The Video Store Experiment

This is a guest post by Zac Parsons. Enjoy. – Erich

On July 4th, 2009, right in the swing of our Great Recession, I officially took a part-time position as a Customer Service Representative with my local video store. As a consultant for services that are not tangible and not immediately reflected on the bottom line, the waiting list for my attention and concern was at zero. I found myself able to complete my tasks, make new contacts, write a few articles, and still have disposable time throughout each day. But these duties were not impacting my bottom line in the way that I wanted them to, either. I decided that it was time to go back to a mode of making income that helped me in my youth: hourly pay to provide a low-skill service.

To my surprise, my first task was not to wait on customers, familiarize myself with the DVD shelves, or even learn the computer system. Rather, it was to mow the grass outside. While setting up the lawnmower, a piece slipped and pinched my thumbnail hard enough to leave a mark. It was the kind that I immediately knew would either cause my thumbnail to fall off, or would simply remain unsightly until new tissue grew to replace the damaged area over the next several weeks.

As I started to mow the grass, I thought: This is kind of cool! I do this at my own house every week, and now I get to do it while “on the clock”. After a couple of hours, I was finished. As I drove home, I thought: “I can do this. This is just something that will get me by while I’m building up my consulting business. Maybe I can meet some interesting people while I’m working and turn that into an opportunity for business.” It turned out that I was only half right.