When your Side Hustle goes so Wrong…

Brad Chisholm
3 min readMar 11, 2020


Photo by Brad Chisholm

A few weeks ago I went out to buy hand sanitizer and there wasn’t any.

But I’m a genius, so I figure I’ll make our own, make a big batch and we can sell it. Hysteria = Opportunity, right?

I have a bunch of empty jars left over from my “Let’s make California Pesto out of lawn clippings” project. The Vegans will eat it up. That one was going really well. I sourced special unobtanium micro-mesh from Yugoslavia that would filter out any dog poo, and I was golden.

“What about dog pee?”

That’s the last time I share an idea with anyone.

As I was saying I had all these jars. In the garage. In the hallway, in the laundry room… I’d heard a certain vodka maker on the radio trying to dissuade people from using his premium vodka to make their own sanitizer, because it wasn’t strong enough. Marketing suicide right there, Mr. Premium vodka maker.

I knew just where to go. There was a 90 year Polish guy on the end of the street who had been in a Soviet camp and had survived by making potato vodka and bribing the guards. Long story short, I knew he made the real deal because there was a hole in his driveway where he’d once dropped a bottle, and if you put your ear to it you could hear people speaking Mandarin.

I bought his whole last batch and got to work. I found a recipe on the internet (kind of missed that red flag) which said you needed to offset the harshness of the vodka with aloe vera. I have no idea what aloe vera is, and, being a guy, I wasn’t about to ask anyone, so I waited until dark and stole all the avocados off a tree on the next block.

Production went smoothly. I was practically living in my garage anyway after the California Pesto fiasco so I was able to work nearly two hours a day on it. Then it struck me that I needed a competitive advantage. It should smell nice! So I went through my wife’s bathroom and gathered up all the old perfume bottles with like an 1/8 of an inch at the bottom. Chanel, Hermés, Chlorox…

I’m done. Smells great. Has a pale green glow from the avocados. In fact I closed the garage door and and turned off the lights. All those glowing bottles looked really cool.

Now all I need is a name and a logo. Screw that, that will completely blow my budget. Instead I took a thick black Sharpie and drew a black ‘X’ on each bottle. ‘X-itizer’. What a great name. Yeah it took a while, but when you’re watching ‘Kitchen Confidential’ time passes. (Trust me guys, when you get cable make sure you wire up the garage.)

The only thing left to do on the way to the Beverly Hills Farmers’ Market was to swing by the car dealer and swap out the loaner for my own car which I’d left to get the clock changed for daylight savings. Always something, right?

I loaded up and hit the road. I was so happy and confident about the X-itizer that I thought I’d have a cigar to celebrate.

Like I said, the car was a loaner.



Brad Chisholm

Brad Chisholm’s novels include K-Town Confidential (2018), Kat & Maus (2018) and Dash & Laila (2020). He is published by Black Rose Writing.