When I was very young, I used to love to watch reruns of The Dick Van Dyke Show which first aired in the early 1960s, but went into reruns well into the 1970s. Along with Dick Van Dyke, the show also starred Mary Tyler Moore, Carl Reiner, Sid Caesar, Richard Deacon, Jerry Paris, Jerry Van Dyke, Morey Amsterdam and Rose Marie. Some of those people you might have heard of; some maybe not.
It was a sit-com, but caused big controversy in the 60s because Laura Petrie (Mary Tyler Moore) wore slacks around the house instead of a dress like a good sitcom housewife.
The premise of the show was that Rob Petrie (Dick Van Dyke) was the head writer of a TV variety show called The Alan Brady Show (Carl Reiner as Alan Brady). Rob would spend most of his day in this great writer’s room with his co-writers, Buddy and Sally. The room, as I remember it, had a sofa (where Buddy would sleep away most of the day) a kitchenette and a typewriter. The three of them would toss around ideas for that week’s show and one of them would type them up.
They had lots of laughs, some pratfalls and many of arguments about what was and wasn’t funny. There were, of course, regular conflicts when Alan Brady would ask them to do outrageous and impossible things and/or when work life would overlap, interfere and impact on Rob’s home life and vice versa.
Anyway, I always thought Rob, Buddy and Sally had absolutely the best jobs in the world. I reckoned when I grew up I was going to spend my days lounging around on sofas in a TV writer’s room and dream up crazy stuff that would be made into hilarious television programs.
I practiced writing stuff and making my younger siblings act it out. I practiced lounging around on sofas. (Which is very difficult when you’re a kid). I worked hard at English and Drama classes in school, I read a lot and kept writing. Somehow though, over time, the whole TV writer idea sort of faded into the realm of “nice childhood fantasy.”
My first job out of university was as a copywriter for an ad agency in Toronto. It was pretty big time and had some very exciting moments, but mostly it was incredibly brutal. They figured they owned you body and soul and it wasn’t long before I knew that that wasn’t how I wanted to live the rest of my life — especially when my room-mate landed a completely fabulous, chillin’ federal government job. I couldn’t believe she was getting paid more than I was and was working half the hours and had no aggravation at all.
So I went to work for the government. (It was just that easy back then). Because of their excellent training and learning options, I did a lot of additional schooling to get qualified to work in communications. Then I got to do some writing again, but it was kind of dull and sporatic and I spent most of my time doing other communications-related stuff, of which I wasn’t particularly fond.
Then I came to Ottawa and ended up doing something completely different which was so excrutiatingly boring, it just about brought me to the brink of diving in front of the O Train. (My own fault – getting transfered to Ottawa was more important at the time than the actual job).
Anyway, for years I kept thinking, “If only I could get a government job in an interesting department where I could do nothing but write all day — that would be as close as I could ever get to my nice childhood fantasy job, except in the real world and with benefits.”
In February of 2008 that very job was advertised. I applied. Eighteen months of tests, waiting, interviews, waiting, assessments, waiting, reviews, waiting, references, waiting paperwork, waiting, waiting and more waiting and then last week I signed the letter of offer. I start on Monday.
I’m not sure what to expect exactly. I have an idea of what to expect formulated from what I know of the job and the department. It could be just what I envision. It could be better. It could be worse. I’ve been with my current department for 11 years, so it’s all a little daunting; but in a mostly good way. If nothing else, it comes with a significantly higher salary, so how bad could that be, right?
I guess I’ll find out.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
How close did you come?