As 2011 wound down and I sat looking at the sales figures for the year, I was rewarded with confirmation that all the work and effort had paid off with what would be my best year in 5 years. "Finally", I thought, "There is some light at the end of this financial tunnel I have been in for so long." I knew the hole I had dug had been a deep one and one good year was but a small dent made in the overall debt I was carrying. That is when I promised myself I would take this positive momentum and see what I could do with it in 2012.
I still expected the typical winter at the bike shop. There would be plenty of time for me to play on the internet while the cold wind blew. I was sure it would be mid February before things started to hop at the shop. Winter 2011/2012 would allow me to make up for all the fun internet time I lost last year.
I was wrong. Maybe it was the warmer than normal winter. Maybe it was a more positive outlook people seemed to have about the economy. I do not know what it was, but January started out like it was mid summer. Instead of whining about being bored, I am now whining about lack of sleep as I try to keep up. Even if February ended today, I would be enjoying the best two winter months I have had I think ever at CRUM Cycles.
The larger than usual gross sales did come at a price though. To compete, I have lowered my expectations and cut my mark up to levels approaching the Internet whore pricing. I am working harder to make less. But as my wife says, it is all about cash flow. Keep the cash flowing in even slightly ahead of the cash flowing out and things will work out. And so far, it is.
I often look back now to where I was 40 years ago. Young college student floating from one major to another while my friends were beginning to focus on majors they might actually use in careers they hoped would last decades. I had no such thoughts. I had no thoughts of my future other than what fun or trouble I could get into tomorrow.
Many of my friends found those 35 year careers and are now considering retirement or already have retired. True to my loose dog roots, I still look at tomorrow as a new day to find trouble or fun. I might think of retiring, but then I realize that I retired 40 years ago. My whole life has been one retirement scenario after another. The fact that I worked my ass off for others and then myself is beside the point. I followed my nose and my interests. If I was bored with what I was doing, I found something else to do. If I was going to work like a dog, I damn well better enjoy it.
The price I paid for living loose is I do not have the security blanket my friends have from their predictable and well paid careers. I have no illusions the next 20 years (if I last that long) will be easy kickin back watching sweet young things wearing thongs on some beach south of the Mason Dixon Line. No, I will probably work until I can't and then die. And that's just fine with me.