RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
And on Wednesdays our business segments focus on the workplace. Today, after our last installment of Take Two, our story about people reinventing themselves through their work, we received a lot of mail about the coffee cart lady. Listeners applauded 58-year-old Terry Rusinow, a former gallery owner who moved to Portland, Oregon, and couldn't find a job. With entrepreneurial flair, she observed her new city's culture and found a niche.
Ms. TERRY RUSINOW (Coffee Cart Lady): What happened was I went around to the dog parks and realized everybody's standing around socializing, some with cups of coffee in their hands, nowhere near a place to get coffee. And this cockamamy idea of a mobile espresso cart kind of popped up and, two months later, here it is.
MONTAGNE: Or was. After the broadcast, we also heard from Terry Rusinow. NPR's Ketzel Levine is with us this morning.
And, Ketzel, maybe it was a cockamamy idea because there's no more coffee at the dog park.
KETZEL LEVINE reporting:
Hi, Renee. No, not if you do not bring it yourself. I talked with Terry the other day and this is the latest from the owner of Duck Duck Brew. The park is done completely, finished, quack, quack. Evidently, business was abysmal. Nobody was around the park. Now, you know, it could be because it's late August. But between making no money and the physical duress of managing her mobile cart, she decided to cut her losses and give up the park.
MONTAGNE: Well, now she put in an awfully lot of money, as she explained it to you. So is she giving up that business entirely?
LEVINE: Well, she has a backup plan. She's starting to market herself as a special-events cart. You know, she's e-mailing wineries and party planners and fund-raisers and schools, and she's hoping to get sort of half-day, high-volume gigs in the Portland area.
MONTAGNE: But she only gave the park two weeks.
LEVINE: True. Well, as she told us on the air, at 58 she is feeling that life is increasingly short. And she's not looking for a career. She's looking to make a modest income and buy herself as much free time as she can.
Now she's lucky. She only needs about $1,500 a month to cover her expenses. And she's gutsy. And that's a common theme with all our Take Two people. Now I'm not saying that they're not worried or anxious about changing careers. Many of them have no choice. They've lost jobs. They reach dead ends. But at a certain point, they all take a risk, even if that risk is simply acknowledging that what they've been doing no longer works.
MONTAGNE: Well, good luck to Terry Rusinow and hope the venture actually ends up working out for her in the end, in whatever form it's in.
What about this week, Ketzel? Who would you like to introduce us to?
LEVINE: I've got a young woman who is in the middle of reinventing herself on a fishing trawler in the Gulf of Alaska. So you may have to work a little bit to understand her.
Ms. BREA EVANS: As soon as I ne--like I got a little nauseous the first couple of days from seasickness, but I feel fine now.
LEVINE: Via satellite phone, this is 24-year-old Brea Evans(ph). And when we talked last, she was aboard the Alaska Warrior, literally standing in tons of Pacific Ocean perch. Brea's working as an observer, monitoring what kinds of fish are being caught and in what quantities, and she's filing reports for the National Marine Fishery Service. She's also collecting samples for determining the age of fish, and evidently she's got a talent for removing ear bones.
Ms. B. EVANS: It's real hard to find them because they're real small compared to the fish, and you have to like cut right at the exact line and then you kind of search for them with the tweezers, and it's fun.
LEVINE: It's fun?
Ms. EVANS: But I've gotten really good to where I can just make a cut real quick and pull them out within, like, 30 seconds.
LEVINE: She is on a different planet from where she was three months ago, when she worked as a research assistant in a windowless lab at the University of Texas at Galveston. She was making about $28,000 a year and life was stable. Evidently, a little too stable.
Ms. B. EVANS: With my old job, I just--I felt really stuck doing the same thing over and over. And with this I think I'm going to have a lot more choices and a lot more options.
LEVINE: She could go into commercial fisheries management or she could pursue a career with the National Marine Fishery Service. When we talked, though, in the middle of six weeks at sea, during which time she had no access to a phone for personal use, the only pressing issue for Brea Evans was getting to land and calling her folks.
Do you miss them?
Ms. B. EVANS: Yes, very much so.
LEVINE: Would you like to send them a message?
Ms. B. EVANS: That I love them. But I don't know if they're listening or not.
Ms. TERRY EVANS (Brea's Mother): Oh, I have just been dying to talk to her. Did she say that she was getting seasick or anything?
LEVINE: Only the first couple of days. She's over it now.
Ms. T. EVANS: Oh, well, that's good.
LEVINE: Brea's mother's name is Terry Evans. She's 50, lives in Denver and she's worked in computer-related systems ever since she graduated from high school. Terry Evans says she's never really thought of doing anything else. Her daughter is the brave one.
Ms. T. EVANS: In some ways I kind of live through her and her adventures that she does, because it's something that I never had the opportunity to do or probably never will. But I told her grandpa the other day it's like, why couldn't I have raised a normal daughter that, you know, has a 9-to-5 job and likes to go shopping with me?
LEVINE: That is not happening, at least not before mid-November. Until then, Brea Evans, her daughter, is booked solid on the high seas; a job she expects to hold on to for one, maybe two, years, making $130 a day with absolutely nowhere to spend it until her next vacation on a warm Mexican beach.
MONTAGNE: And that is, of course, NPR senior correspondent Ketzel Levine. If you've missed any installments in our Take Two series, you can give them a listen at npr.org.
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.