Recession. In these trying economic times (cliché), it would not seem the smartest thing to quit your job, especially a job you enjoy. To lose your insurance, benefits, income – all for nothing. No. That would not seem smart.
I am not a smart man.
I’ve worked in broadcast journalism since graduating the University of California at Santa Barbara in 2003. It’s a calling I love. I love knowing that every day at work will most likely be different than the last. I love interviewing celebrities and athletes and asking them obscure questions. I love knowing that boxer Roy Jones Jr doesn't like swimming because he doesn’t want his arm torn off by a shark (link will be provided). I love getting free media food. I love standing on the sidelines of sporting events. I love writing the perfect line. I love making someone smile. I love what I do.
But all this love has not prevented me from quitting my job. I’m doing it for several reasons – one big one is to travel. Several months ago, as I sat on a pancake-thin Wal-Mart futon with bars jabbing my spine, a Warren Miller snowboard movie came on TV. It dawned on me that I haven’t gone powder plowing in more than three years. Riding is one of my favorite hobbies. My old Kemper snowboard, it’s doubtful that company is in business still – and I’m too lazy to Google it, has been accumulating dust like Miss Havisham’s bridal gown.
Snowboarding was essentially a metaphor for the many things I, and people in the TV industry, have to sacrifice. Living far from home, I’ve missed out on weddings, funerals, birthdays, etc. I have taken one vacation for myself in the last 6 years – and even worked on that vacation. The rest of my company-issued vacation time goes to weddings and other events, but really, mostly weddings. My alter ego is Katherine Heigl in “27 Dresses.” Disclaimer: I haven’t seen that movie and am solely making the comparison based on trailers.
My contract with WALA-TV in Mobile was ending (broadcast talent are like athletes with multi-year contracts and options), and feeling confident, or optimistic, that I’ll find a new job, I decided to leave my job to see more of the world. Ideally, my unemployment will only last two months. I’m 30-years-old, single, have no kids, and can pull this off financially (at least for a little while). It seemed my career was at a crossroad, and if I didn’t pull off some sort of grand traveling scheme – I might never get the opportunity again. I didn’t backpack through Europe after college, I didn’t join the Peace Corps in Africa, I missed the boat on experiential travel earlier – and now I want to catch up.
As I leave Mobile, I will drive to New Orleans, Houston, Austin, Oklahoma City, Denver, Vail, and Las Vegas before returning home to Orange County, CA. The very next morning, I will head off to Rio De Janeiro, with a layover in New York that’s long enough that I’ll visit my sister in the city. I’ll spend 9 days in Brazil, including Iguazu Falls. Some excursions planned include hang-gliding from a mountain top to the beach, and rappelling down waterfalls.
When I return from South America, I plan on heading to Phoenix, Seattle, and Whistler. While I do all this traveling, I will drop by several TV stations in hopes of convincing them that I’m someone they want to hire. I hope my work can do the talking because my selling skills are worse than Willy Loman.
Unlike the death of a salesman, I want to take advantage of my time; my life. I want to have as few regrets as possible. I don’t want to wonder what if. If I stayed at my work, I would constantly second guess my decision. I would also question not having the sticks to take this leap of faith. So despite my apprehension, leaving a comfortable situation, a great job, it’s off to see the world. It’s time to live for now.
Recession or not, it's recess time for me.
We’ll see if I get any smarter.
We’ll see if I get any smarter.