Iain Levison can find work but not fulfillment. The frustration of dead-end, deadhead labor induces a kind of pink-slip payback syndrome as the realization sets in that his college degree will gain him little by way of psychic wages on the job. He is adrift in a workaday world where one human is as good as the next and all are expendable. Meaningless promises abound, “like when they were telling us [at commencement that] we were the future of the world, the bright shining blah blah blah.”
In ten years, Iain Levison has lived in six states and worked at forty-two jobs, from fish cutter in Alaska to furniture mover in North Carolina, film-set gopher, oil deliveryman, truck driver, crab fisherman . . . He quit thirty of them, got fired from nine, and has difficulty remembering the other three. Whatever could go wrong often did, hilariously.
A Working Stiff’s Manifesto makes Nickel and Dimed look like chump change. It is a funny book about the not-so-funny American workplace. The real thing, written not by a high-priced journalist disguised as a counter clerk, or a tenured professor passing as a vagrant, but by a genuine wage-dependent, red-blooded working stiff too “rich” for welfare and too broke to fit a consumer demographic. He works to keep his car running to get back and forth from work. He works to get by and get back to square one for the next day’s labors.