March 4, 2010
“evil plans”: how a tiny store in chappell hill, texas changed my life
With the deadline for the finished draft only a few months away, I’ve started working again on the next book, “Evil Plans” in earnest.
Everybody needs an EVIL PLAN. Everybody needs a way to get the hell out of the RAT RACE. Everybody needs to get away from boring, dead-end jobs that they hate, and start doing something they love, doing something that matters. Life is short.
Every person who ever managed to do this, every person who manged to escape the rat race and start doing something that matters, started off with an EVIL PLAN.
My EVIL PLAN for the next couple of months is to work on the book first thing in the morning, 500 words a day. Afternoons I’ll work on the Cube Grenades. Evenings will be drawing new cartoons for the Newsletter.
From my end, it’s pretty sustainable, so I’m happy.
Let me tell you a story:
About twelve years ago I was living in New York City, busting my ass, working in an ad agency. One day I decided to go down to Houston to visit my family. While I was there, my sister and I decide to drive up to Austin to visit some old college buddies.
Instead of our usual route via I-10, we decided to take the slower but more scenic Route 290, through the Texas Hill Country. A lovely drive of about 150 miles.
At about the halfway point we pull into Chappell Hill, Texas, a sweet little town of maybe three hundred people. We stop for some gas.
Right next to the gas station is this small storefront, called the Chappell Hill Meat Market & Cafe. A traditional lunch diner taking up most of the building, and to the right, a tiny little grocery store.
Turns out this hole-in-wall grocery store sells some of the best Texas sausage and jerky you ever did come across. They have their own smoke house in the back, and everything is prepared right there on the premises. My friends in Austin are having a barbecue that evening, so we buy about forty dollars worth of sausage, brisket and jerky for the party. We eat some of the jerky in the car– Outstanding!
We have a great time in Austin, seeing our friends. Everybody LOVED the meat we brought for them. On our way home to Houston, my sister and I like the Chappell Hill Meat Market so much, we decide to stop in again, and buy some more sausage for my dad and his wife.
As I’m paying for the food I compliment the person serving me, the owner, a nice lady named Cissy.
“This is a great little place”, I say. “I LOVE your jerky.”
“Why, thank you,” says Cissy, in her very polite, Texan way.
“I bet you sell a lot of this stuff,” I say.
“Sure do,” says Sissy. “About a thousand pounds of meat…”
“A week? Really? That much?”
“No, Darlin’. A thousand pounds, every day.”
BOOM! Moment of clarity. A tiny little hole-in-the-wall in Nowheresville, Texas. Selling three-and-a-half TONS of world-class product a week. Doing the math in my head, assuming they’ve got a decent enough margin, that’s a lot more money than me or any of my other New York cronies were making (or probably ever going to make). For a lot less hassle and overheads, to boot.
Now, I never wanted to go into the meat business, but since that day in Chappell Hill, Texas, I have always aspired to have a business model as simple, elegant, profitable and low-key as this one. I’m not quite there yet, but I’m getting close…
And that, My Friends, is what “EVIL PLANS” is really all about. Exactly.
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