, open a window…

After I “retired” in 2014 from my long medical lab career, I left the sweet bacterial scents behind and began looking for fun and captivating things to do.

No, it wasn’t out of boredom, or financial need, but in a spirit of adventure; a mini adrenaline shot maybe? SHOT! SHOT!!

But where would I bite?

The Menu: the first entree I took on was bartending, with a volunteer side dish of Soup Kitchen vegetable chopper, followed by a dessert of local college literacy and ESL tutor.

Next up came a post-prandial sip of a few hours weekly as a shipper at a local winery.

And now, here I am in almost-post-COVID mode and my mind is – in slow motion – seeking ideas for future stimulation…

Let’s step back for a second…

… you stare at yourself in the mirror (full-length nudity isn’t required here, but you can decide) and ask yourself: Who am I?

You’re bored or frustrated; an adrenaline junkie or an artist; perhaps recently retired, and hopefully not just Waiting For Godot.

You’ve worked in the same job, the same profession for 5, 10, 25 years and are looking for a change? Of course you are. Life is too short to be boxed into one vocation for decades. Carpe diem and all that…

If you’ve woken up with vivid dreams of taking on a brand new challenge, I have some juicy ideas for you.

Actually, these schemes are for me, but maybe it will fire up your own creative juices and dig up some exciting idea bubbles for you.

These are all real jobs, however, to be candid, some of them are Looney Tunes as hell, while others do have real merit… only you can decide which is which and move forward in your fun future.

Let’s explore:

1. CHOCOLATE TASTER – Heaven… I’m in heaven… sure, chocolate taster jobs don’t require any formal qualifications, but you do need to have an acute sense of taste and smell to do this job effectively. Large chocolate companies have several chocolate tasters they use to make sure their product is delicious. You can think of yourself as a Sommelier de Chocolat.

2. LIVING STATUE – Who knew you could be paid for standing still as well as laying down on the job? Performing as a living statue is one form of busking, especially in places with a high level of tourism. Living statue performers strategically choose a spot, preferably one with a high level of foot traffic, then create the illusion of complete stillness while standing. Sometimes, passers-by won’t realize you’re a real person, which can deliver a shocking surprise when the “statue” gives them a small gesture (such as a wink or nod). The objective is to create fun moments of interaction that result in a tip. In truth, I’ve actually done this “job” twice as a non-profit fundraiser – once as Jack Frost (below) and another time as The Grinch – it’s a blast and kids love the tease!

3. CUIDACARRO – yup, in Spanish this means “taking care of a car”… all you need to do is get thee to a city with sky-high theft crimes and let wealthy car owners pay you for standing watch over their car to make sure it isn’t stolen, or disassembled and put on blocks while they’re elsewhere, peacefully sipping scotch or Dom Perignon. How cool is that?

4. MUSIC THERAPIST – Ah hemmmmm… music therapy practice means establishing caring and professional relationships with people of all ages and abilities. Empathy, patience, creativity, imagination, an openness to new ideas, and understanding of oneself are important attributes. Music therapists are musicians as well as therapists, so a background in and love of music are essential. To get the inside track, individuals thinking of music therapy should consider gaining some experience through volunteer opportunities or summer work in nursing homes, camps for children with disabilities, and other settings which serve the needs of people… even animals. Doh re mi!

5. DEODORANT TESTER SNIFFER– almost as much fun as being a chocolate taster, but NOT at all! In order to test the effectiveness of new products, “odour judges” are hired to smell volunteers’ breath, feet, and armpits. To make sure their judgment is accurate, sniffers have their sense of smell tested monthly. This is one job that really does pass the sniff test.

6. AUDIO ENGINEER – Like to work the graveyard shift with narcissistic, ego-driven musicians? An audio engineer (or a sound engineer) works with the mechanics of recording, mixing, and reproducing sound. Audio engineers are not the same as sound producers, writers, or performers, as they deal specifically with the technical and mechanical aspects of music and sound — nothing else. If you like to hear the same song performed 100 times consecutively, this is your chair.

7. PERSONAL TRAINER – Are you jacked? Ripped? Look good in tight spandex? Share your secrets… a personal trainer works one-on-one with a client to develop and implement a fitness training regimen that helps them lose weight, get stronger, improve physical performance or invest in their health. Trainers introduce clients to individualized exercises that are based upon their personal goals, skill level and needs. Side benefit: all the protein bars and kale smoothies you can stomach.

8. HOMICIDE DETECTIVE – Law & Order… Bum bum… If you faint at the sight of blood, jump forward to #9. Beginning at a crime scene, a homicide detective works alongside forensic specialists to examine evidence. Detectives also spend a significant amount of time interviewing witnesses to form an educated guess about how a homicide happened and who may be responsible. After identifying suspects, a detective makes arrests and performs interrogations to gather further information about a murder. If a case goes to trial, they may assist the prosecution by testifying in court. Prepare yourself for vivid dreams until the day you die.

9. VOICE ACTOR – my brother has, later in life, taken acting classes, and picks up acting gigs here and there. He does the full physical job of acting, but for the less “camera-inclined”, there are speaking roles where your face never gets a chance to entice paparazzi… ie. the voice actor. Voice acting is a performance art where actors use their own voices to entertain or market to an audience. But lending just your voice to a cartoon or a goofy commercial can be more difficult than physical acting on a TV series, so be prepared to prepare and work hard. “Alexa, find me a voice acting job!”

10. SPEECH WRITER – ever since I watched the first episodes of The West Wing, I wanted to be a speech writer like Sam Seaborn (Rob Lowe). I love the art of oration, but lack the gravitas in my own voice to become Barack Obama or Walter Cronkite (who?). The next best thing? Write eloquent and memorable speeches for Barack or Walter, Kamala or Justin, Pierre or JFK. Ask not what you can do for your next job… If this job bores you, maybe try this next one…

11. PROFESSIONAL SLEEPER – just like it sounds, the professional sleeper is someone who gets paid to sleep. REALLY! They generally do this as part of scientific research where scientists analyze their sleep patterns or to evaluate the quality of various sleep-related products. I’ve worked with more than a few colleagues over my career that I know are perfectly suited to this position… it’s definitely not your average 9 to 5 job…

12. PROFESSIONAL MOURNER – Do you really want your funeral to look like the crowd at the Olympic Opening Ceremony? It is a tradition in South East Asia that a loud funeral will assist the dead as they travel to the afterlife, so professional mourners are hired to cry and weep loudly throughout the service. This is almost the equivalent of being a voice actor, and most certainly is not a dying profession.

13. BIKE COURIER – riding slalom on busy car-clogged streets… yes! Adrenaline jockeys… bike couriers are most common in large cities with downtown cores and business districts where vehicle deliveries can be costly and hard to schedule due to traffic jams, construction, parking availability, and other factors. Enter the bike courier: often hired to deliver items such as food, clothing and articles for photo shoots, digital files on flash drives or hard discs, legal, financial, or other sensitive documents, corporate gifts, medical samples. You gotta have strong legs, and a strong heart to deliver hearts for transplant.

14. DEAD BODY REMOVER or CRIME SCENE CLEANER – OK, simple really, but not always really simple. You never know what you’re going to run into during a home body removal or post-death clean-up. Some people with predisposed conditions, or ugly homicides or messy accidents that ultimately cause their death may die days or weeks before they are found. You have to remove them and it can get downright gross. Skin slip, purge, faeces, urine, insects, odour. This is bloody haunted house stuff for the bravest of souls.

15. GOLF BALL DIVER– are you tired of standing in the blazing summer sun, salty-sweat stinging your eyes… waiting to take your Tee shot, knowing that it’s sure-as-hell gonna land in the stupid water hazard? Simple answer: put your Calloway Big Bertha back in its bag and find a cool job on the other side. Summer is sweet when you dive into those cool ponds to collect the balls all the other suckers have wasted in futile attempts to be the next Tiger or Annika. Keep in mind, not all ponds are pristine, sand-lined, leech-free, swimmer’s itch clear delights. Murk and mayhem may await!

16. AMUSEMENT PARK VOMIT CLEANER – Whoa, that roller coaster ride was more than you bargained for.. and so is the disgusting mess you left behind in the car you were riding. Did you think all that stomach churning effluent just magically disappears when the coaster comes to a stop? Hardly! Take on the “Chunker Challenge” and make the ride squeaky clean and sweet-smelling for the next inhabitant – discreetly and quick as a wink!

So, there you go, a few ideas to stimulate your creative juices. The good news is there are a ton of other fabulous jobs out there that will kindle your fires, amuse, excite, animate, scintillate… and… repulse.

I’m still tossing around some other first-class opportunities like professional whistling, fortune cookie writing, snake milker, water slide tester and professional snuggler.

So many choices, so little time…

Are We BC, AC or PC? 8 Movies or TV Shows I’ll Watch Again While I Wait To Find Out

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Like ancient dinosaurs, we’re passing into a new epoch…

… and while summer has arrived, and the livin’ is easy – this COVID era continues to transform many homes into workplaces, and makes social activities challenging.

Today I’ll reflect a bit on the blessings and the curses of this time. Yup, sweet and sour.

A mere two summers ago we were living in the BC (BEFORECOVID) period, although we didn’t know it at the time; this is the way of Black Swans. I doubt the dinosaurs saw the asteroid approaching.

Yes, life in this BC era was maybe simpler and… maybe more predictable (or not, depending on how you view BC life).

Then last summer, the fear and intense reality of COVID transmission were gearing up for a tidal wave surge that would leave a tense trail of sickness, death, and long-haul destruction in its wake.

This was/is the AC period – the AMIDCOVID Period. Lots of infections and no vaccines or clearly effective treatments (bleach injection anyone?).

Here we are today, we’re in this No Man’s Land of AC, but the tide is turning…

Soon’ish, we’ll enter the PC period (POSTCOVID).

Or will we? We’re standing at the doorstep, and not quite sure if the door will swing open wide or snap shut like a malicious mousetrap.

We’re still a few anxious breaths away from truly transitioning into a new BC era… becoming who we were before March 2020.

………….

It would smack of first-world arrogance if I didn’t add that we’re still a long way from a PC era in most poorer countries where vaccines have barely seen an arm yet.

African, South American, and some Asian populations are stifling in increased poverty and sickness as COVID spreads wildly, sucking away livelihoods for the most oppressed.

Please, the world is small, let’s not any of us forget our neighbours from other countries and continents.

………….

Back here in the privileged countries, COVID has changed every one of our lives in a myriad of ways… some stuff from BC we’ll return to like nothing ever happened, while other things we’ll question and ponder deeply about.

Do we really hanker to be the same person we were in the BC times? Introspecting R US…

Until we know where we are in this uncharted period of time, many of us will continue to semi-cocoon for a while longer like Groundhogs who have seen their shadows.

OK, now for one of the blessings.

BC, I had 10 different and diverse activities on my plate each week.

I was stimulated on so many fronts, but many have fallen off and so I find myself returning to the “comfort food” of the movies and TV shows I’ve seen before but have a tremendous affection for still.

Typically, I don’t usually like a return to what I’ve seen before. I crave the new and novel.

As TV character Ally McBeal would say when entering the stall of her workplace bathroom – “I prefer a fresh bowl“.

I agree with Ally, but… to push this very strange analogy even further, I’d add “… if it’s yellow let it mellow… if it’s brown, flush it down“.

Sometimes I just like the comforting warmth of the known and recognizable (I guess that’s the yellow in my above analogy!).

For some unknown length of time, a lot of us will continue to absorb our popular culture through the strong list of streaming choices our era of technology has gifted us when we want some diversion or relaxation, entertainment or provocation.

Until the day when COVID is undoubtedly in the rearview mirror, I’ll harken back to my short list of 8 shows or movies that I am happy to boomerang around to a 2nd or even 3rd time. Comfort food on the tube.

I won’t spell out all of my specific reasons of why I’ve made these choices, other than to say that in these shows I see and hear a combination of intellect, wit, profound thought, outrageous humour, deep sadness or boundless joy which leave me deeply affected in one or more directions.

Any cultural or artistic product – at its best – should leave us somehow moved, hopefully even changed for the better.

So, in no particular order, here I go:

  1. West Wing
  2. The Newsroom
  3. Of Mice and Men
  4. Seinfeld
  5. When Harry Met Sally
  6. Schindler’s List
  7. Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid
  8. Bohemian Rhapsody
  9. BONUS: The Eagles – Hell Freezes Over Concert

Reviewing my own list, I can see – in the writers and actors of each – a sense of the artistic gifts I personally admire and seek out for myself: Aaron Sorkin, John Steinbeck, Jerry Seinfeld, Nora Ephron, Steven Spielberg, William Goldman, Freddie Mercury, Don Henley/Glenn Frey.

Maybe you too can see yourself reflected in the choices you would make on your list as you await the return of BC.

Or perhaps PC will bring on a different you… Introspecting R US!

BC + AC = PC

RAMBLER SUMMER – The Song

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Let’s go surfin’ now, everybody’s learning how….

Summer beaches, summer fun, summer hormones, summer sun…

Summer holds a delicious lure to us residents of the chillier northern regions (although perhaps not this week where the temperatures here in B.C. reached well into the 40+C range).

This magnetic lure is intense.

When the dark days of December and January descend like a heavy, grey blanket, the lily-white limbs of northern denizens do a lemming-march onto airplanes, then migrate like geese, southwards to recapture that special, intoxicating summer lure.

July and August blow in in a heady combination of scanty clothing, the scent of BBQ and french fries in the air, convertible car tops down with wind in our hair, sweet potent icy drinks, trashy beach books, and of course, la pièce de resistance… summer music.

I wonder if you, like me, have one summer in your past that stands out as unique and memorable in a way that no other has before or since?

My “special” season came along in 1974… I turned 17 during those hot, humid, Hamilton summer days.

I passed my driver’s licence test that spring.

I moved away from my family home into an apartment with my sister when my widower father remarried.

By the time Grade 12 ended in June, I was flipping burgers at McDonalds for about 2 bucks an hour (my starting wage was $1.55/hr) and through some financial wizardry, I scraped together $1,000 bucks… enough to buy a 1967 Rambler American car.

Tan brown and suburban middle-class stodgy, my Rambler wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t sporty, it wasn’t fast, but… it was MY own car.

I installed a clickety-clack 8-track player and fed it the music of James Taylor, Carole King, Seals & Crofts, America, Supertramp, Elton John, Eagles… and of course, summer music supreme… The Beach Boys!

Cars and boy hormones are a standard teenage combustible combination… which means by the end of August I had a car… AND a girlfriend. All my hormones were cosmically aligned and on fire.

I wasn’t old enough yet to vote or drink alcohol legally… still, this young man came of age in the summer of 1974.

Which brings us to the song below, whose lyrics I wrote and posted here a year ago on June 28.

At the time I labelled it The Colour of My Rambler Summer, but after a number of revisions, I’ve shortened it to just Rambler Summer.

OK, now the nitty-gritty of putting music to a lyric. Hours and hours are spent experimenting different time signatures, keys, melodies and chord arrangements. This song has been through about 3 complete iterations in differing styles.

BUT.

Music and lyrics have to blend and match like a pair of identical twins to create magic, yes?

Musically, I wanted it to have a summer song ambiance- after all, it has summer in the title (as I hear DUH in my ear).

I love the Latin-style Cuban beat and one of my favourite Latino singers is a talented Cuban-Canadian young man, Alex Cuba (who lives in Smithers, B.C). Cuba often uses a Latin calypso rhythm in his songs which I’ve hijacked here. When I hear Alex, I feel summer heat on my skin.

Alex Cuba

Come the chorus, there was no doubt in my mind that it had to emulate a Beach Boys style of harmony to give it a summer-beachy sound.

It all begins with my simple Martin acoustic guitar and builds from there. It’s like baking a cake, adding one ingredient at a time.

Of course, I have miles to go to achieve the quality and texture of an Alex Cuba, or the mastery of a Brian Wilson song, but I’ve had a blast of summery fun playing, singing, and recording all the layers to this tune.

See if you can hear the elements I’ve mentioned.

If you pass, I’ll send you a music appreciation certificate like the one I received in Grade 6 for Sight-Singing music!!

Rambler Summer

by Larry Green

I don’t know if I learned the truth
at 17 or in my older days
soft lips and youthful yearning
the colours of a rainbow’s arch
seemed so clear in my first car
shared tones between the bars

CHORUS
The colour of my Rambler summer
was a camouflage tone
melting ice cream on my chin
syrupy sweet night
dark and light
dreams come free at a cost

Cool Butch and handsome Sundance
were the heroes of this laddish young’un
I’d pretend to be the thuggish
bad boy that held the school hall fun
watching shag cut kids with
droopy eyes singed by drugs

CHORUS
The colour of my Rambler summer
was a camouflage tone
melting ice cream on my chin
syrupy sweet night
dark and light
dreams come free at a cost

We sat in movie theatre matinees
cool dark balconies hanging with Steve McQueen
while outside buses fumed the air
sidewalks seared the shoppers’ feet
city streets scorched humid in the sun
that curled the women’s hair


CHORUS
The colour of my Rambler summer
was a camouflage tone
melting ice cream on my chin
syrupy sweet night
dark and light
dreams come free at a cost