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March 18th, 2009 Samantha Herman | Featured Stories
 

The Moonlighters

While you’re worrying about keeping your job, these people are juggling two—or more.

     
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WORKIN’ DAY AND NIGHT: Andrea Slonecker works at Ken’s Artisan Bakery in Northwest Portland when she’s not at one of her other four jobs.
IMAGE: Darryl James

Just in case you haven’t noticed, every media source in the state—nay, the nation—is spreading mass hysteria about job loss and home foreclosures. In preparation for our own pink slips (Oregon’s unemployment rate as of February was 10.8 percent) many of us have taken up nail-biting and asking friends about the availability of their couches just in case of eviction. We’re scared, we’re nervous; hell, we’re downright depressed. But not everyone in Portland is up shit creek without a paddle just yet. With furloughs and layoffs around every corner, any Portlander with multiple occupations is clinging to them desperately. Sure, call them selfish for hoarding jobs. Just don’t call them lazy.

Andrea Slonecker

Job: Editorial assistant at Northwest Palate magazine

Other job: Part-time assistant to PR guru Bette Sinclair, part-time assistant to cookbook author Diane Morgan

Other, other jobs: Worker bee at Ken’s Artisan Bakery and Carafe

Why I moonlight: “ The jobs I have don’t pay very well. I don’t make a lot of money, and in this economy, people don’t have full-time work for me, or for anyone. So I’ve had to piece together a living on all of these different jobs.”

Ulterior motive: “ I’m obsessed with food. My whole life revolves around food. I wake up in the morning and am like, what am I going to have for dinner? What am I going to have for lunch?”

Point of intersection: “ Networking yourself is seriously the best way to follow your dreams...that’s what I did.” Slonecker recalls approaching Morgan at a Culinary Alliance event and asking if she needed help with her cookbook writing. Later, someone in the media recommended Slonecker to Sinclair, who was seeking an assistant.

Slonecker, a 28-year-old transplant from Nebraska, is obsessed with the Food Network—and has been since college. “That’s all I watched, and I would make all the recipes,” says Slonecker. All those hours spent re-creating recipes propelled her toward the culinary field, she explains: “It just became more real to me that I could have a career in food.” But despite the profound influence TV had on her future, Slonecker simply doesn’t have time to watch anything these days. Clocking 55 hours a week between all of her jobs—and still not making enough to afford an iPhone or a car—she says what she misses most is movies and live music. “Right now all I do is work, and I have a boyfriend who is a chef so I spend a little time with him.”

Tracy Russell

Job: Librarian at Lincoln High School

Other job: Teaching Library Media Endorsement classes at Portland State University

Why I moonlight: “I’m a single parent. Right now I have one child in college and I’ll have two kids in college next year.”

Ulterior motive: “I love teaching. It sounds corny, but that’s why after 31 years, I love my job and I’m not thinking about quitting or retiring.”

Point of intersection: Lincoln students and PSU students mingle in the Writing Center, a program Russell started two years ago at Lincoln to give the high-schoolers access to free tutoring sessions and writing assistance. “We have PSU students that come in and volunteer to help,” says Russell. “It’s been really successful…Wilson High School started one this year.”

Russell believes in the power of education. She spent 31 years in the Portland Public School system and 16 years teaching at PSU. During the winter term, she puts in 40 hours at the library, six hours teaching in the evening, and another six hours on the weekends to grade papers. “I’m the Mercy Corps adviser at Lincoln,” she says when asked about her extracurricular activities. But her confidence wavers when it comes to her own income, which right now totals around $70,000—thanks to her master’s degree. “I got a second mortgage on my house in preparation to help cover [my son’s] tuition,” says Russell. But even with two jobs and a second mortgage, she wonders, “Can I afford for him to have a place to live down there [in Eugene]?”

Lance Mayhew

Job: Bank manager

Other job: Craft bartender at 50 Plates and freelance writer

Why I moonlight: “When you work in corporate America, you’ve got to do something fun to keep your sanity.”

Ulterior motive: “ The day job alone would pay all of my bills…[when] you don’t have to worry about where the tips come from, you can just practice your craft.”

PHOTO BY ANDREW WILLIAMS

Point of intersection: Mayhew recalls being in junior high when his father found him a job—“I was picking blackberries with migrant workers. I think I made about $25 that whole summer. I just remember shredding my hands.” That summer has become his barometer for hard work. So now, even though he works multiple jobs and puts in around 90 hours a week total, he does not consider any of it hard work. In fact, he would prefer never to do hard work ever again.

“I’ve been a bartender since I was 21,” says Mayhew, 36, who spoke of bartending as “his craft.” And apparently, craft bartenders are in high demand. Soon he will be taking on additional hours at Beaker Flask, Kevin Ludwig’s highly anticipated spirits spot on Southeast Sandy Boulevard. His bartending has also resulted in writing gigs as well. “I write for an international bartending website,” says Mayhew. “The editor came to me; I didn’t pitch anything.” Unfortunately, bank management seems to be a much more precarious field as of late. “My bank could be gone. Who knows?” he worries. “Now I think I could lose my job in the next six months. I’m really feeling lucky because at least I’ve got a fallback.”

Sam Leach

Job: Third-grade teacher at James John Elementary School

Other Job: Running a one-man songwriting service called Boy Writes Song for Girl since 2007

Why I moonlight: “ I was trying to think of something different I could do with my time that wasn’t related to education. I think people moonlight because they want variety.”

Ulterior motive: “I like to write songs about relationships. I was able to write a lot of those in college; I went through a lot of bad girlfriends. Then I got married, which totally screwed up my songwriting. I ran out of material...now men contact me and we meet in a bar or coffee shop. I write down everything they say…I walk away with three or four pages of notes. I turn the notes into lyrics.”

Point of intersection: “People like to be listened to. I’m a really good listener,” Leach, who charges $200 per song, explains. Whether it be a story about how a man met his wife, or what a third-grader did over the weekend, Leach wants to hear all about it.

The closing song that Leach and his rock band Eve’s Dilemma play at their shows was actually written for a client of Boy Writes Song for Girl. The gentleman contracted Leach’s services as a birthday gift for his wife, and Leach performed the song at the client’s home. “He emailed me three times a day and was so excited,” said Leach. “I got permission from them to perform it at our concerts. They’ve been to a show and got to hear it.” Although this endeavor has been wildly successful in Leach’s eyes—he writes two or three BWSFG tunes a year—he is determined to stick to his current format. “Women have asked me to write songs for their husbands, but I turned them down. I feel really comfortable talking to guys.” Leach, who makes $50,000 a year as a teacher, did admit to writing a song for his daughter, Penelope, who was just born in September. Is a new spinoff called Boy Writes Song for Baby on the horizon? Perhaps.

 
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