Negotiating the Berkshire Shuffle

I thought to myself at the time, “I’ll never have to resort to that -- after all here I am I'm a tenured professor."

Editor’s Note: This edition of the Berkshire Shuffle is from a series of archived articles by Leigh Davis.


“By working faithfully eight hours a day, you may eventually get to be boss and work twelve hours a day.” —  Robert Frost.

So I’ve officially thrown my hat into the ring and am doing the Berkshire Shuffle. As hard as it is for me to believe, it’s been nearly three years since I first moved here and inquired as to how on earth people support themselves in the Berkshires — the response given to me that people living here full time are either trust-fund babies, work in the health or education sector, or do the Berkshire Shuffle.

“The Berkshire Shuffle? What is that?” I recall myself asking. “Oh, it’s that juggling act of odd jobs you have to do just so you can live here.”

“Hmm…,” I  thought to myself at the time, “I’ll never have to resort to that  — after all here I am I’m a tenured professor, I have a masters in yada-yada, have experience in blah-blah-blah, know so-and-so; why surely, a ‘real job’ will be easy enough to come by.”

Or so I thought.

Flash-forward to two and half years later as I hover in the purgatory of “self-employment” — many of my friends drifting around me in the same orbit working hard at creatively applying their talents just to keep their heads above water.

Write you a half-million dollar grant proposal while tutoring your daughter in the cello? Consider it done. De-flea your dog on Tuesday and teach your son circus tricks on Friday? No problem! Take your wife on a women’s sexual awakening retreat after de-cluttering your closet? My pleasure!

Wow, what a talented pool of intelligent, experienced and incredibly resourceful individuals we have amongst us! No wonder jobs are hard to come by!

So where does that leave me you might ask? (I know you didn’t really ask nor care, but I’m going to tell you anyway). Well, writing this column for pennies to begin with. Then, of course, there’s my handy real estate license — though this isn’t exactly the best time to be entering the real estate business (a big thank you and shout out to my colleagues at Barnbrook Realty, by the way).

And finally, there’s the endless networking and scouring of help wanted ads that takes place over coffee at Rubi’s and Fuel in hopes of securing leads on houses, jobs, or rich men (that last comment is a joke by the way).

Anyway, it’s all a mystery to me at this point. Where the great roulette ball of life will land no one knows. But watch this space.