t was late May, nearly three weeks after I received a layoff notice from my newspaper reporting job that I held for five years. I had already hawked everything worth anything on eBay and Craigslist. Financial anxiety seized its grip on me after I moved to New York from Los Angeles to pursue greener journalism pastures. That’s how I ended up at 1 a.m. on a hair classified website, where hairwork artists bid on strands to be incorporated into their art—or so they claim.
Here’s one way a repo company makes some money: They drive around in an unmarked car looking for parking for parking lots to go into so they can scan license plates using a license plates scanner mounted on their car. The repo companies are looking for owners of vehicles who have defaulted on their loans, and every time a scan finds a vehicle that’s stolen or in default, the company can make between $200 to $400.
Add this to the list of things people think about doing when they’re down to nothing and figuring out how to make some money: Sell your hair, or breast milk, or even kidneys on the black market (“kidneys” is one of the autofill options that come up when you type “I want to sell my” into Google search). But really, don’t sell your kidneys. The teenager who sold his kidney for an iPhone and iPad really regrets it.
Gideon Lewis-Kraus’s essay in Harper’s about co-sleeping cafés—places where, as far as I can tell, men go to pay women to sleep next to them for as short as 20 minutes, or for additional money, get patted on the head or get a five-second hug (cost: $10). The description of some of the services demonstrates some of the institutionalized sexism in Japan (women servicing men to make them feel better about themselves), but it also shows the country’s overworked culture that has people literally being worked to death.