Thursday, April 14, 2011

Pink Piddy Paws wants to know...

In a continuation of "what the heck should I write about - I know I'll ask for suggestions,"  my pal, Pink Piddy Paws had the following list of questions:

I want to know why you went into the work that you do. What drove you? Did you just drop into? Was it a family thing? Do you love your work? What is your favorite and least favorite part of your work? And (in a perfect world where pay raises were big and job security strong) would you stay with this line of work or would you do something else? If something else...what? :)

Drive?  I can't say that I have drive or ambition - whatever you want to call it.  What I do have is ability.  To learn, to adapt, to change and a strong streak of attention to detail.  If I'd had drive, I'd have made the most of my high school years.  As it was, I was a "gifted" student and skated through.  One day, my advisor in the gifted program asked me if I was interested in an internship.  My first impulse was to turn it down - but when she said it would count as half a school year and I didn't have to go to class, I jumped right on it.  The problem was figuring out what it was I wanted to do (still is, truth to tell).

Dad was working in television at the CBS affilliate and offered to broach the subject with the PBS station in town.  He did, they said sure (free help is free help) and on the last day to decide, I went with an internship at our local PBS station.  I still didn't know what I'd be doing, but I was gonna DO IT!  "IT" turned out to be production.  Running cameras, audio, floor directing - and later, videotape editing, lighting, and studio supervision.  I learned all I could in those 6 months and sufficiently impressed the supervisors with my skill that they offered me a job when my internship was over. 

I made a lot of friends.  I'm still in touch with a lot of them.  Still WORK with some of them.  It's been a long and interesting journey that has led me full-circle because I'm back - working at the same place again.

At the same time I was working orignally for the station, I also worked as a newspaper delivery person AND had a night shift at our local big band station.  And I went to school.  I was pretty busy there for a while.  I got married.  Quit doing the papers.  Eventually quit TV and just did radio and went to school.  Then we moved to Oklahoma.

In Oklahoma, I hired on at an independent station on the production crew.  Eventually I moved into film and videotape editing - cutting up movies and programs for air.  Once I edited 15 minutes out of Fiddler on the Roof and a lifelong fan who knew every word and every scene couldn't figure out where I'd cut it.  Let's just say I had a knack. 

I left there and went to work for the FAA, doing word processing and creating instructional materials for training air traffic controllers.  It was after Reagan had fired a bunch, and we were innundated with students!   I thought about going through the training myself, but after typing out all the lessons, I decided I wasn't interested.  I also considered Accident Investigation, but my then-husband was adamantly opposed.  I bowed to his wishes and kept doing what I was doing.

Eventually, I left.  My job, my husband, Oklahoma - and came back home.  And I had to find a job.

I temped at the local cable station.  I worked out at that CBS affilliate for a bit but it was such a long drive!  I went by my old PBS station one day and asked if they had any jobs open and was told there was, for a traffic assistant.  Could I do that?  "Sure!!!" I said, "What's traffic?"

Not many people, even those in the business, have any idea what Traffic actually does.  Essentially, I write the directions for what goes on the air.  What airs when, where it can be found, how long it is, and I fill in everything that goes on in between programs as well.  It's kind of like doing Air Traffic Control for television - only there are no planes involved.  That's it in a nutshell, but in my case, I do more than that.  I also find, tag and set up edits for on-air promotions, do voice work and if needed, fill in when the studio needs a hand.  I've worn big, hot costumes in parades and other events.  I've sold hotdogs, answered phones, stood up in front of a camera and begged for your pledge, and ridden herd on lots and lots of children.  And don't even get me started on the reports that need to be done for Nielsen, PBS, CPB and the FCC.  Oh, and I help out at radio from time to time.

I love what I do.  It's interesting and varied enough to rarely be dull.  I have my finger in lots of pies there.  That doesn't mean that I don't get burnt out - I do.  There are times when I feel a decided lack of enthusiasm, but show me something new or a new way to do things and a chance to talk to other traffic people face to face and the fire gets lit all over again.  Going to that conference in Las Vegas was the best thing to happen to my job in quite a while! 

That said, I am also a state employee.  The current administration seems bound and determined to make sure that we make a new life below the poverty line.  Many of us won't be able to afford to work for the state anymore if the cuts and increases in insurance/benefits costs go through.  There have been no raises for the last 6 years, and the cost of living just keeps going up.  We've had to get pretty inventive already, but the Governor and legislature may push it to the point where I'll have to figure something else to do.  Which is too bad.  I'd love to stay and see what happens in the future - it's interesting and fun and very stimulating.  We'll just have to see what happens.

If I were to do something else though, I'd want to get into the home improvement business.  I'd be happy working at Lowe's or Home Depot, but would prefer a more hands-on approach.  I'd be a painter or a flooring expert, laying tile or hardwood and making your space more beautiful.  I'd be interested in exploring ways to make homes more efficient as well.  Perhaps I could train to be an energy auditor and go to work for the City.  I don't know.  I hope that's not a decision that I HAVE to make.  But it is fun to think about!

So, Pink Piddy Paws...  is that a good enough answer for you?

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