Walking through Manchester City centre at 8.25 this morning I am confronted by my alternative path. Thousands of people pushing down the road in the opposite direction. Away from me. All different but all the same in one way. They’ve all got that same familiar look that betrays their thoughts, they all have a face of dis-ease. Hunched shoulders and purposeful, urgent marching they make their way towards their place. Dressed and distressed like professionals. Professional what in, I’m not sure. Perhaps professional widows. They’re all actors definitely.
Ill fitting shirts and blouses and treading carefully on tight shoes some shuffle forward and some lunge. Some even lurch not unlike zombies hearing the distant drone of human flesh nearby. Me, I’m wearing shorts, a white t shirt and my knock off Ray Bans. It could be my imagination but I can’t help but feel side glance every now and then from some of them. Anger and perhaps judgment at me not wearing the money making clobber that 95% of the rest of the city centre has on right now. I must look far too comfy to them. If we are music then they are jungle and I am Elevator. As I meander to the dulcet tones of a generic backing track they are confronted by a cacophony of clanging beats and sharps sounds.
I dropped my van off for its MOT this morning. That’s why we’re walking in opposite directions and hear different music. It’s the reason I wear shorts and they don’t. This is why I have the time, not just to passively see their faces but to actually observe what is in front of me. I am self employed. Writing it like this makes me sound like I have a ‘condition’. Perhaps I do. It’s certainly infectious. Since I have become self employed I have influenced a number of others who have also decided to follow my path. I’m not sure how much they still like me now to be honest.
When you’re self employed your boss can’t sack you, but the universe can. You have no one to answer to, except the constant nagging voice in your head that demands to know what you are doing to get more money, to improve and succeed. There are no shit employees you have to deal with and this is because you are alone. Days can go by and no one will talk to you. You can take any holidays you want whenever you want and these will be unpaid and each will start with the desperate realisation that with every passing second everything you have built diminishes. You are the master of your own destiny, as long as you don’t expect that destiny to involve getting a mortgage. You get the enviable task of informing people at parties and social gatherings that you run your own company, which invariably is met with admiration and trilling about how others wish they had the guts whilst your own guts seize with fear at the sheer uncertainty behind every move and decision you take.
The suit I chose not to wear now is still on me. At the end of the day however employed people take theirs off whereas my one is unremovable. I am ready at any time to work because I must be. In the words of those fierce New York queens – I don’t get ready, I stay ready. I start to ponder about how this is really just a constant state of emergency.
With this my phone rings. The van has failed it’s MOT and it will cost too much to repair it. It’s a write off. My money maker has given up the ghost and I’ll have to work out how to finance another. This used to be the stage at which blind panic would take over me and consume the rest of my day. But for some reason over these past weeks and months I have become more aware. I’ve shifted more into the present and I know that somehow, some way, this will all work itself out.
I guess that is the thing, I don’t have the consistency of a guaranteed monthly wage but time teaches you that as long as you work hard, are willing to be reflective and make changes and never give up then good things happen. Unless you’re a cunt.