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This Viral, Ridiculous Craigslist Ad for an Assistant Has to Be a Joke. Right?

My friend texted me a link to the now-infamous craigslist San Francisco job post along with the commentary “this is the worst thing I’ve ever read.” I agree with her assessment, but I just can’t believe that this ad is for real. I just cannot. Please do not let this be real.

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The ad—which has since been updated several times to reflect the huge amount of interest the job posters say they’ve received, with one update lowering the promised hourly rate due to said interest—starts out almost reasonable. Almost.

The posters claim to be “two 40-something executives living in the city with a sweet medium-sized dog. Work is crazier than ever which means that we don’t have time to maintain our personal lives. We’ve finally accepted that we need a full-time (or part-time) personal assistant.”

Reasonable, right? Who isn’t slammed with work and life and would love a personal assistant, if you could afford one? But things go downhill from there when the frankly batshit work descriptions and requirements start piling up.

I’ve saved the whole thing for your reading pleasure in case it gets taken down or is removed as a prank by craigslist (please, please let this be a prank).

Personal Assistant MUST LOVE DOGS – PT_FT, $15 – 35_hr – admin _ office – administrative job employment by The Mary Sue on Scribd

Some of the problems facing our hard-working heroes?

“I buy fresh flowers but don’t have time to trim daily and change the water, indoor plants are dying, vacations and fun trips aren’t taken because there’s no time to plan them, dirty laundry is neglected until we run out of clean clothes to wear, merchandise that should be returned doesn’t get returned, phone calls to customer support don’t get made, prescriptions aren’t refilled, instead of dry cleaning something it will just never be worn again, pants that are too long never get hemmed, that cute dog doesn’t get taught new tricks or get his coat brushed out as often as it needs to be, things that we’re meaning to order don’t get ordered, items slated for donation sit in a corner for months, groceries aren’t put away into the cabinet, the sink is eternally filled with soaking dishes/pots/pans, picture frames hang on the wall with no photos inside, the closet is in need of reorganization, appointments aren’t scheduled, information isn’t updated, nail polish gets chipped and remains chipped, investment opportunities go un-researched, and that crucial”date night” consists of collapsing onto the sofa and watching a movie because we’re so exhausted from the work week.”

Nail polish gets chipped and remains chipped.

And here’s just a small sampling of the qualities the ideal assistant must possess:

“You aren’t dramatic or tightly wound, however, you’re also not lazy or sloth-like (nothing against sloths). You’re level-headed and your friends think you have great judgment. You’re down to earth, not cocky, humble, and always willing to admit when you’re wrong. You aren’t too stubborn to apologize. You don’t get defensive and deflect. You own your mistakes and see them as opportunities to improve. You have confidence in yourself and although you are very empathetic, you rarely get overwhelmed by your emotions. You aren’t dramatic and you aren’t having regular melt-downs. You’re warm, welcoming, and always down for a good time. You take pride in your work quality (no matter what it is — big or small) and believe everything you create is a reflection of you and your character/abilities so you want it to be good. You notice inefficiencies and tend to find ways to save time, streamline, or automate where you can. You’re observant and detail-oriented. You always know where your keys are or where your wallet is because you make it a point to place them in the same place. You have a great memory and rarely have to say “Oh, I forgot.”

[…] You find it rewarding to do things for others. (If you don’t feel this way, you will either hate this role or it will be awkward for us because you won’t seem happy.)

[…] You take pride in how you look — whatever that “look” or style may be for you. At the same time, you also want to be practical and functional (e.g., you’re “bohemian chic” but avoid the giant wedges that will prevent you from hustling around town, you’re “cool hipster” but don’t wear the super tight jeans that won’t leave you room in your pockets to hold my dog’s potty bags, you’re totally “minimalistic modern” but avoid the white on white look so you’re not afraid to get dirty when cooking, etc.)”

If this weren’t all terrifyingly specific and creepy enough, it’s the “Requirements” and “Bonus Points” sections where I lose it and start questioning whether I want to remain as a member of the human race.

* No heavy drinkers (max of 5 drinks per week)

What the actual fresh hell? Are they going to follow the assistant home to make sure they don’t crack open a second beer if they’re over their weekly quota?

* Able to swim well in the ocean
* Able to protect a dog from being attacked by another dog
* Willing and happy to clean up occasional dog vomit and/or diarrhea

Willing and happy!

* Experience with a high-maintenance dog (long haired, allergies, etc.)
* Experience with long hair in general (you have long hair and know how to brush tangled hair without causing pain)
* You are a great cook and know how to make both rich, savory vs. lean, healthy meals
* Enjoy giving manicures/pedicures
* Well-traveled

Ah. Long-haired, well-travelled, and a brilliant cook who also loves to give manicures and pedicures.

And it’s around here that we realize this has to be an elaborate joke. (RIGHT?) Here are some more “bonus points”:

* Prior experience reviewing and negotiating contracts
* Prior experience with home redesign, remodel, contractor management
* Physically strong
* Lift weights and/or tone as exercise
* Practiced in self defense or fighting styles (you can protect someone who is in danger)
* You like fashion
* You watch GoT and/or Silicon Valley
* Former or current aquarium owner (know how to set up a tank and create an ecosystem)
* You know how to ski and can watch the dog when we’re on the slopes
* You can make one-of-a-kind wood furniture pieces
* You’re able to help push my father in a wheelchair when he visits (stroke). I like to take him around the city as much as possible so he can get outside and see things. If we both take turns helping to push him then we can stay outside longer which will make him so happy.

While there are some pretty out-there, demanding folks in this universe—and I was willing to play along until this section, because I’ve known some awful people—there’s no way “You can make one-of-a-kind wood furniture pieces” and taking the dog skiing can be for real. Or requiring the watching of two popular TV shows. Or lifting/toning. Or the owning of an aquarium. And the post keeps getting updated to add even more unbelievable requirements for consideration, like in order to apply,

1. Submit an email with the subject line: “[INSERT YOUR FULL NAME] + [INSERT YOUR WORST QUALITY].” We’re confirming that you read the job description thoroughly, as well as breaking the ice by seeing if you’re aware of how you’re not perfect :p


Also, tell us where you live, how long would it take you to get to SoMa? Do you have a car? If so, what make, model and condition?

Did I mention you have to record a 3-5-minute video to even be considered?

At this point, there’s no way I’m believing that this was created by actual people with an actual job to offer to anyone. Because if this is real, I’m leaving on a rocketship for Mars, don’t know when I’ll back again.

The preposterous nature of the requirements didn’t stop the Internet from taking a lot of this at face value and also tearing the ad limb from limb. In their article questioning the ad’s veracity, The SFGate summed up much of the reaction:

“Tag yourself. I’m ‘nail polish gets chipped and remains chipped,'” one writer declared on her Twitter account. (“I’m ‘I buy fresh flowers but don’t have time to trim daily and change the water,'” another quipped. “I’m ‘cringer,'” another replied.)
“A mom. They need a mom,” one social media user chipped in.
“I love that in San Francisco you can just buy a wife now,” one Twitter user mused.
“My greatest hope is that either this is a fake ad or that the person who takes this job slowly destroys these people’s lives from the inside,” one concluded at the end of a string of tweets on the topic.

I’m 100% certain that the majority of “interested responses” the ad is receiving are people trolling the posters right back—in which case, well played on every front. After all, the post used a well-known Internet meme, “Hello yes this is dog” as their top image. This has to be a clue that this is all a funny internet joke. So, so funny.

I’ve known people who think it’s hilarious to sit around constructing the most out-there posts from Craigslist with the express purpose of making it go viral, so I’m going to assume that this is exactly what’s happening here. Otherwise, I will run like a long-haired dog into the ocean.

In our group chat, another friend pointed out that many of the desired assistant’s personality traits seemed to describe the Silicon Valley character Jared Dunn, which furthered our speculation that the whole thing was an obvious fake.

Where these people sitting around and watching Silicon Valley when they came up with a funny joke?

The ad is still up on San Francisco craigslist, despite the press and attention it has received, and what must be a whole host of reports that it is fake. Does this mean that somehow, against all odds, it’s actually legitimate?

SFGate contacted the ad-posters, who replied but have not given any sort of formal comment. I think that I need to lie down. Please come untangle my hair from the knots I’ve made while pulling at it as I tried to parse whatever the hell is happening here.

(via Craigslist, SFGate, images: HBO)

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Kaila Hale-Stern
Kaila Hale-Stern (she/her) is a content director, editor, and writer who has been working in digital media for more than fifteen years. She started at TMS in 2016. She loves to write about TV—especially science fiction, fantasy, and mystery shows—and movies, with an emphasis on Marvel. Talk to her about fandom, queer representation, and Captain Kirk. Kaila has written for io9, Gizmodo, New York Magazine, The Awl, Wired, Cosmopolitan, and once published a Harlequin novel you'll never find.

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