2014 Salary Survey: Who Makes What
(page 3 of 5)
How to Make $50
We shadowed five Minnesotans in various occupations to see how each earned a Ulysses
Job: Tattoo Artist
Time it takes to make $50: 30 minutes
Adam is stretched out on his side at Guns n’ Needles Tattoo in Uptown Minneapolis. He’s getting work done on his fourth tattoo: a skull doubling as a soup pot full of lobster, steak, and onions covering his right forearm. “It’s an homage to my past,” he explains. “I used to be a chef.”
Tattoo artist Roger “Uncle Rog” Kane coolly grabs a folded cloth from the stack by his side and wipes away a smear of blood and ink from Adam’s arm. They’re about 20 minutes into this session, the third of five total. How long will this session last? “Until I can’t take it anymore,” says Adam. “The endorphins usually wear off after three or four hours,” Kane says. “Then people want me to stop poking at ’em.”
Adam is clearly an old pro at being “poked at,” but that’s not always the case. “I’ve had people screaming, crying, and squirming,” says Kane. “And it’s not always who you’d expect. The smallest little girl can get tattooed in the most painful spot, and she’s perfectly fine, and the biggest, toughest dude will ask for a smoke break every three minutes and his girlfriend’s standing there petting his hair while he cries. I’ve had people puke and pass out before I even touch ’em. It’s usually more anxiety than real pain.”
The shop is set up like a salon, with beds in place of swivel chairs and adjustable fluorescent lights at each station. Across the divide, Kane’s colleague Brian is working on the left pec of a shirtless, grimacing man. “How does that feel?” Brian asks. The newly inked man grunts his response: “Feels like you’re gettin’ in there, man.”
Job: Executive for a Major Nonprofit
Time it takes to make $50: 50 minutes
On a Thursday morning, the director of standards and policy for a major nonprofit human-services organization arrives at her suburban office, settles in at her paper-strewn desk, and picks up the task list for the monster project of the moment. For the past year, preparations have been underway for moving 81 seniors from an existing nursing home to a brand-new, state-of-the-art care center. Moving day is scheduled for Tuesday, and teams of people have been strategizing for almost a year about the logistics of transporting dozens of seniors, many of whom are non-ambulatory and in various states of mental and physical health, from the home they have come to know and trust to one they’ve never seen before.
The logistics of the move have been planned down to the tiniest detail, but one huge hurdle remains. The Health Department, which issues the license needed to operate a nursing facility, still hasn’t committed to a time for its inspection. The director composes an artful message to her only contact at the department and finally elicits a desperately needed appointment—three days before the bus of seniors is due to arrive at the door of the new facility. If they find anything that needs attention and the license isn’t issued, all bets are off. Do the nurse call lights work in all of the rooms? Does the facility-management team have a thorough grasp of all the policies? Can they all detail the procedure for handling contaminated linens? A sea of preparations stretches before the director, but she takes a moment to pick up the project list again and place a big, satisfying X next to two screaming words: “Schedule inspection.”
Job: Trial Story Specialist/Presentation Consultant
Time it takes to make $50: 15 minutes
The trial story specialist enters a conference room at the downtown Minneapolis Hilton Garden Inn and greets his client—an East Coast lawyer representing a woman whose husband died as a result of the negligence of a large hospital. The lawyer had seen the specialist teach a continuing legal education course that focused on courtroom delivery and storytelling. Knowing that his case against a big institution with formidable representation depended on a strong opening statement that grabbed the jury with a powerful emotional hook, he flew to Minneapolis to work with the specialist on constructing a statement that would tell the tragic story of one man’s unnecessary death.
After a day of intensive writing and rewriting, the final draft is in hand, and it’s time to get the lawyer on his feet. He stands rigidly, fixed to the carpet, and recites the statement. The specialist coaches the lawyer on how to embody the narrative, having him move to three different spots along an imaginary line as the story unfolds to physicalize how the patient was supposed to move through three stages of the hospital to get the care he needed, and how he was prevented from reaching the final destination where he could have been saved.
“We need the listener to be able to see the story in their minds,” he explains. “You know the technical detail and legal jargon, but the jury needs to be able to visualize the story in order to engage with it. By seeing the story, people are able to empathize.” The lawyer’s eyes light up: He gets it. “Great,” says the specialist. “Now let’s run it again.”
Job: Actor in a Murder-Mystery Dinner-Theater Show
Time it takes to make $50: 60 minutes
On an icy Friday evening, Ann Milligan Lees makes her way toward the Wisconsin border to perform a four-act murder-mystery dinner show for a corporate holiday party in a hotel banquet room. Unlike traditional theater, in which the actors arrive at the same location to do the same show each night, each one of these gigs is unique. “Sometimes you apply your character makeup in a hotel room with catered coffee and pastries; sometimes it’s a cramped storage closet in a bar and grill,” she says. “I love the element of surprise and novelty. No two shows are ever the same. Plus, Mystery Cafe is one of the most lucrative live-performance gigs out there for a Twin Cities actor.”
On this night, Lees gets into costume in a conference room adjoining the ballroom where the show and meal will take place. She disrobes in the corner while the other (coed) actors do the same, draping costume pieces over the backs of chairs, finding outlets for curling irons, and running their lines in various states of undress. “You lose any sense of shyness pretty quickly in this line of work,” she says. “I don’t know many other professions that require you to take your clothes off with your coworkers in a conference room on a regular basis.” The stage manager pokes his head into the room and gives the “places” call. The actress grabs a couple rubber chickens, cracks her neck, and heads to the ballroom to show some tipsy business folk a good time.
Job: Substitute teacher
Time it takes to make $50: 3 hours
Dylan Dagen’s day at a St. Paul middle school starts with a seemingly innocuous task: taking attendance. But before he makes it through the Cs, a student throws a muffin at an adult visitor. Dagen is a substitute teacher, hoping to land a job as a P.E. teacher—preferably in his specialty area of developmental adapted physical education. But turnover among P.E. teachers is notoriously low, so Dagen takes as many substitute jobs as he can, earning $115 per school day.
A few minutes later, the boy who threw the muffin is hurling his backpack across the gym. “Please don’t do that,” Dagen says. The boy continues throwing until he makes a basket with the backpack. Still, “this is a good class,” Dagen insists. And when the muffin-and-backpack thrower apologizes to the visitor and eventually lies down on the floor with his phone, the class gets into a groove playing handball, girls on one side of the gym, boys on the other, enjoying themselves and generally following the rules. “This is awesome,” Dagen says. In third period, however, one handball game completely devolves while a girl swears at Dagen and refuses to go see a behavioral specialist. The other game gets rowdy, with kids whipping their pinneys at each other. One boy simply sits on the floor and reads for the entire period. Dagen remains collected (he says he’s used to it), although he says the lack of respect is challenging to overcome—especially as a substitute.
After class, a girl who had spent the period goofing off with her friends hands Dagen a note, saying “You need to sign this.” It’s a form for a behavior plan, asking each teacher to rate her behavior in areas such as “talked only when appropriate” and “followed teacher’s directions.” Dagen engages her in conversation, asking how she felt about her behavior. The girl who earlier refused to go to the behavior specialist pops her head between them and says, “Oh my God, just sign it already—DAMN.” Midway through fourth period, in which a couple of girls hide in the locker room and a couple of boys spend their warm-up throwing paper at each other, Dagen will have earned $50.