I realized after writing down my list of 31 topics that I wanted to journal about during this month, that there’s going to be some overlap between some of them. Today’s topic of work I suppose could overlap with the following topics: money, horse racing, and broadcasting. However I think I want to write more about my thoughts on work and the place that occupation holds in my life.
Oddly enough I think the topic that work might overlap with the most is self-esteem. Maybe self-identity is more correct though. Something I’ve really tried to work on in the last couple of years is trying to separate my self-esteem and identity from my work. For YEARS I always thought the only thing interesting about me was that I had kind of a fun and unique job. I would lead with it in conversations or introductions almost exclusively. It became my identity, Jason the Horse Racing Announcer. And often that worked because to this day, I’ve never told someone I’ve just met what I do for work and not had them react either very curious or very interested that somebody does that for a living. If I’d have just introduced myself and started to make conversation about other stuff, I never believed they’d find me interesting or worthwhile to talk to.
Appropriately enough that attitude started to change for me when I got out of announcing. In 2015 I left Louisiana Downs due to issues with anxiety and depression and I went back to Seattle completely unsure of what I’d do. I think I had maybe $6,000 to my name and a hefty student loan payment and a car payment, so not working wasn’t an option. So I started applying for jobs in almost every industry there was, most of which I had no qualifications for. My skillset that I’d developed was pretty useless outside of horse racing. I remember once telling an employment advisor when asked what skills I possess that “I call a pretty good post parade.” She looked at me stunned about my answer.
As I was looking for a job though, I realized that I drove a Prius and maybe driving for Uber would be an option? So I applied to be a driver, put a new set of tires on the car, gave it a good detailing, and within a week, I was an Uber driver. When I was in Portland announcing I’d picked up a side job through a friend doing food and health safety audits at grocery stores and restaurants. So I emailed them and told them any extra work they had I’d take it. I had assumed that my career in horse racing was done since I’d now left two announcing jobs due to mental health struggles, so until I found a new job or new path, this was what I was going to do.
There were times I liked doing Uber. During that time I didn’t like to leave the house much or be away from my car, so this allowed me to go out and see the world and interact with people without having to leave my car. My weight ballooned again because I was eating pizza or Dick’s Drive In most meals and sitting all day. But I was making a living. The bills I had were getting paid and I was fortunate enough to be able to stay with family rent free while I figured out my plan. I was making 400 to 500 a week doing Uber and another couple of hundred from the auditing job. I did that for seven months and during that time I applied for a few announcing jobs that came open and never got a sniff. I was very resentful about it but hindsight I’m actually very glad I never got them because I would have just imploded again.
I think the most important things that those seven months of ubering and auditing taught me about work was that 1) I can survive and could support myself even when my foundation was pretty shaken. And 2), what I do was not as important as how I do it. For a while doing Uber and the audits I felt down about myself. Like I had failed my true career goals and that I had wasted my abilities because I couldn’t keep my anxiety issues together. But as I did them more I also began to take pride in doing a good job. In being a good driver and someone the passengers could feel safe with and trust to get them there and be friendly. I think by the end I was a good Uber driver. I think my rating was like 4.82 or something?
I was hired by BetAmerica to do a daily podcast in January 2016 and I was making enough of a salary to live off of and enough to where I could quit Uber and the audits. But I actually kept ubering for the next couple years. Maybe just one day a week or so, but I really liked it at that time. When I was hired to fill-in at Monmouth in 2019, which was my first announcing job since 2015, I Uber’d all my free time those months before leaving to help save up for the trip over there and the expenses that would come with living on the road. I gave my last ride in April of 2019 and did my last audit around that time as well. But I try and hold on to the lessons I learned during that time that my job doesn’t and shouldn’t define me.
I’ve been fortunate in the last few years to get some great work opportunities and part of that success has been reminding myself to be grateful of the opportunities, but to not get too invested in what they represent. I’m proud sure, but calling races or calling at bigger tracks shouldn’t make me think any different about myself as a human being than if I was ubering or doing audits. Will tackle that more on the Self-Esteem blog later this month.