How I passed on a whale of career


MONTCLARION  August 21, 2009

Am I lucky, or what? I have this cool job where the world is my office. So I’m writing this piece at Marine World, and it occurs to me that there’s one job better than being a writer. It’s working with Killer Whales.

Not that I didn’t have my chance. In 1983, I was ready to give up my radio career for a job as an Orca instructor at Sea World. A modest monthly salary and all the fish I could eat was a tempting offer, but I couldn’t make the commitment. I couldn’t see being on call for my whale 24/7.

Now I know what I missed. The gal by the pool with the bucket of fish is having the time of her life. She throws a hand signal here and the whale responds. She leans over and he gives her a kiss. And we won’t even talk about the dolphin trainer. She gets to surf on her bottle-nosed buddy’s back!

It’s interesting to think about the life paths you choose. How things would be different if you’d taken an alternate route. And while some people start entirely new careers at my age, I’m probably better off whale watching from shore. I never did like the smell of fish much anyway.

About Town: Speaking of marine mammals, Oakland’s hungry pool of parking enforcement officers is being likened to sharks circling the waters. Montclair merchant Joe Sullivan says the latest “little tidbit” is the officers are scouring the village looking for expired registration and missing front plates. They’re also writing $70 tickets in the residential two hour parking zones that skirt the shopping district. You have only to look on Yelp (or ginnyprior.com) to see how mad motorists are in this town.  And the results of my latest Town Crier poll show 91 percent of the respondents say they won’t be happy until the meter increases and 8 pm enforcement hours are rescinded.

E-mail Bag: Alright, who’s the spoiled sport who took the entire basketball rim from the court at Oakland’s Dimond Park? Reader Dale Sheffer says it’s been missing for over a month and no-one can play ball there now. “The basketball goal in the park was one of the most used in the city,” he writes, adding there were a lot of good pick-up games there.

Freebie Alert: The beat goes on at Jack London Square, where more free dance classes have been scheduled for Friday nights through September. The waterfront is a magical venue, made even more special with live bands and professional dance instructors. Learn Swing on August 24, Disco/Hustle on September 18 and Rumba and Cha Cha on September 25. Classes start at 7:30 with open dance at 8:30.

Animal Tales: After last week’s column on the Oakland Animal Shelter, I was reminded of the facility’s two feathered mascots – Kramer the rooster and Pink the chicken. Kramer (and he does look like the Seinfeld character) is a rescued cock fighter with brain damage, and Pink is his girlfriend. A more handsome couple, you’ll never find.

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