12/11/2003 Entry: "Retail: Part Deux"
From time to time, I think about working retail again. Not drop my career (dear God, no), I mean only part time for two basic reasons.
Part of it's the money thing. Part timers make a lot more than I suspected in many areas. What I used to work for, as a manager, is now considered minimum wage. I saw a book store hiring clerks at $7.80/hr. If I worked there, I'd make about $400 extra a month (after taxes) if I worked 20-hour weeks. I could sure use that. Not as fun money but, "worry a lot less about sudden expenses" money.
But also I feel I am kind of losing touch with real people. Yes, when you work retail, some people suck, but I had always found that a majority of people were nice, interesting, and it helped keep me polite and patient. I lost a lot of that with the tech industry. It's made me a bit bitter and kind of sarcastic. I used to be a lot friendlier with strangers, but now I am all "get out of my way, slowpoke!" and such. I'm still nice to retail and service people, though; I haven't gotten that disconnected.
Then there's also other perks, like working with something I like (books, knives), and getting an employee discount on said items.
Drawbacks? You bet!
There's the "being on my feet" thing I worry about. I have a lot more aches and pains than I used to. I have gained about 40 pounds since my last retail job in 1996, aged several years, and I am out of shape from a job where I sit most of the time. I fear I might hurt my back, knee, or ankle ... again. I figure some of those can be fixed with soft braces or wraps, but that won't deal with what will at first be exhaustion. I am tired a lot now, I can't image how tired I'd be if I was on my feet for an extra 4 hours a night on weekdays. Or maybe it would help me get into shape. I don't know.
Christine and CR don't want me to take a second job because then they'd never see me, and when they did, I'd be tired. Also, I am the guy who does the housework, like cleaning, laundry, repair, finances, yardwork, and sometimes cooking. If I took a job, suddenly our house would be a mess, no one would have clean clothes, and our money would all be gone from too much takeout. Time = money, but the reverse is also true. I'll tell you what, my writing career would not happen, and this blog would get pretty stale pretty quick.
I did the "work at home" thing for a few years, like doing web design, consulting work, graphics, and so on ... but I hated that, and a lot of the jobs ended badly or abruptly. Some of them were under the table, too, which made me nervous, although I wasn't doing anything illegal. In at least two cases, I was doing work that someone else was being paid for, but he didn't have the time or skills to do it, so he paid me to do it. And I never made enough money to even warrant a report on my taxes. But I got taken advantage of. A lot. I learned that "favors" quickly become "expectations" without extra pay. Being nice burned me, and I don't want to take a job where being nice is punished.
I probably wouldn't consider this so much if it weren't for the fact our finances are not so good. I mean, they are not TERRIBLE, but my mortgage just went up $100 (property taxes, insurance) and some home repairs we have been "meaning to get to" are turning into "rather urgent problems." I have no money to fix these things, and the longer I wait, the more expensive the fix becomes. And the less money I have. The cost of living here, what with utilities, taxes, transportation, food prices, and so on have increased as well. Our income has only increased marginally, about 1-2% a year, which doesn't even cover inflation. Our savings are almost gone, and our stock portfolio has flat-lined with the market. Our jobs are also not the most stable around; Christine's work just closed an office, and we just fired a ton of people in our California branch.
But I resent the pressure to get a second job. I want to get a second job for "gee whiz" money and to meet people. If I work for Chesapeake Knife and Tool again, I don't want to think of it as a job, but doing something I like in an industry full of strange and interesting people. And if the management sucks, I only have to put up with them part time. Or quit and not worry about it.
I am the same way with my writing career. The chances of me becoming the next JK Rowling or Steven King are remote, even if I am a good writer, a lot of it is timing, marketing skill, and sometimes just dumb luck.
We shall see.