Washington

Hot Leads and Lonely Stakeouts: My Day of Freelancing for the NY Post

The sky wasn’t dark but it was getting there. My phone had 8% battery charge left. My sunflower seeds were almost gone. I was sick to my stomach — with myself, the media, Internet readers. All this bullshit, because of a rumored sex tape.

I thought back to how it began — an email I thought was a prank.

Kevin,

Are you interested in working for the NY Post today? We need a local reporter to cover the Rachel Dolezal story.

Rachel Dolezal, if you remember, is the white woman who pretended to be black. Err, the transracial woman. At the time, she was making national headlines for being ousted by her parents; she was also the president of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP.

The email I received went on, outlining details of a one-time payment in exchange for eight hours of work. It was signed by an editor/reporter.

Sure, I thought. Yeah right.

Obviously my friends back in New York were making fun of me. See, two weeks prior I had moved from Rochester, NY to Spokane, WA. I was an easy, serendipitous target, as Spokane was steeped in national controversy. I promptly texted my friends and revealed the screenshot: “Ha ha. Very funny guys.”

Really, I was pissed. I was broke and desperate for work after yet another cross-country move — this time post-college. I was living in my parent-in-law’s basement with an interesting amount of credit card debt.

A text returned from my friends. “It’s legit,” they wrote. “We looked the editor up.”

Sweat dripped onto my phone as I hastily replied to the email, my fingers tapping like a jackhammer as if oil hid below my screen: “Yes, yes! God yes! I’m a broke writer in need of work! Will do nude.” I erased the draft, composing myself, returning with tempered thumbs.  

Hello, is this job still available? I have cleared my schedule for the day.

-Kevin

(more…)

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Borrowed trouble: My 30 days inside a payday loan office

The cursor blinks and a man hovers over my computer. American flag t-shirt, sleeves off — he coughs into his hands and rubs them together. He’s nervous. On my desk lies his bank statement, three pay stubs and a driver’s license. They are the only items he has in the world.

“You can do $200?” he asks. “All I need is $200.”

“I can do $200,” I say, but I’m falsely distracted: I’m typing — clicks and clacks without regard to timing or rhythm. The store is stuffy today. I’m thinking about going home. Or crawling under my desk, holding my knees and rocking. I’m feeling loansome: i.e., the mental weight from a month’s work of digging irresponsible borrowers under insurmountable debt.

“Yeah,” he says, “that all?”

Sam, who sits next to me, swivels over. She reaches to tap my computer screen, making the monitor shake, her chubby finger with a fat force. Where she taps it reads,

TOTAL LOAN AMOUNT APPROVED: ………………. $750.00

Sam turns her head, smiling at me, nodding, as if to say, “Go ahead, Kevin, you got this. I believe in you.” So I swallow. I have to find my voice again, like a shy 12 year old being forced to sing the National Anthem in front of his friends; it’s in there, but it doesn’t want to come out.

Below my computer screen is a motivational sign:

GOAL: 100% of TLA

Next to the letters is a picture of a steaming coffee cup with a pastry.

The man, waiting, now growing impatient to my silence, stretches. He looks to his right, at the signage hanging on the wall. Big, beautiful green letters,

BE A RESPONSIBLE BORROWER, TAKE ONLY WHAT YOU NEED.

“You’re approved for $750,” I say.

He pretends to think about it: “Yeah,” he says. “I’ll take it. All of it.” (more…)

Job Interview Horror Stories: AT&T Ret(hell)

“I’m a customer,” she says. “Approach me.”

I hate role playing.

“I just walked in,” she says. “I’m looking at phones. Okay. Come over.”

If I had to choose between job interview role playing and polishing a trumpet while the trumpet player is trumpeting, I would choose the trumpet. Every time.

“Hi,” I smile, but oddly, like someone is holding a shiv to my side, “can I help you?”

“I’m looking for a phone,” she says. Her name is Sally. “Something new. Something really cool.”

“Do you like iPhones?”

“Okay. Stop right there. Ask what she currently has.” This is Sandra. She’s watching from the side, a few feet over at the table we were all just interviewing me at. “Meet them where they’re at.”

It’s always wise to learn from mistakes.

“What phone do you currently use?”

“The Dell Aero.”

“Oh.”

Some mistakes I’m happy to leave behind.

“But I don’t want the Dell Aero anymore.”

“Right,” I say. “Do you like iPhones?”

ikea-job-interview

My job hunting and interview history has left me with many regrets. Like, for instance, the time I applied to AT&T as a retail representative, somewhere in Washington state, circa 2010.

It didn’t start off very well either. (more…)

ReLook: Numero Hill & The Sinking City

It’s my first week at the University of Rochester. Since I’m adjusting to my new schedule (and homework-work-load), I thought I’d revisit some old blog posts. Some stories deserve a second telling. Some deserve a better telling. In a happy (yet horrid) affair, I edited, cut, and rehashed this post. I hope you enjoy! 

Numero Hill & The Sinking City

Think about this: You live in a small town; you’ve been there your whole life. One day, it just disappears, vanishes (maybe “Vanish” is too much; how about this: “It drowns”). The city drowns.

The waters rise. All you can do is head uphill.

WASHington

Last weekend, I was asked to lead worship in Entiat, Washington by my friend Gar Mickelson who was guest speaking. The church’s usual “worship-person” was on a retreat. I’m not sure who he was retreating from; they didn’t tell me.

Gar gave me advice to keep it simple: “It’s a small church in a small town.”

On the three-hour drive to Entiat, Gar spoke to us—us includes my wife; Josh Hardy, the guitar and piano accompaniment; and myself—about some of the history of Entiat, WA, a tiny town along the Columbia River, near Wenatchee. “In 1960, most of the town had to move and relocate to higher ground, due to the Rocky Reach Dam, built just a few miles north on the river. This dam would be so powerful and so important, it would provide power all the way to Coeur D’Alene and beyond.”

The dam fulfilled its purpose and benefited many towns, unfortunately, at the cost of Entiat. The waters rose and she was of covered. The locals who stayed had to resettle uphill.

The Number Entiat

Pulling into the church parking lot, we noticed a steep and flat cliff on the side of a big hill which overlooked the town. “Numero Hill,” said a local. (more…)