Find some unique inspiration here. We asked 10 local people with unusual career choices to tell us more about what they do — and why
NANCY FERRUCCIO: HOUSE ARREST WARDEN
HOW LONG AT JOB? 18 years
HOW DID YOU GET THIS POSITION? Husband, attorney Sam Ferruccio, saw the opportunity to create the company, Global Tracking Systems, to keep track of people who are under house arrest
WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOUR WERE A KID? Open a Merle Norman store
WHY DO YOU LOVE YOUR JOB? “I laugh every day.”
ONE STRANGE STORY RELATED TO YOUR JOB One girl came under her supervision after friends left her, drunk, at a discount store.The girl took one of the store’s motorized carts and was driving down the highway from eastern Canton to Massillon when she was arrested
MELANIE KEETON: PET WASTE REMOVAL SPECIALIST
HOW LONG AT JOB? Three years
HOW DID YOU GET THIS POSITION? Husband thought of forming the company, Pet Bomb Squad
WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU WERE A KID? A kindergarten teacher
WHY DO YOU LOVE YOUR JOB? “Every day I get to go out and meet new people and drive all over Stark County and surrounding areas and meet new dogs.”
ONE STRANGE STORY RELATED TO YOUR JOB Called to a home in Copley.The family had six huge mastiffs, and it took Melanie and her husband three hours to clean up. They filled up 14 tall kitchen garbage bags. The yard was huge, with a tiny fenced off area for the children to play in. “It was the most disgusting thing I’ve ever done.”
ANITA COPELAND: POTATO CHIP INSPECTOR
HOW LONG AT JOB? 11 years
HOW DID YOU GET THIS POSITION? Eagle eyes and quick hands to pick out the brown chips from the thousands that pass by each second.
WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU WERE A KID? When she was in the eighth grade, she wanted to be a deejay.
WHY DO YOU LOVE YOUR JOB? “I love the fast pace of my job, I love the people I work with and I love working for a company that cares about its associates.”
ONE STRANGE STORY RELATED TO YOUR JOB? “One day I was in deep concentration inspecting when I saw a big hand reaching for my chips. Immediately, I slapped it, not knowing whose hand it was. When I looked up it was (chairman and CEO) Bob Shearer.”
P.J. LAMIELL: FUNERAL DIRECTOR
HOW LONG AT JOB? 26 years
HOW DID YOU GET THIS POSITION? It’s a family business, so “I chose to go back to the family business over accounting.”
WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU WERE A KID? A construction heavy machinery operator
WHY DO YOU LOVE YOUR JOB? “I like dealing with the people and the diversity of every day. No day is the same. I do everything from physical (work) to paperwork.”
ONE STRANGE STORY RELATED TO YOUR JOB As a young funeral director, he had charge of an out-of-town graveside service. While passing out flowers to mourners, the side of the grave caved in, leaving P.J. half in and half out of the grave in his black suit.
MICHAEL SHAFFER: TEACHER OF REIKI, MASSAGE THERAPIST
HOW LONG AT JOB? Nine years
HOW DID YOU GET THIS POSITION? Lost a job as a printing laborer and decided to change paths
WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU WERE A KID? A fireman
WHY DO YOU LOVE YOUR JOB? “I’m helping people to help themselves. I help them understand that they can do much for themselves by trying new things like massage therapy for pain relief and Reiki for stress relief.”
ONE STRANGE STORY RELATED TO YOUR JOB The first time he ever practiced Reiki, it was to help a female deer that had been struck on the highway in front of him. The doe looked into his eyes before the Highway Patrol told him to get off the highway and then put the deer out of its misery.
APRIL EICHNER: TRANSPORT NURSE
HOW LONG AT JOB? 11 years as a transport nurse; 25 years as a registered nurse
HOW DID YOU GET THIS POSITION? While I was working in the intensive care unit at Mercy, Akron Children’s Hospital hired me to do air and ground transport.
WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU WERE A KID? A nurse (since she was 7 years old because she was sick with asthma much of the time as a child).
WHY DO YOU LOVE YOUR JOB? “You get to interact and help people. I love doing what’s right for the patient. That’s what I tell my staff all the time.”
ONE STRANGE STORY RELATED TO YOUR JOB “A friend introduced me to a young woman who handed me a card. She said, ‘Thank you for taking care of my daughter. I wanted you to have this.’ The card told me of how I had transported her infant daughter many years ago who was critically ill from a local hospital. Her daughter is now 10 years old. In the card, she wrote, ‘Your presence comforted me. You came in and took charge of the situation, and I felt that it was going to be OK. I thank you so much for the care you gave her.’ As nurses, we often do not have an opportunity to see we do make a difference for our patients.”
BRIAN GRAHAM: GLASS BLOWER
HOW LONG AT JOB? Started at Kent State University in 1993 and has been doing it since then at various places in Summit, Portage,Wayne and Stark counties
HOW DID YOU GET THIS POSITION? Family opened up the shop, Canal Fulton Glassworks, in 2009.
WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU WERE A KID? An archaeologist (he studied that at Kent as well)
WHY DO YOU LOVE YOUR JOB? “Because I get to play with fire. I get to take nothing and make it into something — having a vision and making it tangible, just using my hands.”
ONE STRANGE STORY RELATED TO YOUR JOB “I am always burning myself — facial and arm hair included.When you get burned with glass that is at 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit, you don’t feel it, you smell it first. Nerves seem to be instantly killed. I am also very skilled at running my hands through buckets of broken glass pieces without getting cut.”
JO ELLEN LASH: FAUX-FOOD DESIGNER
HOW LONG AT JOB? Three years
HOW DID YOU GET THIS POSITION? Figured out how to make the items less expensively than you could buy them wholesale.
WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU WERE A KID? Auto sales and finance in the family business.
WHY DO YOU LOVE YOUR JOB? “I love creating. I love the excitement on the people’s faces when they see it. It’s so gratifying to create something that’s beautiful and useful.”
ONE STRANGE STORY RELATED TO YOUR JOB One steady customer has an end-table setup with a faux cup of tea, lemon, a book and glasses. A drop-in visitor excused himself by saying, “I’ll let you get back to your book now.” She keeps a lot of her creations in her home. “Half the time, my husband doesn’t know what’s real and what’s not, so I have to label everything.”
CAROL MCCAHAN: CERTIFIED LAUGHTER LEADER
HOW LONG AT JOB? Three years
HOW DID YOU GET THIS POSITION? Laughter yoga kept coming into my (resistant) awareness until I finally realized I was supposed to be doing this and decided to take the training.
WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU WERE A KID? Teacher
WHY DO YOU LOVE YOUR JOB? “Are you kidding? What could be more fun? Seriously, laughter brings joy and stress relief, helps bond people, replaces negative thinking with positive thinking, strengthens the immune system and gives people a coping mechanism in hard times, and we just have a blast doing it. I love being able to bring that to people.”
ONE STRANGE STORY RELATED TO YOUR JOB? “My new year’s resolution was to laugh every day.There is a Live Laugh Line you can call 12 times a day and laugh for 20 minutes with other callers. I had been doing that for about a year when my youngest brother committed suicide. Two days after the funeral, my mother had a stroke. Two weeks after that, my husband had a stroke. I kept my commitment to laugh every day, and that is what got me through that time. I can remember more than once calling that line sobbing, but was laughing by the end of it. So while I questioned why was all this happening at the time, I can now say I truly understand the power of laughter.”
BRIAN ‘BUBBA’ CARNES: TATTOO ARTIST
HOW LONG AT JOB? 18 years
HOW DID YOU GET THIS POSITION? Opened the area’s first tattoo shop (with his uncle) at Market Avenue N and 30th Street NE in 1992. Big Time Tattoos on 12th Street NW opened in 2001.
WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU WERE A KID? A welder
WHY DO YOU LOVE YOUR JOB? “I get to work with people. I leave my mark out there on everyone I tattoo. You’ll remember me for the rest of your life.”
ONE STRANGE STORY RELATED TO YOUR JOB In 1993, he was part of a Showtime network special on Harley-Davidson’s 90th anniversary in Milwaukee. He was filmed doing a fake tattoo (no ink) on Penn Jillette of Penn and Teller. “Bobcat Goldthwaite was cutting up behind me, cracking jokes and having a good time.”