Down to Nothing, With Few Options. What Would You Do?


I’m a failure at age 25. I have failed at my career, I have no other skills, no prospects anywhere else, and no one cares enough about me to hire me. I just have to face this. Unfortunately, you can’t just be a failure. Even if you are a failure, the world still expects money out of you. And right now, if I don’t come up with $800 by October 31, I will no longer be able to pay rent. I have put this off as long as I possibly can. have no money in my bank account and no job prospects. None of my clients answer my emails anymore. I need $750 for rent, and I can try to live on $50 for the month. Unfortunately, I don’t know how to do this, and I’m terrified.

At Ask MetaFilter, a young woman with zero dollars is asking people to give her advice on scrounging up $800 this month so she can pay her rent and eat. She says her roommate will not give her any flexibility on the rent, that she has signed up for every temp agency she could find, and can’t rely on family members to help her out. “I would prefer not to do sex work, and I don’t have the looks for it, but again, if that is my only option, that is my only option,” she writes, which, oof.

The advice from commenters are numerous: Apply to all the retail jobs, get a job at a call center because they’re always looking for people, call the city hotline for job resources, sign up for sites like Taskrabbit, and sell your plasma (which, according to the story Lynn wrote for us last year, can get you around $40).

Personally, when I was in a situation where I needed to make some cash to pay my bills during the financial crisis, I started going through my contacts to see if anyone could give me a lead on something. It was a rough time—lots of people I got in touch were were having similar difficulties scraping by (it seemed like the whole country was back then). That’s when I found a gig driving a truck around the city delivering newspapers and other goods. That’s my “Mike Dang: Trucker” story for you.

What advice would you give? What would you do if you had zero dollars and seemingly few options?

Photo: Craig Sunter

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15 Comments / Post A Comment

WayDownSouth (#3,431)

Yes, it’s a very difficult situation. How expensive is it to qualify to drive a taxi?

EM (#1,012)

@WayDownSouth I think it depends what city you are in– although there are so few taxi drivers who are women, possibly because a job where you work alone at night in isolated areas ferrying strange people around poses some unappealing risks.

themnemosyne (#4,384)

I’ve been there, and let me tell you. Sex work was a strong option.

swirrlygrrl (#2,398)

I’d be putting up ads in my building and neighborhood offering dog walking, cat or house sitting, and house cleaning services since all those would pay immediately. Sell anything I had of value that I could live without (garage sale style, ebay, consignment store, pawn shop). I’d call up everyone I know and ask to borrow $20-50. Busk if I had any skills whatsoever. Rent out my room on Air BNB and stay at a friend’s place any night I managed to get takers. Take a cash advance on my credit card (had to do that once to pay rent when unemployed). Maybe even screw over my roommate – while uncomfortable, I assume that the process of eviction would buy some time, and if I was really desperate, time was what I would need.

And, I hate to say it, but looks aren’t the only thing that matter in sex work. While that’s key for top dollar “escorts,” it isn’t for everything. There are enough gross ads on Craigslist to prove that, and more fetish-indulging work (foot worship, etc.) might not even involve what she would consider sex.

This situation makes me sad.

ragazza (#4,025)

What about focus groups? Of course she would have to qualify, but it sounds like she’s in the primo target market for most things.

calamity (#2,577)

I’m backreading on the OP’s earlier questions, and man … she has been asking the same series of depressing, self-hating questions about how to relate to people for almost two years now, and then refusing to take anyone’s advice (chiefly, “get therapy” – apparently she has had single sessions with 100 therapists [??], didn’t feel a connection with any of them [although she doesn't feel instant connections to anyone, as far as I can tell, so I don't know why this was a dealbreaker], and has thereby extrapolated that therapy is useless?). Impending homelessness or not, money is honestly not her biggest problem – the problem is that she is seriously depressed and self-loathing, and is unwilling to do anything to change it. (And I know inability to help yourself is a symptom of depression – I’ve been there – but this goes above and beyond IMO.)

This girl needs to move home with her mom, get on her healthcare if at all possible (she’s 25! Obamacare!), and someone needs to physically force her into regular therapy sessions if necessary. I mean, seriously … I would PayPal money to that cause. Knowing that she exists and won’t/can’t do any of the things that WILL make her feel better is making ME unhappy.

vanderlyn (#2,954)

@calamity I want to second this comment. Despite outward appearances, this question is most definitely not about money.

Lily Rowan (#70)

@calamity Even just that question felt like more about depression than money. It’s just so hard to get out from under.

But also! On a practical note! At least back in my day, just signing up for a temp agency would never get you a gig — you had to call them every day to show willing.

Catface (#1,106)

@calamity I appreciate your research! You’re my fact-checkin’ cuz. I did the little inward eye-roll when I saw “At Ask MetaFilter…” and instantly felt guilty about it. Now I feel slightly less guilty. Is a confession/plea for help in such a forum as this necessarily partly performative, or am I just old?

@Lily Rowan, yes indeed. It’s not signing up with the temp agencies that’s the work part of it, it’s the constant prostration before them with an expression of can-do good cheer on one’s face.

AC1CFU (#4,955)

I’m surprised The Billfold hasn’t mentioned this- but what about Mturk? Amazon Mturk is a great supplement to my paltry graduate stipend. Without it, I wouldn’t be able to pay my utilities some months.

r&rkd (#1,657)

C. once set up a social worker appointment for a guy being discharged from the hospital, but the appointment was on the other side of town and the hospital was out of bus passes, and he had no money to buy one. He asked what he could do, and all she could do was shrug and show him the door.

(FYI, she would’ve been fired if she’d given him money from her own wallet.)

Fig. 1 (#632)

The “I am a failure and no one cares” talk is an instant red flag. I mean, there’s being self-aware, but this goes further than that.

As for what I would do? Sign up for EI/social assistance ASAP. Those cheques take awhile to come out. I have a bit of savings, so I don’t have to take the first job right away, but if I was in her position, I’d move back in with family. I know this isn’t doable for everyone but if you’re just balking at it as a “setback”, remember 25 is young. Your life is not over.

So much of this advice I feel depends on location, though. Here we have a wealth of service jobs so I could hustle for a bit, but once you get jammed in a low-wage situation it’s hard to climb out (work 2 jobs, mental exhaustion from menial labour etc.)

(I can rest easy, knowing the saga of Mike Dang: Trucker.)

katiekate (#1,051)

I actually have a surprising amount of friends who’ve done phone sex work, and that has always been my fallback, I’m not going to starve, move when I feel desperate. Like, I’m not going to freak out because I can always do phone sex. My friends are pretty evenly split on whether they loved or hated it.

klemay (#1,755)

So we’re just not going to talk about the fact that a woman who already says she is feeling worthless and states specifically that she doesn’t want to do sex work is being told by Billfold commenters to look into sex work?

Okay. Just checking.

questingbeast (#2,409)

@klemay We’re probably not talking about it because no one has done that. Which commenters exactly are telling her that? Themnemosyne says she was in the same situation considering it, swirrlygrrl points out the looks comment isn’t accurate, and katiekate says she personally would consider phone sex. That is all the comments about it.

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