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Job Hopper: The Checkered Career of a Down-Market Dilettante Paperback – February 15, 2005

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Seal Press (February 15, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1580051308
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580051309
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #681,133 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Ayun Halliday sets us giggling with her misadventures." -- SF Weekly

"Halliday’s experiences read like travel memoirs from a particularly amusing land…she portrays incompetence and indifference with a clinically sharp eye." -- The Onion

"Her humor, intelligence, and even tenderness turn each dismal professional stop into a laugh-out-loud vignette." -- Seattle Weekly

"Job Hopper is great fun to read...we feel her pain, despair and occasional jubilation." -- The Chicago Sun-Times

"Like a black humor version of ‘Nickel and Dimed’, Halliday makes merciless observations on her bosses and herself" -- The Newark Star-Ledger

A truly hilarious lesson in gratitude. -- Ana Gasteyer, Actress

Ayun Halliday is the consummate dilettante, dissecting her checkered career with razor wit and a discerning eye. -- Mike Daisey, author of 21 Dog Years: A Cube Dweller's Tale

Hilarious and painful... reminiscent of my days working a series of flunky jobs, before settling on one for 35 years. -- Harvey Pekar, author of American Splendor

Un(der)paid artiste keeps body and soul together without selling either. Yes, I too scrubbed pit stains out of bunny costumes. -- Joyce Brabner, co-author of Our Cancer Year

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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See all 16 customer reviews
Very fun and entertaining.
Lauren Seaman
Classic Ayun Halliday style is applied to her adventures through the world of the classic jobs of youth.
A. E. Savich
I've also gotten to see her read live, and she is one of the most lively readers I have ever seen.
Jeffrey Yamaguchi

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Mervyn Keane, Club Man on March 2, 2005
Format: Paperback
Ayun Halliday's newest book is about her Ms. adventures in the semi-unskilled job market while in her twenties. Funny, frenetic and sometimes fastidious, she gives the details of roughly fifteen work situations: the highs and lows - mostly lows. Workers are indifferent, bosses are incapable and customers are incorrigible.

In all fairness, I should state that I am in this book as one of Ayun's former employers, which is like appearing as a rabbi in a book about the Spanish Inquisition written by Torquemada. I'm not quite sure that everything Ayun says about me is the truth but more importantly, I'm not quite sure if everything she says about herself is exactly true. Mostly, she implies that she is incompetent, lazy and goofy. She is just the opposite.

I worked with her over fifteen years ago and even back then when she was in and then just out of college, she appeared to be the perfect everywoman. A good and conscientious waitress, she was alive and fascinated with everything. She seemed like the perfect student/ actress/ literature nut/ politically sensitive party girl. Perhaps it was this perfection which sent her cascading from job to job in search of the ideal situation.

When she finally does find a position that gives her happiness, she finds it in her heart to lambaste the employer who saved her and several of her clients. Well, maybe she's not so perfect after all but she is wonderful and has written a book that's fun to read which concludes on a positive if coprophagous note.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Leif E. Pettersen on November 29, 2006
Format: Paperback
This book hits ever so close to home and the "what if" thoughts that flash through my mind once in a while when I fall into crazy reveries while slogging through the slower parts of my, albeit awesome, job.

I too was a theatre nerd (but, you know, the cool kind) and spent a short period after college exploring the same path as Ayun: half-heartedly working crap jobs by day, and doing experimental theatre [......] Fortunately, my low tolerance for audition rejections and the sickening appeal of paid vacations, forced me to bail on "the life" a mere 18 months later and I became a willing tool of the Man for nine surprisingly swift years (now I'm a used car salesman in Little Rock, jealous?).

Seriously, I loved (and deeply commiserated with) this book. You just can't make this stuff up. Believe me, I tried. Even if you didn't come a whisker away from this lifestyle like I did, the stories will draw you in, make you shake your head and wonder how some people get through the day without being arrested or accidentally killing themselves. These are sociological findings that college professors pay good money for, not to mention being hilarious. Ayun is a wizard at taking all forms of misery, and the jackholes that play supporting roles, and making it funny. This is something I'm put in the position of doing all too often, so I know it ain't easy.

Good one Ayun.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Yamaguchi on February 26, 2006
Format: Paperback
Ayun Halliday is one of my favorite writers. I've been a fan ever since reading her East Village Inky zine years ago, which she continues to publish. I've also gotten to see her read live, and she is one of the most lively readers I have ever seen. Anyway, this excellent collection of stories about her various jobs is charming, honest, eye-opening, touching (especially the story of her job at Dave's Italian Kitchen), and most importantly, hilarious. The picture of Ayun at the end of her introduction is a perfect represenation of how great this book is: It's nostalgic, a bit-crazed, and funny. My favorite story is the last one, about Ayun's experiences as a massage therapist. Very revealing about the nature of the job, about customers, and about one particualar boss... Quite a character. I highly recommend this book.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By L. Loe on March 14, 2005
Format: Paperback
Ayun Halliday scores again with this funny and thought provoking book about her 20's (+ some 30's!) which seem to ominously echo my own (artist not actor although the money scrambling looks a little too familiar). I was introduced to her writing by The Big Rumpus which is a must have for any formerly "cool" person who looks in the mirror one day to discover that they are indeed the Mommy, and "cool" is a distant memory. There have been so many bad jobs in my past and Job Hopper was at times so realistic I could almost smell the bad sour bar smell when I was the opening bartender and remember how the shift stretched before me and seemed unikely ever to end. Everyone has had a temp/restaurant/other (the scariest)job that we have tried to forget but the best thing about this book is that she is able to remind you, in her trademark hilarious way, that those days that we remember as being carefree and easy were sometimes just awful! But it is so funny to remember! I laughed and I cringed and most of all I enjoyed my trip down my own memory lane and remembered all the things I may have never recalled but for reading this book.It made me really appreciate not only the good old days but the current "much easier even with three kids" ones-sans crazy kitchen help and rent worries. Life is crazy and so are its phases but Ayun sure can help us see the humor in it!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By NJFamily on March 24, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Ayun Halliday returns to neighborhood bookshelves with her third book, and her best-written to date. Her characteristic wit and keen observational skills give this book the perfect combination of hilarity and readability. Written in short vignettes, we follow the many odd jobs of a highly-skilled but underrecognized actress as she wends her way through young adulthood. This book has appeal for nearly everyone, not just the struggling artists who can identify with her plight. Halliday manages to balance self-deprication with self-determination in this unconventional coming-of-age tale. I recommend it highly for your favorite graduate this year, or for anyone who needs a good side-splitting laugh!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews

More About the Author

I was born in Indianapolis, Indiana and came of age at the height of the preppy craze. For some unfathomable reason, my grandparents had a subscription to The New Yorker and every week, I'd paw through it daydreaming about a glamorous future where I'd be a celebrated stage actress living in sin with some hot, devoted trumpet player in a Greenwich Village loft with a skyline view that I've since learned is only possible from Brooklyn or New Jersey.

After graduating from Northwestern University with an impractical, expensive degree in guess what, I embarked on an exciting career as a waitress, with occasional time-outs for globetrotting of the dirty backpack, banana pancake variety.

In 1988, I joined The Neo-Futurists, a Chicago theatre company notable for presenting 30 original plays in the course of 60 minutes and ordering pizza for the audience whenever the show sold out. Greg Kotis auditioned for the ensemble in 1991 and fortunately, we cast him because otherwise, I might not have married him and moved to New York City where we rented a 340-square-foot apartment in the East Village for $1150 a month.

Boy, were we surprised when a big old stork swooped down a year later, especially since the baby it dropped off had three thumbs and required immediate treatment in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

On Inky's first birthday, I put out the first issue of my zine, The East Village Inky which was and still is written and illustrated entirely by hand because computers tend to take a digger when I'm around (This Web site was engineered by Dave Awl, an old buddy from the Neo-Futurists.)

After a few years, the shadow of the stork fell upon us again and we moved to Brooklyn. Milo was born underwater so lickety split, he almost came out in the Tompkins Square playground.

Greg wrote Urinetown! (the Musical) which, to everyone's amazement, made it all the way to Broadway and now he's such hot doodie he might burn you, so don't touch him! Don't tell him I called him hot doodie either because he's rigorous about his modesty and I already drew a couple of pictures in The East Village Inky where he dances around naked.

I eschewed housekeeping and wrote a book called The Big Rumpus so I could remember what life was really like when my children were small and so that you'd have something to purchase in bulk for Mothers Day and every other major holiday.

Then I had to write another book in case you pride yourself on hating kids or break out in hives at the thought of reading another birth story. My second book is called No Touch Monkey! The ranking brass in the East Village Inky guerilla marketeering squad think it'd make an excellent present for everyone who received a copy of The Big Rumpus from you last year, not to mention the special dirty backpacker in your life. If an Amazon customer reviewer is going to hate on any of my books, that's the one! Boy, is it ever! I'll fix their wagons someday.

Gosh, playing in the ashtray of my tattered memories was such fun, I started rooting through all the crappy day jobs I held while pursuing an elusive dream of life on the golden-but-not-nearly-wicked-enough stage. If you, too, have suffered the slings and arrows of outrageously low-wage fortune, reading Job Hopper is going to feel like taking off your girdle. If you've been pulling down six figures since the day you graduated B-school summa cum laude, reading Job Hopper is going to feel like taking off someone else's girdle.

The most recent autobiographical dough to come pumping out of the template is Dirty Sugar Cookies: Culinary Observations, Questionable Taste. It's a love letter to everything I've ever eaten and a few of the things I wish I hadn't. I might add that it's got one of the gnarliest indexes I've ever seen, short of The Merck Manual. It made me so hungry, I had to start a food blog just to justify some of the crazy things I've stuffed in my pie-hole over the years. (I eventually realized that blogging's not for a hard core zinester like me, but you can find the archives online if you search for "Dirty Sugar Cookies Eggplant Tofu" which is what I always do when I'm trying to remember how to make my husband's favorite recipe.

In 2008, Hyperion published a picture book that had been knocking around in my rusty old brain pan since my then-4-year-old daughter observed that there's "Always Lots Of Heinies at the Zoo". True enough! She's twelve now. You do the math. Anyway, it's illustrated by Dan Santat, and it has a Bossa Nova beat, in case you want to dance to it. I'm particularly proud of the line about the junk in Ms. Elephant's supplemental trunk, and my favorite illustration is the one on the back cover.

Then came Zinesters Guide to NYC, an anecdotal, illustrated, low budget, highly participatory guidebook to New York City. It is believed to be the last wholly analog specimen of its kind. Stephen Colbert said it's truly funny, truly affordable and that if he could still walk the streets of New York among his People, this is the guide he would use. Have your cake and eat it too by using your smart phone to check if a certain gluten free and/or vegan and/or venerable bakeries listed in this delightfully old school volume are still open or whether you should savor that listing as New York history.

And now comes my graphic novel, Peanut, a collaboration with illustrator Paul Hoppe. It's about a girl who fakes a peanut allergy under the mistaken impression that it will improve her social standing at her new school. Schwartz and Wade is publishing it in January 2013, just in time for...Christmas... oh.

That photo is what I wear when battling the haters who write scathing reviews of No Touch Monkey. As you can see, I am also enjoying a cup of Official Writer Drink.

If you'd like to learn more about what's shaking in Ayun layund, or find out how to order the East Village Inky, or see some old timey photos from back in the day, I've got a website. I named it after myself. No, not Ayun Junior. Ayun Halliday Dot Com! We can even be Facebook friends. I'll wish you a happy birthday.

Dare to be Heinie! And thank you for reading!