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Editor's Page: Cool Jobs

Some people don’t settle for the usual 9-to-5.


Photo: Linny Morris

To find the coolest jobs in Hawaii, we first had to settle on a definition. Is it the job that pays the most money for the least effort? That would be super cool, but not very interesting. Looking at the people we profiled for the feature, I doubt any of them are becoming fabulously wealthy from their work, or that their days are short and easy. Instead, their jobs are cool because they do, daily, what the rest of us dream of doing.

Take Terry Kerby. He pilots a research submarine into the inky, deep ocean, seeing things few people on the planet ever see with their own eyes. Or consider pro surfer Megan Abubo or skydiver Richard Doppelmayer. Both work outdoors, earning a living off an adrenaline rush the rest of us don’t get from walking to the break room for a cup of slightly burned afternoon coffee.

Cool can also be defined as glamour and creativity, so we included fashion photographer Kicka Witte. For her, each new assignment is different from the one before, shot in a new place, with new, beautiful faces—never the same day twice.

Along those lines, one of the article’s writers, Mike Keany, half-jokingly suggested we include my job, magazine editor.

I can’t deny that it’s a cool job. It may even look glamorous from the outside. It’s certainly creative work, ever changing. We never write the same issue twice. But the reality is nothing like jumping out of airplanes or running combat simulations or diving to the sea floor.

My coolest job ever was actually my first one at this magazine. I started at 26 as associate editor. All I did was write stories, about every subject imaginable. What was amazing to me was the access that came with a title at an established magazine. For one of my earliest stories, I remember needing a quote from then Mayor Jeremy Harris. I was skeptical that the mayor would ever call me back, just some kid with no recognizable byline. “He’ll call,” my editor assured me.

He called.

I got to do things and go places I would never have thought possible. I spent a magical, miserably seasick day aboard the Hawaiian voyaging canoe, Hawaii Loa, with legendary navigator Nainoa Thompson and his crew. I got to meet Elvis Costello when he came through the Islands on tour. I’ve flown out to the aircraft carrier USS Lincoln on a “media embark” and have taken private tours of new buildings with the architects who designed them.

A magazine writer gets to say “yes” a lot, to assignments, to new experiences, which is hard to top for coolness. An editor, on the other hand, has to say “no” a lot. There are more story ideas than we have pages for, limitless ways to tell each story, through writing and design. Talented, dedicated people show me stories, layouts and cover designs that they’ve spent hours on and I sometimes have to say, “No, I’m sorry, it just isn’t right for us.”

That’s the part that feels like work. There’s no right answer either. Anything I reject probably would work for some portion of our readers. It gets fun again when we get into the breakthroughs. Making a magazine is a lot like doing a jigsaw puzzle—the more pieces you connect, the faster the next ones fall into place, until, suddenly, you’re snapping in that last piece of blue sky. The issue is done. Then, you leave work, stop to buy some groceries and there it is, the magazine, on a newsstand.

OK, I admit it. That last part still feels really, really cool.


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Honolulu Magazine November 2019
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