Are you a rat?

I’m not talking about the Chinese zodiac sign, which I happen to be. I’m talking about something completely different.

On Sunday, I read “Crush It!” from cover to cover. Among many other things, it reminded me of a TV show that I used to watch. Do any of y’all remember the show Dharma and Greg?

During an episode on the show, Greg left his stable job with the US Attorney’s office to “strike it out on his own.” One of his co-workers from the DA’s office, Pete, was talking to Greg’s girlfriend, Dharma, about how much he admired Greg for leaving the rat race.

Pete was waxing poetic about Greg leaving and going to be his own man and go stand on his own.

Pete kept lavishing praises on Greg for leaving the rat race behind and going to follow his dreams. Dharma asked Fred:

Why don’t you join Greg and leave the rat race behind too?

Pete replied:

Oh no, I’m a rat.

This scene has been in my head for sometime now. I always think of it whenever I try to do my own thing and stand on my own.

Crush It! has made me take the time to figure out if I’m a rat or not.

I don’t mean the word “rat” in the traditional sense of something nasty and ugly, but merely as a euphemism for working the Monday-Friday 9-5 with the stable paycheck and health insurance, commuting 2 hours a day in bumper to bumper traffic to a job you hate with people you only moderately like where you work for 30 years and get to retire from.

Come to think of it, maybe I do mean “rat” in an ugly sense, but I digress.

I don’t necessarily believe that being a rat in the rat race is better or worse than not being a rat in the rat race. I just think that I should know if I’m a rat that belongs in the rat race or not.

Of the many things to think about before striking it out on your own, I suggest you figure out if you’re a rat in the rat race or not.

I can tell you if other people belong in the rat race. My girlfriend, although she hates every minute of it, belongs in the rat race. She needs that security blanket, she needs to be one of the masses. My dad is also a rat from the rat race. I’d be a fool if I said that being in the rat race is bad. It’s actually quite comfy.

Besides, I have kids to feed and care for, so I too need the regular paycheck and health insurance. It’s the commute etc. that I can be without.

I’ve tried breaking away from the rat race several times, only to be beaten back into conformance. I’ve tried branching out with an SEO firm, that failed. I tried other side business, they failed. I tried being a commissioned sales person, and failed at that. I was moderately successful as a cab driver, but the overhead was killing me.

Just so you know, a cab driver in Austin pays the company about $500 a week to lease and operate the cab. Tip generously whenever you ride a cab.

I loved owning my own business, I hated having to work for so many hours and have so little to show for it. You know, had I been more plugged in with social media when I was driving the cab, I would’ve crushed it with the college kids.

In the end, I always come back to the rat race.

Writing this post has helped me see that I’m always looking for ways to leave the rat race behind. I just haven’t found a way to make it work.

Yet.