By Garrett Wilson
Most of us know our many faculty members fairly well. We know what they do, what they teach, and who they are. But what we don’t know is who they used to be. This week our focus is on odd, interesting, and strange jobs that our faculty members here at Collegiate used to have. Four teachers in particular were kind enough to share a few reminiscences about their past lives: Upper School English teacher Josh Katz, Upper School mindfulness teacher, coach, and counselor Alex Peavey, Upper School English teacher Dr. Linda Rouse, and Middle School English teacher Weldon Bradshaw.
Katz: “ I worked for about six months at the National Captioning Institute in Chantilly, VA. I was responsible for closed captioning for eight big stations.”
Peavey: “While I was at UVA, I worked as a Public Relations Intern for the Washington Redskins, which meant working there for all home games and training camp.”
Rouse: “I was a cowboy.”
Bradshaw: “[Retired Upper School coach, college counselor, and Latin teacher] Joel Nuckols and I teamed up and painted together for about six or seven summers.”
Garrett Wilson: “How did you get the job?”
Katz: “I was earning a living exclusively from online movie reviews. Ten to twenty dollars a review. I was living in northern Virginia at the time, and I heard about the job openings at the National Captioning Institute. I didn’t know what it entailed, exactly, but I knew that deaf people and other people with hearing disabilities needed captions, and anything that can help people watch more TV is good with me. I’m onboard with that.”
Peavey: “My dad was good family friends with (two-time Super Bowl Champion and MVP) Bart Starr. He was working at The University of Alabama with my dad, and I was working with UVA football on that path, and Starr said he knew a guy with the Redskins.”
Rouse: “I had always grown up riding horses. When I was ten, we moved to a tiny town in northeastern California called Loyalton. The two main industries of the town were ranching and logging. I would always hang with the ranching kids, and that’s how I got into being a cowboy.”
Bradshaw: “[Nuckols] had worked for a painting contractor during his summers, and I taught summer school for the first nine years here, and I didn’t want to do it anymore, but needed money in the summer, so I started picking up painting jobs. Somewhere around 1985-86, Nuckols and I teamed up. We didn’t advertise; just got the word out, and ended up getting a lot of work, just through word of mouth.”
GW: “What were the best and worst parts of this job?”
Katz: “The best part was that we would get to watch certain TV shows like a day before they’d actually air. The best job was the 24-hour caption job, so you didn’t have to do it live. It was really low stakes in terms of work. It was a pretty cool experience, though. It would be four in the morning, and I’m trying to type captions while Liam Neeson is preventing wolves from tearing his throat out in the movie The Grey.
There were three main bad things. Two [are] the job’s fault, and one I can’t help. The first is that we would do voice dictation.You would start captioning, and then see your efforts as text on screen. Well, we would get the audio feed maybe seven to eight seconds before it would go on air, while at the same time having another monitor play the live stream. I gave myself permanent hearing loss in my left ear after three months of this.
The second thing was that I worked the night shift. I worked from 9 p.m.-5 a.m. If you don’t believe in zombies, you haven’t met someone after a 9-5 shift. You’re always sleep-deprived and feel punchy around the later times of the night. The only saving grace was that I had weekends off, but during the end of my job they told me I had to work Fridays and Saturdays, which didn’t work for me. The last thing was that I had someone really close to me pass away in the tsunami in Japan in 2011, which really hurt me and my family.”
Peavey: “So my dad had always provided me opportunities to experience things because of where he worked in universities and in the NCAA. I had gotten to know Norv Turner, who was the head coach of the Redskins at the time, pretty well. When my dad visited training camp, [Turner] came over, met up with my dad, and told him to pick any home game next season so that [he] and I could sit in a box together with his family, and told me I would not have to work that game. I didn’t know he liked me that much, and I actually got to take my dad to a game, who had been taking me to games all my life.
I had a few bad experiences on the job. The first time I got my dad tickets for a game was a home game right before Christmas. I’m working, and he’s in the stands. I’m down around the sideline during halftime, and someone ran up to me and told me to put this fuzzy green sweater and elf hat on. They told me the person who was supposed to be the elf during halftime didn’t show up, so they sent me out on the field without me knowing, and I had to stand with Santa Claus while on the Jumbotron.
They also occasionally took interns on the road, and one time I went to the Philadelphia Eagles game with the team, and the job they gave me was running from the press box to the field, back and forth, delivering the overhead photos for the offensive coordinator. Every time I ran back through the tunnel, I would get beamed with popcorn, hot dogs, beers, and all sorts of food. By the end of the game, I was covered in food and drinks. They took me on the road to be the guy who got pelted.”
Rouse: “The times when we would go riding in the mountains looking for cattle, and I would be told ‘Go over and look that way!’ and I would go ride off away from everyone else. I was 15 years old on a horse by myself. I loved it. In the mornings, I would go outside, saddle my horse, and tell my mom I’d be back for dinner. There is no worst part of this job.”
Bradshaw: “We just had a lot of fun. We worked really hard, sweated a lot, and got a lot of paint on ourselves. And there were instances were we did dangerous things due to the lack of equipment. [Middle School history teacher] Michael Brost (‘85) worked with us for a while as well. You feel good because you’ve accomplished something, plus it’s a way to make income during the summer. There was teamwork involved with it, too. I can still see it, and I can feel the sweat in my eyes. I guess the worst part about it would be that we got so much work. We were going at it dawn ’til dusk.
The next couple of years, people would call us, asking to paint houses, and we were really selective about it, mostly picking the one-story houses that weren’t too dangerous. We got stung by bees occasionally and fell pretty often, but nothing ever too bad.
Ultimately it came down to the teamwork and knowing that when we were done, it wasn’t one of us, it was all of us that had done the work. It didn’t matter who painted the window or the door or the side that no one wanted to paint. I wish I still had the energy to be doing it.”
GW: “How did you get out of the job?”
Katz: “I had been thinking about leaving, but the tsunami really helped me go back home and be with my family. All the indecision was gone.”
Peavey: “I went into college basketball from there. I realized I didn’t want to go into professional sports, and put all my effort into getting into college basketball.”
Rouse: “I moved. I had no access for that kind of work. Not much work for a cowboy in Los Angeles.”
Bradshaw: “We stopped doing it because we couldn’t take the time to recoup as teachers during the summer. It was a great idea and a lot of fun, but we called it quits before we really got tired of it.”
Our faculty and staff have come from a wide variety of backgrounds, hometowns, and odd jobs. So, get to know your teachers a little better and ask them about what they used to do, because you may get an extremely interesting answer! Thank you to all of the teachers who took the time to talk about their experiences.