15/60 Evidently Jeffrey Adam Baxt passed the test, because he was able to get work washing dishes at Albert Einstein Medical Center one Labor Day weekend.
"You actually have to take a written test to be a dishwasher," marveled Baxt, a writer, event planner, publicist and actor from Roxborough who was laid off from his media relations job at the Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania in February 2009.
As an unemployed person, he has also wiped down hospital beds, unloaded trucks for Marshalls, and worked the midnight shift as a mall greeter handing out fliers the day after Thanksgiving.
"That job came through a casting agency," he said.
At Halloween, Baxt worked the stage crew for a haunted house based on Edgar Allen Poe's scary stories. Baxt's job was to push the button that created the special effect of a body going up in flames.
Baxt, 53, can draw a lot of parallels between his experiences in the "Masque of the Red Death" room and event planning, which is the part he likes best about being in the publicity business.
"It's a lot like putting the pieces of a puzzle together and trying to figure out what the picture will look like," he said. "Event planning comes down to being very detail-oriented, almost to the point of obsessiveness, and being very resourceful, figuring out how to get things done."
In an earlier life, Baxt was a newspaper reporter at the Burlington County Times. He also acts. Most recent work? He portrays coin dealer Izzy Switt in a docudrama about an infamous coin theft from the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia. Titled The Hunt for the Double Eagle, it aired Friday on the Smithsonian channel.
Update: As of December, 2011, Baxt has landed a series of short contracts for event planning and publicity, but is still looking for fulltime work. He also acted in three television commercials.
"As a public relations person, I'm always putting someone else in the spotlight," Baxt said. "When I act, it's my turn to be in the spotlight. It almost makes me feel fearless. It's a very potent feeling to be able to move people with just a few words."
These days, Baxt looks for jobs and freelances as an event planner, publicist and writer. To keep himself on an even keel, he writes short stories about the grim life of the unemployed. His wife is a schoolteacher and they have a daughter in high school.
Unemployment has been humbling.
Washing dishes "wasn't at the bottom of the ladder. It was like being on a step stool to the bottom of the ladder," he said. "What I've learned is that I'm willing to do whatever I need to do to meet my goals and obligations, and anyone who recruits me is going to get the same, if not more."
The Inquirer is not endorsing this individual as a job candidate; potential employers should conduct their own background checks.