We have a slightly different payday today. I’ve agreed to keep the identity of today’s volunteer a secret. I’ve also told him he could skip some of the payday questions to help maintain his anonymity. I like this guy, so I’m granting his request JUST THIS ONCE. But don’t get used to it, Anonymous. I make the rules around here.
Since I can’t talk too much about him specifically, I’ll talk about my relationship with him. Anonymous is a good friend. He’s someone I know I can talk to about practically anything and count on for a thoughtful, patient response, never lacking in blunt honesty. He will tell me when I’m being an idiot, when I need to get over myself, or when I’ve done something really admirable or impressive. He gets it. And whatever ‘it’ is, we like to laugh at it together.
He also happens to be very funny, incredibly smart, and never ceases to surprise me. I met him through improv and I’ve known him for what seems like forever.
His responses to *some* of the payday questions are here:
4.) Did you go to college and if so, what did you study?
I attended a 4-year liberal arts college. I majored in Spanish because I studied abroad in Madrid my junior year and returned with a buttload of Spanish credits. Since I was desperate to leave that school and podunk-college town, I hustled my final year, taking 18 hours and finishing in four years. I then earned a Master’s degree in journalism.
5.) If you could have any job in the whole entire world, assuming you’d instantly, miraculously possess the the training, opportunities, and expertise to excel at it, what would you do?
I would be a hybrid comedy writer-reporter-performer-producer. I would be an electrician. An interior designer, a plumber, an architect, a graffiti artist, a carpenter.
6.) If you didn’t have to earn a living – money was no object, but you had to be productive for 8 hours a day, what would you do?
Studio or concert photographer. Movie director. Video editor. Chef.
7.) What are your hobbies and interests?
I spend a lot of time studying and performing improv comedy. A few years ago I took a pottery class simply because I wanted to give it a try. It was fun, and I learned how to throw a pot. But after about four months, I was kinda done with it. It felt like I had taken up a hobby just to take up a hobby. My heart wasn’t really in it. When I went full throttle into improv in 2006, it felt right. And I’ve pretty much been at it ever since.
8.) How do you spend your free time?
Improv, and hanging out at the bar. I’ve long understood that socializing with friends is the greatest stress relief there is. I go skiing every winter. I watch the idiot box, too. But thanks to the DVR, everything I watch is truly appointment television. I don’t watch commercials anymore. And I try to isolate my viewing to comedy and Discovery Channel, National Geographic Channel and History Channel. And I limit my reality-TV programming to Bravo. Survivor has snuck through, though.
9.) What do/did your parents or guardians do to earn livings?
My mother started out as a nurse, which is how she met my father. By the time she had her third kid, me, she became a realtor. My father is a plastic and reconstructive surgeon.
10.) What was the conversation or climate surrounding work and work ethic in your home when you were growing up?
My parents are the archetypal immigrants who came to the U.S. for life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and of course, fortune. There was never a time when they weren’t working. My father is 70 and still practicing. He spent four years in medical school, another four years in general-surgery training and then eight more years in plastic-surgery training. Regarding my mother, she built a real-estate empire from scratch. When I was a kid, she would drag me around on her errands, which was usually to collect rent, but also made my brother and me paint the properties, dig up tree stumps, plant bushes, tear down rotten-wood fences — you name it. She taught me how to balance a checkbook when I was 9, taught me how to do laundry when I was 13, and taught me how to double-thread a needle to sew on a button when I was 16. She couldn’t drive for shit, but she could parallel park masterfully. I’m glad to say all three kids inherited that skill. But whenever I committed an act of wastefulness, her one admonishment that always made me feel guilty was this: “We work hard to earn our money.” Somehow, that always seemed to stick for me.
11.) How does your family feel about how you earn a living today?
I know they’re glad I got my degree. They still worry about me because I didn’t become a doctor. My parents always believed that the only career choice was that of a physician. I’ve spent most of my life trying to convince them otherwise.
12.) Do you have siblings and if so, what do they do for a living? Do you have a personal reaction to what they do, like maybe you’re envious or inspired?
I have an older brother who is a pediatric emergency surgeon and an older sister who is an obstetrician-gynecologist. I do, and always have, admired them immensely. I’m not envious or necessarily inspired by their occupations, though I’m sure if I were to visit them in their respective operating theaters, I’d be in awe. Same goes for my dad. I’ve never once watched him operate. I have watched him wash his hands at the kitchen sink. Seriously, if you know any surgeons, watch them wash their hands — it’s an impressive display of thoroughness and efficiency.
13.) Generally, what time do you go to sleep? What time do you wake up?
I’m a night owl. I don’t fall asleep until well after 2AM. I wake up as early as 7AM sometimes, but I am unable to exit my bed until 9AM on a good day and 10AM on a bad day. On the weekends, I sleep until noon on a bad day, 2PM on a good day.
14.) Do you want to leave your current job for something different? If so, can you imagine yourself doing this? If so, will you do it?
Yes. Everybody does. I want to be the one who doesn’t want to leave his job. But I know that I’ll have to create that job.
15.) What is more important to you in a job? a big paycheck or personal fulfillment.
16.) Do you think your idea of personal success has changed since you were 10 years old? 18 years old?
I never really thought about personal success at those ages beyond the idea of being wealthy. I’ve had the good fortune to work for several truly great men and women. When I left one of my jobs, I gave my boss a book, which I inscribed (approx.): “Until I achieve the patience, humility and integrity that you possess, I will not consider myself truly successful.”
17.) When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A doctor. I grew up with three other boys in my neighborhood who were the sons of a cardiologist, another plastic surgeon and a radiologist. In high school, my friends used to pretend to encourage me as if they were my parents: “You’ll be successful at whatever you choose to do! As long as you’re a doctor!”