Early on in my work days, I realised I was made for big things. My very first job - at the age of 16 - was dressing up as a giant hippo for the amusement and entertainment of unruly brats at(what was then known as) the Randburg Waterfront. This was an interactive position: kids love to punch over-grown mascots and drunk students love to tackle them. Oh, and we used to dance the Macarena in these outfits.... just in case you weren't laughing hard enough.
Skip to a few years ahead. By this stage, I had decided that TV journalism was the path for me. As a kid, I used to pretend I was interviewing people (this involved a cut-out box, with buttons and dials draw on it... "look at me, dad, I'm on TV!") Fortunately, while studying my course, I got the opportunity to practise being on-camera... and unless the 'deer caught in the headlights' look is back in fashion, I was able to steer myself clear of ever appearing on screen.
I moved behind scenes - working on pre-production and multimedia projects - and loved it. My TV career culminated at 50/50. Yes, you heard me. That long-running, much-loved wildlife programme where dried up dung beetles are discussed by dried-up dung professors. Veldfokus... you know you love it.
I got to interview an elephant trainer - in a horse paddock. Horses are very elegant animals but I prefer to view them from the safety of a fence and a bolted door. People always tell me to let "the beast know who is in charge." These beasts know who is in charge, and it ain't me. So I was uneasy about standing in a paddock surrounded by the equestrian monsters, but my interviewee ensured me that he would have the sugar cubes in his pockets and they would only be interested in him so it wouldn't be a problem. I probably would've been happier with elephants.
With horses and their foals milling around us, I started to relax and concentrated on the interview. That was when one of the younger horses bit my ass. Chomp. Somewhere in the archives of SABC2 sits footage of an intern producer yelping and jumping into shot as a horse takes a chunk out of her right butt cheek. I had a neat little U-shaped bruise to show for it.
And that will be the last time I ever trust an elephant-horse whisperer.
Horseshoe teethmarks and all, I moved from SAUK Twee to online website media, from there to communications, to publicity and now into recruitment. Someone pointed out that I don't seem able to make up my mind.
I can't decide if I agree with them or not...