What I Learned From My Two Weeks As A Tomato

During the summer before my senior year in high school, I held what I think may have been the oddest job in existence: I dressed up as a tomato.

I was handing out flyers throughout downtown Colorado Springs, and clad in a large red vinyl ball stuffed with newspapers I wandered through the park, the courthouse and a whole bunch of big businesses. Oh, and my own high school.

I made some money, got unbelievably embarrassed and got dehydrated (I was insulated too well for the average summer day). I also learned some incredibly valuable lessons that I’ve managed to apply as a freelancer.

  1. People are more likely to notice something that stands out. A new angle or sheer enthusiasm can get you places that covering the same story the same way everyone else does will never lead you.
  2. People will remember willingness to go out on a limb. My high school counselor was more than happy to write a few extra recommendations for the girl in the tomato suit (especially because she scored him extra coupons from the restaurant she was advertising).
  3. Other people won’t find your tomato suit — or other gimmicks — nearly as embarrassing as you will. This especially goes for marketing. A lot of writers are worried that they’ll make a fool of themselves by putting themselves forward for any sort of personal marketing. Other people will look kindly on all kinds of attempts to engage their interest, down to a girl walking into their office dressed as a tomato.

Of course that’s just what I’ve learned from my odd job. Want more? Two blogs are talking about lessons learned from odd jobs this week — Middle Zone Musings and Good Word Editing. Check ’em out!


  1. Robert Hruzek   â€¢  

    Thursday, I must admit, you’ve probably got the most unusual job so far. Great lessons learned, by the way!

    Thanks for jumping in with enthusiasm – must be those tomato lessons! 😀

  2. Pingback: Middle Zone Musings » All Entries: What I Learned From Odd Jobs

  3. Mark Goodyear   â€¢  

    I’ll bet the tomato suit story made it into the counselor’s recommendation letters too. That’s a vivid detail those college admissions folks won’t soon forget.

  4. Pingback: The Original “Odd Jobs” Master: Nancy Rica Schiff » article » What Would Dad Say

  5. Pingback: Results from the What I Learned From Odd Jobs Group Writing Project } Group Writing Projects

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