My low paying, early morning, exertion requiring job

Five months ago, I picked up a new job: every morning, I wake up at 6am, hop on my bike, and transport 50 bagels from Beauty’s Bagels to Awaken Cafe. After a quick cup of coffee, I bike on to my next job, my real job, running a tech company.

I earn $35 a week and get free coffee whenever I want it.

When I describe this daily routine to new friends, most look at me like I’m an idiot.

“You spend all of your time working on Clef and as a hobby you’ve picked up an extremely low paying job that pulls you out of bed at 6am and requires physical exertion. Uh, what?”

When my hands are freezing on dark mornings, I often ask the same question. From a financial perspective, it’s pretty clear that this is not smart. Running a startup, time and energy are the two most important things I have — trading them for a tiny sum of money, and a free cup of coffee, is illogical. But time and money aren’t everything: from a holistic perspective, I’m convinced the benefits of taking this second job are worth it.


Since I left college and started working for myself, finding structure in my day to day life has become very important. The biggest change I’ve made has been adjusting my schedule: in the middle of last summer, I switched to an early morning wake up (between 5:30 and 7am, optimizing for 6 hours of sleep). Unfortunately, despite the promises of proponents of this approach, my body has not adapted well to the shift: every day, getting out of bed is one of the hardest things I do [1]. Having an early morning job provides a concrete task that I need to get up and do, making the mental battle of escaping my blankets much easier.


As the founder of a startup, I spend nearly all of my time with employees of other technology companies. While this community is wonderful, spending too much time in any homogenous environment can feel numbing. As part of my delivery job, I get access to two new (and very different) communities. Even if my interactions with them are limited, the exposure and human interaction just Feels Good.

I’m not the king of the world

For 90% of the day, I am my own boss. I set my own schedule, judge whether I’m being effective, and tell other people what to do. Combined with the constant glorification of engineers and founders in the tech industry, it’s easy to feel self important. When I’m delivering bagels, it’s the complete opposite. I’m just another employee. No one knows (or cares) that I’m an engineer or that I’m starting a company and only my bosses decide whether I’m effectively doing my job. Each morning, my bike ride transports me outside of the startup bubble and reminds me that most of the world isn’t so absurd.

Working hard outside of tech

I like to think I work hard. Every night, when I crawl into bed, I’m exhausted by all I’ve done that day. Working hard outside of tech, however, is…different. After a few weeks of deliveries, I realized that my hours and exertion pale in comparison to the founders of the two small businesses I work for. The founders of Beauty’s Bagels are in every morning at 5am, on their feet all day making bagels in front of a huge oven, and only take Monday off. Getting perspective on real-world hard work helps me calibrate my own expectations for myself.

Really, when I consider my second job, the earned petty-cash and free coffee is just the cherry on top.

Jesse Pollak delivers bagels and is working to save the internet from passwords. Follow him on Twitter here.

[1] Not sure why this is, but once I’m out of bed, I rarely feel tired for the day.