the (side) hustle

There have been a few people I’ve met who promote having a side hustle while also having a 9-5. Whether that side hustle is some MLM or a legitimate hustle where they sell something they’ve made, doesn’t make it any less of a hustle.

A real good baker I know makes beautiful sweets and cakes on the side for birthdays and weddings. She makes fancy fondant cakes for money every now and then. An old coworker has some sports fashion line going. They charge a reasonable price for their products. Those who are in “direct sales” though… well, they’re a whole other thing. Respect for the people doing the hustle, but it sucks that they prey on vulnerable people (and sometimes even desperate people who are struggling) to make profits. Whatever. MLMs, look them up. There are a list of all of them somewhere on the internet if you’re curious.

But – my question is – why supplement your income with a side hustle? Why can’t we just get paid a liveable wage. For four years, I was serving burgers and fries in the McMillions. Then I was getting paid below-minimum server wage, depending on tips that range between 0% to 25% depending on the guest. I left the food service life after getting my first office job, which I was super thankful for because it was a permanent job with employer-paid benefits and vacation. Yeah, I was able get my dental expenses covered and I was able to finally remove my problematic wisdom teeth for an affordable fee, but soon after, I realized that it still wasn’t enough to survive on.

So I looked for a new job that could give me more money. Even then, I’m not making big money. It’s enough to live on because I’m in a two-income household, and our bills are split. But we all know I can’t go to the bank and ask for a mortgage right now because I probably won’t be approved for one just by myself.

For every job, as much as it was much better than the last, I still feel I’m in not making enough to be independent. Housing prices and utilities are still high. Groceries are still expensive – and why are spices $6-$10? Have you seen how much saffron costs?

Nonetheless, I push on and work. Log on in the morning, do my work, log off at night but still checking emails here and there. Work doesn’t really stop anymore since we began working from home…

Work sucks a lot more when you put in so much work for it not to materialize into anything. Or when you just end up with the rudest human being on the other end of the line that it’s hard not to take their attitude personally. The bad days seem more difficult even if the highs are great.

As part of my job, I meet people. I have conversations with them, get to know them a little, see what makes them tick and what would take for them to move from one job to another. Over the past seven or eight months, I have met so many people who have lots their jobs because of the pandemic. Some of them have taken their frustrations on me because, hey, I’m the one the other end of the line.

When I was working at a restaurant, it came in the form of the entitled guest who looked down on food service workers who think service workers live to serve them. Now, it’s the frustrated candidate who was rejected and blames me for it, but it isn’t my fault they went to their interview unprepared.

We get the brunt of it sometimes and we’re told to brush it off or toughen up because it’s part of the job. How about we make treating others with respect a part of our daily lives? We are not obligated to serve these customers and personally, I work for my employer. They’re the ones sending me that direct deposit. Sure, restaurant guests feel entitled because of their tip, but they even act like they’re so generous by giving you that shitty 10% gratuity. GTFOH Karen, and go make dinner at home since you’re allergic to everything.

But I digress. There is this sudden rise to side hustles now because there has been a consensus that it’s what you do now to make ends meet or even live better, depending on the hustle. Work one job and struggle a little or juggle (and struggle) two jobs and you can finally afford Starbucks. The worst is when some people have to work two jobs just to be able to afford their own bills!

We’re tired. We’re exhausted. We need universal basic income. We need to make working stop feeling like a chore. We’re not robots. We’re not machines. We cannot churn out productivity and sales on the same level everyday without burning out. We need to stop wearing burnout as a badge of honour. The working class needs some assistance and some systemic change because these companies are making profits while they just tell us to work harder while they fill their pockets and take a little bit away from ours.

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