When Frank Harris completed his MBA degree in May of 2005, he never expected to end up mowing grass for a living. But after losing his $103,000-a-year upper management job at Lowe’s, just as the job market was crashing in December 2008, he didn’t see many other options.
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"I thought the MBA would differentiate me from anyone else," said Harris, who lives with his wife and two children in Lafayette, Louisiana. "I thought if times got tough, I’d be able to find a job or have an advantage to get out the retail industry. Every weekend, every holiday, it was a rougher life than I wanted to have. I wanted to be able to spend more time with my young family. But here we are, December would be two years down the road, and the only thing I’ve been able to do is continue to grow my little one-man grass cutting business."
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Harris says he currently has 36 customers and counting, which, combined with his wife’s teacher salary, is enough to pay the bills and take care of their kids. But he works long, odd hours, and his job stability is often dependent on the weather and the season.
"I work part-time in the mornings for a packaging company and make a little money there, particularly through the fall when there isn’t as much grass to cut. Thank God for the time change, because now I can work until dark at least. Then I get home, take a shower, plop down in front of the computer and fill out as many job applications as I can."
Harris’ wife Angela, who stayed home to raise the kids when he was making enough money to support them both, has gone back to work as a special education teacher to supplement his income and provide the family with health benefits. She also teaches in an after-school program and works as an occasional server and bartender for a friend’s catering company. The Harrises now have six jobs between them, compared to the one Frank had before.
April 2, 2010