Ben Cheever was a senior editor for Reader’s Digest for 11 years and has published three novels. In 1995, however, his latest book proposal had been rejected, so he went looking for work. This is his wry account of the dozen jobs he held as an entry-level employee in the service sector.
As he filled out applications, no one seemed to mind that he was vastly overqualified for the positions. At CompUSA, passing a urine test was more important. The jobs were disorienting. At Nobody Beats the Wiz, despite team building meetings, employees were fiercely competitive for sales. At Cosi Sandwich Bar, other employees called him “Gramps”. He loved selling cars, but working as a Cadillac salesman netted him less than minimum wage.
From his position on the other side of the service counter, Ben Cheever gained a new respect for the millions of people who work long hours for low wages. Now that downsizing is a permanent part of the workplace, his observations provide a valuable perspective of how our jobs define who we are.