Teaching, or Trying

By Michael Gutgsell

This month I am starting my fourth year in Chicago. I came to this city with big hopes that I would be able to leave behind part-time minimum wage work and the naive belief that an internship would open doors for me. I came to Chicago educated, hard-working, and excited for my new life.

I showed up at the refugee resettlement agency believing I was to be an assistant English instructor to adult refugees. Instead, after having me shadow all of three classes (in which the instructor read directly from a worksheet and had the students repeat after him for three hours), I was given control of an entire class for the rest of the year. Continue reading

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Quarter Life

empty-storefront-11By Sydney Maier

It was mid-February. I spent a few minutes trying to decide whether I was dying of heat stroke from the noon day sun pressing right in my face, or simply from boredom.

I had, as always, completed my day’s worth of tasks in about seven minutes: check the messages (none); check my email (none); take the ‘closed’ sign off the door. Each hour was a week, which meant today was five weeks long. The thought was exhausting.  Continue reading

A Spurt in the Spotlight

puppetryBy Christopher J. Cannon

The sweat started early that night. It must have been the multiple shots we slammed minutes before we went on. Feeling the moisture drip down my back and slowly work its way down my very cute bubble butt always took my mind off of what I was doing, but I hated being sweaty on stage. It was hot that night, and the 900 middle-aged, screaming drunk women chanting, “PENIS! PENIS! PENIS!” only made it hotter. I loved my job, but the one hundred year old theater somewhere in the middle of Canada didn’t have air conditioning, no surprise, and I was starting to regret my fourth tequila shot I had slammed before going out on stage.

Too late now.  Continue reading

Homeward Bound

By Michael Gutgsell

istock_generic_212070I stared at the plastic platters of five-buck sushi, agonizing. My stomach growled as I kicked myself for preemptively eating my lunch. That morning, I hadn’t had time to make breakfast before jumping on the bus to catch the train that would deliver me, an hour later, to the non-profit where I worked. I thought maybe I could make it until my three o’ clock lunch time, but I caved, and ate on the way to work. What I didn’t think of while eating my hastily prepared turkey sandwich was my lean debit card balance. Now I wasn’t sure I could afford lunch.

We’re only given a half hour break, and I had already wasted precious minutes. I picked out a tray and headed to the counter, figuring even if this caused my account to overdraw, I’d be paid tomorrow, so it would probably be okay. The late fees are exorbitant, but maybe the check would go through in time.

Continue reading

Sex Sells

IMG_0598By Michael Gutgsell

I would arrive to open the store at 11:45. I swung my bag and helmet on the counter, clocked in, and went about unplugging the fully-powered toys and putting away the chargers in paper bags I’d carefully labeled by brand: Lelo, JimmyJane, Fun Factory. My co-workers ignored my organization, usually just dropping the power strip behind the counter, chargers still attached. Nevertheless, I wrapped the cords carefully and placed them in the proper bag. Then I put the merchandise on their stands, making sure everything was lined up and dust-free. I counted the drawer, sent my manager and the owner the opening checklist, and gave the store a quick once-over before flipping over the open sign, flicking the lights on, and unlocking the door. Then I waited.

The day yawned before me. I sat behind the counter and endlessly, obsessively, edited my work playlist. I looked out at the bright day as the parade of men in candy-colored tank tops strutted by, flashing their muscles, their white teeth, their ridiculous short-shorts and designer sneakers. Continue reading

A Joint Affair: Episode 2 – Shitty First Day

A Joint Affair 5
By Lirot Comma Brian

I glide across the rainy road as the darkness turns grey. A regretful high-pitched tone beats the drums of my ear due to the trials and tribulations of the recent hours past. I cannot go into work without a shower…no way. I fold down the passenger side sun visor to see my brown hair laying above my greasy forehead in clumps.

Six hours slide by, and just like that, the adventure’s over. As soon as David pulls into the driveway of my parents’ house, I swing the door open before he can get the chance to park.

“Thanks for doing that, Mike.” David hollers as I grab my backpack from the trunk.

“Anytime homie.” I respond as I speed walk up to the garage door. “I’m always down for whatever.”  Continue reading

First Draft: Semester in a College Writing Center

By Michael Gutgsell

When I think of the college writing center, I think of a wall of windows with warm sunlight shining on two cushy couches, a small desk, and a kettle. It was the quietest part of campus for me, and it relaxed me walking into this cozy room with a plate of cookies on the table, a Google calendar open on the computer, and a peaceful couple hours to read or do homework until someone came in.

I was so nervous the first few shifts, certain that I would come across as awkward and stupid, but to my surprise, I loved going over people’s papers with them, and it wasn’t difficult. Continue reading

Hard Sell

By Brandon Patrick

6a0133f30ae399970b01a51188eb4a970cIt’s 12:45 on a random Tuesday, and I’m taking one of my extended lunch breaks. My boss doesn’t have a clue what I’m doing. My job is entirely dependent on my own effort, and right now, I’m putting none in. I’m currently in the parking lot of a shopping mall getting a mediocre blow job; I’m technically being paid for this. According to my title, I’m a Junior Account Executive, but if you followed me around for a day, you’d see that I’m a salesman (and a shitty one at that). I sell cell phones door to door at businesses for the 4th largest cell phone provider in North America. I’m very bad at my job.  Continue reading

Missing Reservations

DSC_0564By Amber Robbin

At five minutes past five, I’d race in through the revolving door and shuffle my way across the floor, shooting a smile over to the corner where the server staff sat half-listening to a dozen suit-jacketed managers, then down the line past the wall of Spanish whispers, and into the kitchen. Only a few minutes later, we’d be waist-deep in hundreds of dinner reservations, hosts rushing up and down the faux-marble staircase with flushed faces and tight fists holding short skirts close to tired thighs. Food runners balanced steaming plates of pasta high above the oblivious crowds, servers worked the floor with their tableside flirtations, and I ran with the bussers, a host not quite in line with the rest, popping up tabletops left and right and hoisting chairs above my head en route from one side of the room to the other.

This is how the dance would begin each and every night amid the small plates and large egos, between the tiled walls and wooden floorboards of that packed two-story.  Continue reading