“Well, I’ve been listening to my gut since I was 14 years old, and frankly speaking, I’ve come to the conclusion that my guts have shit for brains.” – Rob, High Fidelity
This is one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite movies. I’ve been thinking about it a lot today. Today, I gave my notice to Lowe’s Home Improvement in Shelby, NC so I can essentially go and become a bartender (It is more complicated than that and I will get into that later.).
I’ve been thinking about that quote because, since announcing this move, I’ve been getting some well-meaning advice and concerns from friends and family. I think the reason for this is, for most people this seems like something that has come out of the blue and seems to be a lark. A move that makes little to no sense because it seems to be a step down from what I am currently doing. My past history probably contributes to that feeling.
While this particular job, bartending at Craft Tasting Room and Growler House in Charlotte, did arrive on my doorstep suddenly, the planning for a move like this has been ongoing for at least six months. Actually, it started before that.
In the last year, I’ve applied for two jobs at Lowe’s and I got neither. The first that I applied for, was for a job with the Lowe’s Foundation that had the same description as the job I held at Foundation For The Carolinas. I would kind of be doing the same work I left 6 years before, which is a whole other set of issues that were thankfully avoided. I didn’t even get a telephone interview. I do not even know if I really wanted the job, but I knew I had the skills to do the job.
Not even getting an interview forced me to rethink many things. I decided to stop and reevaluate what it was that I truly wanted (mostly I knew I didn’t want to stay at Lowe’s on the sales floor for much longer, but not much more) not just as a job but how I wanted to live. That sounds like a bunch of new age bullshit, but I felt myself falling into patterns that were dangerous for my mental and physical health. Let’s put it this way, I really like beer and bourbon.
So, I rededicated myself to my rudimentary study of Zen Buddhism and mindfulness training while actually taking the time and effort to think about my life from the ground up starting with the most basic question, “How do I want to live my life?” This was not some abstract philosophical question. This was a day to day logistical question of what a normal day for me would entail in my perfect life scenario. Once I had that I moved to the specifics of where would I live to have this life and what would be doing for work to have this life.
There were four places I would like to choose from to eventually settle permanently: the Triangle, Charlotte, Asheville, or Denver, CO. Then I had to figure out what kind of job would I have to live this perfect life scenario. To get to that I thought long and hard about what skills do I have and what are the things I like. Then I tried to manufacture a way to combine those things.
If you’ve read anything I’ve written, you can probably guess the job/jobs that will provide me with this life scenario I created involve writing and beer. Here is the problem, there was no direct line from the job that I have to the type of work that I want. The last six months especially have been about doing what was possible working a full time job with shifting hours to train and prepare myself for getting the work I eventually want. At some point I was going to have to make a choice and make short-term sacrifices to get to where I wanted to be.
So over the course of a week almost a year ago, I actually set out a path for myself with what I wanted my life to be like and how I planned to get there.
Oh yeah, I did apply for another job at Lowe’s. This time I applied for an Assistant Store Manager’s position at a neighboring store. I did get an interview, but I think I subconsciously tanked the interview and didn’t get the job. I say I tanked the interview because as I left the interview I remember thinking, “Do I want to be a store manager,” because getting that job would have put me on that path. The more I thought about it, the more no was clearly the answer.
At that point, I knew I wanted more than to be a department manager or an ASM for the next ten years. Watching that life unfold in my mind’s eye was as chilling as any horror movie.
This isn’t to denigrate anyone who does those jobs. There are some people who are built to manage in retail and they are great at it, and I’ve worked with some of those people.
Not long after that, I decided to become a Certified Cicerone (I’ve earned the Certified Beer Server designation) and dedicate myself to the study of beer.
So, while this may seem to be sudden and foolhardy move on my part, it has been something I’ve been preparing myself for, for almost a year. This isn’t a move without risk and it is not risk taken lightly or with no forethought. To get where I eventually want to be, I need to be in the craft beer industry full time and I need to have the time and ability to really study craft beer as a product and as an industry. I believe this job at Craft is the perfect opportunity for that and it is an opportunity that met the preparation I began almost a year ago. This is not the end point of something, it is the beginning of it.
What does all this have to do with that line from High Fidelity? This move isn’t something silly I’ve thought up and just decided to do with no conception of the consequences. This is the first time I’ve actually thought out the direction of my life and what I really want it to be and taking this job is the second step in getting that life. Up until now, with the exception of one decision (the conscious decision to move to Charlotte after a time in Greensboro), I’ve gone with my gut during every decision.
Taking the time to think out what I want, how to get it, and the consequences of attempting to get it this time has taught me, I was a lot like Rob. I looked around at where I was and what I was doing and I realized my guts had shit for brains. They put me a hundred miles from ever a semblance of the life I wanted.
No life goes exactly as people think it will. I’m probably not going to have everything in that perfect scenario I have in my head, but in the attempt to get that, I think I will get close enough to have a life that I actually like.