Securing work is an extensive and arduous undertaking. There are many hours of travel required, countless numbers of estimates wanted, a constant attempt at networking, job cancelations at the last minute, and maintaining a positive, never give up attitude all the while can be daunting. These are a just some of the obstacles we have faced throughout this venture. Nevertheless, we remain steadfast and determined to achieve our goal of procuring enough financial security to travel, via van, to Alaska.
Neither of us mind the travel aspect of our jobs. It’s a requirement actually. We are continuously driving thirty to seventy miles, in one direction, to find a suitable gig. We have had to do this for a week straight before finally landing a job. This is an expense, gas, that we must make; however, we have no guarantee we will regain the financial expenditure. It’s a fickle beast, economics. Spending the majority of our time traveling does allow us to see much of the countryside and get to meet many delightful individuals along the way. It also gives us a unique perspective of the climate, geology, and population density of the area while venturing to, sometimes, remote locations for an estimate.
One warm Friday morning Monique and I found ourselves in the middle of a Redwood forest looking for a potential clients home. It was a beautiful location, far removed from the hustle and bustle of city life in and around San Francisco. As we drove up the quarter mile winding drive, discussing what the estimate was to entail, we checked our schedule to determine an appropriate start date if we were chosen for the work. When we arrived we were greeted, as usual, with smiling faces and welcoming gazes. We were then shown the rooms to be painted and then asked if we had any other areas of trade. I confessed I had drywall experience, but wasn’t up to any job in that area. I also informed them I had practiced roofing roughly 12 years ago and enjoyed it. (I must mention that many times we go to these estimates there is more than painting being wanted. Yes, they advertise as a paint only job, but then want someone who can paint, do drywall, and build a couple shelves all for one low cost. I guess they’re trying to bundle like a cable company to save money. Sometimes we get passed up because we aren’t skilled in multiple trades. I was hoping this estimate wouldn’t be the same as many prior ones.) After looking at the roof, taking measurements, and discussing the entire project we arrived at a conclusion: the roof needed replaced, there was drywall work that needed to be accomplished, some insulation needed replaced due to water damage, exterior and interior paint was required, and a general, overall cleaning was required. All this from a painting ad. Nonetheless, we gave our best attempt and are waiting to hear back.
Along with these estimates we constantly network, talking to locals and people we meet along the way hoping to get a lead. E.g., today Monique met a gentleman at the dog park who is a plasterer. They talked for some time, his dog and our dog playing enthusiastically with each other like cosmic friends who haven’t seen each other in eons, discussing what each did for employment and enjoyment. He shared pictures as the discussion became more friendly and personal to better understand the character of the other. After some time, the gentleman who we shall call Emerald, asked for Moniques number and offered to send us some business if he heard of anyone who needed some painting done. This is our most favorable way to network, nonchalant conversation. Although we do, occasionally, get opportunities this way it also comes with cancellations.
On more than one occurrence we have arrived at a job site to only hear it has been canceled. I can recall one job where we finished three quarters of the home only to hear the financial backing had fallen through and the job was no more. We both, Monique and I, enjoy seeing things through to completion so it was disappointing not to be able to finish. We understand this was beyond our control and derived from nothing we had done, but we still felt awkward leaving the job uncomplete. Another time we showed up to the job site the morning of only to receive a call telling us they had chosen to go another route. This being after we made the 35 mile drive, one way, to the defined location. Still on another occasion we were informed, during our walkthrough and estimate, that multiple days would be required and the workload was sufficient enough to involve three complete days. Unfortunately when we arrived they changed plans and only had one day worth of work. This not only plays havoc on scheduling but also on the amount of work we do. These obstacles make it difficult to maintain an upbeat attitude.
I found myself, especially in these circumstances, feeling completely alone. Abandoned at the helm of a ship whos controls and understanding are foreign. I stood upon this deck, shirtless and battered by howling sleet as evolutions fury unfolded. Hopeless, everlasting privation gnawing at my insides, muttering words of vicious discouragement. It is in these times that I actually grew an understanding of myself and who I truly am; even if only in the slightest of degrees. As I sulked in my dismay a couple things occured to me. I realized I wasn’t alone. Monique was here, supporting me with encouraging words of optimal positivity and providing a different perspective. I also became aware that my thoughts were influencing me in a negative manner. These unwelcome circumstances are all a part of the life I am living. How I react and adjust to these situations will directly influence my well being and influence those around me. Having a bad attitude or resentment towards another will not provide propitious avenues.
Yes we are essentially homeless and do not have a permanent residence, but we are honest, good hearted people who are no less than employable. Our lifestyle is one of a counterculture nature and a path that we find rewarding. It may seem weird and inappropriate to the untrained mind, but in reality our business practices are much more rewarding psychologically, emotionally, and financially for all parties involved. It’s a success when no one feels the black hand, dripping with iniquity, giving a vice like hand shake at the conclusion of a partnership.
“Anyone who has struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor” ~James Baldwin