Dream on

Not too long ago, we had fun here talking about our first jobs. The idea came about when the Today show ran a series about its hosts’ first jobs. The post prompted readers to share memories of theirs.

This week, CBS’ The Early Show has been airing a series on dream jobs, in which the hosts and others from the CBS family help viewers score their dream jobs, if only for a day–working at the zoo, cooking alongside Bobby Flay, writing cards for Hallmark and so on.

This got me thinking. I don’t know about you, but my idea of a dream job takes on a different form with each passing year.

When I was four, I wanted to be a ballerina nun. That lasted until I was six, when I wanted to be a go-go dancer. Actually I was a go-go dancer, in a make-believe go-go club my friends and I set up in the garage, with the help of my mother, who made us all fringed hot pink go-go dresses. We had one 45 rpm record, The Beatles’ “Can’t Buy Me Love;” two if you count the flip side, which was “You Can’t Do That.”

It has turned out that I’ve had a real dream job or two in my life. Or at least good jobs with dream perks. For several years, I got to travel the world, sometimes via corporate jet, doing fascinating work. Still, working in public policy as I did, it was not unusual to work on a single issue for years on end with seemingly little hope of completion.

It was then I used to dream of being a supermarket cashier. In addition to a fondness for groceries, what appealed to me most was the ability to finish a day’s work completely and definitively, with nothing hanging over my head. When your shift ends, you turn in your cash drawer, clock out, go home and leave it behind. You come in the next day with a clean smock and a fresh outlook.

I no longer have that dream because I am fortunate to be engaged more recently in project work, which carries with it that same sense of satisfaction–of completing a project, wrapping it up neatly and beginning a new one.

My husband has what many consider a dream job, and yet he dreams of other options. He is an oceanographer and wants to be a cowboy.

I can’t say at this moment what I’d consider to be my dream job. Maybe a shoe model.

Your turn. What did you want to be when you grew up or, now that you’re grown, what would be your dream job, even if you could do it for only a day?


Filed under Beauty and Fashion, Family and Friends, Food, Movies, Television and Radio, Music, Travel

12 responses to “Dream on

  1. I’d like to be the person who replenishes those beautiful plants in the lobbies of downtown office buildings. When the plants get stale, I’d come in with brand new fresh ones, leaving beauty and happiness behind.

  2. Pat Abrams

    At 10 years old I wanted to be a nightclub singer, I Was.
    At 18 I wanted to be an air controller, I was.
    At 50 I wanted to be in a movie, I was.
    Now at 77 I want to go on an archaeological dig. I love the ruins in Egypt and Greece. It would be like one old fossil looking for another.

  3. Sheree Moyer

    I have been the person that replenishes and cares for the plants in big corporate lobbies. Trust me Ellen, it is not that great of a job!
    I was just saying to the hubby the other night if I had it to do over I would be a professional dancer. All that hard work and sweat and the resulting abs appeal to me now more than ever!

  4. When I was between six and 10, I had wanted to be an archaeologist. (My dad was an architect and mum a fashion designer and had all these art, fashion, engineering books and stuff around the house, so that’s how it came about.) I suppose at a stretch that was my dream job, although I never consciously had a dream job in my mind. I reckon the nearest I got to a dream job was having been a professional photographer, but I would be hard-pressed to explain how that could be so. Right now, my dream job probably would be to run a NGO involved in solar power. I can’t explain why.

  5. Priscilla

    Looking back over the wide variety of jobs held, I would have to say the dream job was working as a hostess in a lively restuarant where I got paid to socialize. Although it did not pay well, there was nothing much to worry about at the end of the day, but getting the smell of smoke out of my clothes. I also met a lifelong friend AND my husband who worked there too.

    • That’s right! And, as your co-hostess, I met my husband. Also through an able shoe shine man there, I met the person who hired me for my first post-college job. I wonder what ever became of Smitty. As for the man who hired me, that turned out to be one heck of a story, which no one will ever believe. If I ever have the guts to write about it, it’ll be a whopper.

  6. Polly

    When I was in high school, I wanted to be a journalist and interview Mick Jagger and Barbara Walters, among others.

    As an adult, I love creativity and analysis and have thought that the two would mix wonderfully in marketing. However, I would not want to compromise my ethics to just sell a product, so that isn’t very realistic.

    Along idealistic lines, I would just like to have a job that gave me a sense of purpose, enough money to be comfortable, and no political ramifications. I’ve had it with office (school) politics — they are everywhere.

  7. Dianne

    I loved (almost) every minute I worked on Capitol Hill (for a Democrat who survived both the wave in 1994 and the tsunami in 2010). I often think I’d like to go back, but then see how poison the atmosphere has become and decide to stay put. Maybe if one of the reading clerk jobs open up….

    As a kid, I wanted to fly airplanes. Now I fly in them and wonder what I was thinking. In school, I thought I wanted to argue lost causes in front of the Supreme Court. For the longest time now, I’ve been stuck on the idea of White House speechwriter.

  8. DisparatelyDixie

    I was a grocery store cashier once upon a time. You are right. I never thought twice about the job once I left my shift. I also worked for many years cleaning houses. I found it very satisfying for much the same reasons: walk it, see the tasks before me, work hard, work up a good sweat, make it smell nice, lock the door and leave. Unlike my own housework, I didn’t see how it got messed up once it was all cleaned. As far as I knew it stayed clean for days and days!

    Now I’ve started a new career as a school teacher. It dawned on me that I will perpetually teach freshman in high school. It is grueling work, all while wearing a lanyard and sensible shoes.

  9. Gail

    You would have been disappointed in your cashier’s job. There are worries such as whether you came up short that day due to short-change artists, counterfeit bills, and other shortages. Your legs would hurt all night and you would possibly have swollen feet. And somebody might get angry and throw things at you, such as a 6-pack because you had to card them or could not sell it after a certain time. Or someone might cause a ruckus of some sort and rob you for which you would be written up. Someone else might make a mistake on your register for which you would be held responsible. I was not a supermarket cashier but was cashier at 2 kmarts in 2 towns. And this is just a small list.

    • I see your point. I fell victim to a short-change artist in the first week of my first job at a yarn store at age 17. He got away with $80 and I was so embarassed for being so gullible. I had never even heard of such a thing before.

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