I know it’s been an exceedingly long time, by my standards anyway, since I threw something down here. Turns out, for being unemployed, I am remarkably busy. At the end of Sunday’s radio shift, I had worked somewhere in the area of 17 of the last 21 days. A typical person, employed full-time, works 15 out of 21 and they do it on a more or less consistent schedule. Mine has been anything but.
Now, as I sit here on a Thursday night, I am exhausted, smell vaguely of sawdust, and have two throbbing index fingers. One was punished for being too close to a nail head and the other got between a crow bar and a very solid piece of wood. It may have taken me two days to break down a number of standard pallets to get the lumber to build one custom one, but it’s a very nice pallet, if I do say so myself.
I’m not complaining, mind you. I’ll take all the work I can get and I’m enjoying it all. In fact, as I have referenced before, this is all kind of a way back machine of work. Before I accepted my first full-time broadcasting job at WCCM radio in 1997, I spent the years after my college graduation working a slew of freelance jobs. Strung all together they made for one woefully low-paying job.
Back then, I didn’t think of it as being unemployed at all. All those jobs were my job. I was, at that point in time, a “freelance reporter.” It seemed a pretty nice way to make a living when I was a single guy. I had no kids, no car payment, and, for a while, no rent. (The no rent thing was particularly nice as I was living, mostly alone, in a beautifully renovated waterfront home. Story for another time.)
The whole lifestyle seemed kind of cool to me then. I didn’t exactly make my own schedule, but I always reserved the right to say no. Because I worked for so little, I was an easy guy to hire and, accordingly, got some pretty nice gigs. It was during this period that I spent an inordinate amount of time covering baseball. I was in attendance, I think, for every World Series game between 1997 and 2000. I travelled to All Star Games in Cleveland, Denver, and Atlanta. I got some very sweet views of the game played at Fenway in 1999. In fact, there is fairly well circulated panoramic photo of Ted Williams coming out on the field prior to the game and there is the tiniest little silhouette up on a Fenway Park roof that no longer exists. That’s me! I know there is no way to prove it but, of course, you can’t disprove it either. But who would make up such a thing?
In any case, whether it was running around the country covering baseball or just running around the state covering selectman meetings and high school basketball games, it seemed a more exciting job than any of the entry-level cubicle jobs that my peers had. Of course, they probably thought their regular paychecks, benefits, and opportunity at career growth was a better deal than what I had going.
So here we are, some twelve to fifteen years later and I no longer think it’s quite as cool. Freelancing is a young man’s game I think. I know that when I go into the radio station, the only guys who are around my age are either the big time hosts or running the place. Sure, I’ve sat next to couple guys closer to my age on the weekends, but Mike Flynn and Jermaine Wiggins are former NFL football players who had very lucrative playing careers and, to boot, each left with a Super Bowl ring on their fingers.
I did walk away from my last job with a pretty sweet dual cassette deck, though I’m not sure it works.
During last week’s less-than-a-blizzard snowstorm, I pulled what amounted to a 28-hour shift driving the Traffic Tracker truck for WHDH-TV. Being on television brings at least a certain air of respectability. Bless their hearts; the young, fresh-faced interns and PA types didn’t realize how low on the on-air totem pole my role was. For the hours between driving around in the snow aimlessly, I sat in the newsroom where I had people not only asking if I needed anything but further offering to get it for me. It was a very nice change of pace from my living room.
I think I’m ready to get back to the old nine-to-five grind. I’m ready to go work every Monday at, roughly, 9AM and go home at 5PM on Fridays (and probably a few times in between.) I’ll be happy to sprinkle these other things — radio, television, and industrial woodworking — into my life as well but as my fingers, back, and bags under my eyes will tell you, I’m no longer built for the freelance life.