Gig: Americans Talk About Their Jobs

Gig: Americans Talk About Their Jobs



The Pequod Review:

Gig is a collection of 127 interviews with various workers from across the American labor force. Edited by John Bowe, Marisa Bowe, and Sabin Streeter, the book profiles a wide range of employees — CEOs, bar owners, McDonald's workers, pro hockey players, escorts, flight attendants, and many more. The pieces are of mixed quality — I think the interviewers could have probed more rigorously and intelligently into specific details of each person's job — but several are excellent. Here is a Hallmark gift shop saleswoman explaining how her mother's franchise store is squeezed by corporate:

It's a different market than it was twenty years ago. Having a gift store is too competitive and the huge companies like Hallmark are totally undercutting the smaller stores that bear their name. The problem is Mom carries about twenty percent Hallmark merchandise -- the rest are gifts from other companies -- but Hallmark wants you to have at least eighty percent of their stuff. Then you get to be a "Gold Crown" Hallmark store and you get big price breaks on the merchandise, special promotions, and all of their advertisements are for Gold Crown stores -- so basically, you get free advertising. If you're not Gold Crown, it's like you're the enemy. They keep raising the costs on their merchandise and they sell their cards and gifts via the Internet and catalogs, which further undercuts you.

And here a high school basketball coach offers candid details into his recruiting tactics:

Because we can recruit, sort of. I mean, as a Catholic school, a kid can come here from anywhere. So I said to myself, there's no reason we should ever be bad. And I didn't think these sophomores were that good. So this year, I was like, fuck this -- I went out and got a foreign kid from Finland, who is friggin' real good. Six-foot-two guard. A junior. And he really made an impact. We were twenty and five. We won the league-- and we won a county tournament game for the first time in the history of the school. And I won coach of the year for the league, and area coach of the year from the local sportswriters association. Youngest guy to ever do both. Twenty-four years old....

We wrote a letter to the state saying that the kid's over here staying with a family friend for academics, and he's gonna play all these other sports and this and that. We went through all this bullshit. And the state called and they asked one question -- they asked, "Who pays for him to go to school?" And we said the parents pay. And then they wanted to see proof of payment. But we have an alumni guy that's paying for him, so the alumni guy just pays with money orders, and we signed the parents' names on the bottom of the money order. Because that's how the state checks on it. And it worked...

The school, the administration, they know about these ringers. They know how I got them. Everybody knows. I mean, because the people in the office, when I was coming in before school started last year -- they were joking, saying like, "When are the ringers starting?" So everyone knows, but what are you going to do? It's what you got to do to win. And everybody comes to the games. The priests come to the games. Everybody. They all fuckin' like winning.

This could have been a superb book but it is nonetheless a very good book if you are willing to dig through the fluff.