The Orange Slate

| simpler is more |

Of Scams, Education, and the Freelance Life

July 10, 2013

Being unemployed is hard.

Rmember the somewhat-scammy phone-call I received after responding to a Craiglist ad last week? Well, I caved. They called me again and since you can’t make less money than $0 and since I have tutored before and since they weren’t asking for my credit card information, I decided that I had nothing to lose.


Yesterday, I merrily drove out to Tyson’s Corner to have an “interview” with the “tutoring agency”. I knew something was wrong when I showed up to a sketchy office in the back of a building and nobody was using English as their first language. Or even Spanish.

I had a wave of momentary panic and almost left but then I realized that I could at least write a somewhat amusing blog post out of the experience and so I sat back down in the waiting area. Ah, the sacrifices writers make for their art.

Here are some key tips that I garnered. You should probably not take a tutoring job if:

1. The agency seems oddly under-staffed and unoraganized. For instance, the person with whom you are supposed to interview never shows and the “interview” turns into yet another “initial screening” with the same person who was unable to give you any kind of concrete information over the phone in the first place.

2. You are told that the agency works with foreign students and “high-profile” individuals and embassies from a variety of countries in the Middle East, not all of whom are known for their enthusiastic support of the U.S.

3. You are told that the majority of work you will be doing is not necessarily tutoring, but homework “completion” for aforementioned foreign students.

Folks, I am all about tapping into the system of free enterprise to provide less-than-priviledged students with all of the tools possible to learn and succeed.

But there are also a lot of people making money off of other people attempting to circumvent patience and plain ol’ hard work.

When the interviewee mentioned #3, I flipped. There is a not-so-fine-line between tutoring and making totally illegitimate money off of the cheating techniques of students too smart to plagiarize.

Apparently, I am not able to hold a poker-face, because the interviewer started to backpedal. “Sometimes applicants aren’t comfortable with our processes,” she said. Yeah. I bet.

Allow me to rant a bit. Education is something an individual acquires through dedication and time. Success is something achieved through patience, sacrifice, and perseverance. You cannot write a check and pick up an education and long-term success at the store down the street.

If you are trying to shortcut the system, you will be disappointed and probably lose a lot of money in the process. And if you are making money by promising someone that they can write a check and purchase education and success, you are lying.

In case you are wondering, I did not take the tutoring gig and I am just as unemployed as I was yesterday. Yes, being unemployed is hard. But at least I know where I don’t want to work.

Share your funny freelance or scam story in the comments!