One too many
Los Osos, Calif.
I understand a lot of folks have quit looking for work and are out of a job, an experience I’ve never had as an adult because I’ve never had a job to be unemployed from. I’ve never belonged to that class of people known as “salarymen” and haven’t had to dust off my resume in over 40 years.
I never knew what I wanted to be when I was growing up but I was sure of one thing… I didn’t want to work by the hour. I did that in the fruit orchards as a high schooler, and later in the oilfields as a college student, and I swore I’d never do that again! Right now I couldn’t tell you within $2 what the minimum hourly wage is, which is what I’d be making if I entered the job market. One of the big reasons why I’m self-employed is that I’m the only person who would hire me. Another reason is that if I ever did get into a position where I was truly paid for what I was worth I’d starve to death. I could’t live on that little.
Besides not wanting to work by the hour, I never wanted to sell myself short to some big corporation. I don’t take orders well, I’m more stubborn than a one-eyed mule, never did play well in the sandbox, and I don’t respond well to people of authority. I’m just not the corporate type. I hate meetings and memos, and I only own one suit, which I’ve worn exactly once. I’m a lousy salesman and I’m not a team player. I wouldn’t last 30 minutes as a Walmart greeter. I’d tell those customers where to go!
Granted, there are downsides to working for yourself. I can’t ask for a raise or complain to the boss. (I suppose I could but it wouldn’t do any good.) I have no pension, golden parachute or safety net, and without my wife’s medical insurance I’d be in debt to the doctors for over a million bucks. Talk about homeland insecurity!
I also do a lot of things I’d be fired for if I worked for a big corporation. If I get tired of writing I go work in my shop and if I need a break I don’t ask for anyone’s permission. I never wear a wrist watch and I don’t get rudely awakened by a rooster or an alarm clock. I get up when I wake up, work until 10 at night and never really know what time it is. I quit when I get tired. As a writer I’ve had at least one deadline per week, and usually two, for 40 years but I get my work done so far in advance that I’m not pressured by my deadlines. That’s because for me my work is also my pleasure. And my hobby. I love what I do and as long as you do that your job is never “work.” Although we’ve only taken one major vacation in 43 years of married life I feel like I could take one at any time if I wanted to. But that’s just it: I don’t want to. I live where other people come to vacation so why would I leave?
It takes a certain kind of person to be self-employed and I’m it. I think a lot of other people are that kind of person too but they’re afraid to make the jump to being self-employed. You don’t find many college students majoring in entrepreneurship these days. Although I loved college life, and found my wonderful wife there, I think I could have been just as successful in my work if I’d used the $20,000 I spent to pay my way through college to start my own business. Even if I failed it probably would have been a better education.
In the final analysis everything has worked out just fine. I might have made more money and had a lucrative pension working for the government but I’ve never had to live in an appliance carton and I’m infinitely more happy than if I’d have worked for a slave-driver.
“Oh, what’s that honey?”
Excuse me but I gotta go now, I hear my wife calling, reminding me that having one boss is more than enough. ❖
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