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Been There, Dunked That by Brian Dunkleman: Takin’ What They’re Givin’


This summer I’ve done something I haven’t done since circa 1998. Worked. As in a real job. Not a bad run. It’s been almost shocking how much I’ve enjoyed it.

I show up to the golf course when they tell me to, do my job then go home. No airplanes. No Ubers. No radio or morning TV to talk about the same thing over and over again. No arguing about what I was supposed to be paid. No waiting up to two months to actually get paid. And most days I leave with a pocket full of cash. There’s always been something very satisfying about that. Who am I kidding, it’s the free golf.

I started thinking about all the jobs I had before I started working in show business. This is actually the third time I’ve worked at Holiday Valley. The first was in the ski rental shop behind the boot counter. I was boot boy. Then a couple years later I worked in the kitchen making salads. Salad boy.

I spent a winter working for the other resort in town, HoliMont. I had a much more prestigious position there: Chief Pass Checker. I rode around all winter on a snowmobile making sure all the pass checkers were doing their jobs. Still not sure how I managed to screw that one up.

One summer on college break a couple of buddies and I worked on the county road crew. You know when you see a bunch of guys at the side of the road wearing orange vests leaning on shovels watching one guy actually digging? That was us.

I’ve painted houses, laid bricks, put up siding, done roofing and pounded nails. Once I accidentally hit myself in the crotch with a hammer. I’m not what you’d call a “skilled laborer.”

I spent a summer assembling knives at Burrell Cutlery. I’ve never seen a TV show with a cast of characters more interesting than the ones in that place. If you hired actors to play them, everyone would accuse them of being too over the top.

One of the most fun jobs I’ve ever had was bartending at Madigan’s. I had some of the best times working behind that bar that I will never remember.

I’ve waited tables at The Birdwalk, The Gin Mill and Dina’s. Dina would always say that I was her favorite waiter. I was her only waiter, but it was still nice to hear.

I waited tables at an Olive Garden in Colorado for a few weeks. Singing that birthday song is one of the worst things that has ever happened to me. The lyrics are still seared into my brain. Every time I think about it my left eye begins to twitch.

The last time I ever waited tables was at an Italian restaurant in Los Angeles. My last customer? Carrot Top. Seemed like a nice enough guy, but when I pushed out the dessert cart, he asked me, “Is there a movie on this flight?” I calmly replied, “Please excuse me for a moment,” took off my apron and walked out the door.

I worked for a couple different catering companies out there. My first night was at the Screen Actors Guild Awards. Walking into the building I had my first official celebrity sighting – Dennis Hopper. Not bad. Another company I worked for would go to people’s homes to cater their private parties. One night we worked at Neil Simon’s house. I snuck into his office and stole one of his pens. Don’t tell anyone. I served chimichangas and taquitos to Candice Bergen, Jason Alexander and Henry Winkler.

A few years later I got to act in a TV pilot with Henry. My second interaction with him was much cooler.

So what’s next after the golf course? Not sure yet. As long as it doesn’t entail singing a horrible birthday song, I’ll make the best of it.

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