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Friday, July 15, 2005


A Job On Whose Terms?

During a radio interview last year, a caller asked me regarding his particular unemployed situation. Legally blind, Jerry was a professional sound technician for radio and music studios. He lived just outside Denver, Colorado and lamented that work was almost impossible to find.

What a triple whammy!

We commiserated briefly about the tight labor market and the shortage of good jobs. The caller's blindness, of course, added a huge extra barrier to securing employment. When asked if he had sought help from his local Agency for the Blind (who are usually well-funded with excellent employer contacts), Jerry responded that they had been "no help at all - they're just a bunch of big talkers."

He became less forthright when I asked him why he had chosen the music business, probably one of the most competitive industries on earth. Doug reported that he loved music and was very good at his job if just given the opportunity to prove it.

I pointed out, as gently as I could, that such opportunities are few and far between. Stuck in Colorado where broadcast positions are limited was a problem. However, should he relocate to Los Angeles, the capital of the music industry, the openings would still be almost non-existent. Every teenager in America wants to get into the music business. They will start at the bottom, at minimum wage (or more commonly, for free), just to feel that they are a part of it. How is a middle-aged family man, without powerful contacts, going to compete, no matter how good his skills?

The bottom line is that we all have dreams of what we want to do but then there is the reality. At some point in our lives we make a choice - to pursue the dream no matter the cost, or to take a more practical approach that may not be so satisfying, nor as much fun, but which allows us to live a fruitful life, enjoy our family and friends, and keep a roof over our head.

Jerry, like so many of us, wanted it all. He wanted his life's dream but on his own terms. As we all recognize, it seldom works out that way. And you know, his being physiologically blind had nothing to do with it.

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