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The Uphill Battle : A Clearer Picture

Posted by on February 28, 2014

Financial Situation : Serious
Current Work : None
Job Ends : N/A
Next Job : Tentative part-time waiter job here in Springdale

The plan “was” to take low-paying waiter/bartender job in the hopes of addressing my wheels before heading down the road, again.  Literally, every one of my wheels on both vehicles need an overhaul — new replacements, rotations, and alignments.  And when I arrived at my terrific campground I thought it may be a sign I was supposed to be here awhile.  Repairs, planning, scheming, and some relaxation and creative time on my awesome porch atop a mountain in the Ozarks.

But I’ve been at it two weeks.  While seeking low-paying employment as a waiter it seems the best available jobs in the industry here are part-time, low-paying jobs!  For whatever reason, it seems everyone is gearing up for summer — hiring and working their best employees into the rotation during the spring months.  Being a big college town, it seems backwards to me!  Won’t 200,000 college kids go home for the summer?

I’m supposed to hear more about a potential schedule this weekend about one of the jobs I applied for. It seems she over-hired a few trainees before she had a chance to talk to me but is interested in working me into the schedule. I may or may not accept the position.  But I’ve decided to not force the issue of determining that this weekend.  My rent’s paid up until the 9th.  And, even though a gate guarding company is giving me a strong “maybe” down in south Texas, I’m simply not rushing down there on a “maybe.”  I’ll at least take advantage of a few more days on my month-long rental.

I day-dreamed all morning as I listened to the pitter-patter of rain on the roof.

I considered the many  situations that have contributed to the constant state of anxiety during my first two years of misadventure:

1.  Losing a stream of income, internet poker.  When the DOJ shut down the major sites, I lost $1600 per month playing the game on-line.  I could play on-line nearly anywhere in the country and this was a big part of my plan as a full-time RVer.

2.  Trusting co-workers at my former job (The “Asylum”), revealing my plans to leave  and getting “let go” by this employer — losing $10,000 in savings by not being able to work my remaining time there.

3.  Having to leave my first stop prematurely while making $75 per hour playing poker for 7 weeks.  Due to a complete disorganization on the part of my summer employer and having a 4-year lapse in working with them– I wasn’t grandfathered in even though I’d worked for them all over the country for several years — and I had to leave Redding to re-audition for a job as a WSOP dealer and go there nearly 2 months early to do it!  I suffered a series of breakdowns at expensive RV parks on the way down California and ended up limping into Vegas with not enough money to invest in playing poker, again.  I left Vegas that summer with less than I left Redding with!

4.  Laid up in Phoenix.  Beginning with mediocre poker results, followed by poor job selections that stretched me thin, and ending up in the hospital — I then limped out of Arizona buried in hospital bills, no money, and even less after a breakdown near Death Valley.  I’d go back to Vegas with less money than the previous year!

5.  I left Vegas with a little money in my pocket and the idea I was taking only a couple small risks:  Diving in with a trade show company and signing up with Amazon as a backup plan.  I really thought I was supposed to pass training after one trade show and be on my way — I was misled.  I was grateful I had Amazon to fall back on, but again not fully informed.  With only a few dollars left to my name, it was a monumental struggle to get by on these wages — terrific for a retired couple or someone with a pension, but nearly catastrophic in my case.

6.  I left Kansas with chip on my shoulder.  I simply can’t continue to go broke from one gig to the next.  It’s been one step forward and two steps back every inch of this journey.  I’m angry that I put myself in this position.

The breakdowns I’m okay with.  Upon leaving Reno after being terminated from my job and losing internet poker as an income, I knew I was taking certain risks to pursue my dream.  It’s been quite a tightrope act and, truth be told, I’ve been lucky in getting away with it thus far.  I just don’t know how long I can dodge catastrophe.

But most of my choices in making a living have been misguided.  For instance, when I was making $75/hour in Redding and left for Vegas two months without a regular income.  Bad choice.  I ended up 2 months without income, opting for the “sure thing” rather than continue with what was actually working at the time!  Several bad choices in Phoenix — quitting poker prematurely to deal* poker wayyy on the other side of town, wasting away with the startup tour guide company, and then the low-paying sales job with Jesco.  And even more risky ventures after Vegas — allowing myself to be misled by not asking enough “hard” questions and getting the straight low-down answers to analyze my risk properly.

Lessons Learned.

But while I’ve been angry and frustrated the last couple weeks, determined not to leave here with less money than I came with, I’ve also forced myself to do some reading, some self-improvement.  At first, this was really difficult.  But now I’m really starting to relax.  And now I wonder if this stop wasn’t about finding a job that would better prepare me for the road — but rather an extended stay for self-reflection and evaluating the err of my ways.

I’ve been reading the “timeless bestseller” The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.  I’m doing the exercises.  One of the first ones is imagining what you would want people to say at your funeral — and then incorporating pieces of these eulogies into a personal mission statement.  I did this and discovered something quite fascinating.  I’m not honoring part of who I truly am…

Doing things MY way.

Granted, I’ve taken risks to pursue the RV lifestyle, that’s true.  Undeniable!

I’ve also taken terrible risks to satisfy what most people would consider the most “conventional” ways of pursuing this unusual lifestyle. I’ve tried a traditional workamper gig and I’ve tried training for a new job that would keep me on the road, one that would be a nice base income.

But I’ve set aside what I do best about a dozen times — playing poker.  This trend began when many years ago when I was with Michele.  There was a day that I made over $60,000 a year playing poker and walked around with $10,000 in my pocket!  It seemed like the perfect fit because we were nomads (my business was failing as hers was exploding).  But my 5th year playing I was victim to the volatility of the game.  I almost broke even but my travel expenses ate up my bankroll.  Michele insisted we continue traveling and would never let me live in Vegas, not even in the short long-term (what a hypocrite she turned out to be).

I got “scared” and became a poker dealer*, working about every 3 months at some of the events you see on TV.  This, with the idea that I’d deal and play my way back into my comfortable lifestyle.  It simply doesn’t work — not for me.  It’s taken me many years to figure this out.

But get this.   Every year before and after that fateful fifth year as a full-time player, I’ve been a winner!  Just not enough of one to play “big” again.   It’s a volatile game.  As soon as you pay some bills you might go on a bad run.  And Yours Truly has a tendency to get “scared” into doing things practical, again — I swear it’s a big mistake every time I do this.  And part of the challenge is that I’m not always in a casino venue!

But is there a way to do things MY way and still be “reasonably practical?”

I think there is.  New Rules:

1.  Do not over-commit to other companies, even as an independent contractor.

2.  Ask tons of questions when doing contract work and be VERY sure what I’m getting into.

3.  Poker and RiverCat Productions are first priority when making a living.  MY terms!  (That’s not to say I won’t someday make six figures for another company but that’s 3rd priority if it means not being honorable to my personal mission statement).

4.  Until I am secure financially,  I can be “practical” in taking employment when I need to, but only in Select Cities where I am playing poker*.  These cities, with only a couple exceptions, meet the criteria of:  A) Several options for playing poker B) Options to deal poker C) Many other employment opportunities D) Nice campground options and siteseeing opportunities.  These Select Cities are listed below.

Las Vegas
San Diego
Redding, CA
Oklahoma City
New Orleans/Biloxi
Kansas City
St. Louis
Ft. Lauderdale/Miami
Atlantic City

It’s a long list!  Does this mean I’m not going to enjoy being a full-time RVer?  Quite the contrary — I’m going to have a blast!  What it does mean is that I’m probably going to have quite a long journey at my first Select City stop — Las Vegas.  I’m going to pay off certain debts and get some of my affairs in order.  I don’t leave Vegas until I accomplish that.

And have fun.  Who am I kidding — I belong in Vegas!  For the longest time I brainwashed myself into believing I didn’t.  I did that for Michele.  I can thrive there.  Whether as a player, dealer,  or with one of a million of my Vegas business ideas — it’s a world of opportunity and adventure for me!  It’s like having 70 different cities at your disposal (each mega-resort is practically self-contained).

After Vegas I’ll “bounce around” to different Select Cities.  Of course there will be some really cool places in between, maybe even some trade show trial runs…

But the point is this — after Vegas, I’ll never get dangerously low on funds again.  I’ll leave each and every Select City with more money than I came there with — whether it’s playing poker, dealing poker, running my new business, or waiting tables.

And eventually, eventually it will turn into the freedom I’d originally planned — and well before I’m 65.



One Response to The Uphill Battle : A Clearer Picture

  1. Pleinguy

    Good luck on following your plan. As you’ve learned, it’s important to stay true to yourself. Do what is needed to remain on track toward your dream. Hope all works out for you.

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