Personal Stories of America at Work

Monthly Archives: December 2010

Santa the Mensch

Believe it: Jac Grimes, a bus driver, really is Santa Claus

Santa Claus Christmas

"I see Muslim kids and Jewish kids, and I tell them it’s OK. Santa Claus loves all children.”

“If Santa Claus had a day job, it would be a school bus driver, right? And he would adopt foster children, like those with HIV, right? And he would volunteer in children’s hospice programs? Santa Jac does all those things and truly loves his job. A native of Greensboro, North Carolina, Jac is a natural storyteller with a Southern drawl. No one-word answers from this Santa! And yes, I did some fact-checking to make sure he was for real, because I was so moved and wanted to be sure I wasn’t being taken for a (sleigh) ride. I hope you enjoy this story, which shares the spirit of the holiday season, no matter what your religion.”

- Molly Rosen, Chronicler and Managing Editor

Are you really HIM?

Here’s how it started:  It was the Christmas season of 2005. I hadn’t shaved since Labor Day. The day before Christmas break, I was driving a bus at an elementary school I’d never been to, driving kids I’d never seen, as a substitute bus driver for our county. I decided awhile ago that spending all my life working and traveling as a management consultant wasn’t going to work for me. My kids were growing up, and I wasn’t around a lot of the time. So after running a local video store for nine years, I decided that driving a school bus would be fun. At the same time, my beard was turning white—it was more gray and white than it was red.

I’d had a habit of wearing a Santa hat around the holidays. The kids got on the bus, and there sat a guy—me—in a lightweight red jacket and a Santa hat with a gray beard. And I’m rotund anyway. The kindergartners and first-graders got on first. One of them asked, “Are you really HIM?”

Read the full interview >>

molly | December 21, 2010 | Entrepreneurs, Job Search | 10

The Career Gypsy

Singer/artist/designer Phoenix Normand opens his next act after calling it quits on YouTube

"If I’m not busy, I feel like I’m not doing anything with my life.”

“Phoenix Normand often has two careers going at once and sleeps four hours a night. His resume captures an eclectic mix of positions as executive assistant, graphic designer, singer, dancer, songwriter, actor, office interior designer, and real estate agent. A self-proclaimed gypsy, he says until recently he attracted new opportunities as if by magic. He posted a YouTube video, ‘Today is the first day of the rest of my life…today I am quitting my job, in the middle of a recession.’ Phoenix’s most compelling question at the moment is what to do with his life.”

- Chronicler Sherry Jordana

A hot mess

My professional realm is a hot mess right now, and it would be so nice to get back on track. I’m getting a little long in the tooth and floundering, to be honest with you. I’m starting to question myself. I can’t figure out what it is. Maybe I’m in a midlife crisis.

Read the full interview >>

molly | December 14, 2010 | Entrepreneurs, Innovation, Musician, Unemployment | 1

The Career Marine

A life in the military makes for high-stakes adventure and management

"I can do any upper management position because of my military training."

“Lieutenant Colonel Pat Jones has served twenty years in the Marine Corps, was educated at the Citadel, and comes from a military family where his father also served twenty years in the Marine Corps. Lt. Col. Jones does not fit my presumption of a career military officer. Yes, his hair is shaved short and he’s in good physical condition, but he’s also soft spoken, modest in how he describes his intense work, and introspective about how his training and experiences have impacted him. I was impressed by his loyalty to the Marine Corps and his unwavering commitment to serve his country.”

- Chronicler Mira Ringler

I thought I was a tough guy

My father is a retired lieutenant colonel from the Marine Corps who served twenty years. He’s mellow and never encouraged me to be a Marine. He wasn’t one of those dads who say, “Hey son, you want to be a Marine like your old man?” I obviously saw my dad in his uniform, and he never purposely shielded me from it, but I wasn’t tied to a particular future in the military. What really intrigued me about the military was a book I read in high school about the Citadel, called Lords of Discipline by Pat Conroy. I really liked the book, and it portrayed the school as tough and demanding. I was a wrestler, so I thought I was a tough guy. I knew I wanted to go to the Citadel but never thought about going into the Marine Corps. My dad had not gone there and thought the school was too expensive; he was not enthusiastic about it.

I went there anyway.

Read the full interview >>

molly | December 07, 2010 | Leadership, Military | 0

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