Funemployment Tales: “Sex for Phillies Tickets” Woman Available for Hire

It's pretty hard to get a job after you've been the infamous talk of the town

You might remember Susan Finkelstein as the 43-year-old woman who was arrested for allegedly offering sex for tickets to the Phillies’ World Series game in 2009. The outlines of her story caught the media’s attention thanks to the the Bensalem Police Department, which issued a press release and held a news conference about the “crime” Finkelstein committed: having a flirtatious conversation with a police officer under the amused eye of four of his beer-drinking cop buddies at Manny Brown’s in Neshaminy Mall. As the Daily News‘s Ronnie Polaneczky reported, in the wake of the publicity around her arrest, Finkelstein chose to confront the charges in a brash, outspoken, even humorous way—including a semi-nude photo shoot for Philadelphia magazine. That behavior resulted in her losing her job—and as you might expect in the age of Google, it’s been very hard to find another. Finkelstein, whose conviction for “attempted prostitution,” was overturned this week, wrote to talk about her struggle with funemployment.

I fought back via the same media that slandered, mocked, insulted and humiliated me and my husband. I fought fire with fire. And as a result, I was terminated from my job as assistant director of communications at the Wistar Institute. Except for a brief stint helping a friend set up a website at a local university, I have been unemployed ever since. Being preoccupied with endless hearings, media interviews and appearances—and ultimately the trial and sentencing—made the first year of unemployment almost a relief: I mean, who could deal with all that and go to work every day too? But once “it” (I have yet to come up with a suitable word or phrase to describe the entire ordeal) was all over, the reality of being jobless and dealing with name recognition on resumes and at interviews—or unflattering Google results by potential employers—began to sink in and take a toll.

So, against my principles, I started applying for jobs under my husband’s last name, even though I’d never assumed it in “real” life. Yes, that would shield me from any prejudice that might arise once my recent history was discovered. And I’m sure in some cases it has. Except that once you’re unemployed for a certain length of time (not sure how long that is, yet), evidently you’re damaged goods and go into the “no interview” pile on the floor by someone’s Ikea-style desk. I probably send out about 20 to 30 resumes a week but have gotten only one—one!—real, true interview the entire time (but no offer). I’m able to collect unemployment (miraculously getting extended onto each new tier; strangely reminiscent of the old Mario Brothers games I played as a kid, making a leap somehow onto the next rolling barrel), but live in constant fear of falling off the screen once the Republicans execute their grand scheme and/or my time runs out.

During this extended “down time,” I walk the dogs amid the litter piles in the North Philly neighborhood where we’re living while our house, rendered uninhabitable by a catastrophic fire in late September, awaits the promise of rehabilitation. I go to the gym. I chat online. I write. Until I find work, the whole “episode” (again, no great word to use there) with the tickets remains alive and well … and painful. Each day of unemployment is a reminder.

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