Adventure Time: First jobs of legendary travelers
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[September 05, 2018]
By Chris Taylor
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Life is either a
daring adventure, or nothing.
So said Helen Keller, and a few adventurous souls have taken those words
to heart. Rather than sitting at a desk or punching a timecard, you will
find them cycling around the world, climbing a Himalayan peak or
performing another feat of human endurance.
But of course, a career does not start atop Everest. Every big life
begins in places that are laughably small. For the latest in Reuters’
First Jobs series, a few legendary adventurers share stories of the
first steps on their epic journeys.
Two-time Adventure Racing world champion; Founder, Project Athena
First job: Chuck E. Cheese
I used to live right down the street from Chuck E. Cheese (a restaurant
and arcade chain aimed at families) in Tempe, Arizona. On my first day
they gave me a few options, like working the skee-ball area or giving
out tickets, and I said: Not so much. Then they said, ‘Well, you could
be Chuck E. Cheese,’ and I said yes. (Chuck E. Cheese is the chain's
There were a few drawbacks to that. One is that you are not allowed to
say any words or make any sounds, which is difficult when you have
little kids hanging off you all day long. There are some evil children
in the world.
Also, many times they had me walk on the street corner in order to
attract people in. Keep in mind this was in the Phoenix area, so it was
100 degrees, and I was inside a big furry costume. It was excellent heat
training for my later adventures.
I used to use a whole can of Lysol before putting that costume head on.
God knows how many years of sweat were collected in there. The final
drawback was that the only break area was a little place under the
stairs, and the other employee who used it was a 40-year-old clown. He
didn’t say much, but he looked at me a lot. So I spent way too much time
under the stairs with the creepy clown guy.
Four-year bicycle journey around the world; National Geographic
Adventurer of the Year
First job: Street advertising
The summer after I left school, I needed to earn enough money for a
plane ticket to Africa, to escape from the claustrophobically boring
countryside. I worked on minimum wage for Ye Olde Mill Shop in Skipton
(Britain). I had to stand on the street wearing a sandwich board and
holding a sign pointing toward the shop. Time dragged, my feet ached
something chronic, and on one particularly hot day I almost fainted and
had to be revived by the local greengrocer.
[to top of second column]
Television personality Bear Grylls arrives at the 2013 NBCUniversal
Summer Press Day at The Langham Huntington Hotel and Spa in
Pasadena, California, April 22, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Alcorn
But I made it. I earned enough money for that plane ticket to Africa. And
stepping out for the very first time into the bright sunshine, heat and smells
of that new continent was made all the more thrilling for those hours, days and
weeks in the sandwich board. A new life was about to begin.
Former British Army survival instructor; Host, multiple TV shows including Man
vs Wild and Running Wild
First job: Martial arts instructor
The first job I ever had was straight after leaving school. I realized that if I
wanted to explore the world, then step one was to save some funds. My ambition
was to travel to northern India to climb and get to see the mighty Himalayas
I initially tried being a waiter, but quickly found I wasn’t good at that at
all. It would have taken me forever to save enough money. The restaurant
definitely did not draw high rollers who tipped well.
I figured that working for myself would be smarter, more fun and get me to the
mountains faster. But the only skills I had were climbing and martial arts. I
figured there could be a market teaching effective self-defense skills to busy
I dropped leaflets on 100 streets in the area of London that my sister lived in
(where I could sleep on her sofa) and hired the local hall. Within a month I had
saved enough for the airfare, and after three months I was good to go. My
journey in life had begun.
(The writer is a Reuters contributor. The opinions expressed are his own.)
(Editing by Beth Pinsker and Cynthia Osterman)
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