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The Things We Do for... Rent Money

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I've had some silly jobs. I've never stood on the side of a busy street wearing a hot-dog costume, dancing around and waving a sign like a maniac to try and lure people into a fast-food joint. Not yet, anyway. But I have sold "The Chopper" from a kiosk in a low-lit mall. Elevator music covers of Nirvana dribbled from the speakers. It was about as awesome as it sounds.

From there I went to Yum Yum Dim Sum. No one else went to Yum Yum Dim Sum, which was a problem for me. No people, no tips. Each day it was pretty much just me, the sad-eyed owner, and the even sadder-eyed fish in the fish tank. Can you imagine being a fish in a fish tank in a restaurant that sells -- fish? I can.

Occasionally a sad-eyed customer would stroll in and have some dim sum while I pretended to dust a Buddha statue, daydreaming of one day having lots of money and a pool and home and neat vacations in places far, far away from Yum Yum Dim Sum.

Back in the Yum Yum Dim Sum era, which was college, I had two bright ideas to make an extra buck: I could steal my own hubcaps and sell them. Maybe I was stoned when I came up with that one. We can only hope. Or: I could be a "dancer" at Fantasy Island, since the girls wore bikinis the whole time! How bad could it be? I drove by Fantasy Island a few times, but, bikini be damned, I couldn't stop the car.

Most of us have fantasized about winning the lotto or creating the next Angry Birds or Pet Rock so we can dump a Louis Vuitton bag of cash on the lawn of Sallie Mae headquarters and pay off our student loans, then set sail on a yacht to celebrate. Too fantastical? Maybe, but it sure sounds nice. So does paying the rent.

We could all sell gold to pay our rent, right? That's what all the gold exchange commercials on TV tell us. My favorite one shows a chick with really awful Mickey-Rourke-in-Iron-Man-II highlights in her hair explaining that she was laid off, so she decided to take all her gold and sell it. She got cash money! We could do that, too -- if only we had treasure troves of gold sitting around.

Yet while the economy suffers and so many people cling to jobs that aren't exactly their life's dream, people are also finally given a chance to pursue what they are truly passionate about. Starting their own companies, devoting time to painting, to cooking, to starting a construction company, to being a freelance attorney, to starting a design business. This crap economy is paving the way for a lot of creative, resourceful people who maybe worked for The Man too long to actually take the big leap and do what they are meant to do. And be their own boss. That's exciting. And if, in the lean times, until the construction company or the film festival or the catering business takes off, we have to dust Buddha statues at Yum Yum Dim Sum? Bring it on.

Portions of this article originally appeared on the blog Bureaucracy for Breakfast.