The Paper Route

 

There was a point when I was in elementary school that my mom was pretty much my best friend. When I first started school and she still had her paper route she would sometimes let me stay home sick so we could play hooky. We’d get McDonald’s for lunch and rent movies like Splash from Blockbuster. We’d laugh and joke. Probably make fun of things as we were wont to do. There’s a scene from the movie “Say Anything” when Diane Court’s father is trying to figure out what’s going on with her and he implores her, “You know you can say anything to me.” That’s how it was with my parents, I could say anything to them. 

I remember once I got old enough to start going out with friends and start making big girl mistakes they sat me down and told me: No matter what you do, what happens in your life whether you kill someone, get pregnant, rob a bank, anything. We will help you. I never forgot that.

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Trailer Haven

When I was really little, before I started school, mom worked a paper route and many times I would go with her. She would wake me up at three in the morning, make us each a cherry Pop-Tart wrapped in a napkin and a little glass of milk for the road. We would drive out to a bank where all the paper deliverers met and rolled their papers for the morning. Then we would drive through the Trailer Haven trailer park while it was still pitch dark and mom would cruise through the lanes and whip the papers out the window of her Toyota while she played Fleetwood Mac. Continue reading

Adventures in Bill Collecting

I have joined the ranks of the unemployed once again. Let me regale you with the tale of my most recent escapade into the frightening and confusing world of work.

It started the same way most of my jobs begin: with sheer desperation. I went over to a friend’s house one Friday night about a month ago and his girlfriend was talking about her new job and how much she liked it. She ran through everything that she did at work and said that they were hiring and that I should come apply.

What is this mystery job, you ask?

Medical bill collecting.

I know, I know. Trust me, my red flag went up too.  But the thought of a paycheck was so enticing and the fact that I could allay the calls from my own bill collectors (although I would miss talking to Sanjeev on a regular basis) pretty much sealed the deal.

So that Tuesday morning, I went in for my interview. The lobby was small and sparsely decorated save for a few back issues of  “Collector” magazine (who knew?).  As I waited, I magically concocted a desire to be a collector, and after a nerve wracking half-hour interview, I landed the job.

I started training the following Monday, and by the end of the week, I was out on the floor. I even took my first payment of a whopping $54.45! My manager announced it over the loud speaker and everyone clapped and cheered. Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad after all, I thought.

Over the next two weeks that feeling quickly waned. The job consists of sitting in front of a computer all day that has a smart dialer that automatically pops up with an account as it calls the person. The call will usually not be picked up and with a few quick key strokes, you leave a message. Easy. But then comes the fun part: someone picks up the phone. The first thing you do is ask for the debtor. “May I please speak with John Doe?”

Some of my personal favorite responses include:

  • “OOOHH EM GEEEEE!!! WRONG FUCKING NUMBER!!!” Click.
  • “Who the fuck is that?”
  • “Who are you and what do you want?”
  • “Who dat be on my phone?!”

But then you get the not-so fun responses such as:

  • “He died last month.”
  • “He’s sick in bed; he has terminal cancer.”

In the event that you do actually speak with a debtor, once you get through the formalities, the conversation always tends to go downhill.

Me: “So you can’t pay $13,460 in full today? How much can you pay?”

Debtor: “Not much, I’m on social security income and I just had a stroke.”

Me: “I’m sorry to hear that. Could you afford $25 a month?”

Debtor: “Maybe, I can’t move the right side of my body, so I can’t write you a check.”

Me: [What I’m supposed to say] “That’s O.K. if you go grab your checkbook, you can just read me off the numbers and we can do a check over the phone!”

Me: [What I actually say] “I’m so sorry. I will note the account. I hope you have a speedy recovery, have a nice day.”

 

I just couldn’t do it. I can’t call an 86-year-old woman in her  nursing home and badger her for money.  Or call people at their jobs and bother them every day. I just don’t have it.

But let me say this, I do realize that hospital bills  have to get paid in order for their doors to stay open and to keep serving their communities. Bill collectors serve a very necessary purpose. I, however, was not cut out for that line of work.

Back to the drawing board, eh?

 

Attention: Job seekers

With graduation right around the corner, a lot of us have begun to embark on the job hunt. This post will [hopefully] be helpful to anyone looking for a job in non-profits, writing, editing, marketing/PR, and/or journalism.

I’ve compiled a list of job websites that I’ve found so far and have included a short description of each one and whether or not they are worth a damn.

Non-profits (big thanks to Elizabeth)

Jobs and Internships

  • Ed2010.com – This is my favorite for editorial jobs, internships and freelance jobs. They tend to have the coolest magazines like Inked and Interview.
  • Mediabistro.com – Great for jobs in Marketing and PR, as well as writing.
  • Folio.com
  • Studentcentral.comThis is SCAD’s Job Magnet Web site. Allows you to narrow your search in many different ways. I found an internship on this one that led to my first publication!
  • WashingtonPost.com – This one is site specific, but very good if you’re looking for jobs in the D.C. area.
  • Monster.com – Don’t forget about this guy!
  • Yahoo Jobs
  • Craigslist.comOf course. It’s a great idea to look for jobs in the cities you want to live in.

Travel Journalism

Government Jobs

  • USAJobs.com – This one’s great if you want to work for the man.

NPR lovers

It’s also a good idea to look at the newspapers’ Web sites of cities you want to live in. Of course, these are just a jumping-off point to get you started. I want to share the love because we’re all in the same boat right now.

Happy hunting!

You’re fired.

This past Tuesday I went into work only to be met with a paycheck and the phrase, “Don’t bother clocking in.” Apparently I was fired because I wasn’t available to work the hours I was scheduled. Which, of course is total bullshit. I told the owners the week I was hired that I wouldn’t be available Halloween weekend because I had two weddings to go to out of town. Halloween was the day of their not-so-Grand Opening, and they, without voicing this to me, needed me to work that day.

My question is, why did they even hire me if they knew they were just going to fire me three weeks later? Morons.

At least I got a $270 paycheck out of the deal.

(If you’re curious where I worked, how about you do me a favor and don’t become a fan of them on Facebook. Or give them any of your money. Ever.)

 

Sorry for ranting.

Hello again, Augusten.

For the past few weeks I’ve been happily reading “The Story of Edgar Sawtelle” by David Wroblewski. It’s the first time in a long time that I’ve actually checked out a book from the library. The book is about 550 pages long, and I got about half way through, when the due date came up. At this point, you can normally go online and renew your items, but today, the fascist Live Oak Public Library decided to allow someone to place a hold on my book. My book! The book that I have invested several dozen hours into reading.

In compliance with the library’s wishes, I turned in the book today. Now, someone else may have a chance to get half way through and be thoroughly disappointed when they have to turn it in. What a load of crap.

So, now that I’m boycotting the public library, I’ve been forced to turn back to my limited collection of books. This collection contains a healthy serving of Augusten Burroughs, including one that I never finished: “Possible Side Effects.” This is another collection of essays by Augusten that recounts such jems as alcoholism, first jobs, and his first New York City pets. There is no telling why I never finished it, but I found it at the bottom of the stack and was pleasantly surprised. I love reading Augusten because I can identify with his extreme discomfort during social situations. Maybe that’s just me.

On a related note, I’m very excited for the release of Augusten’s new book, “You Better Not Cry: Stories for Christmas,” available October 27, 2009. Judging by the cover, this should be a good one.