Workers who clock out — then clock back in

Henry West



Tom and Ingrid Sommers have been hunting with their own redbone coonhounds for eight years. Photography by Henry West

Tom and Ingrid Sommers drive to the end of the long, gravel lane heading away from their cozy farmhouse. 

Nestled in the hinterlands of Dane County, just a 30 minute drive from our state’s capital city, their home sits atop a hill, surrounded by rolling fields. Ingrid cracks the window and lights a cigarette as Tom pulls the pickup onto the road.

The sun has just sunk behind the horizon. I sit in the back seat, craning my neck to peer out the windshield as we ride into the dusk. Under the seat is a rifle. Tom and Ingrid have offered to take me along on a late-night raccoon hunt. 

We’re not the only passengers in the truck. Banjo, Irish and Boone — three redbone coonhounds — patiently sit in tow in the bed as we head toward the hunt site.


The Sommerses are electricians by trade — they own their own contracting business. However, after a long day of manual labor, Tom and Ingrid don’t quit. They slip seamlessly into the second gig they run: Hollow Oak Redbones. 

For them, when the sun goes down, another workday begins. The same goes for the other 7.6% of working Wisconsinites who hold two jobs. Whether chasing a passion or chasing a paycheck, thousands of moonlighters throughout Wisconsin aren’t stopping at 40 hours.

What could possibly motivate someone to take on double the workload? For most it’s financial reasons. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, multiple job holders tend to make less money than their counterparts with only one job.



Emma Bullard is one of those putting in extra time to make ends meet.

“People who get paid by the hour tend to work more hours, but they tend to be less happy.”

— Christine Whelan

Bullard graduated from UW–Stout in August 2021, studying vocational rehabilitation with a focus on psychiatric rehabilitation. Changing her major near the end of her college career, it was an uphill battle for her to find employment in a field that requires several years of experience for full-time roles. She landed on a part-time position with the Boys and Girls Club in Oshkosh, working with kids after the school day.

“It’s pretty fun,” Bullard says. “I like getting to know the kids’ different personalities … because I really want to work with teens [and] mental health.”

However, by the time her students arrive at their after school program with her at 2:30 p.m., Bullard has been awake for 12 hours already. Her work day starts at 2:30 a.m. picking packages in a FedEx distribution center, where she works a full shift before noon. 

Why FedEx over a different side hustle? Bullard says it’s because she needed the valuable day time for gaining experience in her field. 

“I get done around 10,” she says. “So, I still have my whole day to have another job because I have student loans I’m paying on.” Bullard averages 53 hours per week between the two gigs.

Christine Whelan, a clinical professor of consumer science in the UW–Madison School of Human Ecology and an expert on the intersection of happiness and the market economy, says the tradeoff between extra income and extra free time may not always be worth it. 

“People who get paid by the hour tend to work more hours, but they tend to be less happy because the time that they’re not working, they feel, is wasted,” Whelan says.

But she also says those who pick up a second job in pursuit of a passion often find fulfillment through it.

“If you are working out of a passion for a particular cause or goal that’s different because the work isn’t really being done for pay as much as it is being done for that higher purpose,” Whelan says.

Garth first discovered his love for beer while writing for one of UW-Madison’s student newspapers and thought it could become a reality after a “beer-cation” in Hungary. Photography by Kalli Anderson

Garth’s Brew Bar sells branded merchandise like shirts. Photography by Kalli Anderson

Garth Beyer was an undergraduate at UW–Madison writing a column about beer for The Badger Herald when he realized his passion for beer by connecting with area brewery owners. However, after graduation, he started his career at Hiebing, a Madison-based marketing agency. He also continued to work with local brewers while covering the beer beat for The Capital Times. Their dedication to the craft inspired him. 

“I wanted to do something more than write about these people,” he says. 

Finally, after a stop at a bar called Hops during a “beer-cation” to Hungary, the concept for a new bar clicked, and he returned to Madison determined to make it more than a dream.

His vision came to fruition in December 2019 when he opened Garth’s Brew Bar on the west side of Madison. Because of his love for both his agency work and brew bar, Beyer finds it easy to draw connections between the two.

“They complement each other so much,” he says. 

Beyer often finds sparks of inspiration for his business while writing and working with his ad agency clients. “I’m thinking in the back of my head, ‘Oh, that’s a good idea. I should think about that later for the bar. Maybe we could execute that.’”

Bullard doesn’t see a linear connection between FedEx and working with kids, but according to expert Christine Whelan, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to find purpose.

“Purposeful work doesn’t have to be work that you enjoy for its own sake,” she says. “It means that you are doing something for a reason, and for a reason that matters to you.” 

Bullard has a clear vision for the future and understands her current situation isn’t permanent.

“I’m fine where I’m at now,” she says. “I’m going to use this experience to advance in my field.” Bullard’s ultimate goal is working with at-risk teens in a mental health or substance treatment center. In the meantime, FedEx is strictly to help pay the bills while she acquires the skills to progress. Always in search of a quick buck, Bullard also donates plasma twice a week during the break between her two jobs, averaging her $125 per session.

Finances aren’t always the main motivator for seeking secondary employment. According to Whelan, not all second jobs are going to be paid.


“If there’s anybody thinking of quitting a job to start something new and pursue their dreams, I’d say don’t,” he says. “Do both.”

— Garth Beyer

For the Sommerses, Hollow Oak Redbones is all about their love for the dogs. The little revenue it brings in through fruitful raccoon hunting and guided hunts is just a side perk. And with raccoon pelt prices falling from $50 to as low as $1 per fur at times, that income is dwindling daily. 

Both Sommers have been hunting raccoons with friends for decades. It wasn’t until eight years ago that they decided to get their own pups. 

“The only way to make this work for us was to get our own dogs,” Tom says. 

Starting with just two dogs, their pack has been as large as 20. Currently, they own seven.

“It’s addicting,” Ingrid says. “You’re like, ‘Let’s get another one, let’s get another one.’”

If they’re not doing electrical work for their contracting business, the Sommerses are hunting, training and bonding with the dogs. The weekends are the biggest days, but during the week, they’re up before work taking the dogs on an hour-long run and returning home after work to do the same, often finding time during the weeknights to hunt or train as well. They say the best part is seeing the dogs have success.

“[When they tree a raccoon], they see you coming in, and they wanna give you a high-five and tell you, ‘I got one,’” Tom says. 

Having that relationship with the dog is something they find special. So, when you’re as passionate about the dogs as the Sommerses, there is no work-life balance — it’s all play to them. 

“We’ve never been to a movie theater together,” Ingrid says. “This is our lifestyle. We choose to be out and doing and going.” 

Beyer is also a doer, balancing his passion for beer and the bar, while being a full-time ideas man at Hiebing and raising his 10-month-old daughter with his wife. He says staying regimented and keeping his mind mentally on the task at hand is most important.

“I try to be where I’m at,” Beyer says. “So if I’m working at Hiebing, I’m all in at Hiebing. When I’m working out bar stuff, it’s all bar stuff. Likewise, when it’s family, it’s just family.”

Despite their different reasons for taking up a night-gig, Bullard, Beyer and the Sommerses have all been successful in pursuing their passions — no matter how thinly stretched they’ve been at times. Their night lives haven’t become second lives, but an integral part of their lives as a whole. By moonlighting they’ve embraced the grind, enriched their lives with new experiences and found balance among it all. Beyer thinks everyone is capable of doing the same.

“If there’s anybody thinking of quitting a job to start something new and pursue their dreams, I’d say don’t,” he says. “Do both.”


DARK page photo credit: Photography by Henry West