The path to what I was born to do.

By Bob Abdou

After being employed in the printing business for 10 years, I had the opportunity to open up my own shop in 1986 in Atlanta, Georgia. With my skills and salesmanship I was able to succeed and within a few years I had 15 employees, 10 printing presses and did over 2 million dollars in sales. To maintain my business I never stopped working, when my employees went home I would run the presses at night to make more money. My company became more successful but I was not really happy.

I needed a hobby fast or I was on the brink of a heart attack. So in 1991 I got in contact with a company called "Maher Studios". I received a catalog in the mail and I was able to order a ventriloquist dummy that had the features of me when I was young. Money was no object, I had lots of money because of my company, but to maintain this lavish lifestyle I had to continue working around the clock. I had to slow my life down and start enjoying the fruits of my labor and I thought having a "puppet" would be a fun thing to have.

I will never forget the day when a package from Maher Studios arrived. I opened it up and I could swear that I heard angels singing and a light beamed out of this box. It was like a miracle was being deliverd to my doorstep and my life was about to change forever. My very first ventriloquist dummy arrives and his name shall be "Woodie".

I remember taking Woodie on my sales calls to meet my clients and they loved him and they just gave me more work, the more I used the dummy the more work I would get for my business. But wait...that wasn't the point. I did not want more work, I wanted to take a break from that work and finally play, laugh and enjoy life. Having Woodie with me worked against me so I knew I had to find another venue to use him and I did.

I volunteered at the Center for Puppetry Arts on the weekend to be the house greeter. I had NO experience and this gave me the chance to see what kind of ventriloquist I could be. It worked, they loved me just as much as I loved working there. I volunteered for 3 years trying never to miss a weekend and polish my new found hobby "Ventriloquism".

One weekend I could not make it at the Center and a young boy asked about me saying "where is Mr.Puppet". When the front office told me this story, I realized that I had a positive impact on children so Mr.Puppet was born. Now life was good......until...... I received a letter from the IRS saying I owe 2 years of back taxes. My company was not paying their suppliers and money was being lost somewhere. To make a long story even longer it was my wife (now ex) that was embezzeling money and this contributed to the downfall of my business. The IRS closed down my business and all I had worked hard for was gone. I still did vent on the side but it could never equal in pay what I made in my company. Once my business was shut down, I went to work for a (so-called) friend who also owned a print shop. I went to work for him and brought all my clients with me, Ok, now I will make this story short. Within 2 months he had all my clients and he fired me and told me to GET OUT. Within a year I now have nothing, I lost my business, friends, clients, lifestyle, marriage, hair - but I still had vent.

When I got fired I got a call from a vent from Chicago named Chuck Field. I was crying on the phone to him about my problems and that I was about to be homeless. He told me not to worry, this was the best opportunity to become a full time vent because I had nothing to lose - I lost everything. He was right! That phone call from Chuck in 1996 was life changing for me. Looking at things now, I have a wonderful new marriage, great caring friends like Chuck, a successful business as Mr.Puppet and I look even better without my toupee (so I'm told). Being associated now with ventriloquism since 1991 has put me on this incredible path that I will always feel grateful for, this was what I was born to do.

Thanks, Clinton for being the one to start me on this wonderful life!

Newsy Vents 01/2009

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