Monday, July 11, 2011

Call From Betty Yi

I woke this morning in the midst of a dream in which my cell phone rang and the caller id identified the caller as "Betty Yi". I don't know a Betty Yi, but she had a message for me from the other side (dun dun DUN!), but as I was answering the phone call in my dream (with feelings of hopefulness, happiness and a sense of a new beginning) my cell phone did ring and it woke me up before the dream was fulfilled. It wasn't Betty Yi. It was my husband telling me that he thinks he just got screwed out of a full-time position at the hospital he's been working for on a per diem basis for over a year. Except he didn't say it as nicely as I just wrote it. While I'm still thinking, Betty Yi, Betty Yi, what is your message? he's huffing and puffing over the inequities of life, using words like "desperate" and "grievance" and "quit".

Perhaps, based on those feelings I had while answering Betty's call, that was the message. Not that the husband may be staring down the barrel of impending unemployment, but that this is a time of hopefulness, happiness and a new beginning, because even after receiving husband's message, I really didn't care. I'm not rushing for the valium, as it were. As snarky and pessimistic as I may seem at times, I am, at heart, the world's biggest optimist, and being optimistic in the face of crushing doom has never let me down. Crushing doom never actually happens. Another avenue always opens up and there I go.

Over the past few weeks I've been thinking, and thinking long and hard, about the future of NBP. Ever since the Perfume Exhibition and Scent Event in May, I've had this niggling feeling in the back of my mind that perhaps there's something else to consider here, something more profitable, more fulfilling than just making perfume for sale and trying to rope in students to teach.

The problem with being profitable in any business may lie with the poopy economy, as the media so love to ram down our throats (do you hear the words desperate, grievance and quit on the wind?) Who is going to buy perfume or pay for a perfume course if they can't even put food on the table, or keep the power bill paid, or pay rent or a mortgage on time? And perhaps for those who aren't worrying about these issues because they are happily, and luckily, employed, what is it that they worry about not being able to afford? It's about prioritizing luxuries. I think. So what luxuries are worth their price?

Please bear with me as I ramble on . . .

Recently, my currently unemployed son and I had a sit-down regarding what types of businesses might work in this economy. His field is refrigeration (big diesel trucks carrying our groceries are his specialty) and he has every type of license, certification and accolade that is achievable within the field at the ripe old age of 25. He feels he's topped out. Prior to being laid off, he was making as much as people working in the business 20+ years were making. His only shortcoming in determining his candidacy for lay off at his old job was that he didn't have kids and a mortgage. More of that inequity stuff going on. This left a sour taste in his mouth about this business in particular, and working for someone else in general. So we talked.

"But I'm an artiste!" I tell him, tongue firmly in cheek, when my son, prompted by my husband, suggested I get a J-O-B outside of the home.

"Well, that kind of sentimentality goes right down the toilette if the primary bread winner loses his bread, mom. I'm an artiste too, but it isn't paying my bills."

Who raised this smart ass? Oh, yeah, I did . . .

He was right, of course. I do need to do something to generate a steadier income than the hit and miss sales of perfume-related things. But here are the problems, and I will list them in no particular order:

1. I'm old.

2. I'm fat.

3. I'm visibly tattooed.

4. I haven't worked outside of the home in over six years.

5. Competition is stiff.

6. Jobs are scarce.

It appears, judging by this list, that the only job I might possibly be a shoo-in for is the circus. On a temporary, part-time basis. Like Thursdays at 3pm. In March.

Notice I didn't list that I'm not qualified to work. I am. I can do anything I set my mind to, especially if it means the preservation of my family. It's the convincing of the hiring party at the potential place of employment that is the hurdle I never seem to hop high enough to get over.

I come from entrepreneurial stock, even if I can't spell the word without spell check. My dad was one of those guys who worked for someone else to get what he wanted, then worked for himself when he was flush in cash. And he did everything from trucking, commercial fishing, building furniture, construction, art -- a jack of all trades he was. He never lived long enough to fulfill his dream of owning his own business, but he had plans -- big plans.

"What can we do together, mom?"

"Stripping is off the table," I answered, opening my robe burlesque style to expose my favorite summer nightie.

"Fine with me! But seriously, let's figure something out. Let's figure out what we can do with what we already know and turn it into something else," he said.

"Look, all I've done with any kind of consistency is raise kids, make stuff and clean house. I'm not interested in running a day care, making stuff doesn't always generate the money, and cleaning house -- ugh! Cleaning house is just cleaning house."

"That's it then."

"What's it?"

"What have you been doing around here?" he asked, sweeping his arms out. "Green cleaning! I've never met anyone else but you who doesn't have sixty cans of bug spray or weed killers or bottles of furniture polish and Mop'n'Shine under their kitchen sink! All someone's got to do is hand you a bottle of vinegar, some baking soda and a lemon and you can make their house shine like a janitorial service went in and did it! You make all your own cleaning supplies, you reuse cleaning rags, you make linen sprays, you put sachets in the cupboards, you have experience scenting stuff! What the hell, mom! Think of the possibilities! You could clean their houses and market your--"

"Wait! What?"

"-- supplies!"

And then it dawned on me. He was right. There was the opportunity. This was the luxury that someone would happily pay for.

So. That's it then. We just signed our first two clients. And I can't help but think that my dream phone call was the "go ahead" signal (along with the real phone call) to get this thing going. Many happy returns, Ms. Betty Yi.


  1. Anonymous11:37 AM

    J, I really needed to hear this, just at this time, with what has been going on in my life. I am in the same boat as you. I wish you the best on your new endeavour. I actually laughed out loud in a few places about the similarities we share, lol.


  2. Hey Melissa! Seems a lot of people are in the same boat -- it's "paddle, paddle, paddle" or sink under the big waves, right? I will paddle until my arms fall off.



  3. Anonymous10:08 AM

    I completely understand the paddling til your arms fall off. I really hope the green cleaning business takes off for you. I definitely see a market for it especially based on where you live. A much larger market than natural perfumes and scented things.


  4. Anonymous1:17 PM

    How about an Etsy shop with green cleaning products, named Betty Yi?

  5. I had thought about doing something like that. A sort of homage to Betty Yi :) That would be hysterical!



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