Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The Best Job in the World

"How many you want? I didn't ask you what you're eating, I asked you how many you want. You don't want no 'one'. You want a touch. You ain't ready for a 'one'."

That's Gene Porter, the owner/proprietor of Dixie's Barbecue in Bellevue, and the man with the best job in the world.

Today I went to Dixie's for lunch with the guys from 3Sharp. As far as I can tell, Porter's job is to walk around his place with a pot of supernuclear hot sauce (AKA "the Man") and talk to customers. You can't order this sauce on the side. You don't get the mean with the sauce on it. You get the sauce when he comes over and gives it to you. You can tell him how much you want (a "one", or a "smear", or a "two" for the daring), but as often as not, it's his assessment of your character, not your order, that determines what you get.

"You there. Where you from. South Africa! You kidding? You stick a pin in the map yet? You go stick a pin in the map, then I'll get you some sauce."

That's the job I want -- not cooking barbecue sauce per se, but that "doing my thing, and doing it well, and talking to people about it while I do it." What Porter does is in total contradiction of the fast food formula: it's inefficient, capricious, and irreproducible, but Dixie's Barbecue's got something you can't get anywhere else, something people will stand in line for.

That's what I want for my own work. I want to do what I love to do for people who appreciate it, and I'm hoping that's a recipe for success.

An update on the work: It's been a brickyard week. Getting a business off the ground is a real bear. I'd love to talk about all the cool stuff I'm writing (and I am writing some cool stuff), but right now the job is dominated by writing proposals, sending E-mails, and making phone calls. That's the grunt work of independence, and if anyone tells you you'll ever be free of it, they're not a buyer, they're a seller.


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