with tools of his new trade by Rena Newman
My guest today is Dave Newman. Welcome to OpEdNews, Dave. You recently underwent a career transition. Can you tell our readers a bit about that?
DN: After teaching in the Chicago Public Schools for 26 years, the winds of change blew hard in the form of a know-it-all, my-way-or-the-highway, micromanaging principal. In my search for a change, I Iearned that school districts are not hiring veteran teachers - even male teachers with early childhood experience. The only response I received from all the applications and resumes sent was an invitation to substitute teach for the Chicago Jewish Day School.
JB: That must have been disheartening. So. what did you do?
DN: I did sub a bunch of times the following school year to see how much I actually missed teaching. But that summer, as a favor for a friend, I agreed to construct new storage lockers in the basement of her six-unit condo building. I enjoyed the project so much that I thought I could make a go of doing handyman work or trying to find more condos that needed their storage lockers rebuilt.
JB: How did it go, finding more work?
DN: From posting on Craigslist and pull-tab fliers, and referrals from friends, I was getting more and more work.
Room 111, 2009 by Maricela Rivera
JB: Enough to make a living?
DN: Well, fortunately I was able to begin collecting my pension. Although reduced due to my "early" retirement, I really only needed to make up half of my former teacher's salary to be at the same income. I have achieved that goal and a bit more too.
JB: Good for you! Was it scary making that leap?
DN: I suppose it would have been a bit more scary if my wife wasn't working and we had lost health insurance. But fortunately that was not a concern. And, of course, being eligible to collect my pension was big. My wife was very supportive. I'm really not a business type and I had to learn a bit about having my own business. I'm still learning.
JB: I bet. How did you have the confidence to put yourself out there as a handyman? What experience had you had?
DN: As a homeowner of 20+ years and former auto mechanic as well as a tool freak/gearhead, I knew I was capable of fixing and building lots of things. I had done a bit of remodeling and am comfortable with electrical and plumbing.
JB: Is hanging out at a hardware store your idea of a good time?
DN: Among other things, yeah.
JB: What kinds of tasks have you been hired for since you began this new career of yours, Dave?
DN: I've done some furniture repair, fixed lots of toilets and installed many faucets and light fixtures as well as shelving. I also do bicycle repair. I forgot to mention that I worked at a bike store throughout my teen years. I've also done woodworking projects with a couple of teenage boys. I helped design and build a solid oak nightstand and am currently working on a chess table with one student.