Weekly Roundup: McJob Edition

I’ve been thinking lately about Geoffrey Owens, the fellow in the pictures above. Owens was on “The Cosby Show” and has worked steadily in small television roles ever since. Somebody recognized him at Trader Joe’s recently and took his picture, which led to a bit of public shaming: LOL LOOK AT THIS FAMOUS ACTOR WHO WORKS A MCJOB NOW! WHAT A JOKE LOL!

When I saw the photo, I was reminded of an interview given a while ago by the rapper Big Daddy Kane, in which he said something along the lines of “If this rap thing doesn’t work out, I can’t ever get a job at McDonald’s because people will call me out all day while I’m tryin’ to serve the fries.” It also made me think about all the mysterious requirements we impose on everybody from rappers to actors to, yes, autowriters: You have to have an origin story that makes sense. You have to stay in character. You can’t display any of the frailties we take for granted in ourselves.

Luckily for Mr. Owens, it worked out. He gave a very gracious public interview in which he stated the obvious: there is dignity in work, even if you are a Yale grad with a famous face. The incident helped raise his profile and get him new roles. As a consequence of being “discovered” working at Trader Joe’s, he might eventually be in a position where he doesn’t need to work, which is remarkably ironic when you think about it.

There’s a lot of deliberate misrepresentation in the autojournalist world about how much money people have and how they got it. You have people who inherited millions out there on YouTube pretending to be self-made Internet millionaires, and you have people using their proceeds from an injury lawsuit settlement to pretend like they inherited money. A remarkable number of the better-known autojournos out there are supported by their wives. Some married into money and some married women who went on to become successful. There are other people who completely hide their day jobs in an effort to be seen as independently wealthy or simply better-compensated for writing than they are. Everybody is afraid of facing their own reality.

This is my reality: I left my last job six weeks ago so I could spend some time focusing on my racing, writing, and parenting. In particular, I wanted to focus on my World Challenge race and I had to burn a couple of bridges in order to do so. At some point in the near future I will need to go back to work. If you’re aware of any contract gigs or remote jobs in the general tech and consulting industries, please feel free to let me know by e-mailing me or dropping a note in the comments asking me to contact you. Over the past decade I’ve read many fascinating theories on the Web about how I make my living. Some say that I inherited money — I didn’t. Some say that Bark and I have trust funds — we don’t. Some people say I was a drug dealer — that’s based on a comment I made a while ago about working in the more unpleasant parts of pharma, which I’ve done.

This is the first time I’ve been unemployed since the Nineties. It probably won’t continue. But if it does, then you will probably be able to find me at Trader Joe’s. I’ll be the fellow wearing Edward Green shoes under his apron.

* * *

Last week I wrote for R&T about the NC Miata.

30 Replies to “Weekly Roundup: McJob Edition”

  1. silentsod

    careers.ball.com – Aerospace may have some openings in OH for SES (Systems Engineering Solutions, they produce software and data analytics for many other companies) and they’re also more flexible in terms of remoting to work, as I understand it. Advanced search will let you multi-select all the Ball Ohio locations and narrow things down.

    Corporate also has operations out there (maybe?) but I’m wholly unfamiliar with what they’re got going on since I work for a subsidiary.

    • Disinterested-Observer

      Too funny. Just got a device back from the shop and the ad blocker is disabled. Right in the middle of your post there is an ad to drive with Lyft. I think Jack would be perfect for it.

  2. Dirty Dingus McGee

    Re McJobs. Folks will do what they have to, to keep eating. Case in point; Sometime in the late 80’s, probably 87, I went into a local Circuit City. The salesman I dealt with was Paul Goddard, the original bassist for Atlanta Rhythm Section. He had apparently left ARS for another band a few years earlier and it didn’t work out. Did what he had to do to keep a roof over his head I guess.

    I know when I started my first business, there were some projects that I took on that I thank God I don’t HAVE to take today. But being as I like to eat once or twice a day, and have got used to having electric lights and water tight shelter……….

    Ya do what ya gotta do.

  3. -Nate

    Sadly, I don’t know enough about computers, selling new cars or writing, that’s most of what I know you do Jack .

    I _do_ know you seem to give whatever it is, your all so I’m sure you won’t have too much difficulty getting some sort of work to do .

    I discovered before age 12 that kitchen works means you’re never cold nor hungry but the rest of it I didn’t like and have never worked in a mess hall situation since by design .

    I wish I could point you somewhere .

    Taking time off before it’s too late to follow your dreams is wise, John will be there with you learning priceless life lessons as did my Son when I began taking him on jobs with me when he was 6, that was the youngest I could pry him away from his Mother .

    You’ll do fine, just remember to keep writing about whatever it is you do as it makes great primer materiel for those who come after you .


  4. safe as milk

    i have a good friend who had some breakthrough hiphop records in the nineties. he was once on the cover of the village voice. he graduated from brown. he could not get steady work for a decade. he now has a second career writing advertising copy. to his credit, he has never stopped doing, music or writing or art.

    he told me that the guys who invented hip hop survive by giving rap bus tours in the bronx to tourists.

  5. Chris Tonn

    As much as I despise my day job, and daydream of getting out and making writing a full-time gig – I know in my heart that it won’t keep the lights on.

    Art, in whatever form, isn’t appreciated enough to pay the bills for any but the incredibly lucky few.

    At the very least, you have a defined, marketable skill that is generally in demand – H1Bs notwithstanding.

    Do whatever you need to do to keep yourself sane, and to keep the kid happy. If Trader Joe’s does it (though their parking lot alone would infuriate me) then go for it.

    Though the Edward Greens may not meet the non-slip standards required of commercial food work.

  6. Kevin Jaeger

    Nice article defending the NC Miata. While I still love my NA I do sometimes consider the idea that it would be nice to have a PRHT and a sixth gear for highway cruising. But even at 250K there’s no pressing need to replace my car yet. If you don’t let them rust these are truly amazing cars.

  7. NoID

    I’m sure FCA US LLC could use someone with your particular set of skills.

    Think of it, that way TTAC could trash their favorite automotive journalist and their favorite automaker at the same time!

  8. SIV

    Shame you have to go back to a “day job”.Enjoy your freedom while it lasts!

    Always avoid any recurring billing you can’t charge off to somebody else.It’s the only reason I keep working. I don’t wanna pay that shit outta my own pocket.

  9. Steve Ulfelder

    I keep telling people about my dream retirement job: Driving the customer shuttle for a high-end auto dealership in an upscale suburb. Run you back to work, sir? Drop you at the mall, ma’am? Pick you up at noon? The thing is, I don’t want to wait until my golden years: I kinda want to do this NOW. 20 hours a week, say. Spend the rest of my time writing fiction and playing with my dog and reading books.

  10. NoID

    There’s a guy who drives one of our corporate shuttles that does exactly that, except I’m pretty sure he’s 30+ hours a week. He’s writing a sci-fi novel, but I’ve not read a word of it so I cant’ say if he’s any good.

    Being a shuttle driver or guard shack employee seems like a great gig for the semi-retired or student. Lots of downtime for reading, writing, studying, etc. I’m jealous of the amount of reading one of the other drivers accomplishes every week, he has a new book in his van every few days it seems. Meanwhile I’ve checked the same non-fiction book out of the library three times now, including multiple renewals, and haven’t finished yet.

  11. dejal

    When this story first surfaced I felt sorry for the guys dignity with the finger pointing, not the fact that he was willing to work a job far beneath a previous pay grade. He was very gracious is explaining his current situation. I commend him for doing what he had to do.

    AND still people had the snide remarks. He’s a lot better person than the people who wrote about him and web sites or papers that had stories about him with “Look at the loser”.

    About the only way “Look at the loser” works is if on the way up or at the plateau he was a well known dick. Then it would be karma (which doesn’t exist).

    • hank chinaski

      Covering it at all, even in a good light, still smacks a bit of ‘look at the loser’, which is why it made the radar. It’s probably at least indirectly tied to Cosby’s sentencing. If a white Chad, there would have been open contempt, this week in particular.
      Similar, the no-makeup, middle age sag tabloid candids of aging starlets. Everybody loves to hate on the Becky’s and Stacie’s.

  12. Thomas Kreutzer

    Sounds like autojournos and candidates on the Democratic ticket have a lot in common.You have to come from real hardship to be a success at either and perhaps that’s why I have done so well for myself over the years.

    You see, it’s part of the promise of America, that I, the son of a turd farmer, the grandson of a goat ball licker could one day leave those worthless hicks behind while using their story as my own credibility!

    with apologies to Stephen Colbert…

  13. Robert Patton

    Trying to post a comment. They get caught in never-never land?
    Will type again. Jack would love to have you do some writing for my Turbo Diesel audience.
    You’ve got the email address. Please contact.

    Thanks Robert Patton

  14. Burly Scud

    Stripe might be interested. They’re a very interesting company with a very different leadership team from most of Silicon Valley but they might need a more regular commitment than you can offer.

  15. DougD

    I’m on the same tour for 15 years now. Not quite as interesting as it used to be, no more trips to industrial South America or Asia but I worked hard to curtail that when the kids were born. It’s my second tour at this company, never burn a bridge.

    Now my son is doing a gap year between high school and uni, running outdoor ed programs for a kids camp. Just think, a whole year more mature when he hits post secondary, a year’s worth of forced interaction to brush up his people skills, lots of outdoor work and forty (count ’em, thats forty) bucks a week.

    Maybe they need some year round staff at Ohio Dreams..

  16. scotten

    That auto “journalist” cum YouTube star referred to proves you can make a small fortune if you start with a large one.

    • Netsy

      He’s out there working, though. Mr. Injury Settlement does his thing, seems to put a lot of effort into it, and it’s fine and I enjoy his work for what it is. I don’t have the hate boner for Mr. Injury Settlement that Jack seems to have. Then again I’ve never had any personal or professional interaction with said YouTube star. But if Mr. Injury Settlement is making a living off of what he’s doing, then that’s what the market supports and Jack and the rest of us just have to accept that. America!

      • Jack Baruth Post author

        I think he has found his niche in video, the same way another no-talent no-hoper has found his niche charging entry to a ripoff of Akron’s Superfly show. I don’t care what they do as long as nobody has to read them.

        • Netsy

          I like that I can enjoy both Mr. Injury Settlement’s videos and Mr. Baruth’s articles here on Riverside Green. I think there’s room for both in the world. And I appreciate that your work is more thought-provoking, Jack. It challenges me and I like that.

  17. Mike

    The wholesale auto auction biz is going through it’s “disruption” period now, you might find it interesting. A few tech startups think they can make the Manheim and Adesa lanes obsolete by becoming a sort of eBay for wholesale. The company i work for was acquired for big bucks last year and is hiring for 100+ positions over next year, everything from programmers to field team. There are some remote contract positions out there.

  18. Matthew H

    Sometimes I give thanks for my ignorance, as not knowing the identity of Mr. Injury Settlement, Mr. Trust Fund, and Mr. Charges admission for a rip-off of Superfly means there are three less people I don’t have to despise. Geez, I miss car shows though-I sure would like to see what the 16 year old kid (With impeccable manners, adult-level speech, AND a complete absence of vaping accessories!) I met last year with an SC400 has been up to.


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