October 16, 2013

I’ve mentioned several times that I hustle as much as I can to increase my debt payments. Although I love where I work, nonprofit pay is far from enviable and won’t allow me to achieve my debt payoff goals. TaskRabbit has been a great resource for finding additional gigs.  I’ve gotten paid to attend a Google hangout, help someone move, transcribe audio of someone’s life coach session and more.  I’ve confirmed some more work as a Mother’s Helper in a few weeks and also secured work for a Halloween party. Last year, I worked a Christmas party for someone on Taskrabbit, and 10 months later they asked me back for their Halloween party. Win!

But today, I took a gig that went horribly awry. The gig seemed easy enough. Clean fridge, put away clean dishes and start a load of dirty dishes in the dishwasher. Easy, right?  I do the same thing almost every night at home! I figured it would be an hour or less of work, and considering that the person lived 2 blocks from me, I bid $20 (if you are not familiar with TaskRabbit, you bid on gigs). And I got the gig!

I went to his place after work. The fridge wasn’t some bachelor pad nightmare that I was imagining. The guy wasn’t a creep.  There weren’t that many dishes. I looked at the clock and after 30 minutes I thought I was close to done; until I looked down at the dishwasher that was now overflowing with soap and water.

Oh my gosh. What happened? I thought

I started scooping out buckets of water, trying not to panic. The guy I was working for got a towel, cleaned it up and started the dishwasher again.  At this point, I apologized and kept doing my job. The dishwasher kept oozing out foamy goodness and I couldn’t believe it.

At home, I wash my dishes by hand, but at work I frequently start the dishwasher with the fancy liquid dish-washing soap which looks similar to what I used.  After the second overflow happened, the guy found little dish-washing nuggets to use instead of liquid soap. Do’h! He then took the bottle of dish-washing soap and looked at the back:


There it was in big, bold letters. I actually said, ‘fuck my life’ to which he responded it wasn’t that sort of situation, which made me feel like a dramatic jerk. I admit, I have a penchant for drama, but then he also just told me a story about how his previous taskrabbits sucked and then nonchalantly said, ‘now you’ve joined the group and screwed up like the rest of them!’. I think he was trying to be funny, but it really wasn’t. An hour later, after doing the best I could, I left feeling not only like a loser, but a complete idiot. Mind you, he never told me which soap to use, but I failed to read the back and just saw the ‘dish-washing soap’ label.

I kept telling myself I’d never see him again and that this will be really funny tomorrow. But I also kept thinking about how if I wasn’t stuck in debt, I wouldn’t feel compelled to clean up after other people’s shit.  In my Class and Privilege post, I mentioned that being privileged is having other people do your dirty work. Having people wash your dishes, clean your house, launder your dirty skivvies is dirty work. But it’s also honest work. Which is why I do it. But I’d love to be in a place where I don’t have to do that (side note: I just added a Hire Me page).

Have you ever completely messed up at a job or side-hustle and felt like a complete idiot? Have you worked a job where your class position was made obvious?


Melanie is a freelance writer currently living in Portland, Oregon. She is passionate about education, financial literacy, and empowering people to take control of their finances. She writes about breaking up with debt, freelancing, and side hustle adventures at DearDebt.com.

Currently she puts more than 50% of her income towards debt, while living a frugal, fun life. In addition to her love of personal finance, art and music, she is also a karaoke master. Follow the adventure @DearDebtBlog.

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32 responses to “Side Hustle Fail”

  1. Awwwww……I’m so sorry that happened to you! I didn’t have a dishwasher growing up so I had no idea about the tablets at first either.
    Holly@ClubThrifty recently posted…For Sale By Owner Insanity: A RantMy Profile

  2. Aww, M, don’t be too hard on yourself! It happens to the best of us! 😛 It would’ve definitely happened to me as I really suck at all things domestic. The only thing I more or less enjoy doing around the house is ironing (I’m not going to mention all my pretty dresses and tops that got destroyed, as I might start crying if I do). I got better at it over time! I’ve never done this kind of work for anyone, but if I did I would get fired on the spot! 😛

    I really admire your efforts to help you reach debt freedom faster, M! I hope your next gig works out better for you! xo
    Eva @ Girl Counting Pennies recently posted…Frugal Feast #1My Profile

    • deardebt says:

      I’m glad I’m not the only one that isn’t a certified domestic expert. I keep things simple and don’t own a dishwasher, which might have been my downfall to begin with. Thanks for your encouragement– trying to hustle to pay off debt sucks sometimes, but at least it provides some funny stories 🙂
      deardebt recently posted…Side Hustle FailMy Profile

  3. From an outsider’s perspective that made me kind of laugh. I can just picture the scene and I probably would have done the same thing since I have been hand washing my dishes in what seems like forever. I once did a task rabbit to give a girl a ride to the airport and since it was Long Beach and I’d never been there, I asked her if she could read google maps and she was just a complete mousy idiot. We seemed to take the long way and I did get her there on time, but there was an accident on my way home and I was on the 405 at 7am for like 3 hours. I haven’t done a task rabbit since since I think it was only 20 bucks too. Some things just aren’t worth it.
    Budget and the Beach recently posted…Taking Back My Fear of PlasticMy Profile

    • deardebt says:

      It’s actually really funny (now). It was like out of a movie or something. Is this really happening? And it happened three times and by the time I left it still wasn’t fixed, we were just waiting for it to drain! Some things are not worth it for sure….this would have been more than worth it, if this mishap didn’t happen.
      deardebt recently posted…Side Hustle FailMy Profile

  4. Isabella says:

    You really are inspiring with all your extra gigs! I did the same thing with the dishwasher, but fortunately it was in my own home. As for jobs, I couldn’t find a teaching job at one time so was cobbling together anything I could. I found a job as a waitress at a pizza place and worked the lunch hours. It was a madhouse, and I felt so stressed. Six days into the job, I was serving four guys at a table. I had a tray of drinks, and when I took one off the tray, it created such an imbalance that the tray and drinks toppled all over a customer. At that very moment, I went to my boss and said, “I quit.” I’m not a quitter usually, but I never regretted walking away that time!

    Yes, I laugh about it now, and you will too!

  5. Dang, that sucks! We don’t know much about tablets but my wife does make her own dishwashing detergent which seems to work fine?
    I think it’s pretty awesome that you are working, so keep that up. We actually wanted to try taskrabbit but it isn’t available here…
    Jacob @ Cash Cow Couple recently posted…Cash is King, Or is it?My Profile

  6. Michelle says:

    Aww that really stinks! But don’t be too hard on yourself. It is kind of funny though 🙂
    Michelle recently posted…What Young Adults Should KnowMy Profile

    • deardebt says:

      It was funny this morning…until I got an email saying he didn’t want to run the dishwasher a few times to fix it and felt he shouldn’t have to. I didn’t want to fix it either, so I said he didn’t have to pay me. Sigh.
      deardebt recently posted…Side Hustle FailMy Profile

  7. Yikes. Those FML moments happen to me daily. You just keep your chin held high and rocking out all your side hustles M 🙂
    Girl Meets Debt recently posted…Dating a Financial LoserMy Profile

  8. dojo says:

    I haven’t done too many bad things, but mistakes do happen for a web designer too. I just say sorry and mind my own business, making sure it’s all solved and the client doesn’t suffer from it. I wouldn’t worry that much, it was indeed a mistake, but you’ll have better days. Many better days 😉
    dojo recently posted…Freelancing: How much money do you need to start freelancing?My Profile

  9. Aww, that is a mess. Well you live and you learn. =) I’m glad you can laugh about it now.
    Suzanne @ Naturally Stunning recently posted…Four Natural Skin MoisturizersMy Profile

  10. anna says:

    Oh no, sadness (but kinda funny). I admit, the only reason I know how this situation would work is because of a TV show that did the same thing (I want to say Punky Brewster, something when I was young). Don’t be so hard on yourself, I think the guy was probably trying to lighten things up but had awful delivery. One of my “fails” before was baby-sitting a kid that would always cry when I came over… I don’t know how it happened, but the parents and I figured out that it was because of my glasses! So for the times I baby-sat her, I wouldn’t wear them… totally not safe, looking back, so thankfully nothing bad happened from it.
    anna recently posted…Four Reasons Why I Still Love The Big Bang TheoryMy Profile

  11. Ah sorry to hear that. I did the same thing, but in my parent’s dishwasher. It took some time but essentially we just had to run it over and over and over with no dishes.

    I totally hear you about the class thing. If blogging, work around the house, and some random spreadsheet jobs didn’t take up almost all my time I would seriously consider delivering pizzas, but this post made me think about it more and it would definitely feel like the whole “class” difference at time, despite the fact I’m an accountant by day. It’s really too bad that people feel “above” certain jobs. I know an unemployed college grad who complained about a lack of a job, but refused to deliver pizzas or do anything along those lines. I really don’t feel bad that he still lives at home.
    DC @ Young Adult Money recently posted…How To Rock a Minimalist Wardrobe At WorkMy Profile

    • deardebt says:

      Good to know I am not the only one! The problem is this guy doesn’t want to run the dishwasher a few times himself and wants me to do it. I don’t want to, so I said he didn’t have to me for my services. This failure has become an ordeal, but oh well, lesson learned!

      Also, I really resent people that don’t talk work because it’s “below” them. Work is work.
      deardebt recently posted…Side Hustle FailMy Profile

  12. I’ve always contemplated about doing TaskRabbit. Definitely going to stick to what I know, though 🙂 Don’t be so hard on yourself – I don’t even know how to use a dishwasher because I usually wash my dishes by hand, too!
    Lisa E. @ Lisa Vs. The Loans recently posted…Weekend Recap: I ♥ Autumn TagMy Profile

  13. Yikes! I’m glad you’re able to laugh about it now 🙂 TaskRabbit isn’t in my area yet and Craigslist has been no help for me finding side hustles. I almost had a house cleaning opportunity but the guy ended up being a major creeper, luckily, I found out before I went cleaning at his house!
    Kasey @ Debt Perception recently posted…Grammar Nazi to the Rescue!My Profile

  14. I vaguely recall a babysitter making that mistake once when I was a kid. I thought all the bubbles were awesome.
    In other news, my parents got us the geatest gift ever a few weeks ago of housekeeping for a few weeks and I am in love with her. Today she even hand washed some wine glasses that were dirty!!
    Anne @ Unique Gifter recently posted…The Cost of Hunting in British ColumbiaMy Profile

  15. Elle says:

    Sorry things didn’t work out with dish-washing and $20.

    My husband had the same confusion; growing up he hand washed so he didn’t know you couldn’t use dish-washing soap. We had an extra clean kitchen and a good laugh.

  16. Heh heh, sorry to hear that. Too bad you have a day job. I’m looking for a daytime babysitter for 2-3 hours, 3-4 times/week. 🙁
    retirebyforty recently posted…Education options for the kid if we move overseasMy Profile

  17. Oh man! Well, don’t beat yourself up about it. Everybody makes mistakes – too bad he made the joke. It’s a little insensitive.
    SuburbanFinance recently posted…How to Choose the Right Budgeting Software for YouMy Profile

  18. Michelle says:

    He could have brought up the soap thing because I don’t think it’s the first time it has happened…I’ve just quit a side hustle because my heart wasn’t in it. The thing is I handled it in a way I typically wouldn’t-I procrastinated.

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