Apparently the sideline is now a Selected Columnists Thing


Don’t you love it when a journalist “discovers” something that has been part of your life for as long as you can remember? Perhaps “love” is the wrong word; Eye rolls can be described as “unbelieving,” but the word itself sounds elitist. In any case, the moment is a mixture of delicious and what-planet-are-you-from-none-duh.

A famous modern example of this is fashion. Madonna made it topical, but the fact is that it existed in urban transvestite ball culture for many years; In fact, they made it up. But when the Material Girl appropriated it in songs, videos, and dances, it was suddenly a hot reveal.

I believe that “umami” is another one of these realizations. The Japanese have used the term for centuries to explain a hearty taste in Japanese food. And it stayed with them until one day the Italian chef Mario Batali used it to describe the mushrooms he used in his tomato sauce. I imagine Japanese chefs mumbling softly down the Italian chef’s cheek in his authority for the Japanese term.

Lately, the notion of a “side business” has made its way into the center and, as you can imagine, it is written about with the passion of an archaeologist uncovering a lost city of gold. Of course, it’s only new to people who have the rare luxury of only needing a job to feed themselves to the extent they desire. For the rest of the world, however, Side Hustle is the dance we voguated, the umami that tastes our reality.

When I was growing up, my mother worked as a secretary at the naval base, but left it to take care of her elderly mother who was sick. Technically unemployed and homebound, Mama’s big job was taking care of her and being a mother, but she took in children to babysit. Likewise, my father would come home from his full-time job in construction management to take care of his pigs, which he raised to sell and trade money and goods on the side. Even after he retired, he worked almost full-time as a consultant and my retired mother as a secretary.

When I moved to Chicago from the island, I was working part-time, which resulted in a full-time job while I was doing a full-time degree in my fourth year. That was in the 80s, so I also had to take the time to clubbing and relax from all the substances and amusements the 21-year-olds were engaging in at the time. I have never seen the job as a disruptive addition to my main job of being a full-time student. Working for money was something I did without question, even though I received a full scholarship.

I always had more than one source of income. Even now with no mortgage, auto loan, or college kid, I’m always pursuing extra work. Not only am I a full-time teacher, I also write this column. I have taught online courses. and I work with the enrollment of migrant children in my school district. Just today I submitted a grant application for a scientific manuscript. Even as we plan our garden, we talk about potentially selling the excess crops and flowers that could emerge in abundance. For many people I know, hectic is a way of life – certainly for the majority of the people who work.

The side business reports I’ve read so far focus on ideas like starting and monetizing a social media account or a YouTube channel. We may offer online tutoring services for students who need to catch up on COVID-19 related learning delays. Essentially for gigs where you don’t have to leave the comfort of your zoom setup and mess with your waist glamor.

The really compelling story about the sideline is that those who rely on it have been particularly hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and the infrequent shutdowns of sectors that once funded myriad livelihoods.

I’m not for conspiracy theories; However, as I write this column, it occurs to me that the only reason we closed independent businesses for a year was to keep hospitals from overcrowding. Two months ago, news outlets reported that California hospitals were instructing paramedics not to consult certain patients in need of emergency care. I hate to say it, but it seems obvious that these measures were designed to protect executives and shareholders of insurance companies who have only one job, if any, from being sued for rejecting sick people from emergency rooms to have. Come on, if government ordinances really focused on containing the coronavirus, wouldn’t airlines, airports and stadium sports have closed too?

Indeed, keeping the airline’s executives, the owners and players of the NBA and NFL, and the CEOs from suffering, appears to be the primary concern of the government. If we’re lucky, people who survived on a sideline business that suddenly disappeared might be viewed by the bureaucrats alongside the worries of the elite.

Dan Ho, a native of Agat, is a writer and teacher and has a PhD. in indigenous studies. Follow his gardening adventures on Instagram @HoandGarden.