Archive for October, 2012

Buy Local. Buy Lemonade.

Not too long ago I was walking to the post office and found some young entrepreneurs hawking their wares on the public square. Yes four girls were selling lemonade on a bright, sunny late summer day. Their chaperone was standing a few feet away, supervising their capitalistic endeavor. I had the privilege to be their first customer, gladly paying the sum of fifty cents for a refreshing taste of their product.

The girls had beckoned me to their stand like a barker at the fairgrounds. The fact that I stopped sent them into a near frenzy. Apparently the prospect that they could actually make some money had not really occurred to them. They scurried to decide who would do what: pour the lemonade, hold the cup, and collect the money. For their first sale, it came together quite quickly, with a little help from their supervisor.

Following the transaction, I posted a picture of their “pop-up” to twitter, just to aid their cause. I have no idea how the rest of their day went, but I know I got my money’s worth. I was only too happy to let the world of social media in on my little discovery.

Now granted, I was not thirsty. There are times in life where we all do things just because it is the right thing to do; supporting a youth sport, helping a stranger in distress, offering a kind word to brighten someone’s day. The fact is, if I can make four kids giddy over setting up a lemonade stand to earn a little money and make memories that will last a lifetime, my fifty cents spent that day was possibly the best fifty cents I had spent in many years.

Lemonade

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The Jenga Schedule

So the season winds down for yet another year on Martha’s Vineyard. The traffic has thinned out; the stores have already begun closing. Islanders start their off season schedules, the one that resembles a life more normal than hectic. During the summer months everyone on island juggles jobs, social and personal affairs, as well as familial commitments while navigating the crowds, the weather, and the little unexpected events that life brings. Often we find ourselves focusing only as far forward as the few hours before us, simply to avoid that fact that our schedules are full of chaos.

Personally, I try to focus on my business schedule during the summer months. I have a few precious weeks to earn what usually amounts to approximately eighty to ninety percent of my annual income. The fact that the majority of my clients often call only a day or so, sometimes a few hours, before they would like to have their appointment does not make my life any easier. While I have been seeing the majority of my seasonal clients for many years, a number of them for more than a decade, they seem incredulous that I cannot accommodate a last minute request in August. While I do my best to fit everyone in, I am unwilling to compromise the work just to make a few dollars more.

The fact that I literally sell time, there are only so many appointments available on any given day. Additionally, the vast majority of my clients schedule their appointment to last an hour. I seldom, if ever, do half hour appointments anymore. When someone wants their appointment to be longer than an hour, I usually end up compromising the schedule for the rest of the day; starting earlier, finishing later, eliminating an open slot for another hour long appointment.

Most islanders have more than one job. I am no different, as I have been coaching two sports at the high school for several years. This adds yet another element of difficulty to an already busy schedule; one sport ends as the summer season begins, one sport begins before the summer season has fully ended. At worst, I work a twelve to fourteen hour day, trying to accommodate the requests and obligations associated with my commitments. Even so, I know of people with longer days; parents that have kids in the mix, business owners that do not have coverage, people working odd hours with several jobs.

When all is said and done, after the tourists have gone home, the businesses have closed, and the island exhales a collective sigh of relief, we can look back and marvel at how we all made it through yet another season. The pages of the appointment books, the reservation books, and receipts will remain as a testament to the schedules that resemble some sort of elaborate puzzle, ready to collapse under the weight of cancellations, non-existent parking spaces, and lines of traffic stuck behind tour buses and mopeds.

Now we that live here year round need only deal with the seasonal boat schedule changes, the weather-induced cancellations, the mechanical difficulties, and the lack of reservations available around the holidays. In comparison, I think I’d rather juggle my in season schedule. At least then I have options.

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