Sure, we all want to be Sam. Not literally, of course, but my dog Sam has the easy life. A balanced healthy diet appears every morning in his bowl, a daily run/walk to Larson Park or around the Rez or to Stinson beach, and the rest of the time he’s lying around the house waiting for someone to pet him or give him treats.

But we are not dogs even though many of us have been living a life similar to Sam’s in the last 15 months. It’s time to get back to work. And this time, let’s work smarter, cut out the work loathing and play the long game.

Sure, you know the Twain quote about never having to work again (by finding a job that you love) but we all know that’s a little naïve. Even the best jobs sometimes have a-hole bosses and difficult requirements but if you expect this and mitigate it you might find that work is satisfying for reasons beyond the money.

Jobs stimulate your mind and body, exactly what we need right now after months of living like Sam. Like wine? Get a job in the industry and you will get free winetasting at 600 wineries, 30% off purchases and be a part of a pretty wonderful family. Like food? Pick a restaurant, they all need help right about now. Like kids, Boys and Girls club, teen services, childcare facilities or take the big plunge and become a teacher. And if you have any interest in the trades, the 1.2 trillion-dollar infrastructure bill needs you. There’s never been a better time to find your passion.

And expect some bumps because that’s life, especially post-covid. People are stressed, some are not playing well with others and we’re all languishing a bit, acting like bears emerging from their caves after hibernation. Know your limitations, I often try to write while wine touring but it usually turns out to be crap so I switch over to drawing, anything to keep my ADD brain busy.

 

It is Tuesday, the end of June and I’m contemplating intrinsic rewards. 9:30 and I’m sitting in LULU, one of the 32 busses at the wine tour company I have worked for periodically the last 14 years, each bus is given a name and the airplane seating is changed to a circular communal arrangement more conducive to socializing. We all need a little communal socializing right now. This is my last day of a 10-day stretch, which is more than I often do in a summer but the company needs me this year and after the first couple of days I’ve realized that I kinda, actually like this job

The side hustles are back and I couldn’t be happier. Unless, of course, I didn’t have to do the side hustles but this morning I am also trying to show my own kids the intrinsic rewards of work. It’s a tough sell during this time when many people are hanging back, staying on unemployment, trying to rid themselves of pandemic brain fog or just not wanting to return to work because they are still getting paid to not work.

But there’s more to it than $16.00 per hour plus tips. There’s the morning interaction with Kristin and Allison and Army and the rest of the motley crew that make up my wine touring family. It’s picking up Robert and his wife at the Meritage in Napa and talking about life in their home state of Virginia and housing prices in California and the educational system and any other topic which connect humans on a human level.

At Buena Vista Winery I learn that a friend who works there is out with heart issues, oddly the third friend this month with heart issues (getting old sucks). At Peter Cellars we are bombarded with Peter’s 3 lab puppies, bounding onto the bus as we pull into his backyard (otherwise known as his winery). I find out how his golf game is doing, Peter and I shared this COVID golf season, him coaching the St. Francis team while I coached the SVHS girls. I sketch while listening to my people laughing as they eat lunch. The drawing isn’t good but it fills the uncomfortable waiting periods which all jobs have.

 

Plus, the group has fully connected and one of the important skills of this job is knowing when to step away and let the magic happen. We’re all a little rusty in the connection department but it comes back, you just have to try.

“Our humanness is more important than anything else.”

Mark from New Zealand tell me this as we sit by the lake at Nicholson Ranch while Deepak tells stories of wine and Italy. I learn about cybersecurity and ublock, from Dave who works for the Electronic Frontier Foundation and wants to come to my classroom in the fall.

And embracing change is important, COVID has messed with the wine touring landscape, the Paradise Ridge tasting room with my wine wife Anette is gone, Chris Loxton is taking some time off before starting up with bus visits again, Little Vineyards is not taking busses, Petroni is way over (and is for sale for 8.5 million), and my wine tour company has decided that three winery visits are better than four (when I started I went to five and often poured guests back into their hotel rooms at days end).

Then there’s the end of shift feeling when I drive home after a day of meeting new people and learning new things. I calculate my tips plus wages in my head then work out the hourly wage for the day (I teach math and like to calculate these things). I think of how nice it will be to have a little financial cushion for the rest of the summer.

Sam meets me as I walk in the door. “And how was your day?” I ask as he smells the scent of Peter’s labs.

 

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