If you’d asked me twenty-six years ago where I thought I’d be today, working in my mechanic’s waiting room would not have been one of the answers.
Here I am anyway.
Turns out, flexibility of location is an enormous benefit of self-employment. You learn to work practically anywhere: in my office, a client’s office, the aforesaid mechanic’s waiting room. In libraries, airports, airplanes. In restaurants, hotel rooms, hotel lobbies, churches. On my porch, at my mother’s house, in the back of an airport limousine. Pretty much anyplace with a flat surface is a place where I can work. (I once took a stack of documents to a dance recital so I could keep reading while waiting for the curtain to rise.)
When you’re self-employed, a lull in the flow of work can be terrifying: OMG! This is it—the end! I’ll never get another project or make another sale! I’ll have to get a job where I say things like “Paper or plastic?” or “Would you like fries with that?” No more independence or freedom to make my own schedule! I’ll have to wear a suit or a uniform and commute to work in somebody else’s office or store! And I’ll have to ask permission to take time off to take the cats to the vet or leave early if I have dinner plans with a friend!
Then, you go through all your bank accounts, and you check your accounts receivable to see if anybody still owes you money, and if they do, you send them a very nice email to follow up and nudge them into paying their bill. You evaluate your expenses to see what you can reduce or eliminate. (True story: on my third day of self-employment, when I’d finished all the projects on my desk, I reviewed my bills to see where I could cut back. Only one option presented itself, and so I cancelled my subscription to TV Guide to save $10.) If you’re like me, you pull out the Sermon on the Mount and reread the part where Jesus talks about not worrying about tomorrow and how the bird are fed and the flowers are clothed and how people are of more value and God will provide. (Matthew 6:25-34) After that, you check the basket in the kitchen drawer for loose change that you meant to roll and take to the bank, and you check the garage for bottles you can return for 5 cents each.
Benjamin Franklin famously wrote, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” While he was not writing under circumstances even remotely resembling the events I am about to relate, I almost feel as if I understand a little better today the sentiment he expressed more than 265 years ago.