Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Many hats

I looked for ways to earn a paycheck while staying home while our sons were young. For one winter I was a temporary worker on the graveyard shift at the post office distribution center. It paid well and I learned all the postal codes for my state, not that this would come in handy very often. But there was a delicate balance between what I could and couldn’t do. It turns out that the “official” post office employees belonged to a union. (I don’t know if this is still true.) I wasn’t looking to break any rules and would follow the supervisors instructions, but there were a few times everything would stop because someone objected that I was pushing a cart that I shouldn’t, or something to that effect. The first time I took it personally but I quickly learned that it’s just their way. They still liked me, but they had to make these objections.

I picked up a temporary position as a “transit clerk”, entering the deposits at a large bank. Back in the 80’s they would hire an evening crew to enter every deposit through a machine that read those funny black numbers printed on the bottom of the check. There was also a keyboard where we typed in the deposit total. It was busy during the winter holiday shopping season, so they brought in temps like me. It was good, but the bank became more technically streamlined and moved the procedure to their main branch in another state.

But my favorite part-time job was as a home knitter. There is a cottage industry in some rural areas where savvy women can stay at home and earn a nice paycheck by making sweaters and ski hats. They need to own and understand the workings of an automatic knitting machine, usually electric, and now these are mostly computerized. A local company will have you run up some samples to judge your work and if you pass their standards, they supply the yarn and designs for a set amount of items. You return with the items on a weekly or bi-weekly basis and they will write out a check. For a while I knitted for two companies in a ski resort town, so I made weekly trips to this land with interesting shops and wonderful cafes. I brought my youngest, not yet in school, with the promise of a treat at the bakery.

As with most home knitters, I saw that there was money to be made on my own. I sourced the yarn, ran up my own designs, and worked some craft fairs. I didn’t get wealthy, and the hours were long. But I learned about sourcing supplies, getting credit as a business entity, and looking for sales opportunities. I still like the idea of being responsible for my future, and would like to do something along these lines again.

1 comment:

MyStory of HiStory said...

Seems you have both worn ... & made(!) MANY hats! I have only worn many :) Wish I knew how to knit.