One of the problems I had with schooling and society while I was a kid was the idea we all have to aim at having a job. My mum was the same, conditioned that a good job should be a big goal in life. I’ve always rejected that thinking, I love working, I just don’t want a job.
While in between travels I was staying at my mum’s figuring out where to go next. I needed some money to get to Glastonbury festival and buy my next plane ticket, I also didn’t want to get a job in order to do either of those things.
So I had an idea. I wrote several proposals for different publications, ranging from travel, music, computer and sci-fi. I figured I could get paid to work on writing about the things I loved in life. It wasn’t a job I had to get out of bed for, in fact I did the majority of my proposals late at night after being out with friends, flexi-working before I even knew the term existed!
I got the money I needed, I even did some work for free (Melody Maker live gig reviews). My most successful and memorable paid work was an article on how to get on the set of the X Files, published in Starburst, a popular sci-fi magazine. It was one of their most popular articles that year and I made it into a book Fan Cultures because of this (Google books have an excerpt of mine here).
While in Vancouver BC I was at a youth hostel talking enthusiastically about my love of the show (yes I was an X Files nerd). At that time Gillian Anderson was known as ‘the thinking man’s crumpet’and as a thinker I definitely related to that. I loved the show and knew it was filmed in and around Vancouver, so I took any opportunity I could to ask people about it.
I had no luck with my fellow hostel stayers, so I went on a bus tour of the city. If you’re travelling alone in any city, want to learn, make friends and have a good time, get friendly with a tour guide. I hopped on a city tour bus that morning.
I made sure to sit by the front and get chatting to the driver, a friendly guy who was also a big fan of the beats, so we had great conversation. After the tour he invited me out with his friends, they were meeting up at Grouse Mountainfor beers, awesome!
It was during those drinks I asked about filming locations for the X Files. As it happened, one of the guys had just received a note through his apartment door telling him about a street closure that week for filming of the show, that was it! I had found a location..
A few days later I had successfully talked my way onto the set. Back then my British accent still did wonders in North America, especially if I exaggerated it subtly into a Hugh Grant Four Weddings and a Funeral type British.
I worked at getting teas and coffees for people. This enabled me to spend time in conversations with Gillian Anderson among others. It was a terrific experience, my first at being surrounded with smart creative people who were making something people around the world enjoyed.
I remember Gillian’s great humour the most, I’d been wearing my favourite cagoule by pervert(an East coast brand that people on the West coast weren’t familiar with..) it had almost stopped my chances of getting on set as staff thought the word pervert on my jacket meant I was on some form of day release, ha! Gillian joked about that more than once and I was fondly known as the Purv, kinda like the Fonz though not nearly as cool.
We should all work, I’m a great believer in that. As far as we know, we only get one stab at life, so merely doing a job isn’t enough.
My work at Unity is something I enjoy. Technically it’s also a job, though to me it’s about being surrounded by people smarter than me, people I can change the world with (we’re democratising game development as part of what we do).
My time at Xbox was the same, I came away from working on Xbox products so much happier and smarter than when I joined, I also know we changed many people’s lives, I will be forever grateful.
Try and make sure you’re working and not simply in a job, life will be so much more enjoyable.