News & Politics

BREAKING: Actor Takes Day Job

Geoffrey Owens arrives at the 2011 TV Land Awards on Sunday, April 10, 2011, in New York. (AP Photo/Peter Kramer)

At some point in your life, you’ll probably need to take a job you don’t really like. You’ll need to punch a clock and perform a task that doesn’t fulfill you spiritually and emotionally, that doesn’t earn you the fame and fortune you feel you deserve, because you’ve got bills to pay.

I certainly have, and I’ll probably need to do it again eventually. I’ve tossed pizzas, stood on an assembly line, baked bread, waited tables, worked the reception desk at a rehab clinic, scanned legal documents, and done a bunch of other jobs I can’t even remember anymore because I’m old. For the past decade or so, I’ve been able to fool people into paying me to type words online. But who knows how much longer that’ll last? The Internet has too many hot takes, not enough eyeballs. (Village Voice, R.I.P.) So sooner or later, I’ll probably need to sweep floors or flip burgers or do something else I don’t really want to do. I won’t like it, but I’ll do it, because that’s just how it goes. What, I’m too good to work for a living? Nobody owes me anything. I’m not going to invent the next big app, or start a podcast that gets a bunch of Patreon donations from trust-fund socialists, or find some other way to make a lot of money with minimal effort. I chose to major in English, so this is what I get.

That’s why I was baffled when the Daily Mail found it newsworthy that actor Geoffrey Owens, who was on The Cosby Show 30 years ago, was recently seen working at a Trader Joe’s in New Jersey. A very bad, very stupid woman was shopping at the store and recognized him, and because it’s 2018, she took cellphone pictures of him just doing his damn job. Then she shopped her amazing discovery to a newspaper. Then other media outlets picked up the “story,” including Fox News.

Why?

What’s the story here? Is it so shocking that a working actor needs to take on other jobs to make ends meet? That’s no surprise. Show business isn’t exactly known for job security. You’re ridin’ high in April, shot down in May. That’s life.

No, clearly these “news” outlets thought this was “newsworthy” because a guy who used to be on TV every week is now reduced to bagging groceries like a lowly commoner. “Gather around, everyone, and laugh at the poor schmuck who used to be somebody. Remember when he hung out with Cliff Huxtable? Now he’s asking if you found everything you were looking for today and recommending that new gochujang sauce. Ha ha ha, what a jerk!”

Not only is this stupid and mean, it’s a bit shortsighted. Out of all the people who were ever on The Cosby Show, is Geoffrey Owens the one who’s fallen the hardest? Really?

In the end, trying to shame Owens for working at a grocery store might actually help his acting career. He was on Good Morning America today to talk about it:

He says he had to quit his job because of all this attention — which seems like a good time to mention that the woman who did this to him is named… Karma. Karma Lawrence. Good luck to ya, Karma!

Owens seems like a decent, funny, self-effacing guy. If he gets more acting work because of this, good for him. And if he still needs to take other jobs outside of acting, good for him as well. There’s no shame in putting in an honest day’s work, even if it’s not your dream job.

It’s too bad he had to quit that job. Trader Joe’s seems like a great place to work. There’s one right around the corner from where I live, and everybody who works there is always really nice. They get good benefits too, apparently. Hell, I might even apply for a job there one of these days. I happen to look damn good in a Hawaiian shirt!