Hustling for gigs

I drove Mr. Bookworm’s car today.  That means that, when I turned on the radio, I got NPR.  I don’t listen to NPR anymore.  I find very dull the carefully packaged stories, all of which advance, with greater or lesser subtlety, a Progressive political agenda.  I prefer freewheeling talk radio, where hosts do live interviews of people with whom they agree and, even more interestingly, with people with whom they disagree.

Today, though, I listened to NPR long enough to hear a promo for an upcoming show, the name of which I forget, which looks at the fact that more and more people are free-lancers rather than employees.  It was clear that NPR disapproves of this trend, because the show was sold as a look at people who are pathetically hustling for work without the security of full-time employment.

I used to be one of those people, although I never thought of myself as pathetic.  I did my best lawyering when I stopped being a wage slave and started working for myself.  Instead of resenting every hour worked, because it simply put more money into the boss’s pockets, I threw myself into my work because it benefited me.  When I hustled, there was a direct return on effort.

The economics of what I was doing meant I never made as much money working as a free-lance attorney, hiring my services out to other law firms, as I did when I worked for the big firms.  I also actually worked harder for that lesser amount of money.  But I was so much happier.  The direct connection between labor and profit was incredibly satisfying.  Yes, I was out there hustling, but I was free.  And while it’s true that I’d lost my “safety net,” the fact is that my employers could have fired me at any time.  So that safety net was an illusion.  Working for myself, I knew what I had to offer and I knew I could survive.

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  • Caped Crusader

    Surprised you are just now discovering Progressives are people who never lost their infantile love for Pablum. Perhaps you should serve it to Mr. Bookworm often and he might make the connection causing a “light bulb” to go off in his brain.

  • Danny Lemieux

    “The economics of what I was doing meant I never made as much money working as a free-lance attorney, hiring my services out to other law firms, as I did when I worked for the big firms.  I also actually worked harder for that lesser amount of money.  But I was so much happier.  The direct connection between labor and profit was incredibly satisfying.  Yes, I was out there hustling, but I was free.:

    Amen to that! I never worked harder than as a free-lancer but it gave me freedom (and some moments of abject terror, as when the economy crashed and income stopped coming in). It was the freedom and sense that I was master of my own ship, Destiny, and that I could schedule my work around my kids’ sports and other events, so that I could be there when I needed to be.

    That being said, I craved my freedom but I realized that this same freedom and the unknown factors that it entails was terrifying to many. I realized that many (most?) people wanted somebody else to take care of them. And that, on a national and global scale, is what frightens me. I look at the political battles going on around us today and what I see is really a battle between people who want mastery and control over their own lives (Bookworm) and those that delude themselves that some other entity (“Government”) will take on the role of the parent in their lives and take away all their problems and responsibilities (“NPR listeners”). 

  • Old Buckeye

    My husband and I both freelance our talents, although we sometimes sign on with companies/institutions for the duration of a contract. Some of the reasons I prefer freelancing are that I represent myself–I’m not part of a union or a corporate culture. I also bid my own pay rate–I’m not forced into a pay scale based on years of service or yearly review results. I think that my parents’ generation was more apt to sign on to a company for life, but that was with the promise of a pension. Today’s work environment offers so few guarantees that I feel it’s better to hold the reins myself.

  • Jewel

    We were constantly at the mercy of the boss’s list of work needing to be done, when my husband worked for a painting contractor. Then I brought home a book on how to do painting estimates, and my husband started being self employed. That is what he does now, 13 years later. While it isn’t always easy street, he hustles, and sometimes is overwhelmed with the work. He will never go back to working for anyone.

  • Danny Lemieux

    One of the events that convinced me to go off on my own as a subcontractor was working for a company that would regularly lay off people during the Holiday season in order to balance their books. Then, the company went up for sale. I realized that any job working for another gives only the illusion of job security. I preferred taking the risks of my own employment in hand rather than living under the sword of inevitable cut backs. It really was a liberating experience and I keep 100% of what I own (after the government takes its bite, of course).

  • Oldflyer

    I do listen to NPR–occasionally–because it is the only station I can find  in the Washington, DC area that still plays classical music.  So, the irony  is striking.  The very composers whom NPR depends upon for the music they use were all free lancers.  Well, some were “kept” by wealthy patrons–but with no assurances or security.
    One could extrapolate and claim that most creative people are, by nature or circumstance, free lancers.

  • bkivey

    At a basic level, people want security. The American experiment is all the more remarkable for this, as a group of men decided that they’d give up the security of the Crown for the opportunity of self-determination. They freelanced an entire society.

    The flip side of security is control, and Progressives try to have things both ways: offering ‘security’ while glossing over the loss of individual freedom and discouraging a mature level of individual responsibility. I would say that a society’s decadence can be measured by the degree to which the citizenry has been infantalized. I fear that in a relatively short time, Western society will collapse under the weight of it’s unsustainable social programs, and we’ll be left with all of the control and none of the security.

  • David Foster

    Many “progressives” are people who are extremely security-oriented and with an affinity for highly-structured institutional environments, yet who nevertheless have an image of themselves as bold nonconformists. Think a small yappy dog, safe in his owner’s arms, who envisages himself as a fierce and noble wolf.

  • Mellow Jihadi

    I understand the drive to freelance. When I worked as an editor, I set my hours. My pay was directly linked to how much I worked. Then, I went and got a job for one of the large publishing houses. And they ran out of space among the cubicles. So they put me and 12 other folks in a converted closet. That was fun. (It was not that bad, except for the ventilation. Which was poor.)

  • nathan

    Is this the NPR show you mentioned?  It doesn’t really matter, but I was curious.  This career advice show is broadcast by NPR San Francisco on Sundays from 11:00 am to noon.

  • bizcor

    Self employment is the best. Having been in sales all my life I have always had to find my own work so I am never out of work. There have been some months when the work was scarce but there was always something. Early in my career I went to work for a radio station selling airtime. I only got paid when the client paid their bill so there were many times I had to collect the money too. This was very good training for self employment. If I didn’t work I didn’t get paid so going off on my own wasn’t particularly scary I just worked a myself instead of someone else. 

    I am the sales manager, salesman, bookkeeper, office manager, and CEO. I set my own hours, take a day off or vacation when I want, and I have never worked for anyone who “gets me” the way I do. Twice a month I have a bookkeeper double check my books. It takes her about an hour to go over everything and close out my month. I have a contract designer who creates the art I need, when I need it. I send them a check as soon as the work is completed and that’s it. No payroll taxes, health care or human resources department. In the coming year I look forward to hiring the best customer service person I have ever known and since I am married to her the money stays in the household budget. I can’t imagine ever working for another company and my wife is very excited about coming to work for our company.

    The only NPR show I ever listened to were the two guys who answered questions about cars. I don’t know if they are on anymore or not. They were funny and knew alot about cars. When I am in the car by myself I listen to talk radio either political or, in season, a Red Sox game. If my wife is in the car we listen mostly to country music or old rock and roll we grew up with. I know who Lady Ga Ga is but haven’t knowingly heard her sing so I do not know if she can.  She obviously knows how to promote herself. There are two other women in entertainment that promoted very well. One, Madonna, although talented was tacky as hell but she parlayed it into millions. The other, Shania Twain, made millions with her talent and kept her dignity at the same time. Country music people are grounded. Many of them get wealthy beyond thier wildest dreams and yet you hardly ever hear about them doing some lamed brained stunt in public. They keep their pants up, shirts on and are for the most part very patriotic. About 15 years ago the Dixie Chicks were the hottest thing in Country music and then one day Natalie Mane made a derogatory comment about President G.W. Bush. Their record sales plummeted. What was going to be a sold out concert tour suddenly didn’t sell any tickets and the shows were cancelled. The Dixie Chicks were no longer a hot commodity. I was one of their biggest fans and I joined the boycott.

    I’m not sure why I got onto the Country music jag but I did. I am self employed (hustling everyday for my supper) and love it. Those safe secure jobs go away in bad times but those of us who hustle for a living stay employed.   

  • Ymarsakar

    Individual self reliance is always better than relying on others to provide for your security. It’s just that few nations or civilizations in the world could ever offer the economic opportunities and military security that the US has, so often they had to band together in tribes, families, clans, or large corporations to even survive their competitors. Survive their competitors, literally.