They need a job to support their dream
July 20, 2007 6:47 PM   Subscribe

A person wants to be a superhero, but is not superrich. What kinda job can they hold to support themselves, assuming their expenses (Rent, food, utilities, retirement fund, single, no kids, no car or debt) are about $1400 a month? They live in a major city.

This is for a piece of fiction. The superhero is not rich and has no rich friends/family etc. They're not in it for the money. They don't want to do anything illegal or even immoral. They don't want to use their powers to work for someone 'cause they want to be totally indie with their super-hero shtick (that and there was a bad experience doing suphero work for someone else). Part of their power is a fast healing time or invulnerability to cut down on those pesky doctor bills, visits and questions.

Please don't mention Spiderman and his freelance photography which consisted mostly of him taking pictures of himself. That was silly, as anyone with a lick of sense should have figured it out. I'm going for real life, something practical. The superheroing occurs during the night and day, so it can't be a straight 9 to 5.

This person wants to spend most of their time superheroing and as little time as possible working, but would like to be interesting work, if possible.
posted by Brandon Blatcher to Work & Money (79 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
What are the super-hero's powers? I'm assuming he/she is strong, so construction?
posted by greta simone at 6:50 PM on July 20, 2007

Buffy flipped burgers and then she was a school counselor. She also tried construction briefly, but was too awesome.
posted by greta simone at 6:51 PM on July 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

Freelance writer for a travel magazine, or local newspaper. Perhaps a second-rate author, or small business owner (non-retail). Mailman (works mornings) or garbageman. Owner of a restaurant, dump, etc.
posted by blue_beetle at 6:54 PM on July 20, 2007

Buffy flipped burgers and then she was a school counselor.

"The superheroing occurs during the night and day, so it can't be a straight 9 to 5." That and flipping burgers won't provide enough.

Construction--can chose when to work or are you assigned shifts/days?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:56 PM on July 20, 2007

posted by padraigin at 6:57 PM on July 20, 2007

bike messenger
posted by ronmexico at 6:59 PM on July 20, 2007

Your character is clearly a show horse groomer.
posted by paulsc at 7:00 PM on July 20, 2007

Part of their power is a fast healing time or invulnerability

Some kind of a sideshow or circus act. A street performer.

A test subject for various pharmaceuticals.

Giving blood (lots of it!).

A photographer that secretly takes pictures of himself fighting crime, which he sells to a newspaper that ironically is run by a person that hates the superhero.

Wait, that last one is taken...
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:03 PM on July 20, 2007

The superheroing occurs during the night and day, so it can't be a straight 9 to 5.

Well it depends, is the superhero a loner type? bike messenger, computer hacker, dog walker (altho by my calculations they make in the 6 figures around here so might not fit the "not rich" bit)

an artistic loner type? graphic designer, book store employee, janitor at an art gallery

a gregarious type? firefighter, EMT, small business owner, chef, bartender
posted by fshgrl at 7:04 PM on July 20, 2007

bus driver
posted by maloon at 7:06 PM on July 20, 2007

posted by unmake at 7:07 PM on July 20, 2007

Thirding bike messengering. I don't know how much it would earn them, but I would imagine it would make for some interesting plot lines... now I want to read a story/comic/whatever about a super hero bike messenger :).
posted by MadamM at 7:07 PM on July 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

Cavia porcellus
posted by rob511 at 7:08 PM on July 20, 2007 [2 favorites]

posted by saffry at 7:08 PM on July 20, 2007

I second bartender. In a dive bar. With shady clientele. Where he can overhear stuff about situations that may require some superheroing. He could have a couple day shifts and a couple night shifts.
posted by trip and a half at 7:09 PM on July 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

Sewer system diver.
posted by IronLizard at 7:10 PM on July 20, 2007

Writes fake astrology books.
posted by thelongcon at 7:10 PM on July 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

Day trader from his home computer. Can trade markets in any time zone depending on when he has to do his superhero work.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:12 PM on July 20, 2007

almost by definition the couldn't be a gregarious type if they want to keep their secret identity (and they do!). Janitor in an art gallery sound...odd. How would it be different from being a regular janitor?

No on the graphic designer. They're assholes.

cop and bus driver implies a regular job.

Bike messenger sounds promising, have to look into that.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:14 PM on July 20, 2007

freelance writer with a drinking problem
posted by kanemano at 7:17 PM on July 20, 2007

Point taken on the gregarious vis a vis secret identity thing re: bartender. Then: barback. Practically anonymous, but has the same eavesdropping opportunity, and the same scheduling advantage.
posted by trip and a half at 7:23 PM on July 20, 2007

Bike messenger was done by that show dark angel and seemed sort of lame when they did it.

Have him do something really normal that doesn't really need to be part of the plot. How often did you ever hear about Bruce Wayne doing anything other than the appearances he made?
Make him like a php contractor =]

good luck.
posted by zephyr_words at 7:30 PM on July 20, 2007

Phone sex worker
posted by amtho at 7:31 PM on July 20, 2007

Just thought of something else that might work: caterer/personal chef.
posted by trip and a half at 7:31 PM on July 20, 2007

Yoga instructor?
posted by amtho at 7:32 PM on July 20, 2007

Children's birthday party clown
posted by amtho at 7:33 PM on July 20, 2007

They don't want to use their powers to work for someone 'cause they want to be totally indie with their super-hero shtick (that and there was a bad experience doing suphero work for someone else). Part of their power is a fast healing time or invulnerability to cut down on those pesky doctor bills, visits and questions.

I see that their powers cant be an explicit part of the job, but what if they were more implicit?
Perhaps a very very dangerous job that as a result has flexible hours but decent pay? Bomb squad? Swat team? One of those fisherman guys on the discovery channel? Metafilter admin? Skyscraper steelworker?

Or on the other side, you could make fun of the typical anonymous job characteristic of most superheroes and make your guy have an ironically high profile position. Maybe one of those ubiquitous tv used car or mattress salesman in commercials. When people ask "wow, you were saved by SUPERHERO? What did he look like? Well.. Kinda like that guy who is in those annoying commericials."

Make him absolutely hate his job, and thus is driven to fight crime to redeem himself.
posted by jlowen at 7:34 PM on July 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

Third shift work at a hospital? Lab tech or some such? May be interesting with the healing angle. Create some tension if they feel that they need to keep their superpowers and work separate.

There are lots of third shift jobs to hotels (though the pay at hotels is poor unless there is tipping involved), hospitals, typesetting, dispatch, computer operators, shipping, etc etc.
posted by jeanmari at 7:35 PM on July 20, 2007

Self-employed ice-cream truck driver. He can drive the truck around whenever he wants to, and can leave it parked when he's busy doing super hero stuff.
posted by amyms at 7:36 PM on July 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

posted by toxic at 7:36 PM on July 20, 2007

Gah. Sorry. Forgot about the indie thing.
posted by jeanmari at 7:36 PM on July 20, 2007

posted by mdonley at 7:44 PM on July 20, 2007

Bespoke tailor. Barber.

Okay, how many of us answerers are now deep into the plots of superhero stories we want to write ourselves? Be honest.

/derail. I'll shut up now.

posted by trip and a half at 7:46 PM on July 20, 2007

I did third shift for several years and it wrecked my life and health. No fucking way. Plus third shift is still a regular 9 to 5, just at different hours.

Dominatrix, phone sex work, escort all work, but it almost seems silly, while the job would deter some readers and almost overshadow the story itself.

Bartender who works the shady bars to overhear shady deals sounds too cliche as any criminal with sense would quickly figure out who the hero was.

Need something where they can set their own hours and is a low key job.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:48 PM on July 20, 2007

One of those guys who refills pop can machines. My friend does this. Drives around in a van and sometimes parks and naps or has coffee for hours. Stays in shape too for that superhero body.
posted by beautifulcheese at 7:54 PM on July 20, 2007

catalog model
posted by kanemano at 7:55 PM on July 20, 2007

Real estate salesman.
posted by bytewrite at 7:59 PM on July 20, 2007

Sidewalk bookseller
Billboard ad installer (owns the ad on the side of their building?)
Graffiti artist
Sells roses around the city ($5 a rose? are you kidding?)
Hospital interpreter
Piggyback Taxi...
Sidewalk acupuncture
Subway candy seller
Personal Concierge
Nightshift bank-data enterer
Something in a costume? A mascot of some sort?
Bank robber?
Robin hood?
Parking garage attendant (has anyone ever seen them working?)
Vegan street food vendor
Lego test assembler
Book critic
Typewriter or Piano repair
Silverware thief
Amateur Cyclist
Grad student (lives on loans? battles the angst of the Good now or the Better later)
Neighborhood dealer
Au Pair
posted by Galen at 8:00 PM on July 20, 2007

You know the spam job offers where you can work at home as much as you want and make $$$$? (yes, FOUR dollar signs! That much!) I'm sure the majority of them are completely bogus, but there must be some semi-honest ones.
posted by Ms. Saint at 8:08 PM on July 20, 2007

I think the bigger questions is what are you, the author, familiar with? The story will be better if you write about something you know / have experience in. You can't make them a real estate agent if you don't know bugger-all about real estate. There are any number of occupations that would work for this -- really it's almost easier to list the jobs that wouldn't (factory shift work, etc.) -- so the difference in the quality of the story is going to be the amount of realism and detail you can bring to it from your own background.

Personally I think it would be amusing to give them some sort of totally un-superheroish desk job, like freelance programmer, IT consultant, etc., but that's because it's what I'm familiar with. (And I know lots of people who are ICs and work from home as programmers or consultants...makes me wonder what they do in their spare time...)
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:09 PM on July 20, 2007 [3 favorites]

posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:26 PM on July 20, 2007

Something gritty that either gives him extra knowledge of the city or of crime/the underworld. Shouldn't be too varied/interesting because you don't want the day job to take over the story or to raise too many questions you have to gloss over. Bike messenger and dive barman are good suggestions I think. A rent boy superhero would be really interesting too, I would read that for sure.
posted by crabintheocean at 8:31 PM on July 20, 2007

Massage therapist.
posted by Melinika at 8:52 PM on July 20, 2007

Hot dog cart owner.

Building super.

Secret shopper.

Envelope stuffer.


Professional Blogger.


Hit man.

Independent cab driver.

Airport baggage handler.

Comic book store owner/operator.

Ph.D. candidate.
posted by The World Famous at 8:55 PM on July 20, 2007

Embittered ex-cop now working as a PI, but doing so rather ineptly to the consternation of their friends and family, who little suspect his their identity. Somehow manages to scrape a living doing run-of-the-mill "is my spouse cheating on me?" work.

Work their own hours, plausibly comes into contact with various criminal elements and insider police info (from old buddies, naturally), with the added bonus of motivation (couldn't help from within the system, so decides to try and make a difference on their own).
posted by djgh at 9:01 PM on July 20, 2007

If they're young, they could've dropped out of policing due to corruption in the force.
posted by djgh at 9:02 PM on July 20, 2007

Freelance software programmer. I have friends who do niche programming (ie., programs that track how much crude goes ito the freighter at what temperature, and how much is expected to come out at what temperature at the other port; software that school district ue to track enrollment/payment/&c) who work whatever hours they want (an they can be very very wierd hours).

Lab tech might not work so well; the boss will want them to be around during certain hours.

Grad student might work; could also make for tense situations - keep surveilling a badguy's hideout/keep pursuing a bad guy or get back to the lab to stop an experiment/take readings for an experiment that they've spent three weeks setting up. I know a few grad students who work really wierd hours and their supervisors don't mind because they still manage to get stuff done.

But it's hard to get by as a grad student, money wise. Grants are available to all grad students, theoretically. Grad students in the/most hard sciences get stipends but they're typically flirting with the poverty line. TA-ing for extra money messes up the "no fixed hours" thing (not all departments require a minimum amount of TAing as part of their stipend).

For a grittier feel, I know there are lots of people around here who follow (well, precede) the recycling trucks going through other people's blue boxes for stuff that can be redeemed for deposits (pop/beer cans/bottles &c).

Hmm, someone in a similar mould who does the recycling thin but also looks for recyclable stuff (maybe the superhero is an inventor or something) who looks for trash that can be either re-sold, re-purposed, or broken down for parts for building other contraptions?

I've heard stories of professional garage-sale scourers who look for stuff that can be resold for profit.

Street-preacher types seem to not starve to death - but that's probably either from unemploymet/disability (social) insurance or they have a "headquarters church."

How about someone who has a disability and thus gets government assistance - perhaps their superpowers are a (unreliable? renewable each day but short-lived?) product of said disability?

Freelance web designer.

Somene whe ebays stuff (ie., buy wholesale from India [clothes, whatever] and sells on online auctions).
posted by porpoise at 9:03 PM on July 20, 2007 attempt to go gender-neutral failed. Who little suspect his their identity.
posted by djgh at 9:03 PM on July 20, 2007

411 operator?
posted by spacefire at 9:07 PM on July 20, 2007

In case bike messenger sounds good--it might be useful to know that Jessica Alba's character in Dark Angel was a superhero bike messenger, more or less.
posted by padraigin at 9:08 PM on July 20, 2007

Plumber. It's about as humble as work gets, which dovetails nicely with the indie street cred thing. No fixed hours, though -- aside from real emergencies -- he'd mostly work days. He'd probably drive a van, which gives him a little mobility. He'd live comfortably enough; an article I saw about typical wages here in Northern Virginia (where $1400 a month rent and expenses is around average for a single person) says a plumber makes around $50 K, which is more than doable. His job would also bring him into strangers' homes, which presents some story opportunities.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:11 PM on July 20, 2007

Tech Support.

Explore relation between different types of "help." Super hero can heal during this period since all he/she has to do is talk on phone.

I have a better idea, but I think I'm going to take it for myself.
posted by pokermonk at 9:28 PM on July 20, 2007

I know you've already poo-poo'ed this idea as potentially silly, but I really gotta go with 'prostitute' here.

Your hero can set his/her own hours, and if you're seriously stating that his/her expenses are only $1400 a month, that's only a few tricks right there. He/she could potentially work one trick a day just the first week of the month and crime-fight the entire other three weeks! (If your hero is female she could even work one week, fight crime two weeks, and spend one week on the rag kicking back, eating ice cream, and watching schlock TV.)

A healing factor would certainly be helpful in fixing up any on-the-job boo-boos, and cut down on the risk of STD's. And your hero will need a fake "work" name for his/her job anyway, so he/she will be well-acquainted with the concept of secret identities by the time it comes to his/her hero-ing.

If you presume your hero also has friends and contacts in the local sex workers' union/meeting groups (yes, they exist), he/she would have a good source of information on possibly shady characters, or know of people who need help who might be unable to go to the police or through the courts for fear of exposure.
posted by Asparagirl at 9:31 PM on July 20, 2007

(As with the Dark Angel/bike messenger thing, I should note that the superhero-as-prostitute has been done before as well [The Pro]).
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:56 PM on July 20, 2007

Custom glass fixtures. His father (adopted or otherwise, who of course dies tragically while the hero is young), taught him the skill of how to work and create custom items in a glass furnace.

He rents space or works for someone who doesn't care about when the work gets done, merely that he gets it done.

And our hero will often reach right into the flame and shape the glass itself by hand. His power permits the skill passed on by his father, to be faster; but he has the skill.
posted by filmgeek at 10:00 PM on July 20, 2007

Freelance cartoonist/illustrator.
posted by piratebowling at 10:55 PM on July 20, 2007

It's a bit dark, but perhaps the superhero can live off of money he/she takes from the criminals?

For example, superhero busts in drug den, ties up bad guys to street light outside, calls police to tell them the address, and takes bundles of neatly wrapped money leaving the drugs for evidence.

It could also give a nice side-plot into the superhero questioning this very debatable behavior.
posted by lockle at 11:28 PM on July 20, 2007

I'll second/third some sort of freelance software or web development job. Something computer based and workable from home sounds ideal for the superhero. As flexible hours as needed so long as deadlines are met. Probably shouldn't be too great at the job or more more work will roll in than s/he wants, but obviously can't be terrible or there won't be any work.
posted by 6550 at 11:44 PM on July 20, 2007

The hero having a day job as a techie is almost a cliche at this point, though, or maybe I just read a lot of books like that. (Speaking of which: MadamM, have you read Snow Crash? If not, I recommend it. Don't take it too seriously.)

I kinda like the plumber or other blue-collar freelance contractor type. Roto-rooter guy, lawn mower, etc. On the other hand, in his position I'd kind of want a job in which my special power was somewhat useful, presumably meaning a job with a high risk of minor injury. Dog-catcher?
posted by hattifattener at 12:12 AM on July 21, 2007

This is pretty silly, but could the hero possibly get some of his or her money from a tort settlement? If the powers stem from an accident and aren't obvious until after the settlement, the same event that caused the superpowers could be the subject of the original lawsuit.

You might also try and think about other people who are in the same position, where they're unable to rely on their passion to support themselves, but they might be called away on a moment's notice for the sake of their desired careers. The people who come to mind are professional actors, who need to balance day jobs with auditions and dramatic work. You might even have your hero pretend to be a struggling actor or something of that nature, so absences could be explained away as "auditions."
posted by jennyesq at 12:39 AM on July 21, 2007

Spammer? Telesales? (I like the "Make him absolutely hate his job, and thus is driven to fight crime to redeem himself." idea)
posted by malevolent at 1:04 AM on July 21, 2007

Freelance chef. He/She cooks a few times a week at dinner parties, etc.

The person gets to be around all these people -- observing them and listening to their conversations while he/she cooks -- but is always in the background keeping a low profile.
posted by juva at 2:27 AM on July 21, 2007

posted by ikkyu2 at 3:58 AM on July 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

Contracted gardener if you want analogous caring and nurturing personality aspects as well as being able to insert him/herself into a variety of environments in a city (offices, solariums, rooftop gardens).

Demolition subcontractor if you want a brawler. The work is by the job, contractors can disappear for days, and the powers could come in handy.
posted by arruns at 4:35 AM on July 21, 2007

Bouncer. And, Brandon Blatcher, graphic designers are not assholes; people who refer to an entire profession as such are.
posted by Scoo at 5:27 AM on July 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

but I really gotta go with 'prostitute' here.

No. There's no way in hell that I'm adding more sexism to comics. Plus being a prostitute probably is bit stressful and depressing and can overshadow most of your life (i.e. story)

No on the tech jobs. Too cliche.

Also, thanks for the plot & character suggestions, but they all just remind me of how cliched American superhero comics are.

Plumber/blue collar work sounds nice, but it seems to imply some sort of schedule or quick response time if they wan to make ends meet.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:32 AM on July 21, 2007

I've known plenty of people, in fiction and in real life, who, while neither independently wealthy nor steadily employed, somehow manage to get by. That underground-economy kinda thing is, if you ask me, a fascinating gray area, and I'd be interested in comparing and contrasting the superhero kind of struggle to survive with the day-to-day financial kind.

Or, alternately, have them work at a public library! And their secret superpower could be an almost psychic-mind-meld level of readers-advisory skills! And they hang out at Metafilter all day!
posted by box at 6:12 AM on July 21, 2007

Use all of these suggestions. Being a superhero probably makes it difficult to keep any one job for too long because the hero has to run out and be a hero during the time he/she's supposed to work or ends up bringing the superheroing to work which results in the workplace getting destroyed. The fact that the hero keeps going through lots of different jobs could be an interesting plot thread.
posted by andrewraff at 6:40 AM on July 21, 2007

Tech support (from home)

Medical Transcriptionist
posted by amtho at 7:49 AM on July 21, 2007

I've known plenty of people, in fiction and in real life, who, while neither independently wealthy nor steadily employed, somehow manage to get by. That underground-economy kinda thing is, if you ask me, a fascinating gray area, and I'd be interested in comparing and contrasting the superhero kind of struggle to survive with the day-to-day financial kind.

Bernie Mireault's excellent and as far as I know mostly forgotten The Jam: Urban Adventure got into this a bit.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 9:05 AM on July 21, 2007

I like adrewraff's idea of many jobs, but take it a bit further: your superhero is constantly getting fired from jobs for being late, not showing up, etc. From the outside, he's a loser (tension from family/friends there); on the inside, he's always fighting temptation to work for "the man" doing what he loves. This provides the obligatory tension of "if only I didn't have to live this double life." Also, financial straits give you good opportunities to move the plot: superhero can't make the rent, has to go pawn some stuff, sees X. Superhero gets a temp job passing out fliers, sees evil wrongdoer he's been following. You could use this sparingly when the superhero-ing activities get more intense.
posted by sfkiddo at 11:48 AM on July 21, 2007

Running some sort of community weblog? There could be these funny interludes where the hero gets called away to be super and when he gets back everyone's gone all crazy without any moderation... Oh my god!
posted by nanojath at 12:51 PM on July 21, 2007

Tax preparer. The winter months are slow for crime anyway, and he could be a contractor who gets paid by the return or somesuch, so he'd have a flexible schedule.

Along the same lines (depending on the city): snow plow driver.
posted by backupjesus at 1:06 PM on July 21, 2007

No. There's no way in hell that I'm adding more sexism to comics.

Um, sorry, but what? Why would your hero(ine) being a prostitute automatically mean his/her job is sexist? Especially if he's male, and therefore probably serving clients of the same sex? I'm thoroughly confused here.

Plus being a prostitute probably is bit stressful and depressing and can overshadow most of your life

I'm going to go out on a limb here and presume you've never actually met a sex worker before; not all of them are poor desperate streetwalkers in need of a drug fix. The couple I've met are all nice well-educated women who thoroughly enjoy both the duties of their jobs and the relative freedom it affords them. One of them I met while we both slaved away at Warner Brothers desk jobs that were far more degrading, abusive, and miserable on a day-to-day basis than her other "freelance work" ever was.
posted by Asparagirl at 5:54 PM on July 21, 2007

Um, sorry, but what? Why would your hero(ine) being a prostitute automatically mean his/her job is sexist?

American supehero comics not done a good job of depicting women. They're usually in a submissive or sexual role, or were, back when I was reading them in the '90s. The idea that a super-heroine would be a prostitute seems to fit with that pattern and thats the last thing I'd want to do for a female superhero character.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and presume you've never actually met a sex worker before;

At one point, I was living in downtown Baltimore, corner of Biddle and Guilford and working that third shift job hinted at above. Some nights I'd come early, say about 4 or 5 in the morning and come across prostitutes working North Calvert Street. It was always startling because they seemed like shells of people, some sort of distant mirage that if you looked at too long would disappear. Their presence bothered me a lot, not for their job, but for their thin, frail bodies, ill fitting clothes and eyes that quickly sized you up and classified you and then looked past you even as they looked at you.

So, on one of my nights off, I picked one up.

Her name was Dallas. She had on a long thin faded dress, and ragged face with a huge purse. She wouldn't believe that I just wanted to talk to her or that I wasn't a cop. She demanded that I show her my dick and once that was done, relaxed, since evidently that's something cops can't do. I offered her $40 bucks for her time, since it seemed insulting not to offer soemthing and once I convinced her I didn't want to have sex with her, she relaxed a bit and consented to just drive around, as long as we stayed in well known places. So we spent the night driving around Baltimore, while I asked questions about herself and she talked. At one point a huge bag of Doritos came out of her purse. "Dinner" she said, grinning and shrugging her shoulders.

She had been a trucker, drove rigs, made good money until she started taking drugs with her then boyfriend. That spiraled outta control until she lost everything and turned to hooking to support herself. She was pretty good at almost immediately breaking down what kind of and how much drugs she could get based on how much money she got per trick.

Being a prostitute bothered her, but not as much as some of the things she had done. She had been in five year relationship with a guy she really loved and he had begged to have anal sex with her. She had always refused, despite his constant asking and it had become a sore point with her boyfriend because it was the one thing she wouldn't do for it. She eagerly, happily did everything else, but that one thing lead to other strains in the relationship and eventually they broke up. At one point after she started hooking she "sold her asshole for $20, to some fat ugly guy" who wound up hitting her and where was the fucking justice in that she wanted to know. The guy she loved she wouldn't do it for, but later, for measly twenty bucks she just gave it up. "Can't even remember what I did with the money. Probably drugs or some shit"

She talked for hours. She told me lots of things about herself, it just flowed out after a while, her being a kid, growing up, relationships she formed and lost. She dreamed up patching things up with her dad, figuring that would help her "quit this life", but there was a lot of water under that bridge and she didn't know how to start it, there was still so much anger there, on both sides. But one day...!

She never called her herself a sex worker. She was whore and lived in whorehouse with other whores. It wasn't great, but it was something that put money in her pocket.

Towards dawn she grew tired and started to fall asleep. She asked that I buy her breakfast and I did and she asked to go home, so dropped her off where I had picked her up and she took her breakfast and her bag and her long thin faded dress and ragged face and went home. I never saw her again.

Several other prostitutes I talked to had similar stories, even Lynn, who was actually Thomas.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:16 AM on July 22, 2007 [1 favorite]

Clothing alterations where the fittings are done in the customers homes. I did this for a while, and most of my clients were elderly women who couldn't get out easily and who needed fitting help because of all the horrible things ageing does to the body's shape. They'd call me and make an appointment, I'd see them for the fitting, and make another appointment to bring back finished garments. Something complicated might require several fittings to get right. The most common thing would be hemming skirts to be the same height from the ground all the way around when scoliosis had them bent forwards.

A few customers were very demanding and painful to deal with, and some of them were emotionally needy, but on the whole, it was generally not very demanding business, I could work as much or as little as I wanted, and an income of $1400 a month is very doable. No superpowers required, although being able to heal from a pin stick before getting blood on someone's garment would have been useful.
posted by happyturtle at 10:59 AM on July 22, 2007

Transfers and admissions at a major hospital. Here they're a separate little department, sort of isolated, and there's plenty of downtime for doing superheroic research. Shifts often rotate, so they can work any hour of the day or night, and the pay's on target. Nice, steady, marginally exciting work... with excellent access to lots of information and often great contacts. Plus, when there's an emergency, they get to deploy the chopper...
I'd say parking enforcement, but they make too much money. Tow truck driver? That could be pretty convenient, depending.
Priest/nun? Exterminator? Building inspector? Curator?
posted by Gingersnap at 12:22 PM on July 22, 2007

While its cliche as all get out, a worker who only needs a phone (tech support sprang to mind as an easy, if Dilbert-ripoff, but phone sex is funny as all get out too) I keep picturing the (very spidey-like) hero on his/her phone giving advice to poor hapless mrs johnson while battling some big, African animal themed villain.

Also, check out role-playing materials. I recall some book in particular, a book that had nothing but oddball powers. my favorite was pogo... err....... yeh.
posted by Jacen at 10:15 PM on July 22, 2007

Someone mentioned building super, and that was what I was going to say too. If so, he gets his rent cheap, and has to deal with some annoying management company. Or landlord. The guy owns two fourplexes, maybe.

Those guys are always kinda odd and reclusive, and for almost every problem, they certainly don't have to have fast response time. It's got the humbleness of being a plumber since they're always fixing door hinges and whatnot, without being a stereotypical "blue collar" job and still being sort of "management."

On the plot link side, he does have access to a couple buildings' rooftops and basements, and he knows a handful of tenants, and getting from one building to another could be aided by super-traveling powers or not.
posted by salvia at 9:01 AM on July 23, 2007

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