Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Realities, Economic and Otherwise

Back to enjoying my home and yard after another ten-day stint away. This time, I was in Lane County tending to the Scandinavian Festival and its attendant folderol. My high hopes for the event were unfulfilled, at least from a fiscal standpoint. But as I dejectedly ruminated over this on Sunday evening, a little voice in my head whispered, “Remember: Money isn’t everything…!” and I realized that not only were the husband and I still speaking, but we appeared to be cooperating and enjoying each other’s company. Trust me—this is not a state in which we have found ourselves when engaged together in any undertaking, for a really, really long time. It was…nice.

After 36 years of living with someone, it should be easier. Maybe for some people, it is. But “some people” are not me. “Easy” is an adjective that will never be applied to me; nor evidently, anything I ever do. Conversely, my husband is renowned and beloved for his easy-ness. I suppose that makes us a match made in heaven: the perfect counterbalance to one another; though I suspect the actual truth is that I am not nearly as difficult as I think, nor is the husband as easy as he appears. Either way, as we’ve grown older and our individual ways have become more set in concrete, we have tended to do more tug-of-warring than counterbalancing.

So a week of working more or less together without tears, harsh words, or abuse of inanimate objects does add up to a success of sorts. One which I should appreciate, perhaps, more than I do.

Now I find myself in the predicament of having not nearly met the financial goal I had set for this event. Had it been met, I would have had the luxury of not having to think about procuring further income for another year or so. The idea of trying to get a job—in this economy, with my resume, and taking into account my hysterical aversion to doing anything even vaguely resembling that in which I was engaged from July 1, 2006 to June 30, 2011—depresses the hell out of me. I have no desire to hand out shopping carts at Walmart, and as far as I know, that’s the only gig available to washed up old farts like me.

Start another business, you say? SO much easier said than done. Especially given what I have learned about the dynamics of the Small Business Person vs the Marketplace. The business deck is so stacked in favor of the biggest of the big that the Little Guys commonly bite the dust well before they are ever able to rise out of it. When I decided to become a small business person, it never entered my mind that I would sally forth daily into battle against forces that were set in place to attack not me personally, but the idea of me—the small-time entrepreneur foolish enough to think that the tiny sliver of pie I needed to keep me alive would not be coveted or missed by the guys who want ALL OF IT. There are Davids out there who choose to pit themselves against that Goliath; there are even those who succeed. I tip my hat to them. But I quickly learned that I had neither the skill nor the stomach for the battle.

As time goes on, I’m coming to realize—and resent—the truth behind the “Occupy” movement: That the 1% are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer, and the rest of us are living on a plane where not going backward is considered a victory. The people who have most of the money not only intend to keep what they have, but they have their sights set on getting the rest of it, one way or another. And they are not bothered by social conscience, nor do they subscribe to inconvenient conventions such as courtesy, empathy or a sense of fair play.

I’m still bruised and battered by my experience out there in the world of business owners. I’ll readily acknowledge that my own personal foibles played a part in my lack of success, but I also believe the economic realities of 21st century America sealed my fate.

Nevertheless, I did dream up a secondary business—a crafty sort of thing—that we tried out alongside our food concession this year at the festival. (I must be a glutton for punishment.) My sister and I compiled a stock of flower hair garlands, of a type that many of the dancers and festival goers love to wear. I have to admit, I so enjoyed making the things, I could happily do it a couple hours a day every day, if that was what it took to be successful. Sadly, of our stock of over 100 garlands, we sold 20, and those only after we slashed the price to a dismally unprofitable level. Sigh! I had pinned some tentative but fervent hopes on our little craft endeavor, and it didn’t show a whole lot of promise. I’m not ready to give up on them yet, but I am sorely disappointed that a thing I actually enjoy doing cannot translate into a little extra cash.

My fortune cookie from last night’s Chinese take-out said, “Your new venture will be successful.” I’m trying to figure out what that means. Especially since I didn’t open the cookie until this morning, and it was soggy and stale and I threw half of it in the garbage…

1 comment:

  1. Perfect example on the net. Bain is part owner of an Illinois auto parts plant. It's being shipped piece by piece to China while the folks who work there have the choice of quitting now or sticking around and training their Chinese replacements.

    The story was on AOL not HP so just about anything was getting through. One commenter had the gall to say that the employees "chose" to stick around and train their replacements. What you're going to give up a family wage job before you absolutely have to.

    The real killer is that the plant is profitable here in the good ol US of A. It'll just be more profitable (they hope) if it's moved. And since Romney is still getting money from his Bain investment he's going to profit from this abomination.

    There was also the predictable "quit pickin on poor Bain" carp comments. Bailed before I felt like a I needed a shower.

    Your lament echoes questons asked by a lay Bible study leader in El Salvador during the civil war. Did God create the world so the few could have it all and many have nothing? Or was the world created so that all of us could share the good things? Took twelve years of civil war down there. Hope it doesn't come to that here.