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Readers Blog: Dobie Maxwell's 'Dented Can' Diary

2004 No More

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Thursday January 31st, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   Somewhere in my scrambled rat race of a life there needs to be a master plan. I thought I had at least a loose one at one point, but I’m nowhere close to making it how I’d pictured. Life was on a steady path upward with a bright future in 2004 when I was working on the morning show at The Loop in Chicago. I was on the cusp of having everything I ever wanted – but life had other plans.

   I still don’t know why we got so close to pay dirt and then had it yanked out from under us for no real reason other than the company got sold and the new owners were clueless hillbillies. That wasn’t our fault, but it sure did affect the futures of my partners and me. We’re all still suffering.

   Granted, that was years ago and I know we all need to “just get over it already” like everybody keeps telling us but opportunities of that magnitude don’t come along every day. We were poised for a nice long run, and chances are we’d still be on the air today. That was the plan when we got hired, and it was starting to go exactly how it was intended until the sale happened unexpectedly.

   Eric and Kathy is the biggest morning radio show in Chicago, and they were a sister station of ours. The plan was they’d get the female listeners and we’d get the males. Fine with us, but radio for the most part has about as much stability as a Kardashian marriage and we were out the door.

   OK, fine. But what’s next? I’ve been through plans B, C, D and so many others that I’m almost through the alphabet and back to plan A again. I don’t know what’s more frustrating, not coming close to one’s life goals or coming within striking distance of achieving them all and not doing it.

   All I have ever wanted in my adult life was to be a successful standup comic with enough fans that come out to see me that earns me a nice living. My standards are low, and it wouldn’t take a whole lot to make me financially secure for life. I know I have the ability, it just hasn’t hit yet.

   I was well on my way in 2004. We were starting to get recognized on the air, and I could feel it at the comedy clubs in and around Chicago. I was getting on stage constantly, and Zanies wanted to sign me to an exclusive deal for great pay to work several times a year. The station was setting up a huge charity comedy event for New Year’s Eve of 2004 and I was going to be the headliner.

   None of that ever happened, and here I sit with my education trying to scrape up enough to pay my rent every month and not drive a car I got for free from a friend of mine that keeps costing all I have to keep it running. That sure wasn’t what I was picturing I’d be doing now back in 2004.

   The truth is everyone has their own 2004 somewhere. There’s always woulda, coulda, shouldas in all our lives, but it’s what we do afterward that defines who we are. As much as I hate to admit it even now, they’re not going to call me back and admit they made a mistake. That ship sailed.

   But what’s the new one? I still like performing on stage and on air, but who’s passing out jobs these days? I’m still out there slugging, but the circumstances are a lot different than they used to be. I’m older and it’s getting harder to stay in the race. I hope the only break I’ll get isn’t my hip.

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