I know people who do interesting things for money, and by that I mean employment beyond a TPS report-based occupation in a cubicle. Those are what I call jobby-jobs. What I’m talking about is this scenario:
Me: What do you do?
Me: I know there are stories! TELL ME YOUR STORIES.
I love a good work story, provided your work is a little bit bonkers.
One guy I know snowboards for a living, another one blogs about booze. There’s the family friend who was CEO of Court TV; a medical marijuana dispensary owner; and the head of a mental institution. I’ve met an actual rocket scientist (a guy who made “being a dick” his secondary job), and a veteran soap actor on Young & The Restless (nicest guy ever).
I know a performance artist who scares the shit out of me, and a professional drag queen who makes even the smallest thing (things like dressing, pooping, driving to Starbucks) look like a Pride Parade on the 4th of July. And their work stories! Part genius, part insanity.
Some of my friends have earned nicknames for their interesting jobs: The Button Beast, Mr. Anti-Drug, The Ugly One, P-Waxa.
The Ugly One used to work for Deja Vu – “100 Beautiful Girls & 3 Ugly Ones!” – and yes, she was one of the uggos. Her stories gave me what can only be described as ‘rollicking pleasure Tourette’s.’ She traveled all over the country blessing the Deja Vu chain with her very special talents: Being a 5 in the Looks Department and a 10 in the Body Department. She shook her ass all the way through a Master’s Degree in Psychology, and now has one of those jobby-jobs.
Mr. Anti-Drug is a guy who makes his living off of white tech guys who are into cocaine. What sets him apart from other drug dealers is that he’s totally into AA; he’s been sober for probably 10 years now. He drives an electric car, has a nice family, likes hiking and soccer, and sells drugs to pay the mortgage. The stories I love are his varied responses (read: lies) to the question, “So what do you do for a living?”
The Button Beast actually gets paid to, yes, collect buttons. She deals in antiques and rarities – still, buttons only – meaning she meets some kooky characters while being one herself. She told me a story once about a $4,000 button she found in a Manhattan attic that belonged to a historical figure; that button is in a museum now.
I happen to work with P-Waxa. She’s an esthetician who specializes in Brazilian waxing, and sees more front parlors in one day than most men will see in a lifetime. One day, after lunch, I heard her call my name from the waxing room.
P-Waxa: Psst! C’mere!
Me: What’s up?
P-Waxa: Dude, check out my delicious junk!
If you’ve never had the pleasure of a co-worker saying “Did you see my labia today? YO-LO!” in the middle of your job while pointing at their vagina, you should probably get a new job because it’s seriously awesome.
The reason for this Human Resources nightmare was actually October 31st. Like some kind of pubic artisan, she had dyed her lady biz to look exactly like candy corn: white, yellow, orange. Hence the delicious junk and, oh hey, Happy Halloween!
One of my favorite work stories involved a girl named [redacted]. Let’s just call her Diamond Lightning, a name I found on the Random Stripper Name Generator, because she was trashy and hopeless and had dead stripper eyes.
First off, Diamond Lightning was crazy and a little bit off. I don’t mean ‘Loses it in a shopping mall and guns down the town,’ but the kind of crazy that men wanted to get with and then quickly get away from. She was obsessed with her new fake boobs – a gift from some creepy old dude who bought them for her in exchange for something she hadn’t quite given up yet – and loved to drink and drive.
I repeat: She loved to drink and drive and then brag about it.
Me: Why don’t you just get a beer with the girls after work?
Her: Boring! Plus I have to get home to my daughter.
Me: But it’s…illegal? And, you know, dangerous?
Her: Only if you get caught, amirite?! Plus I have a travel mug to put my beer in.
Me: So you’re drinking, driving, and bar-tending?
That’s when she high-fived me and I knew we couldn’t possibly be friends. Afterward, my hand was like WHAT THE FUCK, HOW COULD YOU DO THAT TO ME and I was all I DIDN’T WANT IT ANY MORE THAN YOU DID and then my hand made me wash it a hundred times because we both felt physically, mentally, emotionally, and morally ill.
For how much attention she got from the menfolk, Diamond Lightning couldn’t seem to keep a man. It didn’t help that some of them were already married or taken. She was a wayward stop for some, a fling or indiscretion for others. Her baby daddy was out of the picture, and she had a host of other problems. I often felt equally sorry for and baffled by her.
One time, Diamond Lightning’s man broke up with her. He was tired of cheating on his girlfriend, and wanted to give their relationship a chance. He called with the news and this was her measured response:
1. Drink 12-pack of beer around midnight.
2. Drunk-drive over an hour to his hometown.
3. Order two meals from Jack in the Box.
4. Eat both meals.
5. Drive to his house. Wait.
6. Take a dump on the hood of his car at three o’clock in the morning.
At this point in the story, I had some clarifying questions. How much beer could this chick actually drink without being pulled over? What two meals did she order at Jack in the Box? Did anyone in the neighborhood see her squatting on top of his Mustang, patiently waiting for her revenge to take shape? Did she have toilet paper, and if so, did she leave it on the hood? If she didn’t have toilet paper, then did she wipe her ass on his car door or what?
I also felt a little starstruck; I really like a girl with gumption. I thought DIAMOND LIGHTNING IS AMAZING, WE WILL BE BEST FRIENDS FOREVER because girls like that – girls with giant balls, high tolerance, no filter or sense, and nothing left to lose – are a black sheep-unicorn hybrid who should totally be my friend. In the end, I thought it best to keep my distance, in case I ever pissed her off.
The best part about this story: it isn’t even mine. Diamond Lightning gave our manager a ride home once – before that manager knew her very well – and this was the story she told on the way home in response to the question, “So what did you do last weekend?”
Then that manager told me, incredulously, what had transpired.
See, work stories are the best.