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Alas! One cannot live on Rootin' alone. So, in the interest of making my annual contribution to the Social Security coffers, I entered the workforce full-time in 1986.

An all-too-brief fling with academia (I fancied myself a history professor) landed me right back in the midst of all the corporate crapola, where I've been rummaging about ever since.

Somehow, I have passed through the service industry sewage relatively unscathed. At least so far...

Along the way, there were some significant stepping stones that were key to the development of my so-called career. I'll briefly touch upon the highlights in the hope that my sharing these turning points will inspire others to follow in these Roto Rootin' footsteps and pursue their own waste(ful) management endeavors.

  • Milestone #1: November 1986 -- Drawing upon the interrogation skills I perfected as a crack day camp counselor, I break my first big story as a reporter for the hometown weekly. Editor changes my headline after I leave, relabeling the pontoon boats in my story as "booze barges." Turns out, my Dad's boss is one of said booze barge owners. I write a quick retraction story and learn my first lesson in fine art of sucking up to the big guy.

  • Milestone #7: Summer 1988 -- Learn how to make smell of alcohol vanish from the body through daily learn-by-example instruction of co-workers in filing room of large Atlanta insurance company. Figure out that I'm not very good at filing -- a character flaw that proves to haunt me throughout my career.

  • Milestone #13: October 1988 -- Stop traffic at dawn in small North Carolina town while escorting tuxedo-clad fireman, Pinocchio and a paper-mache whale (built over a golf cart) through empty streets as part of bungled publicity stunt for furniture finish manufacturer at big annual furniture fair. Tops off night of waiting by phone for disgruntled tow truck driver to arrive at McDonalds after hauling said whale 500 miles because it wouldn't fit in U-Haul.

  • Milestone #20: May 1989 -- Somehow convince someone at large New York ad agency to give me a job. On my first day, my account goes into review, and I am asked to conduct a survey of 100 women at the company and ask them probing questions about their laxative usage. Make a lot of new friends and help agency lose the account in only four weeks, despite agency's brilliant employment of Peggy Lee song, "It's a Good Day (for Moving Along)," as breakthrough new laxative tagline.

  • Milestone #24: August 1989 -- Drive 500 miles to deliver sports equipment to softball field for annual client-agency ball game. Only one hour into seven-hour drive, co-worker turns to me and asks, "Don't you ever stop talking?" I resolve to become just like him when I grow up.

  • Milestone #33: May 1990 -- See two respectable, distinguished ad veterans nearly come to blows over extreme differences of opinion. One thinks proposed policeman character in cold medicine commerical should say, "How's it going," in scene one. Other opts for "How goes it." Naturally, fisticuffs ensue. My vote for "How's it hangin'" goes unheeded.

  • Milestone #41: August 1990 -- In efforts to impress big boss man, attend late-hours work function and miss last bus home to New Jersey. Sleep under kitchen table of New York University dorm suite, with NYNEX yellow pages book as pillow. Resultant photographic memory of all things in Manhattan starting with letters M through Z astonishes friends and co-workers and leads to my promotion to switchboard operator.

  • Milestone #56: December 1991 -- Learn new meaning of global marketing on first international business trip (Vancouver, Canada). After long days in warehouse shooting commercials for new kids' games, creative director takes us on rigorous tours of city's most sophisticated bistros, all featuring strange women taking showers and rolling around on bearskin rugs.

  • Milestones #61-79: March 1992 - November 1993 -- Master Sheb Wooley's "Purple People Eater" and art of dodging vile insults and Nerf Blast-o-Matic pot-shots from mean client with toupee over course of countless nights of karaoke in lonesome New England bars & grills. Learn that "Hava Nagila" does not play in Peoria, or Pawtucket.

  • Milestone #65: August 1992 -- Coordinate multiple celebrity commercial shoot for dying adult board game in LA and NYC. Highlights include being told to shut up by orange-suited Little Richard, getting autographed LP from Evel Kneivel and having rotten grapes thrown at me by Patrick Ewing Jr. Somehow end up on-camera in commercial with supermodel Elle Macpherson and become Screen Actors Guild member. My acting career goes nowhere, and Elle and I split over irreconcilable philosophical differences (she's a Mets fan and insists on wearing her hat in Yankee Stadium bleachers).

  • Milestone #82: January 1994 -- Travel from Sydney to Hong Kong to Macao to Los Angeles to Cleveland to New York and then on to Toronto in less than 60 hours to attend commercial shoot for pachyderm-shaped children's activity game. On stopover to shower and catch breath in frostbitten NY, fall asleep in "The Joy Luck Club" and get verbally assaulted by irate psychopath who claims I kicked his chair and ruined the movie by spilling his Good 'n' Plenty.

  • Milestone #95: March 1994 -- Hole up in smog-choked Mexico City to write 100-page overview of Mexican children's toy & game market (in Spanish). Learn Windows 3.1 on pirated Venezuelan software and nearly die of asphyxiation when I enter office men's room and realize that verb, "to flush," has not yet been introduced into office vocabulary. Resolve to run up hefty expense reports as soon as possible.

  • Milestone #107: September 1994 -- Get in shouting match with cranky, stogie-chomping new boss, who wants me to manipulate research numbers to prove that over-rated comedian is an effective celebrity spokesperson. I resign immediately and announce plans to go on cross-country trip and finally finish graduate degree. He gives me the phone number for a substance abuse counseling facility and asks me when I can have the report completed.

  • Milestone #110: January - September 1995 -- Hoodwinked by my old nemesis, Filthy Lucre, I return to old bad job and 70-hour work weeks on toy & games account. After creative director throws chair at me and SWAT team storms my apartment building, realize it's time for a change of scenery. Give away my New York Transit Museum membership and move to Chicago to work for kinder, gentler ad agency with goal of making the world a safer place to shave.

  • Milestone #122: June 1996 -- Successfully avoid row after row of outlet malls, bratwurst joints and cheese shops on road from Chicago to Wisconsin to attend rigorous "team training" sessions under tutelage of distracted man with open shirt and lots of chest hair. Learn that I am a standard psychological type that shuns group activities and has no patience for bureaucracy. Good thing I stumbled upon the old ad game!

  • Milestone #143: January 1997 -- Float up-river to Kansas City to build Web sites for friendly little ad agency. Astounded after first week when I realize no one has yelled at me in five days. What gives?

  • Milestone #167: April 1999 -- Head out of town at sundown and embark on yet another journey to parts unknown, my three cats and wacky wife by my side...

  • Milestone #192: August 2000 -- Make that FOUR cats!

  • Milestone #207: January 2002 -- Err, would you believe FIVE cats!?

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