The Miss Jobless Chronicles: Negative Nelly

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

Note to self: Trey Gordon is a psycho.

Trey is the “bicoastal entrepreneur” I worked for for one day before I realized he was nuts and had absolutely no intention of paying me.. In fact, the job COST me $19.00 — for buying lunch and paying for his dry cleaning out of my pocket — expenses he said he’d reimburse me for but never did. When Trey stepped out, I did some snooping and discovered that he is knee-deep in debt and his landlord has even threatened to evict him. So I left before he came back, without explanation.

The phone calls started yesterday. Two were from unknown numbers; both were hang-ups on my voice mail. The third time they called I was curious and answered — another hang up. I began to get semi-freaked out. Thinking it was an ex, I let it go. Then — another call. I let it go to voice mail.

“Caitlin. Caitlin? Caitlin? Pick up if you’re hearing this, it’s me. What happened to you? I have some great news. Please give a call!”

What HAPPENED to me? Is he nuts? (I also like that he thinks we’re so close that he can say “it’s me” without fully identifying himself.)

Then, this — another message:


“Caitlin, you have to call me. My series idea is the talk of Tinseltown. It’s a reality show called “30 Days to Live.” Mark Burnett is all over it. I want you to be a writer and producer. You in?” Click.

I don’t bother calling him back; I knew his “series idea” was just that — an idea that he deluded himself into thinking would go somewhere. Trey is not only bankrupt, cheap, and crazy in general; he is a first-class bullshit artist. That said, it was kind of exciting — AND a change of pace — for me to be “stalked” by an employer rather than the other way around.
But it doesn’t end there. Another message:

“It’s me. Pick up the phone please. I really want to work something out. I’ve been really stressed since you left and I’ve been suffering from serious migraines. We need to resolve this.”

OK, add manipulative to the list of adjectives I used to describe him.
I never call back. And after ten or so more messages — in which he details cockamamie schemes to get himself on Letterman, Leno and the Daily Show — the calls stop.

Enough about Trey. Just because he’s nuts doesn’t mean everyone is. I press on and answer another ad on Craigslist. This time, the position is a personal shopper’s assistant. I go to meet the client and the personal shopper, and I am guaranteed “weekly compensation.” Translation: A Metrocard to get me to and from the job. Translation: Unpaid. Ugh.

And why do companies get away with that? Because they can. Because so many of us are scurrying to switch careers and beef up our resumes with additional skills. Companies can pass off “real” jobs as internships. Sometimes it feels like starting over — at 40, I’m seriously considering being an intern again — when I thought I paid my dues at 22 when I was a slave to MTV.

Sorry for being such a Negative Nelly. I guess some weeks, you just feel like that.

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, and blogs at Shits and Giggles.