The Miss Jobless Chronicles: Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Not.

Ed. note: “The Miss Jobless Chronicles” is a weekly series written by Caitlin O’Toole.

One thing I’ve always loved about living in New York City is that it’s so easy to be anonymous. Now for the first time—thanks to my underemployment—I’ve gotten to know a lot of people in my neighborhood.

I don’t know anyone by name. Only by apartment number. Or, in one case, by smell.

4G—the man in the apartment next to mine—cooks fish for lunch every day and stinks up the hall. I refer to him as Fishmonger. Every so often, I complain to management.

“Can’t you just talk to him? The smell literally makes me nauseous.”

“Sorry,” I am told. “It’s not illegal to cook fish.”

“Well, it should be.”


4B practices endless scales on his out-of-tune piano. He never misses a note, but he has absolutely no talent. Someone should break it to him.

5F—the people directly above me—make frequent squeaking noises. I never know if they’re vacuuming or having sex.

May, an 82-year-old who lives down the hall, is the only person in the building I know by name and the brightest thing about an otherwise pretty annoying floor. Sometimes, when my computer is being temperamental, I use hers—a $3000 iMac that’s about three times as big as mine. She has absolutely no idea how to use it. She frequently asks me questions about her iPhone, and says that she’s been meaning to enroll for a class at the Apple store to learn how to use it.

11J is the complainer of the building. She’s always bitching in the elevator about the plumbing, or the late mail, or the fact that her hall needs to be re-painted. She’s short and leathery and has brittle black hair with grey roots. I call her ‘the troll.’

17L corners me in the elevator every time I wear my Princeton sweatshirt, which I bought in the Salvation Army and wear because it makes me feel smarter.

“Did you go to Princeton?”

“No.”

“Oh, because my partner is an alum,” he beams.

“Oh.”

This morning, after my old lady power walk, I saw 8A.

“How are you?” I asked.

“Rushed. Got to get to work on time. There’s never enough time.”

“Oh, I hear THAT!”

I haven’t felt that way in over a year.

Freddy, the guy who sells lotto tickets at Daman’s bodega, always tries to kiss me hello when I go in to buy the paper. He looks like a mortician with a bad rug. Pale and kind of moist-looking, with a slightly square-shaped head. He leaned in to kiss me once and his clammy, damp lips actually touched my cheek. I started to fantasize about hand sanitizer.

Freddy keeps pretty close tabs on me.

“Are you working?”

“Yeah, um, freelancing.”

“You’d probably feel a lot better if you exercise. Do you work out?”

“No.”

“You should work out or you’ll get fat.”

“I already am,” I mumble.

“Let me know when you write the great American novel,” he smiles, blowing me a kiss as I leave Daman’s.

I will.

caitlinotoole.pngCaitlin O’Toole is a New York City-based writer and editor. A native of Washington, D.C., she began her illustrious journalism career as a Washington Post paper girl. She has since written and edited for Sesame Workshop Digital, Star Magazine, The National Enquirer, Glamour, People.com, Parade.com and Washington’s City Paper. Her work has also been featured on Fox News, ABC, MTV and VH1. She lives in Chelsea with her two cats, Lucy and Ethel. She can be reached for work at her LinkedIn page.