I’m a hustler, baby

I spend my weekdays in a lively corner of what is easily the noisiest building on campus.  Visiting international piano prodigies with straight backed mothers and stern faced fathers roam our hallways in the summer, while students and sometimes symphony conductors bang out tunes on one of the hundreds of pianos in various classrooms year-round.

I work in the School of Music and there is literally music all around me: hours of stuttering versions of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker suite for piano float around the building, embedding themselves in my psyche where I don’t notice they’ve landed until I’m whistling them as I fold my laundry; alto and soprano singers casually practicing their scales on their way out of the building; slight men and women singing robust arias one moment and humming a few notes of their accompaniment in the next.

I see it all from just inside the door of the accounting office where I hand the students their scholarship forms, file travel requests and direct phone calls. I’m in it, but I’m not in it and it’s nice in a way that I can’t articulate yet.

On the weekends, I escort brides and grooms in and out of our campus chapel, sweeping up after them and always feeling like a mix between Cinderella before and Cinderella after the ball – in a good way.

University Archives, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, The University of Kansas


University Archives, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, The University of Kansas


Last Spring, I was working a desk job in a residence hall, which allowed lots of TV watching and avoiding-homework time but also required late night and early morning hours – even on the weekend. In what would eventually be a blessing, I wasn’t able to work there last summer. The residence hall I was in didn’t need desk workers and the other halls were already filled with senior staff members who had called dibs. So, I spent the first half of my summer taking the bus downtown, selling books and then coming back home and walking to Target to grab a handful of samples for lunch and a bottle of Coke, which I’d finish in the store before I had to pay for it. Oh yeah, that happened. The second part of last summer was when I started working the two jobs I work now.

Earlier that Spring I read an article on Escape from Cubicle Nation which continues to shape the activities that I participate in, workshops I attend and classes in which I enroll. The article was all about the side hustle.  If you don’t know what that is, a few defining characteristics of a good side hustle, as outlined by Pamela Slim, are here:

  • You like it
  • You are good at it
  • You can generate a decent amount of quick cash in a short period of time
  • It will not get you thrown in jail (dealing crack, while profitable and possible from your home, is not recommended)
That post paired with this New York Times article on inventing the career you want based on what you like is a good enough reason to start your side hustle.
So, what’s yours?