Odd Jobs I’ve Considered to Subsidize My Freelance Career

Since December, when I graduated from journalism school, I have been working as a “freelance journalist.” I’ve gotten some financial help from a very generous grandmother, but as I move from Girls-hood to womanhood, the task of making a salary’s worth out of cobbled-together bits of change has morphed into a giant, cackling raincloud that follows me everywhere I go. Unfortunately, I do not have an umbrella. Forthwith, some of the more random side jobs I’ve applied for in recent weeks.

1. Closet Cleaner

It came over the transom like a piece of manna:

Dear list,

Has anyone ever hired a professional to help them get organized/clean out their apartment? Like a “clutter buster?” Please send your recommendations. Thank you!

My college’s list-serv of alumni in New York is overactive (I probably spend 45 minutes per day deleting messages), but it’s worth it for gems like these. I am possibly the most organized person on the planet on the non-OCD side of things. I promptly replied:

I’m not a professional clutter buster, but I’d do it! I’m highly organized and responsible, prone to extreme neatness. I’d charge $30/hour (negotiable).

A few days later found me in a gorgeous apartment on the Upper East Side, helping a young new mom sort her closet and lending emotional support as she filled several bags with beautiful shoes that no longer fit. $30/hour x 3 hours = $90. Plus a sweet fake handbag and some candles she didn’t want. I’m fond of candles.

2. Catering Waitress

My successful closet-cleaning application left me with the incorrect impression that people might want to hire me for manual labor. My next target—catering companies—have proven less welcoming. After a string of people, including a bartender and former waitress, encouraged me to lie about my background (I don’t yet have food service experience), I developed a resume that hinged on my experience working at “Bombolardi’s,” a “popular restaurant in my hometown.” Is this not believable? I got zero replies. However, through a complex chain of acquaintances, I was subsequently put in touch with the owner of a catering company, to whom I did not lie, and who is seriously considering my application. Keep your fingers crossed.

3. Author of Dog Training Book

Actually, this is decidedly not random. Obviously, writing is my thing; less obviously (unless you’ve met me and/or found me on Instagram), I am obsessed with my dog. I found a listing seeking “a freelance writer to author a book about at-home dog training,” and audibly yelped in the coffee shop where I was job-hunting. My cover letter included the tidbits “I am very, very fond of dogs” and “I’m quite familiar with the ins and outs of housebreaking, leash training, and puppy energy.” Let us only hope that this comes across as winning. Again, keep your fingers crossed.

4. Foot Model

I haven’t yet applied for this job because I first need my very generous and thankfully amusable friend (you know who you are, and thank you, I love you) to photograph my feet. The Craigslist ad for “Amateur/Average Girl for Foot Modeling” includes some of the most encouraging language I’ve yet encountered:

“No experience necessary”
“no one is perfect we just ask for you to be yourself”
“get appreciated for your feet and get paid for it”

Getting appreciated and getting paid? This must be too good to be true! Time will tell. The advertisers are seeking “the average appealing face with cute feet.” Would you believe me if I told you I’ve been bragging about my feet for years? I’m serious. They’re really great.

Got an odd job? CONTACT ME.


Jessica Gross is a writer based in New York City. She’s contributed to The New York Times Magazine, The Paris Review Daily, Scientific American Mind, and elsewhere. Photo: Shutterstock


15 Comments / Post A Comment

I would really love to get into the clutter buster business.

Megano! (#124)

@redheaded&crazy Me too! Except no one look at my closets.

kellyography (#250)

@redheaded&crazy Me three! My clothes are all coordinated by color, style, and season. Seriously. Though someone will probably have to teach me how to fold like Linda Koopersmith.

MuffyStJohn (#280)

@redheaded&crazy Me four. As long as I don’t have to organize my own shit, I’m a total master of the craft!

Faintly Macabre (#1,043)

@kellyography My room, desk, papers, etc are all always a mess–except for my closet and dressers, which are similarly and obsessively organized by color/style/season. (I spend way too much time debating if brown should go between grey and black or before them, among other things.) When I briefly worked in consignment, I was in heaven at basically having a giant closet to organize all day long.

Oh man if you ever find yourself in DC I will gladly pay you that rate to organize my closet. GLADLY. I have no idea how it got so bad, I don’t even have that much clothing.

If you get the foot modeling gig, make sure a friend knows where you’re going and when you should be back, because that has a 50% chance of being a dude who wants to masturbate on your feet and a 25% chance of being a dude who wants to masturbate with your feet after they’ve been removed from your body.

Which leaves 25% for “money for having cute feet!”

Rezpect (#621)

@cat ferguson@twitter I was thinking the exact sme thing!I think there is VERY little chance this is a legit “modeling” job.

@cat ferguson@twitter I’ve actually heard of the foot-fetish modelling thing working out! An aquaintance of mine says she has a set-up with a guy she contacted on Craigslist who sends her lovely, expensive shoes, and all she has to do is take a photo of her feet in them. No face, fully clothed, just a photo of feet in shoes, and she gets to keep the shoes. She said it was great.

@MilesofMountains Be especially wary of job offers from q.tarantino@yahoo.com

homotextual (#897)

I have, to this day, not met one young female freelance writer in New York who has not been approached to or considered foot modelling, performing in foot fetish parties, or just straight up having their feet masturbated upon. What is this? Have others also been subject to an alarming number of anecdotes of this ilk? Is this bondage lite? Stripping lite? Fuel for short stories? What?!

@homotextual When I was trying to make it as a freelance writer (it didn’t work out; none of the writing gigs paid, and I ran out of money and had to go back to the 9-to-5 world), I took every odd job that came along. And one day I saw a job posting for a part-time receptionist at a foot fetish place, and sent them a resume, half-assuming that nothing would come of it. Lo and behold, that night my phone rang and it was a lady from the foot fetish place calling to set up a job interview. I panicked but told her I would come in the next day to do the interview. After getting off the phone, I started pacing madly back and forth across the room, thinking, “Is this a bad road to be going down? Is this shady? What if this is MORE than a receptionist job and I’m just being naive? Do they care what my feet look like? Will I have to wear heels? I can’t walk in heels! ZOMG I’M GOING TO HAVE TO LIE TO MY WHOLE FAMILY ABOUT WHAT I DO FOR A LIVING.” And while pacing madly around the room and giving myself a heart attack, I walked straight into a piece of furniture and mangled my toe beyond recognition and couldn’t walk normally for a month. I took it as an omen that I was not meant for the foot fetish place. And I still can’t bend that toe properly to this day.

cryptolect (#1,135)

Umm… do you know anything about sewing?

MuffyStJohn (#280)

@cryptolect As a sewer I must know what you are about to recommend to Jessica!

This is the most depressing article I’ve read amongst “The Awl” websites in years.

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