“So, what job did you lose?”

July 27, 2012

JOB Toulouse

Whenever I’m back in the US, 90% of the jobs and gigs I work come from Craigslist. I’ve found plenty of opportunities abroad as well.

How did I find a position as the caretaker of a Buddhist monastery in New Zealand? Auckland Craigslist.

How did I wind up teaching at a hagwon in rural South Korea? Seoul Craigslist.

How did I support myself after flying into San Francisco with no job? The original Craigslist.

Back when I graduated in 2005, Austin Craigslist was virtually an unknown. I was scooping up jobs right and left with no competition from university students or day laborers; word just hadn’t gotten around. I had (and have) no problem with getting my hands dirty to make a few bucks. Moving jobs, landscaping, tutoring, modeling, public speaking… they’re all means I can use to travel.

Nowadays, the job market, Craigslist and otherwise, is in high demand. If someone posts something on Austin Gigs, I’d have to reply within 5-10 minutes to ensure I get it. Even then, if it comes down to email, the person listing the job is guaranteed to be so overwhelmed with responses (I did a test and got 50+ replies within an hour for a $12/hr gig) that “first come, first serve” doesn’t necessarily apply. In fact, the selection process seems so arbitrary I can only assume there is a high number of qualified, intelligent, unemployed people out there or the poster doesn’t have the time to sort through all the credible responses and has to just pick one at random.

Anyone foolish enough to post their phone number had better be prepared for a high volume of calls in a short time. Even as I’m typing, I’m reloading the gigs page… I missed a job for tomorrow morning because I called twenty minutes after it was posted.

Take one gig I did manage to snag. Fairly straightforward, just hauling boxes out and reorganizing a closet, something any able bodied adult could do (except my benefactor, apparently). When I finished up, she seemed particularly impressed at my efficiency and said something that stuck with me:

“So, what job did you lose?”

I didn’t understand at first, then she explained she assumed I must have had a good job because I was competent, on time, and professional. Why else would I be doing something like this?

I have to admit, I second guessed myself and my lifestyle hearing those words. I don’t need much to live on as I don’t have a mortgage, a car, fancy clothes, medical needs, and little people depending on me. I do like to travel and see the world, and having a bag filled with a few changes of clothes and a nice computer is pretty much all I require.

And yet, I questioned myself, as someone in worse shape than me financially and clearly a stranger to vagabonding pitied my situation, thinking there must be more for someone with my skills.

Maybe there is. I’m searching for it. But for now, I’m off to DC, Canada, Germany, France, and Thailand on a one-way ticket. Chew on that.

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One Response to “So, what job did you lose?”

  1. Hillary Williams on July 29, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    Do you need a travel companion? 🙂 Just happened upon your post (looking fwd to reading more) and am in awe. I love what you are doing with your life. Most of us can only dream as I work in a corporate cube (think: Office Space) most days of the week. Life is for living! So glad there are people out there taking the utmost advantage of it! Safe travels and shoot me an email if you want some company in your favorite part of the world.. if you can choose just one. 😉


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