Pygmy goats. That’s the latest idea R and I kicked around over brunch at a diner yesterday. They’re adorable creatures and of course, small enough that we might even be able to get started on our .24 acreage in this urban-suburban town. We could make soap and cheese.
There’s great inspiration for other ways to live, to be found in cyberspace. This wonderful blogger in England who left the rat-race and made a lovely life for herself and her beloved cows is one of my favorite. And thank you, Eileen, for reminding me about The Fabulous Beekman Boys and their goats. They certainly made a go of it.
With the book business being in such turmoil, I’d be foolish not to think about other options, even if they are mostly fantastical at this point. (health insurance from the pygmy goat association?) Commerce continues to move online. How can booksellers, writers, musicians, travel agents and, as you’ll see, to a lesser extent, even auto mechanics make a living these days?
How can a store be sustainable with the internet, in the age of the ravenous AMAZON? Just last week a customer rudely reamed me over the phone when I told him that the price of his book would indeed cost more if he bought the book in the store instead of online. I get how that seems crazy to a customer – but then again, if you want bookstores, you need to support them. Since the days when we were considered the big bad wolf of the industry, I have said that it is the customer who has the power, who makes the choice to shop one place rather than another. We sustain a store or not.
If people don’t care about stores, if they care more about saving a few dollars, then the store will go away. We can shop at the little guys and even in a big chain like Stop and Shop and Home Depot, we can choose the human over the self-checkout. We are still people who work in these places – and some of us, many in my place, have a fierce love for the products we sell. I refuse to shop at Amazon, preferring Ebay and Overstock or Craig’s List for my bargains. It bugs me that so many authors websites and blogs link to Amazon for their books. Amazon sells cameras and vacuum cleaners — of course they can undercut everybody else.
Electronic books have made it even tougher to sustain bricks and mortar. The price points of books is so low already and the measly profit must then be cut up and shared by author, publisher, vendor.
So, over eggs benedict at the diner yesterday, I pondered with R, how to make a living in this crazy computer age? What jobs will be left to us? The waitress brought us our check. She was a little older than me. Waitressing was my first job at sixteen and I did it through college and beyond. The thought of ever again rattling off a list of salad dressings, makes me cringe. But I could do it. Food depends on people. So there — we are back to goat cheese.
In the parking lot, R’s Jeep wouldn’t start. He put the key in the ignition and nothing happened. The lights came on, the radio worked, but the engine did not even groan. I called AAA for a tow. Then, on a whim, I googled, “Jeep Cherokee key won’t work in ignition” on my IPhone and read through the comments. “Hit key with rubber mallet when in ignition”. R reached into the back seat (his office) and grabbed a hammer and whacked the key and turned it. The car started. I called AAA and canceled the tow order and laughing, we pulled out of the parking lot, marveling at the wonders of the world-wide-web. We’ll have to have a really great site for our goat products…