Cyndy Aleo

Four Little Bees Writing & Editing

author, freelance writing, editing, and a little bit of web development, helping clients with content development, book editing, and blog set-up and customization

What's your most embarrassing job ever?

I have a friend -- some of you know who she is -- who is an amazing storyteller, both orally and as an author. One of her stories (actually a couple of her stories) dovetail into a phrase I've assigned as her catchphrase: "And THAT'S how I ended up working as a topless waitress."

Had you told me seven-ish years ago when I met her online that I'd end up being friends with her, I'd probably have gaped at you. She's a Midwesterner and proud of it. I'm an East Coast city girl who's struggled my entire adult life merely with living in the suburbs and having less access to public transit. I grew up solidly middle class. She sure as hell did not.

We ended up bonding initially over the often horrifying economic ramifications of a divorce, and discovered our shared esoteric employment history that doesn't really lend itself well to resume building. It does make for an entertaining author bio, however.

But it's funny; she never once mentions that short-lived topless waitress gig with any sort of embarrassment. I found myself skipping my college homecoming last weekend -- which I'd really, really wanted to attend -- because in the face of former classmates who've gone on to become things with titles like "vice president and general counsel" I didn't feel up to saying "freelancer when I get gigs and icing things in a bakery."

Yet my bakery job overall doesn't embarrass me. It puts food on the table and keeps my head -- or at least my face if I tip my head back -- above water. Most of my former jobs don't embarrass me, well, anymore than things like taking a job I knew was going to be a terrible fit just because I needed the job, or being the first on the chopping block during a RIF because I was unable to play corporate politics (something I've never learned to do) or deal with rampant stupidity that costs the company money (see above).

But it's gotten me thinking about what job I most regret. Would it be the one I took with an obviously sinking company where the hiring manager obviously settled on me as the second choice after the first choice refused the position and then intentionally undermined me looking for grounds for dismissal? The fast food job in high school?

No, there's only one I really regret: celebrity gossip blogger.

This was in the height of the Perez Hilton era, when everyone was hoping to get on that money train. The guy I was ghostwriting for was a super-nice guy with some great social media chops. And it looked like easy money; all I had to do was find and regurgitate news items in a snarky way. I pretty much do that anyway, right?

Wrong.

I have a friend who's asked why I've never mined it for a story, made it funny, made it parody. It's because it's not funny, and I feel a lot of remorse that in whatever small way I played into the creation of this takedown culture, where we worship celebrities until we grow tired of them and then jump on the nearest pile-on to denigrate them, where we know the names of all the Kardashians (spoiler, I actually don't, just the two loudest ones) but can't tell a reporter on the street where Aleppo is.

I stayed with that outlet until it folded because I needed the money, badly. But I can also tell you about the day Anna Nicole Smith died and I had to spend the day hunting everywhere for body bag photos. About how I alternately cried and vomited all day that this was what was passing for news, that this was what people find worthy of attention. Where I once watched award shows and got paid to do it, now I avoid things like paparazzi photos of celebrities like they're my worst nightmare.

So yes, I work at a bakery to supplement my meager freelance income. I wear a uniform and a name tag and I mostly frost cakes and bake pies and provide customer service for people who sometimes treat me like something they've scraped off the bottom of a shoe. But I've never, not once, applied for another job in celebrity news.