What I did on my summer vacation | Chuck’s World
I’ve run into several young entrepreneurs over the past few years, at least in a sense (i.e., I didn’t actually run into them. Or over them. Or even meet them in person).
I’ve been aware of their efforts, and wished them well. None of them had what I thought was a particular novel idea, but revolutionary notions are rare and risky. Hard work, done by yourself, is another thing.
And when I use the word “entrepreneur,” it’s with a little caution, and not just because it’s kind of hard to spell. Of at least American men, around half of them will have spent at least some part of their working lives being self-employed.
Entrepreneurship is an engine, if not the primary one, behind our economy, but mostly we’re talking about working for yourself here.
I know a lot of those people. I know a freelance accountant who seems to keep busy. A few friends have spent quite a few years as independent contractors. Some are professionals who have gone into private practice. A lot are musicians and other artists.
One is a young woman who gives amazing haircuts but might, I suspect, just move on and change the world. A remarkable woman.
My wife and I, running errands last weekend, spotted a barbecue place that had opened on the east side of Highway 99 in south Everett.
Since my wife has a barbecue tooth, we swung around and sampled their product. The consensus is a return visit, even though I’m not a barbecue person.
I appreciate the flavor and the differences and the hard work involved, and I certainly don’t mind eating it. I just don’t have the passion for it my wife does, or my daughter.
Some people don’t. It’s sort of wasted on vegetarians, for example. Cows are probably ambivalent.
But I watched these barbecue people sweat and haul and endure heat and take orders, and I just have to admire. Hard work, long hours, surely not getting rich. They probably just like to make barbecue, and like working for themselves.
I’ve spent most of my adult life being self-employed, although I’m not sure you can legally call me an entrepreneur.
I started and ran an actual business for more than a decade, doing the paperwork, doing the payroll, doing the invoicing, before moving into the nebulous world of making a living by simply selling my time and meager skills to anyone who will send me a check.
So while I admire initiative and innovation and ambition, I also understand the difficult course undertaken by brave people who buck the nine-to-five and embrace the six-to-midnight lifestyle.
There are benefits, to be sure, sometimes financial, often just emotional. You’re not the boss of me, and so on.
What I can say, with some assurance, is that the whole concept of vacations becomes a little distant. Trying to dig out a “real” vacation from my self-employed past is an exercise in old photo searching.
I think we had a real one in 1993, depending on whether you count visiting family. I’ve never been to Hawaii, for example. How crazy is that? And what would I do there?
Probably work from the hotel room, gaze out at the beauty, appreciate the serenity and keeping working. That’s how we entrepreneurs roll.
It’s a family tradition, too, just not a family business. I have no memory of my maternal grandfather ever working for anyone but himself. My dad briefly owned a business. My grandmother sold Avon, which counts (It #counts#.).
My wife is essentially self employed, and my daughter and her husband are among the above-mentioned musicians, who teach and perform and eat ramen during the slow weeks. Vacations are not on the calendar.
And I suspect that the summer vacations my wife and I remember from childhood, with station wagon-caravans to exotic locations (i.e., sometimes in other states) or amusement parks or, again, to visit far-off family, are less common than they used to be.
But over the past few years, my wife and I have tried to get away for at least a couple of days, alone and with some air between us and our front porch.
After 31 years of marriage, it just seems like a good idea. Not to recharge the batteries, so to speak (No batteries are involved. Not that I’m passing judgment. Just saying.), but to liven up life with a change of scenery, and have conversations that don’t revolve around what comes in the mail that day.
And this year, we got a houseboat.
We didn’t get to keep it. It was just a place to stay. But it was very nice.
Snugged up against the Olympic National Park, surrounded by nature and friendly seagulls (I’m guessing, but they didn’t look unfriendly), a quick drive down the road to hikes that took us to amazing waterfalls, it felt like a vacation.
We hiked during the day, ate several meals at a local diner with diner food, lounged a bit in the hot tub, and enjoyed the view from our own deck.
And realized, afterward, that we live in a place where people from all over the country come when they want a vacation. Small wonder, then, that we don’t feel deprived. We just need to walk outside.
Here’s to vacations or staycations, then. No batteries needed except for my camera, which took many stunning photos of seagulls. They’re remarkably photogenic, as it turns out.
And entrepreneurial, if you count stealing. But friendly.