Cleveland’s sports teams are considered cursed- perennial losers, made to suffer, hopeless, always on the verge of agony. You know the names -- “The Shot,” “The Fumble,” “The Move,” “The Decision” – and these moments have been burned into the collective psyche of a region. This curse is so strong, it affects more than just sports - it has infected the whole city. I have firsthand knowledge. I’m a comedian; I was born in Cleveland and raised in Northeast Ohio, and I started doing comedy here. Since the day I first picked up a microphone, my day jobs have been plagued by mishaps and misfortune that I can blame on nothing except the city itself. These are the clearest examples of this curse striking my life:
After college, I got a job working in a merchandising company’s I.T. department. I did my job well, was a pleasant employee, everything was FINE. Then the recession of 2008 hit. The company began shedding employees and creating horrible, restricting rules. I had made it through three waves of pink slips, until our monthly company-wide meeting at an Akron-area church in February 2009. I was laid off the next day. Apparently, the reason I was gone was because the boss thought I had been sleeping during the meeting. I was furious - this was impossible! Not only was there no way I could sleep in a brightly florescent-lit, half-empty church ballroom in Copley, there was a free breakfast buffet! This buffet was the best part of my job, as I attempted to eat over a $100 worth of low-quality French toast sticks and burnt bacon. I couldn’t sleep while I was stuffing my face with free food! This contradiction was the first inkling I had that there was something else at play.
Later on, I worked at a big chain department store, where I was usually the only man working in the building. I worked late nights and early weekend mornings, selling Keurigs and bed sheets to rich suburban housewives. One Sunday morning, as I went to the bathroom in the store (my fortress of solitude), I heard a muffled, horrifying noise. It sounded like an old bag filled with corn syrup slowly beating a howling dog to death. I looked over at the bathroom stall and saw four legs under the door. I bolted out of the bathroom, freaked out. About a minute later, two elderly men came out with red faces and sheepish looks, knowing that their Sunday morning rendezvous location had been forever exposed. Look, I’m all for adults doing whatever they want, but why here? This was my spot! Now whenever I needed to escape from people questioning me about how many times they could reuse their k-cups (single-use = ONE TIME!) that bathroom was out. I could still go to the break room, but that meant I was watched by management and only had 15 minutes. The Cleveland curse strikes again.
This is the most conclusive evidence that the Cleveland curse is a birthright that we as a people must carry with us to the end of our days. I moved to Chicago, states away from my previous employment horrors, and I started doing extra work for the various television shows that filmed there. Being an extra can suck. You are sitting around doing nothing or standing in the same spot for hours, but it pays very well for something that requires no skills other than the ability to keep your damn mouth shut. On this day we shot in a late fall chill, as rain steadily poured down. We were called to the set, where every extra got placed on camera but me. Fine, the pay is the same either way. After the first shot, a camera man yelled at me for being in the way and made me stand in the street as I got soaked. I had to stand there for hours as the lead actress screwed up her lines over and over, necessitating multiple takes. What was the only difference between the extras who were out of the rain and me? I was from Cleveland.
These job problems may seem like minor complaints, unlucky coincidences, or even completely my fault. They aren’t. They are concrete proof that Cleveland is cursed, and it affects much, much more than sports. While you see a man blaming his employment shortcomings on a region, I know that this is a curse that I must bear, and I will overcome - because I love Cleveland. And I don’t have any other choice.