Linked In – Social Media for the High Plains Drifter

I finally got around to doing my Linked In profile today. For about 4 months there, it was nothing but a black hole that I used as a harvest ground for my Saturday night ritual of sending drunk emails to old friends.


Click here to follow me on LinkedIn…if you dare.

But I hear it’s good for business stuff like communication, networking, and um…synergy? Synergy is a business word, right?

Fine, whatever, I’m using it as another platform with which to stalk my exes and see how much more successful they are than me. Happy now?

I’ve been putting it off for awhile now because I didn’t have any business appropriate pictures (you know, without weed in them) and filling out the information is boring as fuck. That’s why I only filled out my current job position, and said before that I was a high plains drifter for 32 years.   Darn those midlife career changes!

When I was reading on how to fill out the profile, it suggested approaching the profile in the same way that you would approach your job or a project. So I did the bare minimum. I’m a very literal person. When someone told me that I needed to dress for the job I wanted, I dressed up as a space pirate.

I regret nothing.

But for someone like me, who is incapable of taking anything seriously, the Linked In profile can be an intimidating experience. On the upside, if I can’t make business contacts to boost my career, I can always fall back on being a high plains drifter.

“Are You This Much of an (Insert Slur Here) In Real Life?”

I recently wrote a couple of offensive posts (shocker, right?) that have garnered a few email responses. One thing that I get allot in these emails is;

“Are you this much of a cunt in real life, or are you just hiding behind the internet?”

To be honest, it’s a little bit of both. Much like any other emotion, cuntiness is purely situational.

I don’t believe that anyone is a bitch 100% of the time. When I worked in insurance, I used to have to deal with this zoo owner whenever one of her employees got injured. Let me tell you straight off, she was a fucking bitch. Seriously, she was a nightmare of a human being and I used to dread contacting her. She was the type of person who could take the most innocuous question, and turn it into a personal attack. She couldn’t even make small talk without getting offended.

Me: It sure has been cold out lately.

Her: No it hasn’t. God, everyone in this state is such a pussy. You all bitch about the weather, and you have no idea what cold it really is. Jesus, you people are friggen useless. It’s like the air you breathe is wasted.

There were times I considered driving to this cunt’s house and slashing her tires. She ruined my day on a regular basis for about 6 months straight. Just saying her name to me, nearly five years later, is enough to make my hands clench into fists of rage and make me start grinding my teeth.

One day, I Googled her and I found some surprising information. She was a complete pushover when it came to animals. She even had a moose that she raised since it was a baby, staying up nights, feeding it with a bottle. There was a video of her on the internet singing that damn moose to sleep, I shit you not.

It occurred to me that as much as I thought she was a cunt, that moose probably thought she was the greatest person on the planet. While that thought didn’t stop me from wanting to slash her tires, it did stop me from assuming she was a cunt to everyone.

I admit I can be a bitch. Much like the zookeeper, I have my hot button issues. Just today, as I was driving through my neighborhood, a 12-year-old boy tried to stare me down after taking his sweet-assed time crossing the street.

I immediately pulled over, rolled down my window, and asked the little fucker what his problem was. He ran away and I had to resist the urge to chase him down. Not fucking around people, I came about 2 inches from kicking a 12-year-old’s ass today all because I didn’t like the way he looked at me.

If that isn’t being a cunt, I don’t know what is.

But I’m not always a cunt. In fact, most people who interact with me find me very pleasant, because I’m pretty laid back. I’m polite to service people, I give money to homeless people, and I only flip people off in traffic when it’s absolute necessary (like they just nearly killed me…or they have a Sarah Palin bumper sticker)

But no, I’m not a cunt all the time. I have situational cuntiness.

When someone contacts me in my personal space, like on my blog, and is rude, I am a cunt. When a man treats me like an idiot because I was born without testicles, I am a cunt.

When a child somehow thinks he’s tougher than me and can stare me down, even after I’ve generously decided to not run him over with my car for delaying my beer run, I am a cunt.

But no, rest assured, I am not this much of a cunt in real life. In fact, most times, I’m only a cunt for one childish reason.

Namely, you started it.

Some Really Bad Job Hunting Advice

I like to use AOL as my homepage. I enjoy their news (man with biggest testicles in the world has surgery!), as well as their helpful tips on securing employment.

Now, I’m not really interested in securing any employment. I mainly just like to read the articles. Why? Because the information they give is the SAME COMMON SENSE INFORMATION that anyone with opposable thumbs and 4th grade reading level could figure out on their own.

So rather than be part of the solution, I’m going to be part of the problem by telling you all why you should avoid common sense and just start fucking winging it.

This is actually going to be part of a series of books I’m working on in the non-fiction genre. I’ve actually created a new form of self-help. It’s called self-sabotage.

1. Include all your contact information on your resume.

Yeah, this is actually a “tip” written by an expert in the industry. People failing to put any contact information on their resume is a HUGE problem. I can’t tell you how often a resume gets sent under the name ‘anonymous’ with contact information that reads “if you want to hire me that bad, you’ll find me.”

This is not a tip. It’s basic fucking common sense. However, I’m going to expand on it. Don’t just put your name, address phone number and email. Take it a step further. Add some of the bars you like to drink in or the adult chat rooms you frequent. They’ll find you for sure.

2. Use effective titles.

The true goal of a job title isn’t to tell people what you did. That’s actually the opposite of what you want. If you are writing an effective job title, you need to make sure that not one single human being on this planet can actually figure out what you did in that job.  For example;

Bad: Accounting Manager

Good: Chief Mid-Level Operation Supervisor In Charge of Eliminating Numerical Redundancies

3. Use a standard font style and size

Fuck that. You’re a non-conformist. Personally, I like to use wingding’s on my resume. Nothing says great employee like;

♣∞♥♦ ♦♥♦♥♣∞♥♦

4. Be courteous

Really? So I shouldn’t call the person interviewing me a fucktarded douchebag? Nah, you’re putting me on. Personally, I think that the guy who uses racial slurs and shows up drunk is going to be a lot more memorable than the guy who sucks up about the companies mission statement.

5. Dress nicely

I’ve heard is said that you should dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Ever since I saw Firefly, all I’ve really wanted was to be the captain of a ragtag band of space pirates.  Finally, a reason to wear my eye-patch and carry my ray gun at the same time!

6. Bullet points are AWESOME!

  • Use
  • bullet
  • points
  • because
  • people
  • are
  • morons
  • who
  • can
  • only
  • handle
  • one
  • line
  • of
  • text
  • at
  • a
  • time

7. Follow up

Most people recommend sending a ‘thank you’ card following an interview. Just so you know, that card usually just gets throw away. I actually recommend a more personalized approach. Follow the person who interviewed you home from work. Show up at their kids school. Trust me, if they wake up at 3 am with you standing over their bed, they’ll never forget you.

There you go. With my helpful tips, I can pretty much guarantee you that you’ll never find gainful employment again. On the upside, you’ll get to be one of those ‘worst employee interview ever’ myths that HR people like to tell.

The Freelancers Interview

I love being a freelancer. I’ve always had a bit of a problem with authority, so being my own boss is a pretty good thing. Plus, I don’t have to leave the house and I work better when I drink on the job.

However, there is one thing that I absolutely love, that only comes along once in a while; the freelance interview.

For most of you out there, interviews suck. For normal 9 to 5 types, the job interview is nothing more than a 30 minute lying contest between you and a really stuffy member of HR. You get stuck talking about your 5 year plan, your greatest weaknesses and strengths, your opinion on the companies mission statement.

You know, stuff that no one gives a shit about.

But freelance interviews are different. See, every now and then I’ll submit a proposal on a long term or huge job. In those cases, the person might want to talk to me. However, they’re not doing it because they are required by HR policy to talk to me. They’re doing it because they want to verify that I am an actual human located in the continental US. They don’t care about my five year plan. They don’t care about my greatest weakness. They care about two things. They care about me being an English speaking American, and they care that I am not a complete cunt.

And most of them are even more laid back than me. See, us work from home types can get a little loopy after being out of touch with the rest of the corporate world so long. As a result, we forget about silly things like social niceties or stuff we should not say out loud. We no longer remember what is appropriate to say to another human being in a professional setting.

And god damn it, I love it.

In an effort to share the wealth, for those of you who might never get to have a freelance conversation, here is an actual transcript from my last conversation with a potential client.

Essa is sitting at her desk, swilling coffee and planning a late evening of writing threatening, error filled letters to various politicians. Suddenly, a new call comes in on her Skype feed.

Essa: Hello?

Liam: Hi Essa, it’s Liam.

Essa: Cool. So look, none of that hash shit you got me last time. Do I look Persian? See if you can get your hands on some decent NYC Diesel. Not the kind that’s too resiny though. It fucks up my vaporizer.

Liam: Excuse me?

Essa: (Smacks head) Sorry, you’re “from the (magazine name redacted) Liam”. I thought you were “drug dealer Liam”.

Liam: It’s a reasonable mistake. Sorry, I would have used the video chat, but I’m completely nude.

Essa: Coincidence! I’m bottomless today. I can’t find my pants.

Liam: Been there. So listen, I wanted to see if you’d be willing to take on an additional project. The guys that I hired to handle the web content in India are being a bunch of (ethnic slurs). I swear, it’s like they’re doing nothing there except for (completely offensive stereotype of Indian people, followed by some more ethnic slurs). It’s enough to make me want to fly over there and (really offensive rant that involve broomsticks, religious deities and more ethnic slurs). Can you take care of them for me?

Essa: Sure, as long as you’re willing to reimburse my airfare and the cost of broomsticks.

Liam: (laughs) We’ll hold off on that until the end of the quarter. I mainly just want you to weed out the ones that suck from the ones that really suck, and then do a mass firing via email.

Essa: So you’re looking for a scapegoat?

Liam: You got it.

Essa: That will cost you extra.

Liam: Fine with me. If I never have to deal with those (ethnic slurs) again, it will be too soon. Can you take care of it today?

Essa: Already writing the email.

Liam: Can I call you back tonight then?

Essa: That’s fine, just do it before 6. Otherwise, I’ll be shitfaced.

Liam: Coincidence! I’m shitfaced now. It’s half the reason I’m nude.

Essa: We are indeed kindred spirits.

Of course, not all of my freelance client interviews go like that. Sometimes, they actually want to talk about the job. The point I’m making is that it’s never really a chore to talk to them, because they’re actually calling to discuss something important. They don’t ask me stupid questions that they don’t care about the answers to.

If only all employers would behave like them. Of course, I imagine HR complaints would go up as well, but hey, you give a little, you get a little, right?




And Here’s How You Know Things Are Bad…

So, as you all know, I am a full time freelancer. As a full time freelancer, my jobs aren’t always guaranteed. Sometimes, things get rough. It’s a roller coaster ride of financial security and a step away from being a stretch-marked web cam model most of the time.  But I won’t give up; I’ll never give up. I’m just that damn good.

But in case you’re new at the whole freelancing thing, and you need to know how to gauge when things are going really bad, here are some tips.

1. Your grocery list has become more of a ‘wish list’ – This is the part where you start crossing out necessities on your grocery list in order to survive another week. “Toilet paper? Who needs toilet paper? I still have coffee filters and old Dunkin Donuts napkins.” When your list consists of nothing more than ‘milk, eggs and Raman noodles,’ then you know things are bad.

2. You’re thrilled to find a dollar – This happens as you’re scrounging through your old clothes, looking for loose change in order to get gas money. As you’re tugging out those annoying dimes and nickels, you might stumble upon a real live dollar! Say what you want about being rich, but no millionaire will ever be able to understand the true joy you feel when you stumble on a crumpled up dollar in an old pair of jeans, when you are completely fucking broke.

3.  You start wondering how good you could be at a life of crime. You might find yourself Googling tips on starting your own forgery business or jacking cars. Personally, I have always thought I would kick ass at insurance fraud.

4. You start praying for a relative to die. This is a desperate point. It might be a close relative or a distant one, but the only thing you can think of is how much easier life would be if you got some sweet insurance policy settlement money. Then, you’ll try and push the thought from your mind because you’re afraid of the bad karma, but deep down it will still be there and you know you can’t unthink it.

5. You reuse coffee grounds and roll tobacco out of old cigarette filters. No true writer can live without coffee and cigarettes. So when it gets really bad, we scrounge for what we can get. Trust me, the taste of desperation is the taste of old Pall Mall Menthol Light tobacco mixed with Marlboro lights in some Zippo orange pack rolling papers.

But here’s what separates the real writers from the hobbyist writers. Most full time freelance writers will wash out after a year, due to the five facts above. They will retreat to their cubicles, say they’ll keep writing, but then, after a full day in corporate hell, they’ll forget all about their dreams. They’ll go home, let their novel sit unfinished and watch the news as they drink themselves stupid.

The real writers will understand that this is just the low point on the roller coaster ride that is freelancing. They will ride the storm and they will hit the high point. A new ghostwriting gig is right around the corner or it’s only a matter of time until their novel takes off. A real writer will never forget the dream, even as they’re getting an eviction notice or smoking used cigarettes. They will keep on writing. Ironically, the suffering they accept from writing in that state of desperation will make them better writers. If you doubt me, look up pretty much any famous writer you can think of before they hit it big.

So yes, things might be bad, but they will get better. Knowing that isn’t about optimism. It isn’t about false hope. It’s about recognizing your own talents and standing behind them. When you’re good, people will notice.

Once year ago today, I had about 25 blog followers watching the things I write. Now, that number is closer to 3000. Things can only get better and only a fool would give up now.





It’s Not Rocket Science…But Neither is Your Job

I’ve reached a low point in my life. I’m being judged by a garbage man with a neck tattoo.

I live in a place that has ‘valet trash’ service. This is a fancy way of saying ‘we pay a bunch of ex-cons and high school drop-outs $20 a night to pick up your trash at your door, for the low, low price of $50 a month.”

Being the dainty flower that I am, I use this program. Well, also, you can’t opt out. My complexes dumpsters are locked up tighter than Fort Knox and only a select group of individuals have the key. From what I’ve seen, you’re only eligible if you have a criminal record and some form of ‘fuck the police’ permanently, and prominently, etched onto your body.


Anyway, the whole valet trash thing seems easy enough. You put your garbage out, they take it. But then you get into the complexities of garbage politics. They won’t take loose pizza boxes. They won’t take unflattened cardboard boxes. They bitch about bags that are too heavy.

Also, if they fail to show up for three days, and one of the several billion squirrels that run around get into your trash and destroy it, they bitch about that. I really feel like I need to apologize for that. If there are any valet trash men out there, reading this tonight, please accept the below as my formal apology.

Dear Garbage Man

I’m so sorry I forgot to deploy my Sonar Squirrel Repeller 3000 while you took your spontaneous vacation. Maybe I should have just sat outside for three days waving them away with a fucking broom until you decided to some back. You know, because my life revolves around making a service, that I pay you to do, easier for you.  Regardless of how poorly you decide to provide that service.


Essa Alroc, Person Who Pays You

Tonight was the last straw. As I sat here, finishing up yet another 12 hour work day, I heard one of these douchebags complain through my open window about the way the knot was tied on my garbage bag. The exact phrase; “Jesus, learn how to tie a fucking knot. It’s not fucking rocket science.”

The guy nearly shit himself when my blinds popped open and I responded, “nope, and neither is your job but you still can’t manage to do it without leaving a line of garbage down my walkway.”

He walked away without responding. It was a shame, because I had many more helpful suggestions about what else he could do to make his job easier. Some of the helpful tidbits I was going to recommend;

  1. Try being in the country legally. That way, your job won’t involve working for a shady contractor who owns a pickup truck and only hires dudes that hang out in front of Home Depot.
  2. Try graduating from High School or at least getting a fucking GED. My friend Sara finished her GED in approximately 12 minutes, for $399, by taking a correspondence course she found in her TV guide. No joke, there is no longer any excuse for not managing to at least complete the standard 12 grades. Don’t give me a hard luck story either. This isn’t China. There is more than one free program available out there. Find it, and you might find someone willing to at least pay you minimum wage.
  3. If you have chosen to get a facial tattoo with a swear word or racial slur, you’re not getting a job that pays more than $3 an hour unless you go back to prison. No suggestion here. Just an FYI.

What are you getting from the tips above? If you hate the idea of cleaning up my garbage for a living, it’s not my problem. It’s yours. Do something a little more productive than bitch about the people who pay your salary and things might get a little better for you.

Who knows, maybe someday, you’ll be the one driving the pick up truck.




Dealing With Scammer A-Holes in Freelancing

If you’ve been following my tips and tricks on freelancing, then you’ve seen my articles on how to land clients and how to start your own freelancing business. At the same time, I hope you’ve been paying attention to how to avoid a scam.

If not, it’s time for Essa’s tutorial on DMCA and how to keep from getting your work stolen.

Unfortunately, there are scammers out there who are only trying to collect as many articles as possible so they can resell them or use them without paying. Let me explain to you how they do this, because these requests will actually appear perfectly legitimate.

Generally, the scammer will request a test job. A test job is not the same as a free sample. Instead, it’s a common, legitimate request when starting with a long term client. If the article is accepted, the client will pay for the rights to use it and you’ll begin a relationship.

In one of these scam instances, they will request the test job. Then, after you submit the article, they will just disappear. Sometimes, they’re just a normal client who is too busy to respond. A follow up email will usually get a response with a yes or a no from a non-scammer.

However, if they delay or start making excuses as to why they have not made a decision, chances are you’re dealing with a scammer.

Let’s be honest. Most of the articles you will write for test jobs are going to be around 500 words. If they can’t read an article of 500 words in under two weeks and make a decision, chances are they are planning on stealing it. Don’t let them.

The easiest thing to do is send an email withdrawing your application and asserting your copyright. Resist the urge to tell them to go fuck themselves. Regardless of how tempting it may be, after you’ve wasted hours of your valuable time writing for them, be a professional. You can never truly tell if someone is scamming you, or if they are simply an unresponsive client. Regardless, you don’t want to work with them. Scammers for obvious reasons and unresponsive clients because getting them to pay you is damn near impossible.

Just send an email thanking them for their consideration, but state ‘due to time constraints’ (or whatever cliched phrase you want to use) you will be unable to work with them. Then, make sure to add this sentence or something similar.

“I also assert all rights in articles submitted for consideration and not purchased per standard copyright law.”

To a non-scammer, this sentence simply tells them that you’re keeping the article for your future use. To a scammer, it tells them “I’m watching you. Don’t fuck with me.”

Standard copyright law isn’t complicated. You don’t need to register anything and you don’t need to file any legal forms. Simply stated, once you write something, you own it until you sell the rights to it. Never agree to transfer of copyright prior to payment. As long as you can show proof, either through a word doc or emails, that you wrote it first and that the copyright wasn’t purchased, you’re safe unless you have to take it to court.

Trust me, you won’t have to take it to court. There is a simple law out there to protect you and it’s scarier than any courtroom. It is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, aka, the DMCA.

After your close call with a scammer, sell your article to someone else ASAP. It’s much harder to steal something if it’s already posted online. Usually, scammers will sit on these stolen articles hoping that you forget about them. Before you sell it, check to make sure it hasn’t been posted by searching one phrase from your article on the internet, or checking the scammers website.

If you find your article posted somewhere, you need to act. First, use the contact form on the website to send a polite message reminding them that you own the article and requesting that they remove it immediately. Give them a limited timeframe to respond. Every second they’re posting your stolen article is a second they’re making money on your stolen article. In the past, I’ve given anywhere from 24 hours to 1 week, based on how likely I thought it was a scam over an innocent mistake.

If you don’t get a response, then it’s time to get aggressive. Find a formal DMCA notice of copyright infringement. Send a copy to them. Send a copy to their hosting provider and send a copy to any advertising partners listed on the site. Advertisers are making money off your scammers copyright infringement as well, so they are guilty by association. Ironically, they are usually the first people to do something about it. Generally, they’ll pull their ads and end their affiliation with the scammer.

Here’s where the DMCA gets scarier than a courtroom. Once you have sent proof of your copyright and the right DMCA form, the web host will either remove the content themselves or ask that the site owner remove the content. If the site owner refuses to remove the copyright material, or doesn’t respond, the hosting provider will shut the entire site down.

Not only will your scammer get their page shut down, if they do get it back up after removing the copyright material, they will also get a black mark on their Google record as a copyright violator. Any website with multiple DMCA notices gets tanked in the Google rankings. As their goal in stealing your material in the first place is to get an increased site rank, you just hit them where it hurt. Well done.

It is getting harder and harder for these scammers to swipe content. Thanks to that, those of us trying to make a reputable living doing this have a better chance of doing so. Never let someone make money off your work when they haven’t paid you for it. Instead, know your rights when it comes to your material.

And above all, know when to be an asshole.