I Think I Got a Job

Day 4 | $0 paid | $90,717 till freedom

Human Chariot
I just got back from an interview at a local pedi-cab rental place. The guy who interviewed me, we’ll call him John, was working out in the shop, fixing some pedi-cabs, wearing an off-white v-neck undershirt and some grease-stained jeans. His thick-rimmed glasses and very full beard made me think he was going for a hipster look. I’d put him at about 30.

I went there directly from work, wearing black slacks and a green tucked-in LaCoste polo, and I think he was a bit put off. I don’t know if he took me for an undercover auditor or what, secretly investigating his certification process, but my clothes, combined with way I grilled him about the paperwork required–driving record, criminal record, defensive driving, then go apply for a chauffeur’s license–was probably enough to make him think twice about my actual desire to drive a pedi-cab. But my desire to get it right was serious and legitimate–I really don’t want to miss any steps in this important process. The sooner I’m pedi-cabbing, the better.

I asked John about the level of saturation in the pedi-cab market. He replied that it’s getting pretty busy, but he regularly goes out on a weekend night and has no problem pulling down “a bill, a bill 75.” He then proceeded to tell me that if I haven’t broken a “bill or bill 50” by the end of my first month of pedi-cabbing, then I’m doing something wrong, and this line of work probably isn’t for me. I felt just the slightest bit of judgment in his tone, as if an Excel jockey and Fortune 50 inbox fighter  might be out of his element riding a pedi-cab around the streets of downtown Austin, trying desperately to make a respectable earning.

On my way out, I walked past another applicant who was tatted up and far more dressed down than I was. I doubt he got the whole “doing something wrong and this line of work probably isn’t for him” spiel.

When I got back to my car at the end of the meeting, I realized that John hadn’t asked me any questions, other than the validity of my license. And since I just had an interview at work yesterday for a different day job, I naturally started drawing comparisons between the two interviews. And yes, John did call today’s meeting an “interview,” so I’m going to go there.

Today’s interview took place in a warehouse/garage surrounded by a barbed wire fence, the interviewer was wearing jeans and an undershirt, the interview lasted about ten minutes, and I wasn’t asked any questions. Yesterday’s interview took place in a conference room that I was escorted to by the hiring manager’s receptionist, the interviewer was wearing slacks and a polo, the interview lasted a full hour, and I was grilled with behavioral questions–tell me about yourself, why do you want this role, why should we hire you, tell me about a time you thought creatively, tell me about a time when you had a positive impact on customer experience, tell me about a time you led a group to achieve results, etc.

I mean, I get it–John doesn’t really care about me since he’s getting paid no matter what when I pay the $35 for the pedi-cab. I guess I just question his use of the word “interview.”

Anyway, I think I got the pedi-cab job, but I’m not sure…I didn’t get an exploding offer letter detailing my salary, signing bonus, stock options, and relocation package to move closer to downtown. On the plus side, we did shake hands and he did say I  could come back and rent a pedi-cab from him. So, I think I got a job! Yay!

Weekend Delivery Man
Still no word on the weekend delivery man job. I think I will dedicate this weekend to going after a different weekend day job. Maybe I’ll leave the resume out of my cover letters going forward.

To Gladiate
So I was searching Craigslist under the “gigs” category, and I ran across what I thought would be a hell of an opportunity.

Title: Hiring Gladiators. $1000 (Austin)
Description: Hiring men built like an American gladiator ages 18-39 with lots of muscle weight between 175 lb and 230 lb. Apply with photos showing your muscle if interested.
Compensation: $1000

Um, AWESOME. American Gladiators? Are you kidding me!  That show melted my freaking face off when I watched it back in the day. Those dudes got to joust each other, run through obstacle courses, get shot at, and shoot guns. And you’re saying I can get paid to do that? One thousand flipping dollars? I am IN. Where do I sign? I immediately shot a couple pics over from the last time I was out on Lake Travis.

Less than five minutes later, I got an email back.

From: <undisclosed>@aim.com
Sent: Sunday, August 28, 2011 11:45 PM
To: <undisclosed>@gmail.com
Subject: Re: Hiring Gladiators. $1000 (Austin)

Hi,

This is an erotic project. If you are still interested, please send some full nude photos showing your front, side and rear views.

Patrick

Oh, that kind of gladiator. I see.

But you know, this raises a very important question of morality. It also conjures up stereotypical images of a college girl stripping on a pole “for her tuition.” I mean, if a girl is attractive and takes care of herself, is she going to go down to Joe’s Crab Shack and make $8/hr, or is she going to go to Joe’s Sugar Shack and make $80/hr? Obviously, it depends on the girl and her background. My cab driver from the other night told me he bumped into his ex-girlfriend the other day. She told him that after they broke up, she had become an escort, making $250/hr, and that she would never again work a job where she makes seven bucks an hour.

Anyway, here’s where I’m going with this: I’ve had a couple of strangers come up to me at the gym, compliment me on my physique, and ask about my diet and work-out routine. In fact, the very first comment on this entire blog was from a homosexual buddy of mine who suggested I consider porn or escorting to pay off the loans. I think he was only half-joking. So, yes, I could do something of a more “physical” nature and make $1,000 bucks to show some skin. 90 days of that and I would be in the  clear. And I could continue to live large, go out with friends, keep my stocks and IRA, and have a roommate. Digging deeper into Craigslist gigs and reading only slightly between the lines reveals a lot of similar opportunities. The money is there, waiting to be had.

The thing is, I don’t struggle with this alternative at all. This isn’t something that keeps me up at night–the question of whether or not I should do this kind of gig–it doesn’t even represent a decision point for me. It’s a very bold and very clear “No, thank you.” But for some people who have gotten themselves into a mountain of debt, it appears to be the only answer. And honestly, I do kind of get that now.

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21 Comments

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21 responses to “I Think I Got a Job

  1. I was wondering what type of gladiators can make $1,000! Have you tried to get focus group gigs? These can pay very well ($50-$200 per session) if you qualify, and many of them are during the evenings or are assignments you can do over the internet. Search for “focus groups” or “market research” in Craigslist’s Gigs section. I’d also rent out your spare bedroom.. it won’t be forever, and that extra $300-$500 (not sure what the going rate for a bedroom is in Austin) can really add up. That’d be $4,000+ a year to throw at your debt.

  2. Hey, I found your blog through Ramit’s tweet. I’m paying off what started as a $93,000 loan courtesy of a Master’s from Columbia. I’m now down to $75,000. While I’m sorry that you’re loaded down by debt too, I must say that seeing others in my situation does bring me a bit comfort in solidarity. I started editing research manuscripts on the side through http://www.journalexperts.com, as my background is in public health and academia. So far I’m averaging about $350 extra a month aside from my full-time job. You’ll probably make more as a pedi-cab driver, but the cool thing about the editing is that I’m constantly learning and improving my writing and editing skills. I’ve also dove headfirst into all the personal finance blogs and books out there – Dave Ramsey, Suze Orman, etc. I have to thank my debt for pushing me to learn about it, because coming from a health and music background, it wasn’t that important to me before!
    Good luck on your goal!

    • $350/month is not bad at all. how long do you spend each month on that?

      • Hard to say – I haven’t been tracking, though that is a good idea. Last month I made $400 for 9 papers. I’d say I normally spend about 2-3 hours on average per paper and then another 30 minutes to come back to it and scan it for any errors. It can be a bit stressful because of the deadline aspect, but I think a part of me likes the adrenaline rush of it. You could get a side gig there too – though not social at all, but I love it because I’m always learning something new. They require editors to have a Masters or above from 1 of about 25 schools (of which Harvard of course would be on that list).

  3. Nancy

    Love reading your blog! You have a great writing voice and should look for freelance writing gigs (Yahoo contributor network, etc.). Please don’t send your photo out, especially in response to random craigslist posts. It makes me nervous for you, and now I have a vested interest in your well-being! I am on a similar mission (down to $54K in student loans from $80K in January), so keep up the good work and let’s see who gets there first!

  4. Gimena

    Going for a big win here… Have you tried to consolidate your federal loans?
    I lowered my interest rate to 2.25% from 6%. Before you pay off that citi loan, run the calcs to see if you would be better off paying the 7.9% federal loan as the consolidation interest rate will be based on you current federal loan interest rates.

    • Gimea, where did you consolidate at? What year? I have some friends that consolidated at that rate, but it was in 2003-2005. My buddy that consolidated more recently paid 2.25% on top of the prime rate. I’m afraid to do that because while it would lower my rate now, interests rates could go up in the future pretty quickly.

    • If I were going to carry on with these loans for many years, I’d look into it. But I want to close them out by June, so not sure it’s worth the hassle. Was it a hassle?

  5. Sarah

    Is there any way you can use the degree that got you the loans in the first place to pay them off faster? If you have an MBA from Harvard, I’d imagine that you could do freelance consulting for a lot more than what you’ll make per hour with the pedi-cab.

    I found your blog through I will teach you to be rich, and that blog writes a lot about starting side-businesses to generate extra income. If you put time into that you might actually gain some traction in your field as a bonus. Have you thought about it?

    • Sarah, you’re right, I probably should and could, but I want to do something fun, and consulting does not seem like fun. My buddy and I did start a side-business doing landscaping. No customers yet, but it just launched a week ago, so we’re still hopeful.

  6. Hi I also found your blog through Ramit’s tweet. I want to give you some support and say YOU CAN DO IT! Although our debt load is smaller than yours in comparison, my husband and I are still proud of the $8,000 reduction of credit cards, auto loans, and student loan debt we have made – and we paid for a $12,000 wedding in cash. I have $7,000 in student loans left and plan to be done by this December – I work a couple hours on nights and weekends doing tax prep work and managing a band in addition to my full time job.

    It’s tough, but just keep thinking about that huge sigh of relief you’ll take once you’re done! I’m rooting for ya!

  7. I am reading your blog from start to finish, and have started my own, due to Mr. Money Mustache and yours. As a teacher in Las Vegas, though, I found this particular entry intriguing.

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE children, and have started “nannying” (aka babysitting) and tutoring for my “side jobs.” The person whose children I care for the most is a cocktail waitress at a “gentlemen’s club” in town, and it has definitely made me think about the whole conundrum. When she walks in at 3 or 6 am with a handful of hundred-dollar-bills, it’s a bit dizzying to realize that she just made that in a night.

    I’ve also done the “Craigslist skim” and been shocked at the “opportunities” that awaited me, as a young, slim girl in her twenties.

    Still, I was also raised in a very Christian family, though mine was of the Protestant sort, and had an upbringing similar to yours. After moving five times by age ten and traveling abroad and all over the States, I cannot WAIT to pay off my debt and move overseas. Even so, I know I could never jump on one of the many “lucrative” gigs in my town!

    When I decided to move here with Teach for America from small-town Georgia, I knew that wasn’t an option. I was, however, fooled by the materialistic society here, till some rough times woke me up this past year.

    Your story is immensely encouraging, and as I seek to knock out 30k on a teacher’s salary, I believe that it’s possible in large part due to you–I jumped around and read the end of your story before backpedaling!

    Thanks for having the courage to be unusual–and for resisting those Craigslist ads! You would’ve felt really lame when the bonus came through if you had “gone there”!

    • Wow, your story about the cockail waitress is nuts…I know a girl who does a similar job here in Austin and she definitely makes mad stacks of cash. There’s a trade-off (or two), of course.

      Hopefully your wake-up call wasn’t too harsh. And I’m happy that I can provide the inspiration for you to git ‘er done (as they say in Texas)! Good luck getting overseas.

  8. Leslie

    I love your phrase “Excel jockey and Fortune 50 inbox fighter.” Still, that’s a certain kind of gladiator too, right?

    When I was looking for jobs, I definitely filled up my schedule with Craigslist ETC focus groups making $50 bucks here, $100 bucks there. It was actually kind of fun too.

    Really enjoying your blog. It’s inspiring!

  9. Pingback: Start at the Beginning « Student Loan RAGE

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