What's the weirdest gig you've ever had?

Aug 1, 2014

A few years ago, I was working as a freelance resume writer. I got an email from a former client whose resume I had done recently – he had a proposal for me.

He wanted me to ghostwrite something else for him: an online dating website profile.

Okay, this seemed legitimate, I guess? I had never written someone’s dating profile for them before – and the whole practice of having someone create a fake persona FOR you so that you can meet your soulmate seemed a bit off – but I was still theoretically open to it.

Then he clarified; there were certain unusual proclivities (yes, think what you're thinking) he would like included in said profile, and could I make a point of emphasizing those?

That was a bit much for this little ghostwriter. I turned down the gig.

Freelancers’ workflows are the mutts of the career world; a little bit of this, a little bit of that. When you freelance, you tend to encounter a lot of weird requests and odd projects.

Here are just a few of the strangest that I’ve come across*:

  • I was asked to write a resume for someone working high-up for a private intelligence contractor; every single detail of his work was classified, so I ended up having to write ambiguous, amorphous things like “performed valuable work for international organization.” I had to go through seven (yes, seven) drafts.
  • A friend was hired to write 100+ tweets for a well-known hot sauce brand. The catch? Every single tweet had to center around said hot sauce and its (less-than-tenuous) connection to Saint Patrick’s day. “I cried,” reports my friend.
  • Another friend was asked to consult on a film script that was clearly loosely based on the filmmaker’s recent breakup. My friend said the filmmaker spent half of his time drunk, and the other half crying or cursing his ex: “It was like being his therapist, but way less well-paid.”
  • I was asked to tutor a high school student in English – but (while I was at it), also Physics. I never took Physics, almost failed a few other sciences, and know almost nothing about the subject beyond the basics: GRAVITY MAKES THINGS FALL, etc. “Don’t worry!” said the parent in question, “You’ll pick it up!” I turned that one down.
  • Another friend was hired to play the role of Archie Bunker at a New Jersey dinner theatre – at the ripe old age of 24. Although, as he points out, they didn’t do evening shows – “so it was really a lunch theatre. :(”

These are just the first stories I have off the top of my head – and via conducting a short survey amongst friends. There are stranger… oh, far far stranger.

What about you, freelancers? What are the strangest gigs you’ve ever worked?

*Some minor details have been changed in these stories, to protect the innocent!