It was the fall. The fall of 1986.
My mother had put in a good word for me and I started at my first job just a few days after I got my license. I was eager beyond belief to start earning my own cash. And my mother, a lawyer who knew lots of people, had helped get me the coolest first job ever.
I was working as a cashier at a local music store.
Not a music store where they sold vinyl records or tape cassettes (which is how they sold music in those days), but a store where guitars, strings, drums, amps, and other musical instruments were sold. A store where in tiny rooms behind the counter guys with long hair and funky T shirts gave lessons.
It was an interesting place where there was always something to watch. Interesting people who actually made their living doing what they loved were always around. Guys came in asking for this piece of equipment or that, and slowly I learned what some of the basics were. Mostly I just rang up guitar strings and practice books at the register, but I loved the energy. I loved being a part of music and the creation of it.
Except it was slowly becoming clear to me how hard it was for someone like these guys to make a living. I was talking to Kevin, my favorite guitar instructor, about having no money in my wallet one day.
Me: “Have you ever realized that you have no money? I mean, no money in your wallet and you’re not going to get any for days?”
Kevin: “Unfortunately, yes. It’s happened to me more times than I know.”
Me: “I mean, I can’t even stop and get a hamburger or anything…nothing. I’ll have to go home to eat, I guess.”
Kevin: “You’re joking right? You’re not out of money. You’re just out of YOUR money. If you can go home and there’s food there, stop complaining. I was talking about not being able to stop and get a hamburger and going without because you have nothing and won’t for days. ”
Me: “Oh.” Cue in the stupid suburban idiot feeling.
Kevin: “Don’t feel bad. Feel lucky that you don’t even know what that’s like.”
Ouch. Life in the biz was exciting, but also scary.