New York area hunters might remember Ophira Eisenberg—comedian, host of the NPR show ‘Ask Me Another,’ and author of the hilarious memoir ‘Screw Everyone’—as one of our best-loved Hunt Hosts, a gig she held back in the day. On July 20 she dons the WA cap again to guest host the Naked at the Met Scavenger Hunt, and the winning team will receive signed copies of her book. We asked her about those days and some other jobs she held on the way to stardom…
Working as a Hunt Host for Watson Adventures was a Top Five job—the staff and hunters were fun and out to have a good time, and I accidentally learned a ton about art, food, and historic neighborhoods. It was one of those jobs that made you stop and think, “I get paid for this? Cool!”
But I’ve had plenty of difficult summer jobs along the way. Here are my Bottom Five jobs:
Painting lawn ornaments! Next time you see a pink flamingo with uneven eyes or a garden gnome with a brown mouth, think of me. You’d assume these were mass-produced, but I worked a summer job where they hired students to hand paint them. We were expected to complete 100 per day. After 35 you felt your arm might fall off. At 60 you fantasize about selling all of your possessions on the street. Then you hit a zen-like state until about 87, and then you cry like a baby while painting the last 13. I lasted three days—two more than anyone expected.
Reverse telemarketing! For about a year I cold-called small companies and tried to sell them IT solutions. It was an exercise in humility. I started engaging in “reverse telemarketing,” where I would call up a business and as soon as they said hello, I’d yell, “Not interested!” and hang up on them. Take that.
Pet sitting! In theory an amazing job for an animal lover. In practice, a dog that doesn’t trust you and an incontinent cat that senses that her owners are gone so now the whole apartment is one big litter box. All the work of pet ownership with none of the loyalty and companionship. I was never happier to strangers return from their vacation.
Freelance IT expert! No one is ever happy to see their IT person because that means their computer is broken. This job was one-quarter problem solving and three–quarters punching bag, as people vented their frustrations, treated you like you were ripping them off, and groused when you couldn’t perform magic.
Organizing income tax documents! It had all the classic markings of a soul-sucking job: a draining 45-minute commute to a brown government building, a windowless basement office with rows of identical cramped cubicles, and an ID badge with an unflattering photo. It paid a modest hourly wage with bonuses for speed. The fastest person averaged 170 tax returns an hour. I never broke 70.