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Monday, September 27, 2004

Some Observations on the Day Past

While lunching at a little sub shop on Greenville Avenue, (how about that, I just made a new verb!) I observed a little episode that brought back many a distasteful memory of my days as a retail flunky.

Now mind, I don't mean to denigrate retailers. If one feels called to that profession, enjoys it, and is good at it, then I believe wholeheartedly that it is a noble and worthy profession. Alas, retail is often a wasteland of brilliant and creative minds, stuck there in misery either by circumstance or bad luck, or, and this is harsh, cowardice.

Sitting at the next table was the manager of this little sub shop, and he was deep in conversation with his supervisor, one of the dreaded ogres of every retail guy's life, the DM. (District Manager for those of you in other countries) Now, having had to answer to a DM for a number of years, I can tell you first hand that these needle dicked middle managers can make the poor guy that has to face the public every day absolutely miserable. Very seldom is anything ever right when they visit your store, rather, they take a great deal of little-guy pride in having the power to suck the creative juice right out of your veins and gargle with it.

This poor guy was being led around by the nose, legal pad in hand, and forced to bow and scrape to the big dude's every whim.

One year and one month ago, I, for one got my fill. I had been working for peanuts for more than fifteen years to make some other bastard rich, while my own creativity was being sapped. Well, I did something about it, and now, live a really contented and happy life, having the full authority and courage to say no to whatever and whomever I please.

Now, that last paragraph might sound a bit arrogant, and let me hasten to add, that arrogance is not my intention, nor is it my desire to lord my success over anyone else. Rather, I would like, through this little medium, to inspire the thousands of you just like me who have more to offer the world than a suggestive upsale of French Fries with your hamburger.

1. Chances are, there is something that you can do or produce that people need. Sit down and evaluate yourself, and figure out just what it is you do better than anyone else in the world. Maybe it's word processing. It might be housekeeping. Maybe you're gifted with a needle and thread. Perhaps you have a great speaking voice. Whatever it is that you have, go exploit it.

For me, it was music. And for fifteen years I used my talent and knowledge to sell sheet music and records for some other schmuck and they thanked me profusely to the tune of $10 per hour.

When I decided to put my music to work for me, I was able to build a teaching studio of more than 25 pupils (at $50 an hour!) and to put my musical knowledge into the production of radio programs, record reviews, and the artistic directorship of my professional choir.

Now, I make more in two hours than I made in two days at my day job, and no DM tells me that my office is out of order.

2. No one has the right to make you feel inferior and to hold the kind of authority over you that will make you dread earning your living. You DON'T have to take it from the MAN! Be your own person, and tell the boss to go screw himself! Find a position in life that makes some other dumb schmuck work for you, then be the best boss that the guy has ever had. Think of the transformed Scrooge in Dickens' A Christmas Carol and go help the Bob Cratchit's of the world.

Just remember this. Being your own boss takes risk and courage. But if you have something of value to offer the world, they'll buy it. I'm not kidding. It worked for me, and I know it will for you. Just don't make the mistake that I made of waiting until you were already 40 years old before you took the plunge.

And remember this, if you fail, you can always get another day job. They're easy to come by. But if you succeed... and you will, you'll find yourself wondering, as I did, what took you so long?!


M.D. Shellhammer said...

I am so very glad whenever I run across a self-actuated person such as yourself. As to the new verb however, if you refer to "Lunching" that would be a gerund, or a verb functioning as a noun. Keep up the good work and thank you for spreading a little hope in the world, we so desperatly need it!

Kevin Sutton said...

Hello Mark.

Thank you for the kind words about my essay, and for correcting my part of speech error. May I humbly point out that your sentence should have read: "self-actualized people like you" and not "like yourself." According to Strunk and White in "The Elements of Style," the simple personal pronoun should always be used as the subject.


Hildigunnur said...

hahahahaha! brill!

good article, anyway.