Yesterday afternoon, I signed some papers, turned in my badge and walked out of the job that I’ve been working at for five years. I wasn’t fired or laid off. In the middle of a huge economic crisis and big unemployment numbers, I left of my own free will. I walked away from a steady paycheck, benefits and health insurance…and I walked away smiling.
People’s reactions generally fell into two methods of showing concern for my welfare. Some people showed a mixture of concern and an odd sort of pity at the horrible and possibly insane decision I was making. Others looked me in the eye and told me they weren’t worried and that they knew I’d do great things. Both of these reactions came from people who cared about me but they show the single biggest factor in deciding to make a living without a job.
If you can overcome your fear by thinking through your options and coming up with a workable plan, you can overcome your fear and leave your job.
I wasn’t afraid today when I walked out of the the building but I sure have been afraid. I was in fear that I’d be laid off or worse, that my hours would be cut or that everyone in the company would be required to take a few extra weeks off without pay. I’d seen it happen and I was barely making it, living week to week and paycheck to paycheck. I was afraid of blogging the wrong thing and losing my job because of something I said. I was afraid to do much to try and get outside work to increase my income and I was afraid to make waves or ask for more money.
I walked out on fear today. I got tired of the illusion of security and of trying to tell myself that my job was somehow going to work out any better for me in the future. It wasn’t. Simple math and common sense told me that I wasn’t making enough to pay my bills or that the work wasn’t going to become satisfying. So, I quit.
I quit fear…that’s what I gave up.
I posted another segment of my 1996 feature film Breathing Room on YouTube. I decided it would be a good idea to do weird little intros for the the segments so I shot a few yesterday.
I’ve been sadly remiss in positing new interview segments with Kevin Smith here…so here are parts 3 and 4. Part 4 was featured by YouTube and got a ton of hits, too.
A stranger was kind enough to take the time to comment on my blog here yesterday and this is part of what they said…
Happened onto your blog and read a few of your posts, from which I can ascertain the following: you are a struggling photographer with two young children living in a hotel eating at cheap Mexican restaurants.
Is this circumstance due to a series of bad events or a result of a career path that is a gamble with (?)
And I laughed. And I told Lauren and she laughed, too.
That summary by a stranger is not at all what’s going on. For one thing, photography isn’t my main avocation. For another, struggling implies unsuccessful and I’m feeling about as successful right now as as anyone living at a Motel 6 in Sylmar possibly could be. If that sounds ironic, I’ll be clearer still – I am successful and happy.
And even living in a hotel is great. I wish the paperwork to finish my job had been done a month ago but it wasn’t and that’s just fine. So we moved out of our apartment preparing to move to Albuquerque and here we are. It was a series of GOOD events that put us here, at a launching pad for our future.
But on the other hand, that comment is fair. It’s one person’s perception based on whatever evidence they found here. And that’s enough to make me stop and wonder whether I’m not being clear enough here. So, I’ll try to paint a more accurate picture in the future.
But even the clearest writing in the world, complete with picture, videos and an interpretive dance won’t make everyone agree with the choices we’re making. That’s not possible because people view the exact same facts through different filters.
Some people want stability and normalcy above all else. I can understand that and at first blush, it seems like a great idea. A steady job, a nice house, and a line of credit have their appeal. Giving that lifestyle choice a shot is part of why we moved to Burbank five years ago.
But like the man said…
The things you own end up owning you..
All that stability has a huge cost. We’re seeing across the country right now. That steady job isn’t yours anyone. That nice house is a huge debt and a mortgage you can’t keep up with. The line of credit is the noose around your neck.
Lauren and I didn’t feel like that was our destiny. That’s a tricky word for some people, so fill in whatever one you like better.
The interesting part of our ride started in 2007 after I decided to take my film Breathing Room out of mothballs. A long period of feeling blocked creatively ended at that point with the simple decision to start to do something with the movie. That freed me up to make YouTube movies, that got me into the public eye, which led to writing for HuffPost and a world of other things and new people.
And that led to a Motel 6. And this will lead to someplace else.
Lauren and I had a minor growth spurt last night; we walked out of a restaurant.
We were out with the kids and we were all hungry. We’re living in a hotel near San Fernando, California and there’s a lot of good Mexican restaurants here. That’s about it, though – Mexican food or chain fast food restaurants.
We wanted to find a new place so we headed across town and found a place called El Chappell – a Mexican dinnerhouse that seemed like a local variant of an El Torito, Chevy’s or Acapulco. We got a table, they brought the requisite chips and salsa, and they we looked at the menu.
Ay yi yi.
First off, we have two kids age 7 and 9 and so often the first thing we have to do is figure out their meal. I HATE normal casual restaurants (as opposed to fine dining) that charge $6 or more for a kid’s meal hamburger. Every kid’s meal was $6.
The regular menu was expensive, too – many of the entrees were $13.95 or more. This might be fine in a different restaurant but we’ve been having great Mexican meals easily at places right across the street for half that. Even an a la carte taco for $5. For a taco.
In the past, we would have just dealt with it in order not to feel like losers. Because after all, we were sitting there already. So normally that would be that and we’d know we were going to get a mediocre meal for about $50. We’d just suck it up, not discuss, try to order gingerly and take our lumps.
Not this time.
Lauren and I looked at each other, talked it over, realized we both had the same thoughts – we understood this restaurant. High prices, lame food, they cash in on families who want a ‘fancy’ meal and don’t eat out much and they have a good business at the bar on Margaritas sold to loud girls and thick necked guys with too much cologne.
We knew what we were in store for and we just weren’t interested. We were worn out after several days of shitty customer service and bad attitudes and bullshit advertising. We’d had it. We got up with our confused, hungry kids and went across the street and had a great meal for about $20 – fresh melon juice, carne asada tacos and a $2 charcoal grilled burger for Olivia.
We were so glad we left. And we’re leaving in the future, too because life is too short and money is too tight to deal with business as usual anymore.