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The "Digital Journeyman"

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jour·ney·man journeyman_pronunciation.gif
1. One who has fully served an apprenticeship in a trade or craft and is a qualified worker in another's employ.
2. An experienced and competent but undistinguished worker

In tales of yore a journeyman is the wandering man without a home. One who, in the pioneer days of Little House on the Prairie, comes into the town and helps a farmer build a barn, has a meal and moves on. That mysterious individual who helps out and then disappears into the night mist never to be seen again.

In recent discussions with a friend I pontificated that I was a journeyman. A "Digital Journeyman".

Throughout the years I have taken the role of student, cook, cashier, amusement park worker, newspaper deliverer, janitor, independent contractor, temp worker, artist, website designer, database designer and administrator, software engineer and architect, game designer and programmer, ship-to-ship and ship-to-shore data link communications electronics technician, sailor, business owner, business partner, investor, accountant, freelance writer, brother, father, husband, son, political activist, teacher, Beverly Hills socialite and dot com casualty.

I'm sure I've forgotten a few things up there, but the point I'm making is I don't think I'm alone. The times have changed so dramatically since those old pioneer days that job changes and moves seem so commonplace that there is a loss of self. The days of keeping a job for 20 years and retiring feeling satisfied are over.

Today you're at a job one day planning your future and the next you're writing that last check that zeros your bank account and wondering where the next months rent is coming from. For some of you I'm sure this may not have occurred yet, but it's coming to a town near you soon if it hasn't.

I've truly run the gamut. I've cooked burgers at McDonalds, worked at Bush Gardens in Williamsburgh, Virgina, built Xerox's worldwide sales and maintenance intranet database system and single handedly built the state of California's college athletics program forms processing system for 100+ colleges. I've lived through the dot com bubble in Santa Clara, the heart of Silicon Valley. I've sat on the 3rd baseline at Oakland coliseum before an A's game as a special guest. I've hosted a party at an exclusive club with a velvet rope where we had to turn people away in Beverly Hills. I've met Ron Rice the founder of Hawaiian Tropic.

From McDonalds to Bush Gardens, from mopping some floor in a school, grinding the floor of the flagship of the 7th fleet while off the coast of Singapore or Australia, I've seen a lot.

The list of countries I've been to, the number of places I've lived and the incredible situations I find myself in are sometimes overwhelming. Back in dot com days I spent a long time in a little room I called the coffin, in my apartment. It was full of endless smoke and typing as I built a full blown sports news website, from scratch, that had automated feeds from AP, ESPN and our own writers. Back then everything was home grown, there was almost no support from those news feed companies. I emerged from that room, flew to LA with my business partners and walked into CAA, one of the top agencies in the world, handling stars like Tom Cruise, to negotiate a deal.

So, what's my point in this self-congratulating article? Well there's no real point. I'm just curious how many other people out there are like me. How many of you have been floating around out there "just making it"? Through all the things I've been through, seen and experienced I still don't feel like I've accomplished much. I hear stories of people who grow up in their hometown and stay there for their whole life and I can't relate. I wonder if the life of a small town is better with less stress and a close family.

I feel the pressure almost 24/7. Every waking hour is consumed with a wondering about what's next. Sometimes there's even years of a lull where absolutely nothing happens and then the next month there's 800 things going on and things start to be "happening".

We truly live in weird times. I kind of take pride in dubbing myself a "Digital Journeyman", but at the same time realize that it is also a curse of no home, constant wandering and the endless pursuit of the next meal. And I'm sure I'm not alone.

Outside the Beltway Traffic Jam entry.

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Posted by Digger on October 4, 2004 02:27 PM (Permalink)

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I think I've managed to become a "digital dork." I went from internet kook to office kook and I haven't made a cent during those turbulent times.

When I stare into my belly button and ponder my lame existance, I never wonder what I should be doing but what I want to be doing. And staring into my birth hole is not what I should be doing. Get what I'm saying? Well I don't either, it's much too frightening to ponder.

Posted by: Tom on October 4, 2004 04:01 PM

I try to avoid actually worrying, but sometimes it's hard to avoid.

Of course sometimes not worrying then makes you oblivious to a real threat and leads to procrastination.

You're definitely a "digital journeyman" yourself.

Posted by: Digger on October 4, 2004 04:11 PM

I read with great interest about your path taken as a journeyman. I too have led the kind of life you describe of being everything, yet nothing.
I have washed dishes, cooked for restaurants, roofed, cleaned pools, cleaned carpet, wrote for a newspaper (interviewed presidential candidates, etc), photographed for a newspaper, started my own business, sold cameras, backpacked Central America, traveled across the USA. And the list goes on... And most of that was after getting a four year degree in 7; where I also searched for myself and a future that I would want, as well as a place of "home".
Well, let me tell you. I found it. We moved last year to a small town (40 people) in South Carolina after many year of living in Central Florida. We have more true friends here in less than a year than we made ever down there. We still have our photography business, so we travel quite a bit to work, but we always return home where I can see deer outside my front door anytime of the day, where I can walk in to the local hamburger joint (10 miles up the road) and have everyone know my name, or call anyone for any type of help that we need.
I now know what the American dream is all about! It is about shedding those notions that you can't be happy, taking all of those life experiences and just making what you want happen. At some point you must quit thinking that the rainbow is around the corner and just go get it. Good Luck!

Posted by: Jeff Hunt on October 5, 2004 07:09 AM

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