Still unconvinced of my suitability, he reminded me that the job involved backbreaking work and that the average person could not hack it. He warned me that I would leave the job daily with various aches and pains. I countered that I worked out regularly and that I was not afraid of a strenuous job, though I must admit I was starting to worry.

To prove my point, however, I showed him scars on my hands. “Are these the hands of someone who is not used to work?” I offered, looking him squarely in the eyes. The part I left out was that the scars did not come from hard labor but from falling on glass when I was in the third grade.

I was working so hard at creating a working-class persona that I felt like a fraud. But my responses did the trick, and he asked when I could start. —Eugene ThompsonMoonlighting (Chronicle)

An academic takes a package-handling job to finance a research trip overseas. There’s an office recruiting day laborers and telemarketers that I pass every morning on my way to work, and I confess I’ve sometimes thought about stopping in…