Why We Had Crappy Jobs In Our 20s
Thirty years ago, I worked as a reporter at Billboard Publications. Now when I say Billboard Publications, I’m telling the truth. But I’m also kind of lying.
Because although I want you to believe — and I also wanted to believe — I wrote for Billboard Magazine, the very cool music industry magazine, I did not.
Nope. Instead, I wrote for a magazine that was part of Billboard Publications, which unfortunately for all involved, was called Amusement Business.
Which meant I spent three years racing around the country covering fairs, festivals, concert tours, carnivals, carnies, sideshows, concessions, lizard men, freak shows, fried-dough makers.
I was paid basically 13 cents a day and wrote about 7 - 10 stories a week.
But there turned out to be a hidden treasure. Amusement Business had such a low bar of journalism, that one day, despite my prior experience of zero, they gave me my own column.
“Yup, that’s what you’re going to do,” boomed Tom Powell, our editor in chief, into his phone in Nashville, TN.
“But, but….really?” I squeaked back into my phone in New York City. “I mean, what would I call it? And what would I write about?”
“That’s for you to figure out.” I imagined Tom patting his mountainous Colonel Sanders belly as he said this.
It was 1991. I was 25 years old with a mean case of undiagnosed ADD and commitment anxiety to any one subject, person or thing.
I called my marketing wizard friend Jason, who had a much better job than me, and told him the quandary.
“Call it ‘It’s None of My Business, But….’ That way you can write about whatever the hell you want and anyway, that about sums you up.”
So that’s what I did. Every two weeks, I faced that blank page with a mortal fear. I wrote about weighty issues, like dog food and Bruce Springsteen and how the carnival people buried their money in frozen chicken cavities. Over time, a great connection grew between me and my readers, back when that meant people actually talked to each other.
It’s been nearly 30 years since then, and luckily for everyone, Amusement Business no longer exists. I'm guessing that after all those Nashville lunches of fried pickles and biscuits and gravy, Tom’s probably long gone, too.
But just about three decades later, I’m looking back at that shitty job and thinking how in some ways, it’s all led to this.
Why? Because all roads lead to where you are. Every single one of them. Just like they always do, whether we see it in the moment or not.
So here I am. Your personal columnist. Fifty two years old and a lot more shit to get into.
When it came time to name my blog, well, how could I not?
It’s None of My Business, But…
This one’s for you, Tom.
Now tell me, friends, what shitty job did you have in your 20’s? And how did it help you get here now?
Next up: What we learned on our (circus-like) spring break college tour with our son, Sam.
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