Adventures in Craigslist Jobs: The Freelance Editrix and the Pro Bono Pussy Magnet

I responded a couple of weeks ago to a Craigslist ad seeking an “accountability buddy” to meet with an aspiring eBook author at Starbucks. The man who posted the ad explained that making an appointment to write helped him finish projects in a timely fashion. As an accountability buddy, I would also be editing his work. Every hour I would review what he had written for basic grammatical and spelling errors.

I met the man at Starbucks. I’ll call him Chad (it fits). Over the phone, he had stressed that he had been asked to do some modeling recently, so he should be fairly easy to pick out of the crowd. I guessed his identity based on his spotless white jeans.

At our first meeting, Chad stressed that previously he had run into issues with accountability buddies, getting off to a chummy start only to lose the intimidation factor he craves. “I need someone who can shut me up.”

“At the risk of sounding like a dominatrix, how mean do you want me to be?”

He looked me dead in the eye and said: “Safe word. Banana.”

Image

We high-five’d and turned to our laptops.

“Do you want to get lunch?” he asked me, about 4 hours into our first 8-hour session. “Or would that be weird?”

I guess we’ll find out.

 We picked out a chain. “Please don’t think I’m the most narcissistic person ever,” he said, as we walked over to his Mercedes-Benz convertible, outfitted with a license plate bearing his name.

“This is what I call my pussy magnet.” I did an impression of someone laughing and made the questionable decision to get in his car.

Chad’s book advocated some fairly heterodox tactics. To lose weight, it’s not just stupid diet and exercise. No, no. The wise man gets liposuction and takes steroids. In one of his chapters he outlines exactly how to illegally obtain steroids from overseas.

He also advocates keeping a journal to meticulously outline track finances, how many calories you eat, and what exercises you do. You should also cut all your fat friends out of your life. They’re holding you back.

He consistently used graphic descriptions of “ass rape” to describe how life treats people who don’t follow his recommendations.

Whatever you think of his methods, Chad is in great shape. In the course of our time together, he spotted several opportunities to show me several pictures of himself. He was shirtless in most of these, flexing every last one of his abs. In the course of his book, Chad mentions his 8-pack, his modeling gigs, his beautiful model lady friend, his excellent cars, and the many, many exotic locations he has visited on cruise boats, for good measure. Motivation to write this book stemmed exhaustion. People are always asking him how he got to be such a sexy genius. Enough already! Just read the book!

Chad, a committed non-committal bisexual, brought up his love life more than once. “This girl won’t stop stalking my facebook wall!” he shrieked during one of our breaks, girlishly alarmed. He showed me a naked picture of the woman in question. Because of his vast catalog of exploits, Chad insisted, naked women no longer impress him. “When I see a naked woman now, it’s like…” He shrugged indifferently.

Later, when I Googled him to see what he was wanted for, I found his Facebook page. According to his wife, he is kind of married.

Without any prompting from me, Chad felt the urge to explain that he is very active in the Austin nudist community. “It’s just something different to do.” He told me about his recent visit to Hippy Hollow, a famous nudist beach in Austin, where he had experienced unsatisfactory results. “It sucks that just anyone can go there.” But it did provide an excuse for him so show me yet another picture of a naked lady on his phone.

After I gave him back his first batch of writing (with lots of significant changes) Chad told me felt like grammatical rules are a tool that the man uses to keep little people down. “The only people who advocate enforcing grammatical rules are the people who benefit from it.”

Chad asked me to do another week with him after the first session, for significantly more money. I agreed, but we mutually decided it would be better if we did 6-hour sessions instead of 8.

In the midst of these arrangements over the weekend, Chad became increasingly demanding of my timely responses. After I hadn’t replied to one of his e-mails and texts for a couple hours he sent me an email saying he was not “…familiar with the communication etiquette rules…” I followed. In case any of you were wondering, freelance editors you hire off of Craigslist are, in fact, different from 911 operators or personal assistants.

For the second week, Chad wanted to write about how to become wealthy. The previous week he had explained to me his convoluted philosophy behind successful wealth acquisition. He was always eager to talk, fueled by multiple venti coffees and many slices of lemon pound cake (and testosterone from Thailand).

Making money, Chad explained, involved realizing that you don’t need to get a job – you need to create lots of shitty jobs. Eventually he disclosed that he had gotten where he was in real estate by initially borrowing a large sum of money from his wealthy father.  He neglects to mention this in his eBook.

He became increasingly self-conscious about his work the more he wrote.

“Just edit it. Don’t read it too much.”

By the second week he was spiraling into deep paranoia. I had seen that he had advertised on Craigslist for another accountability buddy to meet him in the morning, before our session, to write yet another eBook.  “What’s your other book about?” I asked him.

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Ok.” I went back to what I was doing on my laptop.

Chad continued. “It’s just that, very few people actually wish you well. I’m not saying this is you, but when people want to more about your business, it’s usually just for their own amusement. Typically when you talk about your life, people don’t even believe you, or they just want a piece of your success. So I just keep my mouth shut.”

Three days into our second week, he gave up about 2 hours into our meeting. He said he “felt weird,” indicated one of the baristas was overly flirtatious, and that he felt I was failing him as an accountability buddy. “I really need someone who will hold my feet to the fire.”

At our meeting the following day he said: “I want to buy out of my contract. I feel burned out.” He gave me $200.00, and said he could give me more if I felt I needed it. I didn’t want to have to meet him again, so I said no, no, $200 is fine.

Before our final meeting, Chad assured me that his regimen of testosterone injections had nothing to do with his sudden mood swings (I had not suggested anything of the kind.)

Early in the first week, Chad and I talked about  the importance of taking risks, and how most people have convinced themselves they have to settle for certainty, that they can only help to fulfill someone else’s dream. “Know thyself,” he told me. Great advice.

Through careful Googling I found Chad’s final e-book. Thankfully he doesn’t credit me by name. In the cover image he stands nude, holding a prop book over his groin.

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