I’m writing today about one of the strangest things I’ve ever done for money. (I hope that caught your attention.)
Earlier this summer, as I prepared to pioneer the Women of Vision group here in Orlando, I was browsing Craigslist for ideas of one-off money-making opportunities. A few years ago, I discovered an online writing gig through Craigslist, where I wrote for 10 minutes a day for 3 days about a particular experience (it was part of a university research project). I was rewarded with a $15 Amazon.com gift card and used it to buy home-school supplies. So I knew the opportunities might be there if I could dig for them.
I found just the thing: a voice recognition software testing post. For a couple of hours on a Saturday, I could earn money to fund World Vision projects our Women of Vision group would support–by reading off words, headlines, and numbers into a cell phone. The strange part? The testing took place at somebody’s house, the home of a young couple I’d never met–total strangers. On the day of my scheduled appointment, I had my husband stay with me a bit so I could feel out the situation at their house. Shannon had seemed totally normal in her emails, but…How can one truly tell?
Eventually I felt comfortable enough to let my husband and our boys leave me there to get the job done and pick me up later. So I sat at a little vintage desk in the corner of a bedroom where the woman conducting the software testing had set up a tiny recording booth of sorts. I got started–speaking into her cellphone–and read aloud the strangest concoctions of phrases I could imagine. Here’s an example: “Russian investors financial market Kardashian.” I guessed that these were chunks of news reports gleaned from the Internet.
Later, Shannon took a break from smoking and brought me a glass of ice water. She was just as sweet as she could be, HOWEVER. I just didn’t know about that. The glass of ice water sat on its coaster and sweated for the duration of my shift.
I finished my job and called Mike and the boys to come pick me up. Then I hung out with Woodrow and Garfield while Mike took his turn at this gig. For fun, we found a Goodwill store and poked around there for a while as we waited for Mike. On a dusty shelf, I discovered a treasure wrapped in layers of plastic and packing tape: a package of buttons weighing close to 5 pounds. The boys and I had used all the loose buttons I’d saved over the years in making prayer flag buntings (for our house and for gifts), and I wanted more. I’ve always loved buttons and seen such potential for what can be created using them. Just take a look at Pinterest for several dozen ideas.
The hefty bag of buttons cost just $2, so I bought it. Later, the boys and I returned to Shannon’s place to retrieve Mike (and to get paid). By the time we left, I had earned $30 (a little more than I’d expected since I’d recruited my husband to take part as well) for the Women of Vision coffers. Although weird as weird, this short-lived shift provided a blessing, and I was able to tell the women in our group that we already had $30 in our treasury at our very first meeting.
But that wasn’t the only blessing from that trip. I also brought home the blessing of those buttons. I’ve made one more prayer flag bunting since then, but for now I just relish the sight of them in their tall, re-purposed glass jar. I also relish the promise that they represent, the vision of projects and crafts and creations just waiting to happen.
Two gifts from that day: One planned; the other a surprise. A blessing within a blessing.