Odd Jobs: How To Have Fun And Make Money In A Bad Economy, by Abigail R. Gehring
Having done at least some of the jobs here and known people who did others of them, I have to say that I found this book to be awkwardly hilarious. The author has clear amassed a great deal of experience doing odd jobs throughout her career and has proven herself to be immensely flexible in using her talents to achieve some measure of financial success. Moreover, she appears to have sought to get to know other people who have similarly made money doing odd jobs and has networked and shared stories so as to gain experience even in areas where she has not herself worked. The result is a book that is entertaining but also more than a bit uncomfortable as the author notes certain expectations that various jobs would have and tells some uncomfortable truths about what people are looking for to fill certain jobs, or what kind of people would be best suited to certain jobs that pay some money but which might demand months of unpleasant solitude. This is not a book for the faint of heart or for those who would be negatively triggered by unpleasant reminders of the realism of odd jobs, but it was hilarious to me.
This short volume is a bit more than 200 pages and it is divided into different sections and includes interludes where the author shares her own experience in various odd jobs included in that section. The book begins with eighteen service jobs, including personal assistant, model for artists/photographers, renting out a room, house sitting, and personal shopping, where the author shares a couple of her stories (1). After that the author provides eight ways to make money online (2), including doing surveys and selling books online. After that comes twenty odd jobs relating to entertainment and culinary pursuits (3), including lipstick reading (which the author did), working at a Renaissance fair or being a mascot or being a motivational dancer or being a gustatory athlete or fast food worker. After that are eight jobs that are country pursuits (4), including being a fire lookout, beekeeper, as well as raising hens, Christmas trees, and worms. There are then fifteen jobs included that relate to travel and adventure (5), including being an English teacher abroad as well as working on a cruise ship, shell picking in Kauai, and working on a kibbutz in Israel. Then there are seventeen jobs relating to sales and marketing (6), such as being a call room operator, doing focus groups, making soap, being a sperm or egg donor, or being a home-based sales representative for Avon or essential oils. The book then ends with a section of fifteen jobs that the author considers to be the oddest of the odd (7), from being a mystery shopper to breeding betta fish to being a video game tester or organ courier or club bouncer and even collecting cans.
What made this book particularly fun for me is that I have done some of these jobs myself (teach abroad, working in a call center, doing online surveys, house sitting, and mystery shopping), and I know people who have done many other ones that I have not done. This is one of those books that turns the sort of odd ways that people make money or have a bit of fun on the side and puts it into a category that one might not be aware that one is in, in terms of making money in unconventional and odd ways. As is so often the case in life, I find it somewhat odd that I do not realize that my own life has in many ways been odd. It is quite possible that there are many readers of this book who would similarly not realize that their own work experience has been irregular by the standards of the world, but the author’s good-natured humor about her own experiences and misadventures of one kind or another really make this an enjoyable book for all those who want to relive past experiences or ponder what it would be like to be an obscure fish breeder like one of my friends in California.