What was your worst job ever?
A retail position where your boss knocked down an entire rack of shirts because they weren't folded correctly? A pyramid scheme? Having to bounce around on a street corner in a giant costume and flag down customers?
Bad jobs are the theme of a new book by Indianapolis literary/writers collective The Geeky Press
, in conjunction with Vouched Books — Bad Jobs and Bullshit
Brad King, Amber Peckham (both heads of The Geeky Press) and Jessica Dyer (of Vouched Books) were sitting at YATS just over a year ago trying to find a way to expand the press beyond meet-ups. A book was the obvious choice. The conversation (and eventual theme of the book) snowballed into their worst jobs ever. King's, for example, was the first newspaper he ever worked for — where for nine months he never once saw his boss. To crown it off she only communicated through Post-It notes on his desk.
An hour and three empty plates later, the idea for Bad Jobs and Bullshit was born. Immediately, they started a call for submissions. A mere month later emails started pouring in, and the three got to work. King handled the nonfiction, Peckham the fiction and Dyer oversaw the poetry.
"Who doesn't have a bad jobs story?" laughs King. "I mean, God love the human being who hasn't worked a fucking terrible job."
And plenty of people have them. The press received 75 submissions from countries around the world, including New Zealand, Australia and various parts of Europe. Twenty-three pieces ended up making the cut.
"We had a chance to select," says King. "We didn't just publish anything we found."
Eventually a book was born, but not before plenty of brainstorming and page designing. King laid out the book himself and footed the $500 bill to have it published. Profits will be equally divided amongst the writers.
"The other part is everyone owns their copyright," says King, noting that they published under Creative Commons. "...Like I told everyone, Hollywood probably isn't going to come calling for these, but if they did, it's not my story — it's their story."
Some of those stories are not only funny, they showcase some clever writing. For example, author Matt Mullins wrote a prose poem in the style of "Tell-Tale Heart" by Edgar Allen Poe, but it was about working in a call center. Another submission was titled The racist is always right.
"Everybody kind of remembers those early jobs," says King. He added that those gruesome experiences make for great writing material.
"Bad jobs are made of the worst kinds of characters that exist, right?" says King. "I don't even have to explain to you who my boss was ... and you immediately are not only conjuring your own image of that, but you are conjuring the image of the person who was like that for you. You have that boss in your past somewhere."
The stories write themselves, but The Geeky Press isn't just in the business of writing and publishing — they have a loftier goal.
King began describing how a few weekends ago he was at the Indiana Foundation Gala, a 100th anniversary celebration where they gave away a million dollars.
"It was amazing to be there," says King. "It were dance companies, theater companies and people who work with visual art, [but] there was not one mention of writers. Of all the arts that people do in Indianapolis — and we do them really well — and people are behind them, writing and writers are not something that this town thinks about. A large part of what we are trying to do with our little collective and our little group ... is to get people to understand that writing is an art form."
(Their collective is hardly small; around 160 people attend their events or have contributed to Bad Jobs and Bullshit
Something that King wants to see happen is a collective awakening to the fact that writing exists in nearly every art.
"Theater doesn't exist without writers, art doesn't exist without words," says King.
NUVO employees' worst jobs ever
We have all had terrible jobs. To pair with this article we asked our NUVO colleagues about some of their worst jobs ever. Here they are in all their bullshit glory.
"First job out of college was working in marketing for Domino's Pizza. Back then, their ad campaign was to warn competitors' customers to "Avoid the Noid"; as the Noid was an evil gremlin that allegedly smashed pizzas being delivered to Domino's competitors' customers' doorstep. I had to wear this god-awful Noid costume and stand on busy street corners, in the middle of the summer, to flag-down cars to try to get them to pull into Domino's Pizza to buy a carryout pizza. Brutal, as the costume had no ventilation!"
— James Pacovsky, Director of Sales
"Hollister. I was 16 and made $6.25/hour. Minimum wage was $5.25 — we got an extra $1 since we paid to park at Circle Centre. The place blared Jack Johnson's greatest hits and smelled like a thousand collars all popped at the same time. The best part was most shifts, instead of being scheduled, we were on call. So, instead of making plans, I'd have to wait until 4:30 to see if I was supposed to make the 30 minute commute. My last night I had fully re-folded a floor to ceiling shelf full of sweatshirts. The manager came by and saw that I had put the Hollister emblems facing up, instead of out. She proceeded to knock all of them back on the floor and told me to start from the beginning. 'You have fun with that,' I said, as I left and didn't let the door hit me in the ass on the way out."
— Cavan McGinsie, Food & Drink Editor
"I'm not even sure of the name of the job or what my title was. I was just out of college, pissing my parents off by living at home, the economy was crashing and I was desperate for money. I accepted the first job that was offered, knowing damn well I was going to hate it. But there was this girl who worked there that I liked, and blah, blah blah — you know the story. Anyway, there I was, standing in the front of Wal-Mart, in the winter, accepting 'donations' for D.A.R.E T-shirts and other anti-drug schwag, all while my boss was bragging about how he makes money just walking through the grocery store (come to find out, the job was a total pyramid scheme hocking old Drug-Free America tchotchkes). I found out a few days into the job that the girl was involved with some other sales guy that worked there, so I skedaddeled. All I can really say to defend my decision is I was desperate, there was a girl involved and people in nice suits are persuading AF.
— Joey Smith, Events & Promo Manager
"I was an aupair in Germany once. The host dad was cool and at first the kids were nice, but the host mom was this awful East German lady who was very obsessive about how things are supposed to be done. One time I was banned from using the oven, after I had baked some chocolate chip cookies (as a reward for here terrible child for getting up from her nap in time to go pick up her older sister from school on schedule) because I had left a few crumbs on the table and the extra cookie dough in the fridge for a second batch which I didn't immediately have time for and would not fit in the oven on the first round. I apparently had left the kitchen 'a mess'. Germany as a country was cool, but that had to have been one of the worst (and short lived) jobs I've ever had."
— Casey Parmerlee, Account Executive