“They” say that to channel success, you need to visualize—and more importantly, visualize yourself in that confident and beaming moment, right down to what you might be wearing in said moment. I fancied myself in a somewhat neatly-pressed many-pocketed safari suit, perhaps donning a pith helmet if the job so required.
I would have sweat on my brow and return home redolent of baboon or maybe elephant dung.
My recent dream job fixation was The African Lion Safari, a game park in Cambridge, Ontario with all the makings of a real live safari (3D cheetahs, rhinos, giraffes!) in real live Africa. Six months ago it was the donkey sanctuary in Guelph. The sanctuary is still ranked in the dream category, but, due to geography and a leggy commute, it’s not feasible and would be income neutral. Which means, they only have volunteer positions which are indeed priceless, but, banks like you to pay a mortgage with money, not smiles and pictures of a happy time spent with donkeys.
I applied to the Lion Safari with grandiose amounts of anticipation in December. I outlined my experience making breakfast for 26 chimps, my ability and desire to shovel any type of manure and emphasized my unswerving attraction to any position they might have in animal care. The game park was advertising positions as a direct animal keeper (YES!!!), in the petting zoo filling pellet machines and corralling wayward children attempting to ride goats (I could still live out my donkey fantasy) and, facilitators for the Birds of Prey show. I thought I was a bird shoo-in with my Intro to Falconry course under my belt and my skill in identifying a sharp-shinned from a rufous-sided raptor at 50 paces.
I easily visualized myself with a falcon alight on my wrist. Whistling for its return as it swooped around the audience (first learning curve here: learning how to whistle). I imagined brushing out donkey tails and throwing prime rib to the pacing lions.
So, when Human Resources called, I practically pounced across the phone line. Yes, I was interested, in absolutely anything that they could offer me! Minimum wage? Why be greedy? Besides, if I was having the time of my life, no price could be put on that. Though, I’d have to buy a vehicle of some sort to get me to the Lion Safari, or, ride one of the donkeys home due to the 26 km roundtrip.
However, in my heart-palpitating excitement, I almost didn’t hear the voice on the other end say, “all our animal care positions have been filled—but, we think you’d be more suited for the Tour Operator position.”
Sure, I could operate tours. I could crack corny jokes and tell off-colour stories about terrible park visitors. I could withstand screaming, probably crying children pawing at me, covering my legs in candy floss and dripping ice cream cone hands.
But, this is when my dream job turned into a nightmare. I felt like I was suddenly eavesdropping in on a horror story. My horror! Now, I was visualizing a walking tour I guess, not a tour on a 50-passenger COACH BUS that I would have to learn how to drive! What terrible job description was this? Not only would I be responsible for learning how to commandeer a bus, but, as a tour operator, I’d also have to man the pontoon boat for 10-minute tours on the faux lake and operate the train to boot! I don’t even like driving a car, let alone something as big as my house!
Again, as the kindly woman explained the gory details, I tried to visualize myself in the above-mentioned safari suit, now seated behind the wheel of a bus (which I would have four to ten days to learn how to drive. And then pass an exam to make it official.
I shuddered, I began to sweat in sauna proportions. My excited heart palpitations turned into stroke symptoms.
Did I still want to come in for an interview? Had I been scared off?
No! I wasn’t scared off! This was my dream job! I couldn’t wait for the interview!
We scheduled it for March 2nd.
I immediately canvassed my friends and polled family members because my girlfriend wasn’t home. Kim is definitely my voice of reason at all times. I love her rational brain, but, I also get swept away in fantasy jobs and wanted to have a diverse collective group answer.
I invited hilarity, caution, advice and cheerleading. Of course, I received all of what I encouraged, in equal amounts. There was no definitive answer. My mother held her breath and said nothing (she visualized me driving the bus into the watering hole and killing a herd of zebra en route). Heidi thought the pontoon boat had serious potential for fun and would negate the bus droning. My brother shot back a rapid fire email: “You’re competing with Kiley now.” This was in direct reference to our sister’s oddball resume of jobs which have included everything from fly-fishing instructor to cookie baker to delivering sermons on Disney Cruise Lines.
Close friends weighed in with carefully crafted thoughts/support and OMG’s—did I really want to drone into a microphone over and over again to a bunch of screechy kids hopped out on sugar and wildlife? My dad thought it might be the catalyst to getting to the core of my dream job—in the lion cage.
When my Voice of Reason did get home, I barely had to finish relaying the conversation I had with the Lion Safari.
“Babe, you don’t want to drive a bus.”
See? Voice of Reason. I don’t. And, yes, it’s important to listen to your instant gut reaction but, it’s better when you can get someone to second that motion. I didn’t want to be all defeatist right off the bat, or unwilling to chomp at a new learning curve.
I’m now in the process of refining my dream job terms. What I have learned from this is that I’m still okay with multi-pocketed khaki wear…but the reality may be that I just want to GO on safari again, not necessarily work at one.
So, now I’ve set my sights on a career in baking buttertarts, “a logical transistion” as my dear friend Kay would attest.