i don't think i'm-a gonna be able to type a lot this morning since i sliced up the tip of my middle finger yesterday.
and last week someone hurled a super-thin complaint my way about the political nature of the faux-modest newsletters i send to you every friday morning in the 8s about. which, frankly, only made me want to make them more political. and, in the long run, just may. but for now, i remembered that when i started these i wanted to use them to punch out a window into the craft beer business as well. for all the folks out there wondering what it's like. and i've done that quite a few times. (see our blog for old rants.) but i might start doing it more regularly.
and so today. as we enter the 11th hour of this drama queen snow storm. in the very quiet of the very morning. mere hours before chaos descends on our friday. as it does every week. i want to tell you how i cut up the tip of my middle finger.
so i woke up. fell out of bed. but i dragged no comb across my head. or under my face. as their was no time. it was 5a sharp and i had three tasks to complete before getting on the road to pilsen at 610a and they weren't the toughest tasks i ever did no it was mostly just computer stuff but i had to summarize and submit orders to our distributor for pre-sold kegs and cases of our upcoming beer before he started loading up his truck in the 6a hour and then i had clear out emails that i let linger the night before and then i had to put the final touches on labels for two of our upcoming beers as we have to submit those far enough in advance of our brewdate lest we end up facing late fees from leaving beer in some other brewery's tanks for too long which by the way is totally understandable because tanks cost money but such fees can really very quickly devour your entire profit on a beer and when you're trying to donate 50% of your profits to charity every single cent you lose by some quick mistake may provide part of a meal for somebody really hungry or might help get one more coat to somebody freezing under the edens and so we had to get up early this day because we were gonna be occupied all day canning the beer and then on the road to pilsen and this was totally unplanned because we don't have time to look at the weather except for whatever weather is happening around us it started snowing and all these trucks and cars started hugging their brakes and now my plan of picking up our canning volunteer liam in pilsen and bringing him to irving park so my partner bryan could drive him out to our contract brewer was in pieces for in a matter of minutes the drive time from pilsen to irving park went from 25 minutes to 45 minutes and bryan was planning to leave in 20 and every single minute he waited after that would delay canning and cause our other partners and volunteers to be late in getting back to their day jobs and so last minute i decided to drive liam from both beverly and melkbelly (chicago's coolest new band in the way that the grammy for best new artist goes to a new artist) out to our contract brewer in the western suburbs which would take about 70 minutes. we arrived at 745 or so and i did a quick spin around the brewery to make sure everything looked right and everyone there was adequately prepared for the day before hopping back in my car to rush back to the city in heavy traffic for a 9a meeting but it wasn't that simple because my gas meter had read "0 miles" for the last 14 miles and i had 1 hr 20 minutes of stop and go traffic in front of me so despite my likely tardiness i turned left looking for gas but about 1000 feet later i encountered total gridlock i'm talking snowy-car-accident gridlock and there was no gas station in sight so i turned in a u shape and went the other way and seconds later got caught by the slowest damn commuter train you've ever seen but of course i finally made it for gas otherwise i might not have had time for modestly this morning and by the time i was done fueling up my eta for the 9a meeting was 920 and this likely wouldn't have been a big deal but it was a very important meeting with a church down the street whose support for our project we're determined to get but i also had a meeting with the building commissioner at city hall at 10a so there was no real way to make the first meeting happen without missing the second more important meeting so i called the church and explained such but they weren't there so i had to leave a message and then i got fed up with my route so i jumped off 90 and onto irving park road and somehow i gained 20 minutes back! i could make the first meeting after all! so i called them again and this time got through to someone who had heard my message and had already cancelled the meeting but she would call me back if it wasn't too late to turn it back on and so i patiently drove while writing work texts and emails at stoplights and stop signs and then i heard back from her. the meeting was on! ok so i hustled and zigged and zagged through side streets until i landed in front of the neighbor's building at 859a and we had a terrific meeting and became very fast friends and it turns out they do a lot of constructive work in the neighborhood and will make a terrific mentor for future such work that we do at a potential brewpub there and as the clock struck 930 and i knew i had to leave these wonderful new neighbors of ours asked me if they could pray for me and i may not be a praying man but i didn't want to turn down someone else's prayers on my behalf especially since my grandma and ma could use some help on that project and we all bowed our heads and it was very humbling and moving but it did take an extra 6 or 7 minutes in which time i was maybe possibly missing the train i'd need to take to get to city hall in time for this meeting with the building commissioner and so the second i passed the threshold of their door and their sight i sprinted to my car and drove as fast as i could toward the cta and found a free parking spot sort of nearby so i grabbed it and turned my car off and sprinted out of it toward the train entrance and just as i was approaching the long stairs to the rusty b-team entrance across the street from the station i heard the roar of the train and so my sprint was worth it! what timimg! somehow i was gonna pull off the morning without being late to a single meeting! and so i pretended i was a 90s mom in front of a body-by-jake tape and i climbed up those stairs quickly and with perfect form and i got to the top and swiped my CTA card and it was empty. . . . so i ran like charles dickens down the stairs and through traffic to the proper station and tried to put money on the card but the train started pulling away. and then my card wouldn't swipe so i moved to the next ticket machine. and my card would swipe there but i also had insufficient funds in my debit account. so i swiped my credit card next but shit i forgot that card was cancelled due to fraud and i had a new one at home somewhere that i hadn't yet activated so i had to suck it up and get a lyft and by the time he got there i was scheduled to be ten minutes late to this meeting with the building commissioner which importance you can hardly overstate when you're trying to build something in the city but at least i had 15 minutes to breathe before the meeting. then i got a call from our lawyer about a small issue we're resolving and so the breathing would have to wait and go figure the call ended just as i stepped into the city hall elevator and as soon as i reached the 9th floor i saw my architect in the waiting area since it turned out the commissioner was going to be 10 minutes late too. 45 minutes later he arrived and we started and ended the meeting in about 7 minutes but the canners back in the western suburbs (and my partners and our hardworking volunteer liam from melkbelly) were just finishing up as well and i was meant to be back there by the end of the run to grab a couple cases and kegs and organize a shipment to san francisco and most importantly to give liam from melkbelly and beverly a ride home but i still had to hop a cta train from city hall back to my neighborhood to find my car and then drive out to the suburbs in snow and i didn't want to make liam from melkbelly and nicaragua wait all that time so i called him a lyft and bosko the lyft driver came and grabbed him and drove him back to pilsen while i headed out to the western suburbs to do all said tasks and on the way i spoke to a contractor who's advising us on the brewery portion of our buildout and it's amazing how fast time passes when you're on the phone and as soon as i got back to our contract brewery i loaded up my car with a half barrel a sixth barrel and 8 or so cases of our beer and drove back to stella barra pizzeria in lincoln park to drop off the half barrel that they had been requesting for two weeks and we were about to lose the handle but wait! i can't drop off beer without an invoice and i forgot to get one from our distributor so i called him and had him make one up between his drop-offs and he sent it over just as i was pulling up to a fedex near the north ave kennedy exit and i printed it out and drove over to stella barra and made the drop and then went back home and sat at a chair at my kitchen table and it was 1p so thank god jerome mcdonnell's shitty worldview program was no longer in the way on wbez so i flipped on the radio and sat.
whoa! chaos! and what a fucking ball! running a small business in the age of the internet when everyone expects everything now and everyone can get everything now and so everyone jams up every last minute of their calendar is very different from running a small business in the age of the telephone i tell ya. now, i never ran a small business in the age of the telephone, but my old man did and while he was a very busy man he was simply doing telephone and pencil work constantly and those are both tasks that one can hardly combine with more than one other thing for instance back then you couldn't write emails and work on label art while you were on the telephone between canning runs. and this doesn't mean things are more difficult these days because packed schedules don't make life more difficult they make life more chaotic and more fun. that's all.
and would you like to know more about my day? you know when you ask someone what they do for a living and they say their "an analyst" and you're like yeah well so am i every time i make a fucking decision about how to get from one place to another so what do you actually do tell me about your day well this is partly what it means when someone says "i have a craft beer company" but obviously everyone brewery's experience is different and anyway from 1p when i started listening to wbez until about 10p when my eyes started closing at my computer screen i finished last quarters books and had a call with another different attorney about a totally different thing and then spoke to an old friend who alerted me to some shithead real estate developers in chicago who are looking to take advantage of craft breweries on the northwest side and then i reached out to our *other* canner to confirm that he sent with his canning crew from kalamazoo a couple extra boxes of quad paktechs (those new 6 pack holders that cover the entire tops of cans) that we needed for a canning run later in the week but despite 4 reminder messages leading up to that day he had forgotten to throw those boxes on the truck and that's ok! that shit happens! we're all small businesses operating in a very fast-paced world in a fast-growing industry and we're all sort of in over our heads figuring out how to eek out a living doing what we love to do but now i very sorely lacked the paktechs i needed and the only way i could get them in time for our thursday canning day was to jump in my car and drive to kalamazoo and back and it was 4p and i could conceivably be back by 10p and that wouldn't be such a big deal and so i quickly made up some portable food things since i hadn't really eaten yet and rearranged all the calls that i'd needed to make that evening such that they'd work a bit better on my drive but when she heard my plan my number one woman gave me a verbal whoopin' which woke me up to some other more practical solutions and so i sent a listserv email to the illinois craft brewers guild to see if i could borrow some such paktechs and i got some responses from, like, six of our great brewer friends immediately and so that problem was mostly solved and i took my calls at my kitchen table and then at dinnertime polly and i skipped over to intelligentsia in logan square for a meeting with a new, young family friend who's got some major chops at, er, art and this thing called "visual identity" and we're always looking to evolve and then it was time for dinner but we lacked the energy and the time to cook so i just ate cottage cheese while polly roasted a sweet potato that we salted and snacked on while finishing the bookkeeping before bed.
the next morning i was up at 5a again to unload my car at our warehouse and fill it back up in anticipation of our second canning effort in as many days and also oh yeah those quad paktechs never really came through because yet again we're all working like mad men and women and people forget things! or have to de-prioritize things! and no big deal! but we had to chase some more of them in the very early morning before leaving to can but despite our best efforts we never tracked them down and then liam of melkbelly and formerly of some second floor in wicker park arrived in logan square by 7a or so and we drove up to a brewery on the north side where we brew others of our beers and just as we were pulling into the parking lot we got a message from our other canner that they were gonna be an hour late and this was problematic because liam from melkbelly and pilsen had to catch a flight to nyc that evening but before he did he had to drive a car filled with our beer back to logan square and then get in his car to head back to pilsen to drive his dog to a sitter for the weekend and then drive back to pilsen to catch the train to midway to catch the plane to new york in the snow that was was due to fall that evening. but we pressed on through the chaos and went to a diner and did some phone work and ate an omelette and then the canners showed up at the brewery but it took them an extra hour to get their equipment through the snow and into the brewery and when they unloaded the cans i noticed that the label printer (separate from the canner, of course) sent the wrong number of labels for each of the two beers we were canning. they sent more of the first beer and less of the second beer when we needed and requested it to be the other way around which was particularly problematic because we were sending cases of one of the beers to seattle and san francisco and we wanted the bulk of the packaged beer to be available in chicago of course and so we had to quickly get folks on the phone from those other states and change their orders a bit and we finally got canning underway around 1045 and finished the first run after 12p but liam from melkbelly had to jet to make his flight and so we filled up the middle brow car that he was driving and sent him back to logan square and word has it when he got there his two front tires were flat but he changed one of them and somehow he got back to pilsen and took care of his dog and made his flight. in the meantime we were doing computer work waiting for the canners to transition from beer 1 to beer 2 and when they finally did around 1p we started canning and it turned out the second beer was gonna to take twice as long to can because the pressure in the tank was lower than expected and we couldn't crank it up without further wrenching things (a small blessing since there were only two of us now) so we worked as fast as the equipment would allow us and finished in the late 3s and hustled out of there to make some deliveries of the all the pre-ordered cases and kegs especially kegs since the beer was due to be tapped *that night*!!!! but we had to work fast since we had a tasting event at binny's from 5-8p which left an hour to make 6 deliveries in rush hour traffic without any hand trucks only our arms and legs and hands and thank god for rob at heartland who took some cases and made some deliveries and covered the first 30 minutes of the event for us.
chaos! madness! beauty and activity and zen in the hum! pure joy that we're doing work that we love! healthy stress!
anyway, on my last delivery, outside tapster, as i was hurriedly scratching frozen clumps of snow off of our aluminum kegs, i encountered a stickler bit of ice. i scratched and scratched and tore at it with my frozen, raw, numb hands until it ripped away from the keg edge.
and that's how i sliced up the tip of my middle finger yesterday.
i don't think i'm gonna be able to type a lot this morning.
i don't think i'm-a gonna be able to type a lot this morning since i sliced up the tip of my middle finger yesterday.