Ask a Debt Collector

I did not plan to do this job; it’s not related to my degree and I thought it would feel scuzzy. Now I’ve settled in as a career collector, and have learned a ton from it.

First things first: DO you feel scuzzy about your job?

Most days: No, surprisingly. My debtors mostly owe for things like jewelry, store credit cards, or car accidents caused by their own carelessness. I have few qualms about holding people accountable for their own irresponsibility. However, if a funeral home ever contracted with my office, I would probably cry before/during/after every call.

Debt can legitimately happen to good people, and I do feel [...]


Deadliest Catch, Indeed

How to stay alive at the office: don't use a ladder, don't go on the roof, don't take the stairs, and don't stand on top of a non-moving vehicle. Just stay sitting down and also don't fish.


Field Working Through the Corners

Working "in the field" or going on work trips makes up about 40 percent of the work I’ve done at my current job. The other 60 percent is generally spent sitting at a desk writing technical reports and emailing clients with occasional breaks when I read articles on websites and never comment on them. While I appreciate the variety of work, I prefer being in the field, especially a type of field work that involves monitoring the noise levels generated underwater during a particularly loud-ass construction method: pile driving.

I had no clue what this meant when I was starting out at our company. Turns out, building bridges can [...]


“He’s a girl!”

The final frontier: female doorpeople!

A cynical person might accuse the New York Times of forcing a handful of young women into the job in hopes of a new excuse for writing about doormen.

June 24th, 2012 – Getting Started – Care and Handling of the Doorman

Dec. 25th, 2011 – Did You Give the Doorman Enough?

Sept. 7th, 2011 – Why I Needed a Doorman

Dec. 27th, 2010 – Dear Doormen – Thank You, Again and Again

Dec. 21st, 2010 – A Guide to Doormen Gift-Giving

Apr. 25th, 2010 – Why Doormen?

Apr. 21st, 2010 – The World of Doormen [...]


Ask an Archivist, Part Three

(Previously: Parts one and two.)

I want to find cool archivish things, but Googling never works, and even when I put key words into a specific archives’ website, I come up empty … Why can't I just enter in the name/subject I want and get ALL the archives on that topic?

This is a very good question, my lovely, but one that is the bane of An Archivist’s existence. A mere 10 years ago (yeah, I know, that’s half your lifespan, you perky 20-year-old, but trust me, it’s a BLINK) such a question wouldn’t have even occurred to anyone to ask. Up until the arrival of Google [...]


Every Reservation

12:30am: I'm standing in the taco truck framing up the bar's door expecting Bourdain to walk out and wander up to the window. I can hear him on the wireless. Exits, immediately drunken fan stumbles into frame and asks if she can smell him.

This "week in the life" of Anthony Bourdain's cameraman is a little too technical to be described as "fun," but it does reassure you that sitting at a desk is a fine career choice. Or the opposite. Here's a favorite recent episode of No Reservations.


After the Party It's the Venue for Genuine Communication

Work. Be relentless. All over the world, people are working harder than you. Don’t go to events; go to the receptions after the events. If possible, skip the receptions and go to the afterparties, where you can have a real conversation with someone.

Author Sarah Manguso's Advice for Young Writers. [via]


A Conversation With a 17th-Century Sorceress

In response to a recent comment, I got in touch with a 17th-century sorceress. What kind of spells do you cast?

What kind of spells don't I cast! Well, there are a number, actually. In fact, mostly I only do love spells, but usually by the time I finish describing their pros and cons, and how people generally feel after I cast one for them (bad, almost uniformly, unless they're unwell), most people decide against them. Because if you think about it, love spells are deeply sad, and are in fact probably an oxymoron.

But I also do spells for ailments.

What do you wear?

Capes! Cloaks. Lace. Lots [...]


Why Outsourcing Hurts Beyond the Olympics, or The Selective Memory of Congresspeople Amazes Me

When I was in third grade my class was assigned a piece of homework: go home, check the tags on your clothing, and see how many things you own that were made in America. Then come in tomorrow wearing as much of that in an outfit as you can.

Though the project was rife with opportunities for interpretation (like not wearing pants if we lacked American ones), we were eight and hadn't developed true enough senses of irony for that. Plus, everyone's parents did most of the work. When I went home and asked my mom for help, she got really excited and went straight for a few things, [...]


But Did She Smoke?

JFK: Um, did you really all have hourglass figures?

Mom: Yep, we really did. We wore body-hugging skirts, blouses with bows at the neck, and suits, if we could afford them.

Jessica Francis Kane of The Morning News interviews a 1960s Playboy secretary who also happens to be her mother.