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Freelancing Beats Corporate Nonsense
Five years ago, I left a rather large media company where I had worked 20 years, most of them in fairly high-profile jobs, for the life of a work-at-home freelancer, which is the nice way of saying "person who seldom has more than seven dollars in his pocket, most of it in change."
My family thought I was nuts to give up what to them was a good job (indoors, no heavy lifting, steady paycheck, benefits, vending machines nearby). Many times over these last five years, I have been inclined to agree. I really missed those vending machines.
But I've stuck with it, and here I am today, a self-employed man. And what do I do? Well, today I'm sitting around on my hinder, making fun of things and wondering and if there's anything good on TV. So you can see that in some respects, my life hasn't changed.
Anyway, this being the five-year mark, I'd like to address some of the things I've heard since I left the old job.
* "When you got fired ..." Hold it. I did not get fired. I quit, and was delighted to do so. I've only been fired from one job in my life, and that was when I was a kid working on a farm. Monty Jo Strawser and I decided to borrow transportation from the boss to go into town for cheeseburgers and root beer. I think the fact that the transportation was 10-ton trucks - yes, plural, because we each took one -- had something to do with the boss' displeasure. And it didn't really matter because he hired us back two days later.
* "I'm so glad you're writing again." I never stopped. Some newspapers started picking up my column the day after I left the gulag. I mean, the old place. If you go back to the days when I wrote about music, I have been writing a column uninterrupted since the 1980s. Which shows just what can happen when you sleep during algebra and are therefore unable to find grown-up work.
* "I thought you went to Chicago." No, I went to Philadelphia. But it was just for a long weekend.
* "Why don't you tell stories about Deniece and Denephew anymore?" Well, they're college students and for some reason, less inclined toward lovable antics than when they were five. Although my brother and I shared a laugh recently when Denephew was caught drinking and somehow managed to blame his parents for not teaching him to resist peer pressure. The dope forgot to check with us first. We tried that one years ago. Didn't work then; didn't work now.
* "Must be nice, just writing a column for a living." Yes, it must be. I wouldn't know. I also teach two nights a week in the I.U. School of Music at IUPUI, do speaking engagements, lead farm tours (in season), write greeting cards, cook up the occasional magazine assignment, mow lawns, shovel sidewalks, and do light housekeeping (no laundry or windows).
That's the life of the work-at-home freelancer, you see. You do a lot of different things in hope of earning a third of what you used to. But you know what? I said when I left the company that I didn't know what was out there, but it had to be better than what I was leaving. I was right. Nice people like you have reminded me of it every day of the last five years.
Thanks. It really is a happy anniversary.
© 2008 Mike Redmond. All Rights Reserved.
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