Advice King: Should I Start a Home-Based Business?

Comedian, musician, host of Chris Crofton's Advice King Podcast and former Nashvillian Chris Crofton asked the Scene for an advice column, so we gave him one. Crowning himself the “Advice King,” Crofton will share his hard-won wisdom with whosoever seeks it. Follow Crofton on Facebook and Twitter, and to submit a question for the Advice King, email bestofbread[at]gmail[dot]com or editor[at]nashvillescene[dot]com.

Dear Advice King,

I know someone who is always pushing her home-based MLM business on all her friends. We thought she was crazy and caught up in a scam, but now I'm wondering: Since we're all stuck at home, isn't this really the perfect time to start a home-based business?


—Elizabeth in Los Angeles

Hold on while I put “MLM” into the ol’ Goog. Ohhhh, multi-level marketing — pyramid schemes. HOT TIP: If you are going to join a pyramid scheme, make sure to get in near the bottom. You don’t want to be the one left holding all the soap.

Seriously, don’t do a pyramid scheme, Elizabeth. I did one once, in 1972. Hypoallergenic motor oil. I ended up having to rent my friend’s disused greenhouse to store the stuff. One time we got drunk and opened a couple cans. It was root beer! That’s how I lost wife number two — but who’s keeping count right? *cries, pants fall down*

I think you should start a home-based business. I started one. I’m not going outside until they find a vaccine or I’m at the wrong end of a cattle prod. They HAVEN’T CURED THE DISEASE YET. HELLOOOOOOOOOOO. 

What business are you going to start? I started one called Poetry Mailbox™. I’ll send anyone anywhere a handwritten poem for $10, postage included. All I need is a topic and a mailing address. My Venmo is @PoetryMailbox. This is 100 percent true. 

See what I did there? 

I’ve always worked in restaurants and bars, Elizabeth. Because of the ongoing pandemic, restaurants are not a safe place to be right now. The fact that some politicians have had the gall to recommend opening restaurants while the case numbers are still climbing — while they themselves continue to work from home — is FUCKING DIABOLICAL. 

Restaurants are not essential businesses. The grocery stores are open. People have stoves. A restaurant providing takeout service with a small, trusted staff makes sense. Forcing every server and bartender off of unemployment and into harm’s way is UNCONSCIONABLE. Any fool who would sit down to eat in a restaurant right now is either insane or they think this virus is a hoax. And that means they haven’t been practicing social distancing, which in turn means that the servers and bartenders will be justifiably terrified — and broke! The restaurants will be half-full by law, which means the servers will not be able to make a living. In many states, servers work almost entirely for tips. Their hourly wage is less than $3. Read that again. THEIR HOURLY WAGE IS LESS THAN $3. Half-capacity means 50 percent tips, which does not equal a living wage. 

Why are they being forced to go to work? I’ll tell you why. The restaurant workers — and the hairdressers and the tattoo artists — are the canaries in the capitalist coal mine. 

The wealthy and powerful consider the workers at these businesses to be disposable. Oh, I know not all of them do. But take a look around — many of them do. I’ve personally met wealthy folks who take pride (out loud) in the fact that they’ve never “had to” wait tables. And they take equal pride in the fact that they didn’t know anybody who does (they let me know that I got a pass because I was a musician). They think that the people who are waiting tables are “stuck” doing so through some fault of their own. Wealthy people who were born into wealth (most of our politicians, Tucker Carlson, etc.) are even more convinced of this. To them, being a server in a restaurant is the result of a very specific personal failing: laziness. Therefore, servers deserve what they get. If that happens to be death from coronavirus, well, that’s a shame — but hey, sometimes that’s what you get in a capitalist society if you don’t work hard enough. *Atlas — and Tucker Carlson — shrugged*

I was at a dive bar in Nashville when a famously Republican, wealthy, Fox News-contributing country singer entered, extremely drunk. He had a bodyguard with him. He joined a table full of people, uninvited. He told them that they all looked like “worthless pieces of shit.” Then he asked if any of them “had jobs.” One man said yes, that he worked at a delicatessen. “That’s not a job,” the Fox News contributor snarled. “I mean a real job.” When the man stood up to fight him, the singer’s bodyguard stepped between them. The bodyguard and the country singer left the bar, got into a waiting limousine, and disappeared into the night. 

It seemed to me that the drunken, famously-Republican country singer had come into that bar SPECIFICALLY to insult working-class people. AND IT WAS TRUE. The bartender told me that it wasn’t the first time he’d seen him do it.

Working people, protect yourselves. The people in power do not know us, they do not respect us, and in many cases, they actively DESPISE us. They are sending us out there to see if we get sick. They’re trying to find out if it’s safe for them. Don’t be a rich person’s canary. STAY HOME. And buy a poem!

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