Title: Bad Jobs and Bullshit: It’s Unlikely that We will be Missed
Published by: The Geeky Press
Editors: Brad King, Amber Peckham, Jessica Dyer
Length: 145 pages
Kindle price: $2.99
Reviewed by: Ellen Birkett Morris
When your own bad jobs have included student loan collections and working retail at a store called “A Taste of Kentucky,” it’s nearly impossible to bypass a book titled Bad Jobs and Bullshit: It’s Unlikely That We Will Be Missed. The anthology contains fiction, nonfiction and poetry centered on the indignities of life working for the man. The pieces don’t shy away from the scatological, the maddening and the unjust. They detail crazy bosses, hard, dirty work, demanding customers and outrageous dress codes. Some pieces are sad and others funny.
One of my favorite stories was Vickie Fang’s Getting Fired from the Assembly Line, which uses a sexual encounter as the spark for a flashback where a visiting Chinese American businessman gets a female assembly line worker fired, but not before she stands up to her domineering bosses.
The two become a couple. The relationship is complex. Fang writes: You can pretend almost anything in the bedroom. Even that you’re back in the factory again, and that a man you’ve never seen before has found out what you’ve done. If you are unhappy enough you want to pretend that he still looks at you the way he did the first time and that all the years of silence and disappointment that followed that day were nothing but one long string of misunderstandings.
In the nonfiction section of the anthology, Prodigal Reminder by James Figy tells the story of trying to breaking away from his father’s remodeling business only to be drawn back in by circumstance.
Figy writes: Making a clean cut is rough. You look at the board sawn in two and see divots where you cut too far over the pencil line, edges where you didn’t cut enough. Usually, leaving the board a little off works best. “That’s why they call it rough framing,” dad says. To make a clean cut, you’ll run the saw through once or twice. But always, when you do, you cleave more from both boards than you planned.
The poetry section includes both prose poems and verse including this clever stanza from Cat Conway’s poem Pillow Dictionary:
Let’s crawl inside.
I’ll draw the curtains of meshed paper clips
and by the light of our mobile phones we’ll
read passages from our favourite style guides:
Chicago Manual for me, Hart’s Rules for you.
Most readers will find there is something familiar in the work. It brought back my own memories of jobs long gone from which I am sure I’m not missed.
Ellen Birkett Morris’ book reviews have appeared in Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, Minneapolis Star Tribune, The Courier-Journal, and Best New Fiction.