Friday, May 18, 2012


This weekend's challenge: Compose something of between 33 and 333 about the photo shown below.

The word "underemployed" entered his vernacular in 2010. Until then he was a stringer for a major metropolitan daily. The work was regular, the pay was good. So what if he didn't have a contract or benefits? A week didn't go by without an assignment or two – or even three, if there was a hotly-contested election or juicy, headline-grabbing trial monopolizing the staff reporters' time. He was fine. He could afford his own healthcare and IRA.

Then the Recession collided with the ongoing decline in newspaper readership and his career was collateral damage.

Now, instead of writing copy, he uses his computer skills as a secretary – no, make that "administrative assistant" – at the local junior high for $7.25/hour. He likes it more than he thought he would. He no longer faces crushing deadlines or gruesome crime scenes. Many of the teachers and some of the moms who brighten his office are attractive and available. Best of all, his workday is dependably over at 3:00, leaving late afternoons open for interviews in his chosen field. (If only he had any.)

But there’s a big dark cloud looming on his horizon and it’s financial. So he’s doing something he never dreamed he would: Participating in a rummage sale. He emptied his closets and cabinets of everything he believes he can do without and is bringing it to the Patrick Henry Middle School Auditorium. Here he’ll sit at his assigned card table and sell what stuff he can, with 25% of the proceeds going to the fund earmarked for new library books.

Entering the school service entrance that early Saturday morn, he chastises himself for wearing shorts. How often has he heard teachers and students alike complain about how cold the auditorium always is? He smiles. It wasn’t that long ago that he had coworkers who complained about the stench of standing downwind when a drowning fatality washed ashore, but that feels like another lifetime.


  1. Anonymous8:03 PM

    One never knows where they'll end up in life. Many things I've done and have been certain to last me a lifetime have changed into something entirely unexpected. Not all have been to my pleasure, but one must take the good with the bad. This was certainly the bright side to that. Especially in this un-candescent economy.

  2. I love what you've done here - I love the incongruity of this guy working at the school, lugging around car seats to sell at a rummage sale. What we do to survive.

  3. Anonymous10:53 PM

    I like the line about his career being collateral damage. Sad truth in these times. Even though his situation was not good, I felt hope for him, especially since he kind of liked his job.

  4. Anonymous7:24 AM

    Wow, this is great! I love where you took this one. It was like an adventure, seeing where we'd end up. Quite an imagination you've got. Thanks for lending it to us this weekend.

  5. Anonymous9:03 AM

    I like this guy. He feels very real. I would be shocked if I liked a job like that, too! The kids would drive me batty.

  6. I love this. His career change turning into a positive...somewhat. I really like that he can see this. Minimum wage but happier for now. I can see it clearly too. Crossing my fingers for the interview for a kick ass job.

  7. Anonymous8:49 PM

    The word "underemployed" entered his vernacular in 2010. A great opening line.


Sorry about adding Comment Moderation, folks. But look at the bright side, at least I've gotten rid of word verification!