Today’s comic, “How Do You Say ‘Fuck Off’ and Not Get Fired?” by Adrian Chi, is about being sexually harassed on the job.
This comic was originally published in As You Were, Vol. 5: This Job Sucks, featuring 44 new comics about crappy jobs.
Adrian is a gardener.
Interview with Adrian Chi by Natalye Childress for Silver Sprocket
Can you tell us more about the job you share in the comic?
I was mostly driving visiting artists for the LA Philharmonic. It was the first job I had worth keeping after I graduated from college. (I had other jobs that were too stressful, or too far away, or too shady, that I didn’t keep as long.) I ended up leaving because the hours were too unpredictable. For a long time, I was OK with that, but eventually I desired more stability and got tired of not knowing what my monthly income was going to be. So I applied to the botanical garden after the LAPhil canceled three full days of work on me last minute! I couldn’t take it any more. I did not tell anyone to fuck off, haha. I did get really good at ignoring people or pretending I was ignoring them being assholes though.
I decided to share these moments because they sucked! I was also doing landscaping work as an independent contractor and that mostly didn’t suck. I do want to note however, that I drove artists (and their entourages) for about six years, and the majority of them were super nice, super respectful, and grateful toward me. I experienced some sexism and some uncomfortable “pick-up” type situations from only a few artists. I experienced other harassment while working that job, but from random people I encountered (not from artists), and I started wondering why I was experiencing this more while working this job than I was while living my life as regular me. Was it because I was dressed up more femme? Was it because I was usually alone? Either way…it always sucked when it happened.
What is the BEST job you’ve had?
I started working as a gardener at a botanical garden in the past year, and so far, it’s the best job I’ve ever had. I love working outside, I love working with plants, my coworkers share my passion of horticulture, and I’m even getting paid to spend time reading and researching the plants I’m responsible for (a large collection of Cycads, which are endangered).
What is the value or purpose in making art?
For me personally, the purpose of making art is to make life suck less. I try to create things that I enjoy the experience of later, or during. It feels therapeutic. When other people enjoy your art, it’s even better.
I have also learned about myself in recent years that I have a desire to perform and a desire to share my art. So I am fulfilling a need in myself to share things and it feels like a drug. The only downside, to me, is that it takes a lot of time! Between working, eating, sleeping, and spending time with loved ones, there’s not much time left to create art unfortunately. So you really have to set time aside to dedicate to it and that then takes away from time spent doing other important things.
Do you think artists have a social responsibility?
Absolutely. I always appreciate art that is political. It’s so inspiring and moving, and you can communicate so much through making it; you can learn so much from experiencing it. When you have a platform (a comic in a book, or a microphone on a stage) you have power. When you have power, you must use it responsibly. It’s not easy, but it’s important.
I have so much respect for artists who use their platforms to educate, to inform, to speak truth to power. So much respect, and I use these forms of art to educate and inform myself. That being said, there’s a lot of art/music that doesn’t necessarily seem political (love songs or dance songs, beautiful abstract paintings…) but when you realize that the personal IS political, it changes the meaning. And because self-care is political, because empathetic, compassionate people need to be inspired, we need to dance, we need to allow ourselves to feel joy—I consider even those love songs, even those abstract pieces of art, political and socially responsible.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on applying to grad school for landscape architecture and taking the GRE, which means I’m studying (and enjoying studying) math for the first time in my life. I have no idea how I’ll pay for grad school, but I’m trying to make long-term life goals and follow through with them one step at a time.
I’m also working on organizing within my relatively small suburban/swing district city. I’m working with the local mosques to organize a community forum addressing the immigration ban and the anti-Islamic sentiment coming out of the Republicans and the president’s administration. I went to my first city council meeting this week and addressed the mayor for the first time in my life (I’m having a lot of first-time-in-my-life moments this year).
I’m working on finishing recording new music and putting out a solo Badlands record on Lost Sound Tapes. And I’m working on trying to be kind to myself—that’s the hardest one.
If someone liked your comic in As You Were, what would you recommend they check out next?
Any place in their local area that carries zines, as well as their next local zine fest/fair.