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My last job, which led to my homelessness

June 1, 2012

Some time last June, a former grad school colleague, Amit Kumar, called and asked if I could assist him with his dissertation.  In early October, he called again and set up an interview with me on October 17.  Two days before the interview, Jana Herzen called and told me not to report to the office anymore, sabotaging the one-shot deal that would have saved my apartment.  At the interview, he put all of his graduate and post-graduate seminar papers on my flash drive and said that he wanted to pay me $900 for me to assemble his dissertation proposal over the next three months.  In January, he wanted to bring me to Jacksonville to work as his assistant with Final Cut Pro and office work.  Amit said that a core element of the proposal would be the literature review.  He had a bibliography with 100 books on it, and said that I would need to write a paragraph on each one.  He said that we would have meetings via Skype in which we would discuss the details.  He gave me a general overview of his thesis and had me get to work as well as to start packing because he would pay for my relocation.  He repeatedly scheduled Skype meetings and no-showed.  I told him that without more specific directions, I didn’t know what to write about unless I read the books, mentioning that his bibliography was not annotated in any way indicating how the book applied to the study.  He told me that there was no time to read the books and to just keep writing based on my own judgment.  I was out of money, and he gave me $100.  On January 9, he met me in Times Square he was not happy that the results were all over the place, but conceded that his no-shows probably had something to do with it.  There was still the assistant work that he needed done and he was prepared to bring me to Jacksonville for a 3-month probationary period at $18,000 a year, after which I would get a raise based on the quality of my work and $800 to help me relocate.  It was at this January 9 meeting that I first learned of Maruti Transit.  He gave me Gloria’s e-mail address and said that I would work for 2-3 hours per day at the transit company along with $100 for expenses, and that was how I got my belongings into storage.  During that time, I filled out an application that stated that is was for both 69 Productions and Maruti Transit.  On January 16, I was on a bus bound for Jacksonville.  Arriving the evening of January 17, I was met by a Maruti employee who brought me to a Best Western where I would spend the next four nights.  I reported to the office on January 18, surprised to find that there was nothing there related to film/video production and was only marked as a transit company.  69mp.com showed about a dozen employees, of whom I met none other than Amit, who was leaving for India to shoot his feature film with Victor Banerjee and Ankur Vikal.

His idea of whipping the literature review into shape was restating one of his papers like I was a simpleton.  I tightened it up based on what he had said was most important,. but he said all of it was important, tying my hands as to what he needed cut.  It didn’t cover nearly all the books on the bibliography.  He said that the result was incoherent, that I had taken out the breathing space, it was too long, and that I hadn’t related each text to the main idea of the dissertation.  I didn’t know what he wanted, because he wanted the length brought down.  He then had me work on a spreadsheet assembling information based on film festivals.  He had me send him daily updates and CC Nita Parikh, president of Maruti (and Amit’s much-older girlfriend) of what I had done.  The 2-3 hours of work for Maruti each day had expanded to eight hours per day, and sometimes I was forced to do up to 12 hours in a day with no additional pay, because I was salaried.  On April 26, I was let go from Maruti for asking for assistance to deal with a client on the phone.  By Monday, I was working entirely for 69 Productions at the public library using Amit’s laptop.  I continued to work for him for the rest of the week.  Saturday morning, May 5, he called me asking if there had been any articles on the topic of Indian cinema or exhibition spaces added to the Southern Illinois University (where he was earning his Ph.D and was “all but dissertation”) library collection.  He said that he would call me later. It was Free Comic Book Day, and I wanted to make the rounds.  I took the laptop with me with the page loaded up.  There were no articles on exhbition spaces other than dealing with museum exhibits, and one article dealing with Indian cinema.  Even without Wifi necessarily available, I wanted to be able to open the computer right to this.  He called me several times while I was driving on the highway, and I didn’t pick up for safety reasons.  When I could get to a Barnes & Noble, I opened up the computer and called him.  All he really cared about was that I hadn’t answered the phone earlier, said that it wasn’t working, and that I should pack my bags.  I didn’t receive a penny from 69 Productions or Maruti Transit after my pay for April 26.  My last paycheck was $276 less than usual, and I received no pay for the week leading up until May 5 (unless one counts the $225 check labeled “Charity–Scott Hutchinson” on May 15, the day I left), fired for failing to do something while not on the clock.  If they’re going to call it charity and spell my name wrong, it’s not my pay for that week, nor for any of the weeks leading up to the move, nor for any of the work that I did for him.

I was scammed royally, and am now homeless as a result.

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