The side hustle is an Adirondack tradition

Millennials, when it comes to working more than one job – whether you call it a side gig or a side hustle, a part- or full-time job in addition to your primary job – you are not special. It’s been going on for generations, and it will continue indefinitely.

Some people work side jobs for pocket cash. Most, however, work multiple jobs out of necessity, just to make ends meet.

And if you’re an Adirondack millennial, welcome to the club. You are part of a long line of Adirondack residents who have worked two, three or more jobs since before the Adirondack Park was established in 1892.

Farmers in the mid to late 1800s, for example, supplemented their income in a variety of ways, including making maple syrup in the spring, guiding campers, anglers and hunters in the summer and fall, and renting rooms to visitors in their homes before hotels were established.

The side hustle has continued through the generations. Talk to baby boomers or Generation Xers who came before you. They’ll all tell you about piecing together a living in this remote part of the United States, where there are limited opportunities.

When mainstay industries – such as lumbering, mining and manufacturing – and big employers such as the Lake Placid Club, Trudeau Sanatorium in Saranac Lake or Oval Wood Dish in Tupper Lake closed down, Adirondackers scrambled for jobs. Some left. Many stayed.

A lot of Adirondackers have taken those hard times and created their own cottage industries – selling homemade arts and crafts at events, selling homemade balsam wreaths during the Christmas season, writing and selling books, performing music at bars and dances, or making value-added food products such as candy or jam and selling them at farmers markets. The list goes on.

Many others faced with increasing debt or rising bills work one or more part-time job just to keep their homes, pay the fuel bill, go to the doctor, buy medication or put food on the table. The need is compounded when you have one or more pet. It’s compounded even more when you have children.

It doesn’t take much to find someone in this situation; they’re all around us. We are those people.

The story in this week’s Lake Placid News about millennials and their side hustles could be written about any generation – in the Adirondacks or anywhere in the United States. Yet by highlighting millennials, it shows the older generations that they were wrong when underestimating those born from the early 1980s to the mid-1990s, roughly 24- to 39-year-olds this year.

Millennials, you have been called lazy, and some say you feel entitled. Those blanket statements are unfair. There are plenty hard-working millennials, and our story by Adirondack Daily Enterprise Staff Writer Griffin Kelly – a millennial and former Lake Placid News staff writer – proves it. Griffin is a hard-working millennial himself and has worked side hustles to pay the bills or save up for things he’s wanted or needed.

Baby boomers said the same thing about Generation Xers, and they were proved wrong. The editor who wrote this editorial, for example, is a Generation Xer who works four jobs to make ends meet, including creating and selling products and services for his own publishing business.

Sadly, millennials, you will most likely pass down these judgmental feelings to the next generation, Generation Z, and that generation will say the next generation is lazy and feels entitled. It’s what generations do.

Yet it’s comforting to know, millennials, that you are not special in this regard. You are part of an Adirondack tradition of working more than one job to stay alive, maybe go on a much-needed vacation or put their kids through college. Thanks for all you do.