• Lifestyle

The freelancer in its natural habitat: a very special safari tour

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to our tour – we’re so pleased that you’ve chosen Metropolitan Safari!

Just a quick reminder before we start to please keep all hands within the touring vehicle, and keep a close eye on small children. We are not responsible for the loss of your offspring, precious as they are – Madame, please pull him off that fire hydrant – we don’t want a repeat of last Wednesday. The dad looked away from his 9 year-old for five seconds, and bam! Gone. Next day they found that kid halfway to Coney Island, and he had already picked up a serious gambling addiction.

Now, we’ve got a real treat for our tour-goers today – a real exploration into the gritty reality of a very special species: the Freelancer.

A Free-Lancer, you say? Isn’t that some kind of mercenary medieval soldier, bent on pillaging kingdoms? Hahaha, you get the joke, sir – I saw a smile! Oh, no, okay – that’s just your face. Sorry.

As I said, we’re in for a PARTICULARLY great tour today, because we will be viewing the Freelancer – a kind of unattached, renegade worker, as I understand it – in her HOME ENVIRONMENT, which is why I have asked you to meet me outside of this rather unimposing residential building in Manhattan.

(Please ignore the street honking, that’s not for you. It’s just how the natives say “hello!” )

Now as we enter the Freelancer’s environment, let me caution you against any sudden movements or sounds. Do not tap on the glass, and do not under any circumstance FEED the freelancer – she may become excitable. And I don’t want anyone else losing a limb.

Up the stairs, now, single file! Yes, they are rather steep. No, no elevator! This is REAL URBAN LIFE, my friends, and we only have … oh, four more floors to go.

Here we are, anyone need a water break? We are standing outside of the Freelancer Nest – commonly referred to as an “apart-ment,” presumably because it ostensibly allows this species to live vaguely “apart” from her 20-something year-old obnoxious hipster neighbors, who you can hear playing bad music loudly through the walls.

I’ll ask you to please not remove any items as souvenirs from the “apart-ment”; she doesn’t want to have to fill out any more paperwork with the NYPD this month.

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Here we go – opening the door! File in, please!

Shh! Very, very quiet now – we’re extraordinarily lucky today, folks, because the sometimes-nocturnal freelancer is having some daylight hour movement today – stay very still, there – you see, here she comes!

Isn’t she beautiful? Such a majestic example of nature’s wonder. From the top of her unwashed hair to the bottoms of her pajama pants – note the remnants of this morning’s peanut butter breakfast on the upper-right thigh, there – she moves with athletic grace to sniff that Tupperware and decide if the leftovers are still any good.

Now, let’s take a moment to do a little scientific observation and note some key facts: pallor of freelance skin, wrapper-strewn state of apartment, twitchy behavior of subject… my friends! We are really seeing something extraordinary here, because this freelancer is in a state of hibernation and subsequent regenesis particular to this species: the Meeting of the Deadline.

Note how she eyes the laptop with resignation, then moves off to do minor, unimportant tasks before finally circling around – scientists speculate that this is a sort of courtship dance between a freelancer and her “pro-ject”. Give it a moment –

---- don’t startle her, now ----

And yes, with a guttural moan, our freelancer has flopped down on the couch and listlessly opened her laptop to do her work! Keep an eye out for behaviors indicative of this period – eyerolls, exasperated cursing, holding of head in hands while making a sound like “hnnnNNNNNNggghhhh.”

Fun Fact: Experts speculate that “deadlines” are so named because the stress of meeting them considerably shortens your lifespan.

Now is the time to take flash photography, as the subject will stay like this for the next 8-10 hours, occasionally pausing to binge-eat, stare blankly into space, or mutter angrily to herself. Afterwards, we’ll be selling posters and plushies downstairs. This semi-dormant cycle will continue until she finishes her project – if, hahaha, she ever does!

Ooop, I think she heard that. Ma’am, grab your kid and make a run for it! Get out now, we don’t know if she’s had her shots!

Kate Hamill lives and works in New York City, where she consumes an inordinate amount of Sriracha daily. You can catch up with her on Twitter at @katerone.