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Only Human: Takin' care of business with Joan Axelrod-Contrada

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My father gave me one piece of good advice.

“Be your own boss,” he always said.

Both my brother and I followed in my father’s footsteps, starting our own businesses and embarking on new ventures relatively late in life. At a time when some of my friends were raving about the joy of retirement, I started a new business.

I’m a kind of innkeeper. For those of you who haven’t heard of Airbnb, Airbnb is a global business that started when two fresh out of college in San Francisco decided to install an Airhi mattress in their living room. is. They wondered if anyone would pay to stay there.The answer turned out to be yes. They named their new venture AirBedandBreakfast, but it was eventually shortened to Airbnb.

My decision to open my own Airbnb was largely accidental. A while ago we spent a weekend in Berkshire and stayed in an AirBnb.

The host was lovely, but the accommodations on the second floor of her house were less than ideal. I had to share a bathroom with her moody teenage daughter. My room didn’t even have a coffee maker. A small voice whispered in me as much as she felt this woman renting a room in her own house and making ends meet.

Still, I knew it wouldn’t be easy. If you want privacy for your guests, you need to add it to your home.

What if you spend thousands of dollars on additions and Airbnb fails?

After much thought, I came up with multiple uses for the new space, including a guest suite for friends and family, a place to recuperate from injuries, a suite to age in place, and strategies to increase the value of my home. We justified the cost by identifying the There were not one but five justifiable reasons. Besides, I fell in love with her own home during COVID and wanted to get her ready.

Like franchisees, they receive training and marketing assistance from their parent company. Self-employed, but with a safety net. Of course, the big boss sets the agenda. For example, Airbnb’s cleaning guidelines take the fight against germs to a new level of antiseptic warfare.

My Amazon Alexa helps take the hassle out of household chores. Classic rock songs like “Takin’ Care of Business” by Bachman-Turner Overdrive make you scrub and dance.

Behind the song “Takin’ Care of Business” is a story of perseverance and chance encounters, much like my own. Randy Bachman began writing songs while in his old group, The Guess Who. He got the idea for the opening verse from one of his sound technicians for the band, who was on the 8:15 a.m. train into the city.

After The Guess Who rejected the song, Bachman took it to his next band, Bachman-Turner Overdrive. They turned it down too. Eventually he found new lyrics that were catchy even without looking. While listening to the radio in his car, he heard a deejay say the phrase “Takin’ care of business”. The rest is history.

Bachman and his son Tal recently hosted a show on Sirius XM called The Musical Mystery Tour, analyzing Beatles songs. Is the show an offshoot of Bachman’s musical career, or is it something completely new?

This question got me thinking about how Airbnb fits into my life as a writer. On the one hand, it seems like a completely different job. On the one hand, it equates to my writing giving me the opportunity to meet people I would otherwise never have met.

Instead of leaving home to expand your horizons, let the outside world come to you. One of my first guest girlfriends came to town to play a vampire in a music video. A New York City nurse at the height of COVID arrived at my hideout to renew and recharge. And closer to my calendar is a pair of traveling wedding photographers. This is a profession I didn’t know existed.

Admittedly, I’ve had some rude or awkward customers, but they were few. receive high contact.

Someday you may crave middle-of-the-road music and an easy life. Now I hope that day never comes.

Joan Axelrod-Contrada is a writer living in Florence. She writes her Gazette’s monthly column, Only Human, which is published the second Friday of the month. Please contact her at