This is my third odd job since I moved to Chicago. The first, in total time worked, was about twenty-five minutes and I made $25 which works out to one dollar per minute. I had to wear a Coke Zero shirt and pretend I was sleeping on the ground in the NBC Plaza downtown until we were cued to wake up, show off our shirts and smile for whoever was watching in the comfort of their own homes. It felt awkward and we were miscued once and had to pretend to be asleep and awoken all over again. The second time felt better and if we had had the entire day to rehearse, I feel like we would have nailed it. The second was, to use hyperbole, a dream job. I was hired to work a LEGO Kidsfest. Again, I was provided with a t-shirt. (Oh, we were allowed to keep the Coke Zero t-shirt so, I guess I made close to $40 using today's t-shirt prices.) This t-shirt was bright yellow. Here, I was paid $17/hr to supervise the LEGO racers play area, where children built LEGO race cars and then recklessly rolled them down small two foot ramps. Only one ramp had a an actual start and finish line. It was the steepest. At the bottom of each track a collision wall with a trough in front of it. No matter how well engineered the cars were , they would without fail disintegrate into dozens of pieces after striking the wall. Each crash received cheers and/or silent, jaw-dropped awe. If the crash troughs were too full, we yellow shirts transferred the pieces back to separate troughs at the building stations. Several people I worked with wandered the building stations and ramps and unceasingly picked up whatever pieces were in the troughs and returned them to the building stations. They would not wait for the pieces to pile up. If one car was wrecked and left, they'd go pick it up. They were always on the move, constantly moving, constantly performing this Sisyphean task for hours at a time. It makes me dizzy just thinking about it. I opted to spend my time building race cars with the kids and judging races. If I had kids, I would take them to this event. If I didn't have kids, I would take myself to this event.
This brings me to my third odd job - soliciting donations for the Evans Scholars Foundation, an organization that sends deserving caddies (yes, golf caddies) with a strong record and financial need to college. Try saying that with a straight face to a complete stranger right after Christmas in a moribund economy. I made about thirty dollars, but I visited the University of Chicago for the first time and passed by the Museum of Science and Industry in semi-darkness, marveling at its expansive, impressive footprint on Chicago's south side. It reminded me of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, which was closing by the time I arrived years ago, so I only saw its exterior.