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My first gig.

Originally, I had planned to begin my little adventure on Monday but fate turned my way. One cannot ever turn away an opportunity and when I saw one Wednesday I took it and ran.

Mothers are always a blessing to be had. Several year’s ago my step-father’s business, The Crystal Path, a new age store, went out of business. Ever since, the leftover inventory has been in storage. I had offered to sell it for my step-father on Ebay several times in the past, but to no avail. On Wednesday, my mother called me and asked if I’d be willing to sell some books. “Of course,” I responded. I jumped for joy at the newfound free way to begin garnering some cold hard cash to start my business.

Dave Worthless (The bass player from my band, The Snallygasters) and I picked up the books Wednesday night. Five boxes sat neatly in the back of the Element. Five boxes stacked with a load of books, about 125 of them.

My first stop to try to unload them was a new age store not far from my home. Unlike the Crystal Path this one inhabits a strip center just north of the Baltimore Beltway. The owner, Kent, was a thin, dark skinned man who was very kind in greeting me. Right away I noticed a box on the floor with a variety of books, mostly called “Witchcraft” or “The beginners guide to Witchcraft” or something akin to that, marked at $4 per pound. I’d never bought books by the pound before but the deal seemed really good. Who wouldn’t want to control the energies of the universe at the lean and mean price of four bucks a pound?

Kent went to explain that books just aren’t worth that much. If he sells them at $4 per pound just imagine what he buys them at! He also explained how the New Age market had been whored out in the last couple years with the dawn of the internet. No longer did poseur witches or real ones need to buy their assortment of books, candles, faery wings, dragon handled knives, or “Goddess” bumper stickers at little out of the way niche stores. Things that sold for $100 ten years ago, when my step-father’s store was at it’s peak and when much of this stuff was actually purchased, now sells for $29.99. Kent was willing to buy my books but only at $2 per pound, which sounded awfully low to me. Besides, none of my books were even about witchcraft or faeries. Damn.

 When I got home I opted to list the books on Amazon mostly due to the fact that there is only one listing fee and the simplicity of listing books. In less than 90 minutes I listed 25 books mostly with titles like “Roots of the Iroquois”, “Santeria: The Religion”, “Breath was the first Drummer”, or “The Goddess in the Office”. I probably wouldn’t read any of these books but I’m sure someone, somewhere out there, is just itching to get their hands on a new copy of “She Rises like the Sun”…right?

The idea of returning to work, punching a clock, and answering to a plethora of bosses in a cube farm begins to be less and less appealing. Joblessness, though without pay, benefits, or a sense of belonging, appeases me. Yesterday I stacked a cord of wood in the garage, and while grunt work isn’t my thing at least I did it for me. The Snallygasters provide some relief and so does fantasy football, but nine hour days looming in front of me could very well suck whatever life I have left in me.

See you in the trenches,

Tim

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I want to the test waters of life. I want to jump in, head first, and see what it is like to make money in this country. I have no job but I have a considerable savings. My plan had one goal: To earn 6 figures in one years. To hit the $100,000 mark.

I’d blog my progress and in the end, perhaps, if I was clever enough, witty enough, and speld good enough I’d write a book about my experiences. Maybe.

My wife told me she read a book like this but then maybe it wasn’t exactly like this. Figures, all the good ideas are taken. It is called “Nickel & Dimed” by Barbara Ehrenreich and we, in fact, owned it. We own lots of books that, from time to time, rest on four bookshelves in the office but most of the time they congregate on the floors, tables, china cabinets, and other pieces of furniture around the house. My wife says she reads them, I use them for coasters.

Barbara Ehrenreich took a year to live like a common worker, earning minimum wage or perhaps a little more. Life was tough as she waited tables at two different restaurants on two different shifts five days a week or held two jobs and worked 7 days a week.

Even the great Morgan Spurlock had a similar adventure. On his show “30 Days” Morgan and his wife spend 30 days making minimum wage and getting themselves hurt nearly daily. Together they fend off roaches, call help centers, lock their doors, and wake up at unGodly hours to make a pitance.

I have no doubt in my mind that making minimum wage or thereabouts is difficult. Certainly I wasn’t out to make their work on the subject seem trivial. Yet, I couldn’t help shake the thought that going out and trying to be poor wouldn’t be all that tough. Of course making $6 an hour for grueling thankless work is unbecoming. It’s tiring and stresssful and folks look down on you. What I wanted to know was “Could one bring themselves up from nothing?”

Creating the goal was the easy part: Was it possible to earn for yourself, by any means necessary, $100,000 in one year? That would be my singular quest.

I made a couple rules:

  1. I have to start with no cash. I can use the clothes on my back and my IDs to gain a job.
  2. I cannot use pre-existing experience to garner myself favor in seeking further employment.
  3. I can work day labor type positions but only 50% of money earned working what could be considered “a job” can count toward the total at the end.
  4. I can use my car. A 2003 Honda Element with about 68,000 miles on the engine.
  5. I can use credit but the total amount taken must be counted against me at the end of the year. If I take out 10k in credit 10k works against me, not minimum payments.

These seemed like fair enough rules. The goal, unlike Ms. Ehrenreich’swork, was not see if I could survive, but to see if I could grow a business from nothing and earn a decent living. Capitalists insist that anyone who works hard can make money, and while I typically believe it, I understand this is not always the case. I wanted to carve out my own place in this world, not be burdened with other’s demands. Therefore it is unnecessary to move, limit my clothing choices, or not have electricity. Paying my bills, I decided, won’t affect the money I actually earn.

I suppose I should tell you a bit about myself. I am the anti-Ehrenreichin nearly every conceivable fashion. She was educated and well to do and brought up in a middle-class family. One of my first homes as a child was “well-to-do”………for the neighborhood: a corner lot in a trailer park. My parents both worked at Westinghouse and eventually we moved to a nice single family home in a suburb of Baltimore. By 11 my parents were divorced, my dad laidoff from his job at Westinghouse, my mother on Social Security/Disability.

Financially, all seemed lost.

As a teen, I went to Franklin High School some miles northwest of Baltimore. I grew a mohawk and listened to loud punk rawk music. DUring this time I was in a number of bands where the lyrics consisted of anti-statist rantings and lots of profanity. Completing the 10th grade proved impossible though I suffered through it twice. At 17, watching cartoons and eating cereal, my mother asked me if I wanted to go back to school. I told her “No.” I returned once more to fill out the paperwork to make my absence legal.

At Cinnabon, in a local mall, I worked my way up the food chain to Assistant Manager. I dealt with the manager who comically thought Cinnabon was the end all be all, the corporate snivel who demanded loyalty to a company none of us gave a damn about.

I treated customers like family and someone noticed, the manager of the cell phone store downstairs who always got a large Iced Tea and asked me to wash his cup. I went from making eight dollars an hour to making nearly three times that selling cellular phones. Eventually, whether through luck, networking, or my own dogged determination I began selling electrical products, earning 55k a year, with a company car, 4% 401K match, and really good healthcare.

At the beginning of our marriage, I supported my wife and two kids on minimum wage, barely scraping by. Conversly, I have made decent money and eliminated virtually all my debt. In the interest of full disclosure the only credit I have outstanding is my car ($390 minimum payment) and my house ($1600). Using the Dave Ramsey plan my wife and I have eliminated virtually all debt from our lives. While our country’s lending institutions collapse under the weight of bad debt I laugh in a sadistic kind of way.

It is unlikely that this will begin to tell you about myself. People tend to want to put others in neat little boxes so they can understand them better. Politically I lean right and am currently a registered Libertarian. Spiritually, I attend NorthBaltimore Mennonite Church where I play guitar and help with the youth group. At 28, I have four children and just celebrated 6 years of marriage. Hobbies include drumming in my punk band, The Snallygasters, and playing video games. “Slacker” is a word that sums me up. 

This project, this six-figure project, seems kind of hopeless in my hands. “Least likely to succeed” might be an appropiate title for myself in my senior year book…if I ever had gotten to be a senior. “Left-Back” would be my football position had I ever played; at 5’4 and 120 lbs they would have “Left” my ass “Back” on the bench. No matter how I slice it the odds are against me. A bad economy. No education. Never operated a business before. And making rules that take out the variables that do work in my favor make it all the more compelling. The only thing I have going for me is my sales experience. There is simply no way I can take it away and, quite simply, it gives me an edge that many people do not have. Over the years I have learned how to talk to people, how to listen to them, and have the gusto to ask for things that other people may not normally ask. This much I’ll admit and there is no way that I can undo it.

If you understand the project then I hope you follow along. I’ll post pictures whenever possible and from time to time perhaps some video. Officially, I start Monday, October 13th, two weeks after the first bailout plan failed. The economy, Baltimore, and no start-up cash all stand in my way. Yet, I won’t be deterred. Failure seems imminent. Then again, it always has yet I’ve always pulled through.

See you in the trenches,

“Big” Tim

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Getting laid at work.

So on July 28th my boss comes to me and says he wants to see me in the conference room. “Great” I think “A raise”. A conversations ensues something about qoutas and corporate margins and stuff. I can’t follow this stuff. Then the words I always wanted to hear “We’ve decided to let you go.”

Cast into the void, I am sent spinning. My life, a shambles. My wife, angry. Okay, maybe not that bad. In fact, I kinda liked it. People say getting laidoff is tough. But for me it was like getting laid at work. With everyone watching I gathered up my stuff and went out the door, a big smile on my face, a cigarette dangling from my lips.

Anyway, last Monday our congressional “leaders” voted ixnay on the ailoutbay of $700,000,000,000. The stock market crashed and burned like Evel Knieval on a motorcycle. It was this exact moment that I thought “I think I want to write a book.”

My ever supportive wife said something like “What kind of book?”

“A book about starting a business.”

“You can’t wake up in the morning. Your organizational skills suck.”

“Which is why it will work.”

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