Matt Rowley over at Rowley’s Whiskey Forge is hosting this month’s MxMo and his theme is Hard Drinks for Hard Times:
If your 401(k) has taken a beating, or if you or a spouse or friend have been laid off, or if you’re simply hanging on to your wallet for dear life, you’ve probably given some thought to how the economy is affecting your basic expenditures—such as those you make for booze. Here’s a chance to share how you’re drinking during the downturn; whether it’s affordable booze, ways you’re cutting corners, or things you’ve figured out how to mix or make on the cheap, we need to hear it.
Uh, so this is almost a week late. Sorry Matt, I’ve had it mostly written in my notebook for over a week, but haven’t gotten a chance to get it turn it into a blog post until now.
As you may have noticed, I have a small problem with compulsively purchasing spirits.
This is not really a new thing, just sort of a different expression of my spendthrift ways.
When I was a kid, I spent what little money I made from my paper route and selling coke at football games on collecting comic books. When I got a bit older, I started purchasing records. After I reached drinking age, I went through a period of wine obsession. As time flew on, I moved to CDs. Then for a period I was completely obsessed with computer games.
I am a compulsive collector of sorts and our house is cluttered with the paraphernalia of my various and sundry obsessions.
Which also means, I have never really been good at prioritizing budgets, keeping track of my spending, or coming up with real career plans for myself. In fact, after moving to California and failing to find a well paying job, I was probably on the fast track towards accumulating a very nasty credit card debt. Were it not for some success at finding decently paying jobs in technology, I am not really sure where I would be today.
But after a couple of the tech companies I worked for failed, I took a job with a local University. Taking a significant pay cut in exchange for what I hoped would be job security and decent benefits. The job security thing didn’t initially turn out to be quite the case I was hoping for, but I am still working for the same University, albeit in another job.
Since starting at the University, I’ve made enough to cover the bills and been quite religious about not accumulating more debt that I can cover on a monthly basis.
But the spirits purchases related to the Savoy project have always put a pretty big dent in my monthly income. And, for something like 4 out of the last 7 years I have worked for the University, we have had pay freezes or limits on increases in compensation. When we have gotten raises, they haven’t even been at a rate commensurate with inflation. Really, the only way to get a decent raise at the University is to switch jobs. But now, with most departments having hiring freezes due to the California state budget situation…
One thing I’ve tried to do, from time to time, is to parlay my areas of intense interest into sources of income.
For example, during my intense period of interest in food, I worked as a cook in restaurants. As an avid computer game player, I managed to get a job as a game tester for a video game company. While at the same company, I became interested in Information Technology and moved to the tech support department. I even tried to get a job in a record store when I was totally obsessed with jazz and made enough money to pay for our moving van to California by selling some of my old comic books.
Mrs. Flannestad calls me a “conniver”. I may not have had a career plan in mind at any point in my life, but somehow things do happen from time to time, which from the perspective of hindsight, look like some sort of twisted and rocky path.
Since becoming interested in cocktails, I’ve been trying to figure out some way to actually bring in some cash with whatever meager expertise I have accumulated in the field.
A number of folks have suggested that I write a book about the Savoy adventure. Unfortunately, whenever I talk to friends who have actually written books, they tell me writing a book, is not, in fact, a very good way to make money.
From what I can tell, most blogs don’t really make money either. Oh, a few, with tremendous readership may make their authors enough cash to get by. Some “celebrity bloggers” may actually be rewarded well. But really, is a geeky drink blog like mine going to have enough appeal to generate much ad revenue? I suppose I could go for a sponsorship deal: “The Savoy Stomp, brought to you by Beefeater’s Gin”. But then I would have to kowtow to some superior force instead of using whatever spirits I want. No fun.
I could, I suppose, work in a liquor store. But I already have a full time job during the hours that most liquor stores are open. Besides, in my experience, retail doesn’t really pay that well for most employees.
There are a few things that appeal. Being on the front lines of cocktail evangelism. Doing something with my hands. It’s a culinary profession. It’s in food service, which I enjoyed previously.
Why not? Most shifts are even at different times from my University job!
So here I am, working two jobs and trying to make my dream of supporting the Savoy blog and its expenses by working in a bar reality.
Is it fun? Yes. Is it rewarding? Hell, yeah.
Is it hard? Well, a bit. But it’s the only way I can think to get the experience.