Workin’ at the Car Wash Blues

Jim Croce

The other day, I was listening to Jim Croce’s Workin’ at the Car Wash Blues.” It has never been one of my favorites, but for some reason the line, “Now I got them steadily-depressing, low down, mind-messing, working-at-the-car-wash blues,” resonated with me.

I was struck with how fortunate I am that this sentiment has never applied to me. I’ve been kicking around in the PR trenches for more than three decades, and I cannot recall a single day that resembled those sudsy blues. (Are there days that I’m seriously stressing out? Sure. But depressing and mind-messing? Nope.)

I started doing a mental inventory of the things I love about the public relations profession – especially being an independent PR practitioner. Some of benefits that popped to mind include:

    1. There’s nothing like that high. The high, that is, of getting that perfect media placement, where your clients can tell the right story to the right audience at the right time. It’s a great feeling.
    2. It’s the perfect blend of sweet and salty. One day, you’re booking a Michael Jackson look-alike for an event. The next, you’re averting a product recall crisis. Each new day brings new and different challenges.
    3. You’re getting paid to tell stories. Better yet, if they’re about people and organizations dedicated to helping others, there’s a special moral to the stories.
    4. You get to yell “Action!” I love being the guy behind the camera. The one who media trains the on-air stars, helps mold the narrative, and puts words in other people’s mouths. And I don’t have to get hair and makeup. (Note: I did not say that I don’t need hair and makeup.)
    5. Express Yourself. (Wait, that’s a Madonna song. This is derailing with my Jim Croce analogy.) I love to write. My job gives me ample opportunity to play with words and tell stories in so many different realms. It’s like being a sci-fi, bodice-ripping, self-help, historical, sports writer — all wrapped up in one.
    6. That Sally Field Feeling. It may be the middle child in me, but I never tire of getting a pat on the head from a client for a job well done… or seeing the smiles of people at an event I helped orchestrate… or that “You like me. You really, really like me” moment when a social media post elicits a position reaction.
    7. Do-Goodery. One of the reasons I went out on my own more than a decade ago is because I wanted to have more control over the stories I tell. When my day is done and I collapse in an exhausted heap from all that heavy pencil-lifting and keyboard pounding, it’s nice to know that I may have helped (in some small way) get the word out about feeding starving families, tutoring struggling students, or helping people get on the road to success.

Is seven a weird number to end on? I suppose it is. But, since I’m my own boss, I get to call my own shots. I can decide if I want to stop at seven. OK, I guess that’s eight. Viva la independence!

I’m sure Jim Croce would have approved.

Minnesota PRCG member Gary Young founded Gary Young Ink in 2004 after building a public relations portfolio spanning more than 25 years. When he’s not listening to old LPs, Gary’s specialty is telling clients stories in creative and compelling ways through public relations and social media strategies.

One Comment

Amy Smith

Love it! And couldn’t agree more about the many benefits of running your own biz. I’ll add a #8 – you get to work with great colleagues who often become friends.


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