Why Don’t You Just Use it to Pick Up Chicks, Then?

(From the “More Ridiculous Jobs” series)

There are a lot of stories behind and within the plethora of jobs I’ve had. Some lasted all of one day–others, I spent years trying to avoid. One of the last jobs I worked in New York was as a street hawker for a tanning salon. In an almost entirely African American neighborhood near the East Village. I stood there on the sidewalk, in the blazing sun and getting blistered by the moment–my pale freckled skin just bubbling under the ultraviolet rays–trying to hand out “free tanning for a week” fliers to all the passing commuters. They were about 90% black, and mostly laughed at me. Some suggested I put sunscreen on. Others just scoffed. I’d have not haunted these people–as ridiculous as it was, but the managers of “Hollywood Tans” insisted that I approach everyone–Black, White, Indian, Arabic. Didn’t matter to them. They weren’t the pasty redhead standing on the sidewalk trying to shove tanning brochures into the hands of people who made me look like I’d just walked in from Iowa or across a Nordic sea. So I struggled in vain, until finally, one black guy said, “What the f*@#? You think I need a f*#@’ tan? You gotta be kidding me.”

That’s when I realized the backup plan. “So what? You don’t got any white friends?” “Hell no!” he replied. “Well why the f@@* don’t you use it to pick up chicks in bars, then?”
That was maybe the first and only guy I got to think twice. He walked back to my hawking stand and took 10 fliers. And I was grateful. After that, I just started shouting, “HEY! Who wants to pick up pasty white chicks in bars with a free flier!!!!” I guess it didn’t really matter either way, because I got the $10 an hour. And a serious, serious sunburn.

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