Why I Work in Schools

When I was in my late twenties, I made more money than I’ve made before or since. In the early 90’s, I was pulling down a low six-figure salary plus commission selling commercial carpet in NYC. I also had an expense account and bosses who loved to party at bars, strip clubs and ball games. I could afford nice clothes, expensive dates and vacations. Nice, huh?


I was miserable because that world is often about making money by screwing over the competition and sometimes the client. At the top of the food chain, the construction biz is a dog-eat-dog world. In the big city, you play the game by their dirty rules or you lose. (This was Donald Trump’s training.)

When I switched to children’s music and started working with educators, everything changed. I entered into a community where loyalty, creativity and professionalism matter. Suddenly, I was back in a place like my youth where everyone pulls together on behalf of one another, the children we serve, and a better world. I was making 1/3 of my previous salary by I was ten times happier.

My worst days in this business are still pretty darn good. That’s because I get to play music, work with Beth and get paid even when I’m pissed off at the knucklehead who just cut me off on the parkway. I have a job that at its sweet center is better than a box of Mallomars.

On my best days, I teach, sing, hear laughter and applause and get to hear children scream with delight when we walk into the room. It’s not because of who we are, but how we make them feel. That’s cool.

That’s why I work in schools.

Speaking of the knuckleheads on the parkway, Beth and I are losing our tolerance for them. When we come to Westchester, Long Island and the City, there’s a serious uptick in the number of jerks per square mile, particularly on the roadways.

Mind you, I drive a 5000 pound, Ford F-150 pickup. This is larger and more powerful than most of the vehicles around me. In spite of that, smaller cars threaten us with their aggressive driving, constantly. I’m reminded of the little planes that flew around King Kong while he was climbing the Empire State Building. Like Kong, I could easily crush a little BMW, but in real life we’re not supposed to hurt one another, right? Then why are they threatening me?

My guess is that young people in the city and its suburbs perceive a parkway like they would a video game. It’s also an opportunity for the little guy to compete and win by evading the bigger monsters (our truck) and proving their skill. In this “the world is my theme park” view, it’s okay for them to have fun buzzing another driver. After all, it’s a game.

One other possibility (and I like this one less) is it’s about power. On the roadway, a fast car or motorcycle can outmaneuver a truck or minivan. When they pass us by inches at 85 mph, they are saying, in effect, “I rule.”

We’re also noticing that many of the worst knuckleheads are driving that way while simultaneously texting. Aaaaaasaahhh!!

Living in a more rural location, having my nervous system adjusted to small town life, I am losing my taste to even visit these areas. I guess I’m getting more like George Bailey of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and wanting to enjoy life in a small town.

Perhaps that’s where the adventure is leading.

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