Moonlighting: Extra Effort Cultivates Careers
Author: Kitty Bartell | Photographer: Andrew Sullivan
Actor Tom Selleck wakes early at his Ventura County, California ranch, pulls on muddy brown work boots, well-worn jeans, a dusty shirt and a wide-brimmed hat, and starts his day as a farmer with 60-plus acres of land and over 2,000 avocado trees. Across the country, a less-famous high school English teacher steps into a wrestling ring at a crowded Cleveland arena, dressed in a red and gold cape and matching silk shorts. These could be potential movie scripts; however, in reality Selleck has had a second career as a farmer for over 25 years, and the spectacle-wearing teacher is approaching his 150th match as Ohio’s answer to Hulk Hogan.
According the U.S. Department of Labor, moonlighting will be a way of life for over 8 million people in America this year. For some, having a second job is a necessity to make financial ends meet, for others it may serve as an outlet for creative energy, fulfill a desire to have some of the extras in life, or even as a safety net for potential future needs. Having recently celebrated our national workforce on Labor Day, it is likely that the holiday found the majority of these moonlighters not at picnics with their families, but working their second jobs.
The Lowcountry is no stranger to the moonlighting workforce. Like most resort communities, there is a good supply of opportunities to work part time. Moonlighting taps into the quintessential character of the American worker: self-reliant, hard-working, and willing to do what it takes to get the job done. These traits just scratch the surface of our moonlighting profiles. Add optimistic, fun-loving, creative, and dedicated, and the picture emerges more clearly of what makes these unique individuals able do it all… and then some.
Jewelry is in Jennifer Lance’s blood. Her mother opened her first jewelry store just before she was born, and nine years later, in 1990, moved her children from Florida to Hilton Head Island to open Heritage Fine Jewelry, where Jennifer remembers the school bus dropping her off at the shop at the end of the school day.
Never imagining that she would be in the jewelry business at 33, Lance is appreciative of the work ethic her mother instilled in her and her two older brothers.
“We’ve always been told if you work hard for something you will appreciate it.” Having worked in the shop for over eight years, Lance was feeling that she wanted some “extras” in her life, so she and her husband decided to put her mom’s teachings into practice.
Lance proposed that she get a part-time food and beverage job. “My husband wasn’t sure right away, because he thought he might be the one who should get the extra job. But it made more sense for me, because I knew I could make more money in the least amount of time given my experience.” She had started work as a teenager at Wild Wings, and eventually bartended at The Lodge when she was 21.
The next step was finding the right fit. Lance and her husband had been long-time customers at The Sage Room, and she thought, why not start there? She knew the menu and the type of service that was expected, so when she approached the owner, she was immediately offered the opportunity to fill in as needed, and it wasn’t long before Lance was given a set schedule
The environments at her two jobs couldn’t be more different, and yet somehow very similar. The jewelry store is serene and elegant, while the restaurant is all about hustle and energy. “The food is amazing at The Sage Room. It’s hard work, because the level of service expected is really high,” Lance said. “This is the type of restaurant where special events are celebrated.”
She compares this work with the jewelry business, “You come to realize that the things we sell are really big important purchases, like engagements, anniversaries, and birthdays. At times, the work we do represents something very sentimental to the customer, like remaking jewelry from pieces that have been handed down.” What Lance understands is that both places are where occasions happen.
The up side of her hard work is that Lance, her husband, and one brother, are now the owners of a small boat; one of the extras they had been wanting for some time. Lance beams, “It’s ours. We can come home from work, hop on the boat and take it to The Boathouse or somewhere. It’s just so peaceful. It’s like therapy out there.”
For a young woman with a personal motto of, “Don’t worry, be happy,” Lance is moonlighting her way to a very happy place.
A bit like Clark Kent and Superman, Mark Carianus is a mild-mannered elevator repairman by day and superhero critter wrestler by night. Well, not always by night, but this skilled machinist channels his nature-man alter ego any time the opportunity arises.
A native of Durban, South Africa, Carianus started his career with machines at 17, working with a company removing elevators from plants in Johannesburg and moving them to Durban and Cape Town. This work led to elevators jobs on ships, which ultimately brought him to his current position with Atlantic Coast Elevator, a division of Oracle Elevator of Savannah.
A self-professed non-adrenalin junkie, Carianus’ 20-plus years working dangerous jobs has made it all second nature, “One little error can get you killed. A lot of time when I’m working on an elevator, I’m working when people are using it; so I’m on top of it and under it, because I’m trying to catch what it’s doing. You just have to be safe.”
From the proverbial frying pan and into the fire, Carianus moonlights with Critter Management, Inc. Motivated only by the love of nature and animals, he considers this work mainly recreation.
According to Carianus, sometimes it takes days to catch an alligator. “If you work with anything long enough you get to kind of pattern them, and you get to know what they’re going to do before they do it,” he said. “You just have to stay ahead of them.” Saying that he has never felt in danger during a capture, Carianus can get into the heads of these beasts, at times even getting in the water with 1,200-pound animals to corral them for capture. Chasing other wildlife isn’t out of the question, and he has learned from some nasty experiences in South Africa how to capture snakes safely, like the six-foot rattlesnake he recently caught on Simmonsville Road.
As Carianus’ story unfolds, it is clear that moonlighting affords him the opportunity to be outdoors, where he chooses to spend most of his down time. If he can’t be wrestling gators, he likes to be on the water shrimping and fishing from one of his two boats, or hunting. If that weren’t excitement enough, this 35 year old also has over 4,800 sky dives (Carianus stopped counting several years ago), which include jumping from airplanes and off the sides of cliffs and buildings.
Carianus truly is low-key, despite the superhero aura of his life. His motto best describes how he has come to this state of mind: “Take whatever comes. Whatever you’re faced with, you have got to deal with it at the time. You can’t always foresee what’s coming.”
Wes Thompson found his calling while waiting to begin a career as a professional baseball player. Slated to join a St. Louis independent ball club, he had a year off before he was scheduled to leave. During his time off, he visited a local fire station and offered to volunteer. Four months later, “I realized I absolutely loved it,” he said.
Skip forward to 2007, the year Thompson became a firefighter for the Burton Fire District in Beaufort County, and the same year he joined Montana’s Restaurant and Grizzly Bar moonlighting as a bartender. With 48-hour on-call shifts at the fire department and mandatory 96 hours off duty, again Thompson was looking for a way to supplement his income and fill some time. A friend who knew Thompson had bartended and they needed someone at Montana’s. Wes started taking shifts, which quickly turned into a full-time position as bar manager.
Based on passion and time spent, it would be hard to identify which career was the moonlighting job and which was the career position. Describing how he feels about his role as fire engineer and EMT, Thompson speaks with great clarity. “It fits my personality. I love to be the person they look to, and I’m an adrenalin junkie. I love to see that person who is in a dire moment in their life, and they take a deep breath because we just showed up,” he said.
With similar passion, Thompson talks about the being a bar manager. “I love the industry. I love the business. I love the people, and I love the projects I get to do to enhance the experience and the atmosphere.” He speaks with great pride of the improvements he has been a part of at Montana’s, including creating special drink menus, putting together a small batch bourbon list, coordinating live entertainment liquor promotions, and taking the bar from 10 to 26 taps.
Maintaining an always-on-call strategy requires some recreation as well. Thompson’s schedule affords him the time to participate in long drive competitions. “I have trouble staying focused for 18 holes, whereas with the long drive competitions you only have to focus for two minutes at a time,” he said.
Moonlighting does have its downsides. For Thompson, it is important that he continue to focus on becoming a lieutenant with the fire department, so there is always that pressure to get the training and classes completed. Also, he said, “I would like to get married and have kids, but (surprise!) I can’t seem to find the time to meet anyone.”
It seems Thompson can accomplish almost anything simply by living his motto: “Go big or go home.” It will be exciting to see what’s next.
Linda Prosser is one of those people who you know has a positive spin for just about every circumstance, which is probably why she has successfully navigated the economic downturn of the past few years. No immunity from reality was granted for Prosser when she was laid off in 2009, but this wife and mother of two boys put her paddles in the water and headed in a whole new direction.
For most of Prosser’s life she had moonlighted in food and beverage. She met her husband when they both worked on a cruise ship. She was in the purser’s office but also ran one of the ship’s bars; and while at the Hyatt, she started in payroll, but eventually moved from part-time bartender to full-time food and beverage.
It wasn’t until she was let go from her job three years ago that she thought it was time for a change. “I knew I wanted to do something completely different,” she said.
She had canvased opportunities with her résumé when the duck came calling. “Aflac was interested in me, and there were several things about the company that appealed to me: I would be an independent contractor working hours I set, I could work from home, and they offered great training,” she said. Two and a half years later, Prosser is growing her company and is looking to nominate others to become agents.
There was a down side. Like a bee to honey, Prosser was missing the social aspect of food and beverage when fate came calling with an opportunity to work at Roastfish & Cornbread. “We have a lot of fun. The crew is great. It’s always busy and the food is wonderful,” she said. And the bonus is that the extra income has paid for a family cruise, a couple of trips to Orlando, iPhones, and Christmas presents.
Prosser’s motto is: “Hard work brings good luck,” and she is living proof that sometimes by simply putting the oars in the water and making a few strong strokes, something positive just might come your way.
This is truly a case of moonlighting for the fun of it. Part-time lead singer of local Rolling Stones tribute band White Liquor and full-time Carolina Realty Group realtor, Rick Saba leads a pretty legendary life. Making Hilton Head Island home for the past 15 years with his wife and two children, this native New Yorker charms like a southern gentleman and rocks like an East End Jagger.
The 2009 Realtor of the Year is good at what he does and has an optimistic forecast for the real estate market. “This is the first year in a long time that we’ve seen increases in sales. No question, in every section of the market,” he said. Which is good news for his customers because, not only is the forecast favorable for real estate, but they will be working with a professional who has a true passion for the Lowcountry. “If money weren’t a factor, I’d still be doing what I’m doing,” Saba said.
“I’ve met so many good people. We’re ambassadors for the island. We’re the first people they meet. So many former clients are now friends.”
In addition to clients and friends, Saba enjoys his share of groupies. He relishes his time on the stage making music like Mick. “The band is a great outlet for me. I work seven days a week and am on the phone a lot. Being able to play for two or three or four hours is a real release,” he said.
The real fun happens when his worlds collide. “We were playing a club where a woman in the audience turned out to be my first client the next day. We hadn’t met until our appointment, and she proceeded to tell me that she had been at a club the previous night and saw this band with a crazy lead singer who was jumping off of things. A few weeks later she was back on the island, and I told her White Liquor was playing that night. She showed up, and when she realized who I was, she was pretty wigged out,” he said.
Being good to people is how Saba likes to measure his days and his life, and he has a legendary reputation for bringing his best to everything he does, from classic rock to real estate.