With the sale of my second book, it now appears that my career as a DJ is coming to an end. With a new daughter at home and a more profitable use of my time, this business and career that I launched on a whim in 1997 is now becoming somewhat obsolete. The long Saturdays away from my family, the evening meetings with clients, and the hassle of running a small business are probably no longer worth my time. I am committed to a few more weddings next year, and then I will probably make myself available on a very limited basis each year thereafter, working only on select weekends and for select clients. My partner can hire on another guy to assist at weddings, taking on more responsibility for the business but making more money at the same time.
But as much as I’d like to end this phase of my life, it’s hard to let go. I have a couple friends who have built up and then sold businesses, and I wonder if they felt the same way that I do now. There’s nothing for me to sell in my case, and in that way, my departure from my company will be a little easier, since the door to return will always be open. But part of me doesn’t want to leave this career, too proud of the work that I have put in and the reputation that I have built.
Thirteen years ago, my partner and I decided to become wedding DJs after watching guys in the business do lousy jobs and knowing we could do better. We worked our first wedding for free at La Renaissance in 1997 and were pleased to receive a $200 tip at the end of the night in recognition for our hard work. Since then, we’ve worked at more than 300 weddings, and my role as expanded to minister at many of the wedding ceremonies as well. Today we are extremely good at what we do. Most of our business comes through referrals, we have an excellent reputation with reception halls, caterers, photographers, and fellow DJs. The work is not difficult, can often be rewarding, and dare I say, it is also fun much of the time. One of my best friends is actually a former client, and with some luck, I may be able to DJ his wedding again someday.
It’s been a great run.
If the job did not require me to give up my weekends, I might never quit, but sadly, people just don’t get married on Wednesday evenings.
So now I see my end as a DJ coming near, and as excited as I am about the recaptured free time that I can spend with my family, my friends, and my writing, I can’t help but think that I’m going to be wasting the skills and the talents that I have honed over the years, missing out on the fun and amusement of the job, and loosing the time that I spend with my best friend each week.
I wonder if most people feel like me when stepping away from a career or giving up something that took so long and was so hard to build. And I wonder how many people have been unable to step away from a business or a career for this very reason. For years, I managed McDonald’s restaurants as I put myself through college, and as odd as it sounds, I sometimes lament all the skill and knowledge that I possess in restaurant management going to a waste. Wild horses couldn’t drag me back into the business, but I was good at my job, damn it, winning Manager of the Year twice in my career. I can repair equipment, manage people, prepare schedules, calibrate a soda machine, organize a marketing campaign, work with suppliers, and cook breakfast like no other. Most important, I was able to consistently turn a solid profit every year on the job. All of this knowledge and skill wasting away inside my head.
And soon, it will be joined by my skills and expertise as a DJ.
Bittersweet seems like the perfect word for this occasion.