THE BLOG

It's Not Sheep Castration.. But Fashion Can Have Its Moments Too

11/29/2013 01:01 am ET | Updated Jul 04, 2014

Click here to watch the TEDTalk that inspired this post.

I'm listening to Mike Rowe talk about his Aha! moment, castrating a lamb in Craig, Colo., a few hours north of my current Colorado foothills hometown, which some folks call, "The Brooklyn of Boulder."

I cannot say I've "been there, done that" on the livestock spaying front the way Rowe has.

But I relate to his eyes-wide moment of wonder as he approaches the task.

"How did I get here?" Rowe wonders. I relate to that, too.

My mind flashes back from the little lambs on that Craig, Colo. pasture to a pile of Dalmatian-print polyester on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, to a table of live doves at a Reagan-era fundraiser. We're in the field of fashion now, as opposed to animal husbandry.

But the leap isn't as far -- or as tame -- as you might think.

With thanks to Mike Rowe for the memories, here are two of my favorite Aha! moments in the NYC fashion biz. They're not as overtly ballsy as his lamb job, and I don't include them on my LinkedIn profile, because who would hire me to do them again?

But these tasks scared me senseless and/or made my heart sing. And isn't that what the best jobs are about?

"Counting the Carnet for Jean-Paul Gaultier"

The Task:
Count a hundred dozen-ish Dalmation print fake fur hats, gloves and accessories imported by French fashion maverick Gaultier for his first U.S. fashion show, to be held in a Big Apple Circus tent in Battery Park City.

My Workspace:
Seated cross-legged on the floor of Bergdorf Goodman's atrium, seven stories above Manhattan's bustling Fifth Avenue.

How I Got This Job:
My new boss called her last version of me and asked, "Do you know anyone crazy enough to do this?"

The Aha! Moment:
The executives see my job as dirty work, the kind of task that Cinderella's stepsisters might event. But counting the carnet is Zen-tastic to me. I'm sitting in a quiet, sun-filled space, connecting with objects of pure design genius.

Tomorrow, taking on another job no one wants, I'll ride shotgun in the truck carrying the collection downtown to the circus tent. The city will stretch before me. The oddly gorgeous objects described in the carnet -- properly counted -- will follow behind me.

Color me one lucky faux fur trucker.

"Supermodel Management"

The Task:
Stop six supermodels from going AWOL from a fashion show fundraiser with clothes by Italian fashion house Genny, attended by President Ronald Reagan and a host of mid-1980s A-Listers.

My Workspace:
An unheated hallway in the L'Enfant Plaza Hotel in DC.

How I Got This Job:
My Uncle Sidney's neighbors' friend's daughter needs an Italian-speaking American gal Friday for an event she's producing over Presidents' Day Weekend, which will feature live Italian doves on each table, and a six-pack of supermodels on the runway.

I'm studying Italian at college in Philly, so I get the job.

I won't be paid for this gig in money, I'm told. But I will get some real-world experience.

The Truth:
The models -- faces I know from the covers of Vogue, and Elle and W and Bazaar -- are threatening to fly back to New York unless I take them some place warm to wait out the hour before show.

The armed guard at the ballroom says civilians who leave a presidential event will not be readmitted.

What do I do?

I'll have to decide this on my own.

My boss is sneaking Julio Iglesias through the kitchen to avoid the paparazzi. And her boss is drinking Champagne with the Princess of Savoy. Plus, did I mention, this is 1984: there are no cell phones?

As we walk back to the ballroom, I'm sure I'm going to be arrested by the CIA. Or (even scarier) yelled at by the booking agent for Ford Models! How will that look when I apply to law school? -- Sharon Glassman

The models want cheeseburgers. They want to watch the Winter Olympics on TV.

I can make that happen, I think. I'm 19 years old. I know zip about team management. But I know a lot about cheeseburgers.

I escort the models back to my hotel room. We order room service. They watch Brian Boitano skate.

It's like a slumber party with girls in $1,000 dresses.

The Aha! Moment:
Time to lead the models backstage. But how? As we walk back to the ballroom, I'm sure I'm going to be arrested by the CIA. Or (even scarier) yelled at by the booking agent for Ford Models! How will that look when I apply to law school?

But when we get to the Scary Guard, he just nods and waves us backstage.

Why? you ask. I don't know.

Was I terrified? You betcha.

The Bonus:
But scary jobs can lead to great rewards.

Earlier that day, I delivered a Genny dress to Mrs. Grant's room. Her husband answered the door in a dressing gown, holding a handsome hand of cards.

I was speechless.

He said, "Thank you."

And maybe this is the moral of my "how did I get here?" odd-job story:

Six supermodels may trump an armed guard. But no one will ever trump my memory of Cary Grant.

Writer/performer Sharon Glassman's new novel-with-songs is called Blame It On Hoboken. Visit http://sharonglassmanlive.com for performance dates in Northern Colorado and beyond.

Ideas are not set in stone. When exposed to thoughtful people, they morph and adapt into their most potent form. TEDWeekends will highlight some of today's most intriguing ideas and allow them to develop in real time through your voice! Tweet #TEDWeekends to share your perspective or email tedweekends@huffingtonpost.com to learn about future weekend's ideas to contribute as a writer.