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I’ve been working on a podcast intro for the last few days. I gave myself the ultimatum to create a podcast about the youth of John D. Rockefeller using Ira Glass’s formula from This American Life.

I’ve been thinking and saying this over the last few days. Each time I hear it in my head, it’s Ira Glass speaking. There’s some notes afterwards that talks about changes.

This is still a work in progress.

Podcast Intro

It’s Cleveland – Summer, 1855

Long before Lebron James was a Cav for the first time. Way before the woeful Browns. Even before the Cleveland Indians started as a baseball franchise.

Cleveland is a boomtown. A city with a rail and water transportation for cargo. There is a part of the city known as “The Flats”. This is where the Cuyahoga River twists through a “clanging and roaring landscape of lumber mills, iron foundries, warehouses, and shipyards before mptying into Lake Erie, which was crowded with side-wheel steamboats and schooners.

Someone else, in the background, maybe a producer or my wife: “Wait wait wait, What’s a schooner?”

Me: Laughing. Oh man – I tried to sneak that in – almost verbatim from a book. Okay – I had to look this up. A schooner is a sailboat with at least 2 sails. Picture what’s in your head when you think of Columbus’s ships, the nina, the pinta, and the santa maria, those are schooners. If you do a google image search, you’ll see what I’m talking about. Also – as a bonus – It’s also hilarious to say! Schooner. Schooner!

Anyway, In the middle of the Flats, there is a boy – a tall, skinny boy, probably around 18 years old – dressed in a suit with a dark tie.

This boy has been doing the same thing, day in, and day out, for the last six weeks. What was he doing?

…He was looking for a job.

(Next small part is spoken by a friend to imitate John)

I was working every day at my business – the business of looking for work. I put in my full time at this every day.”

“I went to the railroads, to the banks, , to the wholesale merchants. I did not go to any small establishments.

No one wanted a boy, and very few showed any overwhelming anxiety to talk with me on the subject.

He would go to a company and ask to speak to the top man. This person was usually unavailable, so John would tell whoever he was talking to “I understand bookkeeping, and I’d like to get work”.

When he exhausted the list of companies he wanted to work for, he simply started back from the beginning. He visited several firms on his list two or three times.

So what did he do? He kept at it.

Let’s put this in perspective really quick. This is a boy, 18 years old. He’s looking for his first job. He is from a not super wealthy family with few connections, so he goes out, 6 days a week, looking for work. What’s the most effort you ever did to get a job? Did you walk around the city for 6 weeks in a hot Summer? Go out so long that your feet hurt midday? And then continue to do this after getting rejected by each company on your list?

“Lara – what’s the most effort you ever put in to get a new job?” – Ask my wife what her thoughts are. See what she says. Maybe it can go some where.

So anyway, there’s this young kid walking down the loud, hot road in “the flats” in the middle of this boom town. He’s been getting rejected every day, six days a week for the last 6 weeks.

He works into the offices of a commission merchants company and tells them he’s good at bookkeeping and wants to get to work. On this day, they agree to interview him. After a brief conversation, young John is asked to come back after lunch.

At this point, I like to imagine a scene where John leaves playing it really cool, but as soon as he gets excited he screams in excitement and does a cartwheel, just like you’d see in the movies.

When young John got back from lunch, he was interviewed by the senior partner of the firm. The senior partner scrutinized John’s penmanship and then said “We’ll give you a chance”.

As it turns out, they were in urgent need of an assitant bookkeper. They told John to hang up his coat and go straight to work – there no mention of getting paid.

Imagine this scenario. You look for 6 weeks for work. Someone finally gives you a shot – and they say to go straight to work without mentioning pay at at.

Grit, determination, working hard to get what you want. This is what we’re talking about today. Do you think grit isn’t important? You might be surprised to know that young John is actually John D. Rockefeller – one of the US’s historical titans of industry. This is the story of how he got his first job.

Some Notes

I added in the schooner bit after I realized I didn’t know what a schooner was when I listened to myself say it out loud. I think it’s something Ira would do – he would take something someone says that may not make sense to the audience and discuss it – especially if it could be interesting or funny

I tried a few alternative storytellings in my mind. I think it might work better if the story starts out with John getting the news at Hewitt and Tuttle that they want him to come back after lunch. Mention him skipping out of the shop, and then going back into why he was so excited.

I’m also thinking of asking a few friends what their longest job hunt was like. Maybe their most recent job hunt. Maybe I can mix in some audio there – that’s what I’m lacking.

The main audio right now is 3 sentences that are John D. quotes and the interruption about schooners. Usually, Ira has most of his podcast intros as tapes of the other people talking with him narrating. Obviously, I’m limited here. Maybe I’ll listen to a few other podcasts over the weekend about John D. and possibly use some of that audio here.

Final Note

This year, I’m trying to practice sharing my work with the world. Even if it isn’t good. Even if no one cares or wants to read or listen to it. That’s what I’m doing. That’s why this was published.

Also – you should follow me on twitter.

§777 · January 19, 2017 · Storytelling · · [Print]

2 Comments to “John Looking For a Job – first draft of podcast script”

  1. […] I finally got around to writing the first script for my podcast introduction about the childhood of John D. Rockefeller. It’s very much a rough draft and needs to be edited 7 more times, but here’s a link to a post talking about it. […]

  2. […] Sharing things you create is always a little scary. Yesterday, I shared the rough draft of a podcast script. […]

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