The American service industry rightfully gets a lot of grief: low pay, discrimination galore, and physical labor without any of the prestige found in other nations.
However, for writers and other artists, service industry work can be something of a godsend. Not only are the schedules much more forgiving and even flexible (other workers can often cover shifts), but the money/work trade-off can offer a solid enough exchange rate for folks whose primary work does not support their lifestyles.
As a service industry worker, we can remove ourselves from the “what do you do” narrative that dominates capitalist cultures by “doing” outside of our tipped, paychecked work: writing, reading, painting, and dancing are our lifeblood, but within the constraints of a 9-to-5–or even an academic–job, the economy of time is notoriously difficult to manage. Service jobs allow workers to leave their work in the store, bar, restaurant, food truck, etc. and to spend their off-the-clock hours as they choose (barring errands, etc.).
I’m actually really enjoying my new life in food service. Even my 10-hour/week tutoring job takes more out of me than scooping ice cream. (Another post to come on that subject.) Scooping is largely physical, and despite bodily exertion, physical work can feel almost like a form of meditation for me–interrupted, of course, by the emotional labor of acting like I care about peoples’ days. But mostly, I am able to turn my mental energy towards other projects.
And when I get home, after I wash the ice cream crust out of my eyelashes and boots, I can watch Buffy and read to my heart’s content!
So too bad I’m not ambidextrous because my scooping hand is the same as my writing hand and yowza I’m going to need to build up some tougher tendons for 8 hours of continuous scooping.
In the meantime, I’ll start typing my journal I guess.
I’ve been busy at my new job making tons of tip money and getting soaked in ice cream (yuck), but I’ve had several ideas that I will share here:
- Don’t trust people who still act like spoiled children into adulthood. Ain’t nobody got time.
- Buy your friend coffee or a movie ticket and don’t write it down or ask them for a reimbursement.
- Your friends give the best book recommendations.
- Take yourself on dates.
- Make time to be alone every day.
- Call your friends on their birthdays, or just when you’re thinking of them.
- If you are a writer, write like your life depends on it. Often, it does.
OK. Back to binge-watching Buffy and drinking tall boys like I’m 20 years old.
Hiring timelines are the worst. I was always under the impression that folks posted hiring memos when they needed a person to start working soon or immediately.
I was apparently misinformed.
Most of the jobs I’ve applied to that I’m really excited about have taken weeks to get back to me, if I’ve even heard back from them. I emailed HR at UW to follow up on a perfect-sounding position as an academic advisor in the English department. It’s been two full months since I applied, and their hiring timeline says “4-6 weeks, sometimes more.” So, you know, just checking in.
Nothing. A canned response of their hiring timeline policy. Ugh.
Not that I’m not OK with working 20 hours a week tutoring. That leaves lots of time for writing, reading, cleaning, cooking, and playing with my cat. Not to mention the other 20 hours that I spend per week on Craigslist, my various social media profiles, Indeed, and wherever else.
It’s harder to be an academic/creative workaholic since our industries are imploding. (And I don’t want to tutor spoiled high schoolers.)
How do I apply for jobs in a city that I’ve never visited? I have to rely so heavily upon the internet and the integrity of the two-page document by which potential employers may gauge my abilities. I feel uneasy about leaving anything up to others, but are my resume and cover letter others? Or digital extensions of myself?
For the purposes of finding a cool job, I will imagine that they are the latter.
Thoughts upon reading writing consultant applications? Concision is perhaps the most underrated (and underrepresented) writing skill.