06 May 2008

A Post About Work

... and jobs in general.

As long time readers and friends know, I have been working for Gentleman Farmer for the last six years or so, doing whatever needs doing on his farm or at his various properties. I met him in the summer of 2001, when I was renovating the basement of the old Woolworth Building (which he owns), in an attempt to open a theatre and performance space. In fact, the name of the place was going to be "The Performance Space on Haywood Street". As I explained in this post, that didn't work out.

GentFarm walked in one day as I was building a long wall (the whole thing was about 60' long, though split into sections by the support columns that ran down the center of the basement). He introduced himself to me and said he was looking for L, the Artistic Director of the company. She wasn't there, and he and I got to talking and he mentioned how impressed he was by how straight the wall was that I was building. I laughed and said, "Well, walls are supposed to be straight, right?" He agreed, but added that they often, especially when so long, aren't.

Anyway, when it became apparent that the Space was never gonna happen, GentFarm mentioned to me one day that the handyman/helper that he had working for him for the last several years was no longer able to work, and asked me if I would be interested in helping him out with some stuff at his house. Needing money with which to purchase food for myself and teh kittehs, I said sure. The first thing I did for him was replace some bad siding on the back of his house, and then I spent a couple of weeks clearing brush and poison ivy off a bank next to his house, to open up the view to part of the pasture.

That led to a complete renovation of a rental house that he was tired of dealing with and wanted to put on the market, and then we started a six month project to renovate the main floor and basement of the Woolworth Building to turn it into an art gallery - Woolworth Walk. As we neared completion of the renovation, he asked me - knowing of my past experience in retail management - if I would be interested in running the gallery for him, and made me a very good offer for pay. I accepted the job, and ran the place for almost a year, before the boredom set in.

As I mentioned in the afore-referenced post, Theatre is one of only two "careers" I've been involved in that haven't eventually bored the shit out of me. The idea of doing the same thing, day after day, for money is ... soul-killing to me. (NOTE: This has no bearing on my personal choices of doing the same thing, day after day, when I'm not working. Don't ask me why, cause I'm not really sure, but that's totally different. [although I suspect it has something to do with money]).

Anyhoo, I was getting more an more grumpy at work, despite the fact that the job had the best duties-to-pay ratio of any job I've ever had. Basically I had about a half hour of paperwork a day (and most of a day on the first of the month when sales for the individual artists - and gallery commissions - had to be figured) and dealing with the customers. The rest of the time I watched the scene on the street in front of the gallery unfold.

When I informed GentFarm of my desire to leave the job, he said that he was surprised that I lasted that long - that he wouldn't have been able to put up with it, either -
and that he hoped I would still continue working with him on other projects. I was fine with that, because doing carpentry and electrical and plumbing - working in The Trades, as it's known, is the only thing other than Theatre that has never bored me. (Which was why I had such high hopes for the Technical Director position in the failed theatre company I wrote about before). Even though you may go to the same job site everyday, the tasks for each day are always different.

I spent several months doing basically nothing, other than buying some power tools (chiefly a table saw and compound mitre saw) and building some display racks and pedestals for the gallery. This was not a problem, because due to my ... minimalist lifestyle, I had several thousand dollars in the bank when I left the job at the gallery. Finally, though, the "kitty" shrank down to next-to-nothing, and I called GentFarm to see what he had in mind for work. Which was just as he was ready to start a 1500+ sqft Master Bedroom Suite addition on his house. That project took almost a year to complete, and since then we've done several other, smaller, projects.

Sometimes he keeps me busy as can be, and sometimes ... not so much, but I always enjoy working with and for him, and I have been and am very thankful to him for both his friendship and, well, his money. :)

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