Early in their careers it’s perfectly easy to imagine young Jennifer Aston working as a waitress, Harrison Ford as a cabinet maker and Queen Latifah as a Burger King server (though I pity any customers who tried to give her any lip).

  1. But there are some famous people I have a hard time visualizing in their early pay-the-rent jobs. Whoopi Goldberg for instance. Can you see her as the bricklayer she apparently once was for awhile? Can you imagine her, trowel in hand, scrapping hunks of cement off brick walls? And standing there like a statue in silence all day slapping together brick walls? I can’t.
  2. Before he made it as an actor, Christopher Walken is listed as having worked as a lion tamer in a small circus. Though he claimed the lion was very old and more like a dog. Right. And maybe the lion was purple and Walken shoved his head in the lion’s mouth in nightly acts of bravado. Either way, it’s good that actors have vivid imaginations.
  3. Speaking of coming up in the world, the highly dignified Madeleine Albright who rose to global prominence as the secretary of state under Bill Clinton, once worked in a department store selling, of all things, the rather undignified item of bras.
  4. Jon Bon Jovi, the ageless rock star, once worked at a job making Christmas decorations, a job I know something about since I too put in an early stint in the Christmas glitter and glue racket. Unless his decorations were a lot clunkier looking than mine, a fair amount of dexterity and finesse were needed to assemble those products. Somehow I don’t see the rocker with that wispy, feather-like touch.
  5. Joan Crawford working in a Laundromat? That’s what her bio says. I can’t buy it. Raw ambition was wired into Crawford’s DNA, along with the rock-hard certainty she was going to be a star. While I can see her operating a store elevator to pay the rent I somehow can’t imagine her exalted-idea-of-herself stooping to washing anyone’s dirty laundry to make ends meet.
  6. As a teenager Dan Aykroyd was planning to become a Catholic priest. Three cheers that he didn’t. A born actor, his fine Oscar nominated performance in Driving Miss Daisy would never have happened and delighted audiences worldwide.
  7. Of all Ellen DeGenere’s many early gigs as painter, oyster shucker, paralegal and vacuum sales person, the one job I find most preposterous is her selling those vacuum cleaners. Can you visualize her standing there demonstrating those vacuums while earnestly explaining their finer points to housewives with a straight face. I can’t.
  8. Johnny Depp a Tele-marketer? No offense, but I see Depp falling asleep over a phone far more clearly than him coming on like a gangbuster Tele-marketer with a scripted sales pitch. And he sold pens, of all things. When was the last time you or anyone you know purchased (or even thought about purchasing) a pen over the phone?
  9. I am sure one day long long ago when Keith Richards worked as a tennis ball boy at some private club, he had a sweet, smooth teenage face with not a wrinkle on it. But all these long, hard-partying years later it’s difficult to imagine — to exchange Richard’s deep cratered, gaunt face with that innocent, fresh-faced kid he probably once was.

Have you ever worked at any low totem pole jobs while waiting for your dream job to materialize?

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