Day 308 - Tucker (1st person I approached)
November 04, 2014 - Tucker had what looked like a mobile office set up on the coffee shop table he was sitting at. Computer, notebook, pens, hot drink, backpack, headphones and even an indoor hat and an outdoor hat. He had no hesitation in talking with me whatsoever, closing his computer and moving his chair to face me.
Tucker was born in Knoxville, Tennessee. Knoxville was host to the World’s Fair in 1982, just before it was Vancouver’s turn in 1986.
“My father was in a relationship before he met my mother and had two children previously. My mother wasn’t supposed to be able to have any children, but they seem to have figured out a way and I came along. So I have two half-siblings, both of them are quite a bit older than I am. I saw them mostly in the summertime,” he said. His parents didn’t spend much time together and it was Tucker’s mother that raised him.
“My mother was fairly poor. She sold everything she had, and rented the cheapest apartment she could find in Marysville (Tennessee) because it had the best schools in that district. She wanted me to have a good education. I was taking violin in Grade three. It was certainly an advanced approach to education.” Tucker would go on to play the violin throughout his school years.
“I went to high-school in Knoxville,” he said.
“My mother was working in a local college and was able to take classes herself for free. She was studying HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language - used to create web pages.) I was about thirteen and I was playing this online game called Neopet, and you could create your own characters. My mother had an 'HTML for Dummies' book, and I started to read it. I used what I learned from the book and started making characters for my friends and selling them. That’s how I got interested in technology,” he said, with a smile.
“In 2008, things took a downward turn and money was tight at home. I started working full-time at Target and going to school as well. This was in Grade eleven. I did that for two years. It helped me to understand what a good work ethic was. My father worked in retail as well, and I took what he would tell me about customer service and applied that to my job,” he said.
“I had given up playing violin for about a year in high-school. Everyone kept telling me to play it like Mozart. Play it like Vivaldi. And that’s a very high level to be playing at. Then I had an epiphany. The thing that made them both so good was they were playing their own music, not someone else's music, over and over again. My cousin had left a guitar at my house during a visit and I eventually picked that up and started to play around with it,” he told me.
When Tucker graduated from high-school, he was offered work with a technology company called SAIC.
“They were impressed with my coding skills and the fact that I worked full-time and went to school full-time for two years. I worked in Oak Ridge (about 25 miles from Knoxville),” he said. Oak Ridge has two claims to fame; it was the home of ‘The Manhattan Project’ - the development of the atomic bomb. It was also the first place in the southern United States to have an integrated school.
“Those science types didn’t care enough to brag about it, they just did what was right,” Tucker said. The integration of Oak Ridge High School was the result of a January 1955 directive by the Atomic Energy Commission. The school had been established to educate the children of Manhattan Project workers.
“I eventually went to work for an oil company in Houston. While I was working there, I was continuing to learn more guitar. I saw this person on a Youtube video and I really liked her music and writing. I sent her a message telling her how much I liked it. She lived in Calgary (Alberta, Canada). We started to talk online and share music and interests."
After six months of talking online, they made plans to meet in Los Angeles.
“Some of her friends were a bit concerned abut her meeting a stranger in LA. I had my own concerns about meeting her in LA,” he said, laughing.
“But we hit it off instantly and she ended up coming back to Houston with me.” Emily spent six months with Tucker in Houston.
“During that time, my job with the oil company got outsourced to India. It was hard for me to not take it personally at first. I was really pissed. Emily helped me to see that it wasn’t personal and had nothing to do with me. She invited me to go to Calgary with her, and that’s what I did,” said Tucker. They’ve been married for two years.
“I needed some dental work done, and it was going to cost me about five thousand dollars in Calgary. We met this man named Don, who has a charity that operates out of Costa Rica, providing music lessons to impoverished children. I told him I would love to help out and perhaps teach the children how to read and write music. Everything came together and Emily and I went to Costa Rica to work with this charity. I also got the dental work done by a dentist that Don knew in Costa Rica, for one thousand dollars. Tucker discovered that he brought another level of musicality to the program in Costa Rica as well.
“There are generally two types of musicians, those who are technicians and play with great skill and precision. And then there are those who are more, well, like me. I have a spiritual approach to the music I play. It was very satisfying working with the children,” said Tucker.
Turns out that Don, the man who funds the music program is also an entrepreneur.
“Don was walking on the beach one day and was dismayed by the amount of plastic water bottles that littered the beach. He saw one that had been stomped on and got an idea. He's developed water bottles that can be up-cycled. When they're flattened, they get processed to become long-life roof tiles for developing countries. (*Fact Check - see links below). Emily and I wrote a song and Don plans to launch our single through a printed ‘bonus’ on the labels, which encourages people to recycle the bottle instead of throwing it away. He’s also working to get hotels in North America to use the bottles in a room service setting as well,” said Tucker.
“They have effectively become sponsors for Emily and I to create music.” Emily and Tucker perform under the name of BlueRose Revival. They give a percentage of the monies from music sales to the music charity in Costa Rica. (*Fact Check - see links below.)
They headed back to Calgary and started to formulate a plan to do some touring in Canada.
“I had driven my old car from Tennessee and two days before we left, it got hit by another car and was a write off. We didn’t know what we were going to do. Emily’s father made some arrangements and we got a line of credit and bought an old used RV (recreational vehicle) and hit the road!” he said excitedly.
“Emily had some work planned in Kelowna, but that got cancelled. Fortunately, the RV meant we had seriously reduced overheads. We’re here in Vancouver for a little while. Emily is at an interview for some marketing work right now,” said Tucker.
“We’re planning on heading down to San Diego. I have relatives there and some connections that will allow me to pick up some tech work. I can make pretty good money doing that,” he said.
I asked Tucker what he was currently working on, as I looked at his mobile office set-up.
“Well, I had another epiphany. I have two good skill sets. I’m good at marketing and customer service. And I’m good at technology. Not often do the two come together in one person," he said. Tucker is working on establishing a technology based, philanthropic marketing company. He has generated interest in what he is proposing. Tucker's putting together some more ground work to demonstrate what his vision is. We talked about his plan for some time, and it sounds like he knows exactly what he is doing.
We laughed a bit about how far his life has shifted from being an oil company worker, to where his life is right now.
“Yeah. I’m not going to be an oil executive driving around in a large car smoking cigars, and eating steaks. I’m even a vegan now! It’s been an incredible learning opportunity. I no longer take things that happen to me as personal. When we were in Kelowna and Emily’s work fell through, we were pretty tight for money. It’s not worth getting angry about and taking it personal. It’s a matter of saying okay, what is the lesson here, and being open to it. I look at life as having opportunities.” #notastranger
*Fact Check - BlueRose Revival - http://www.tenthpeace.com
"Someday" - BlueRose Revival - http://bit.ly/1y2m107
**Fact Check - Agua Water Bottles - http://bit.ly/UE7KsI