Karma Chameleon

We hospitality workers subtly shift roles to seek the same beauty guests do.

Most people—you and me and that woman making your latte and that man turning down your bed—we want the same thing. We want to taste beauty so potent it transforms us. “She wants to hear wine pouring,” writes the poet Rita Dove,“… taste change.” We pursue that beauty relentlessly, if in different ways.

Those of us working in hospitality, however, lead double lives.

I am one of you; I am not one of you. Here I am behind the bar; there I am slipping from my post to mingle with the crowd. First I pour your wine; later I sip from my own glass. We are alike, you and me—although when I pull on my work boots, tie back my hair, and roll up my sleeves, the resemblance might be hard to see.


It wasn’t purely aesthetics that first drew me to wine—I can’t make such a romantic claim. Necessity factored heavily. At the height of the Recession, I arrived in Sonoma County with a lagging freelance business and no safety net. I felt wildly lucky, then, to find a gig working with a boutique winery. I’d soon become their first full-time employee. Seven years later, I still help run the place.

No, I didn’t come to wine just for the beauty—but I stayed for it. Continue reading

Self-Employee of the Month: Benares Angeley

Benares Finan Eshelman

With every passing day, musician Benares Angeley adds gigs to her growing calendar and spends more time on the road singing and playing old-time bluegrass. This may seem a predictable path for a girl born in a cabin built by her parents in rural Virginia, but Benares could only claim it with hard work and a willingness to let go of the alluring stability of both academia and the nine-to-five world.

From a home base of Asheville, N.C., she and her husband (fellow musician Jeff Angeley) travel far and wide to share their musical passion.

Tell us what makes you a great Escape Artist.

I just quit my job to take another job with less hours and more money …hence more hours to write and play music.

I think one of the hardest things about Escaping is realizing that you are completely replaceable. Wherever you work, from the biggest mega-corporation to the tiniest do-gooder non-profit, you are not necessary. They can find someone else to do your job and do it well, so don’t think that you can’t leave because they’d never get on without you. Continue reading