“Welcome to my office, Kris. Have a seat,” says the bossman.
“Thank you, sir. It’s a pleasure to be here and can I say, I’m just grateful for the opportunity. I plan to do some great things here,” I promised him with an ear-to-ear smile.
“Follow me. I want you to have a look around our facilities first. Get to know the lay of the land. Get to meet the people. We can’t put new hires to work immediately, you wouldn’t know where the fuck to start,” the owner tells me with a smirk on his face.
He’s right. I’m like a little kid that entered a new school, I can’t stop taking in all the sights, smells, and sounds from the chatter around me. It’s all so new and exciting.
“This is the bathroom, kitchen is over there. Our 65″ TV that we keep music playing on throughout the day. That’s a massive beanbag you can sit in while you’re doing your work. Occasionally we’ll play a classic movie, but really only for ambiance and the nostalgia factor. Do you like the classic film ‘Billy Madison’ Kris?”
This short but deep belly laugh came out of me. I’m going to like this guy. “Of course…love his rendition of ‘Back to School.’ Dad needs to know, I’m not a fool.”
We were getting along. The entire time we talked I was feeling a sense of belonging.
Before I could start telling him about Miles Davis and how cool I am, he cut me off.
“It’s not all fun and games, we expect serious self-improvement here and output. Daily. That means reading, writing, and LEARNING. Let me reiterate – these tasks are to be done DAILY. There is no excuse for that. Are we clear?”
“Spend as much time as you need to, but we expect at least an hour of each in the beginning. But those are rookie numbers,” as he points to a picture of Matthew McConaughey, “We expect that you’ll continue to do more and more as time goes on. Of course, within a reasonable limit. If I see you stuck at your desk for too long, I’m sending you out for some errands, exercise, or even just a walk around town.”
This guy gets me. “Sounds good, sir. My ass will probably go numb and I’d have to get moving.” I wanted to impress him with my work ethic.
“You’re expected to stay on top of your fitness and health, keep yourself clean, keep the facilities clean. If there’s a mess, you clean it up. It becomes very distracting to the rest of the employees. How can they focus on their creative tasks if your dirty desk is all they can see?”
I tucked in shirt a little bit. “That makes a lot of sense.”
“We have a waitress on staff, as well.”
SHUT THE FUCK UP! THIS IS THE BEST WORKPLACE EVAAAAAAAAAAR!
“She’ll only fill your cup with CreativeJuice if your place is clean and you show up to work every day.”
“Haaaaaaaaaaaa,” this guy’s a riot.
“But here’s the deal, Kris. This is the hardest part to swallow for most people.”
My head leaned in closer. Something serious was coming.
“I can’t pay you.”
“I’m sorry…?” My heart sank.
“I can’t pay you just yet. See, work has to be put in. You’re going to have to show up every day and create. For the days you don’t show up and create, you’re further behind. You won’t get any better and your value decreases. As your value decreases, you won’t be worth anything and I’ll have nothing to sell.”
“Shit…. 401k? Dental? Stock options?” I asked like a kid being told he couldn’t get his favorite toy.
“That’s why so few people work here. It’s hard in the beginning. You have to wake up early, work hard and consistently, with no real certainty that anything can come of it right away. You won’t receive money for your hours, your labor, or even what you produce. When your idea, your writings, your PRODUCT is valuable and people want it, then it can be monetized. They may not like it either, subsequently, they’ll shit on it. You’ll have to deal with the critics.
“And until then you’ll be trying to make money other ways. There are plenty of gigs online and through people I know that will throw you some money to work for them, but only by task or event.”
Doubt. That’s what I felt overcome me. Just a heaping, pile of shitty doubt. It washed over me like a Jackass stunt where they take turns holding each other down in a pit and spray themselves with some PortaPotty residue.
Had I made the wrong choice to leave a job and place that I was unhappy with to be employed by this madman? I knew everything about the last place – how it worked, all the people, the schedule … it was all so certain. But I was deeply unhappy and knew that there was a glass ceiling and I’d be answering to someone I did not agree with – DAILY.
“Kris, you’re not stuck here. At any point, you could go get a secure job with benefits, steady pay, and work the 9-5. I see the doubt in your mind, but listen to me first…”
My eyes came back up from the floor to his.
“You’ll have no boss. You’ll report to me, but c’mon, Kris .. it’s me, Kris!”
He pointed to the sign on the door.
“This is your opportunity, your chance to do what you want . Yes, you’ll have to work to stay afloat, that’s how shit goes. But you make your hours, just get your work done. You’ve been given enough tools, knowledge, and guidance over the past 10 years of your life to take a stab at this. Do you really want to walk out those doors now and question yourself again? Do you want to wonder if you could have done it? Or do you want to jump down into the arena, fight the dragons, demons, and critics… and perhaps – come out victorious and feel what true glory feels like?
“This is it, Kris. Do or die. Walk out those doors now, take the blue pill and forget this ever happened… or take the red pill and forever be a hero in your eyes and mine.”
I pondered for a moment. There will be sacrifice. There will be tears. There will be heartache and fear. It’ll be a long and bumpy road. People will call you crazy. But the satisfaction of knowing I did it my way would far outweigh any of those.
I walked over to my desk, took a sip of my tea, opened the window behind me and stared out into the Atlantic Ocean over the Plymouth Waterfront while my computer booted up. Then immediately I turned that volume to max volume on that big ass TV, searched for Frank Sinatra, pulled up my favorite song of his…
“My Way” blasted for the next 4 minutes as my fingers began their journey on that keyboard without looking back.
The future is always uncertain, but one thing is certain…
” For what is a man, what has he got
If not himself, then he has naught “