The Rapidian

MartiniMoth showcases tales of unusual jobs

Every month the SpeakEZ Lounge hosts a MartiniMoth encouraging people to share their personal stories. This month a first and second place winner were announced.
Sean Kelley is the winner of July's MartiniMoth.

Sean Kelley is the winner of July's MartiniMoth. /Sara Ransom

Upcoming MartiniMoth Events and Themes

August 19: Tales of Dining

September 23: Drawing on Perspective

October 21: Season of Change

November 18: Bringing Us Together

December 9: HoliDAZE

To find more information on MartiniMoth Grand Rapids check out their Facebook page or the Speak EZ's events calendar.

Jen Hammerlund is the second place winner.

Jen Hammerlund is the second place winner. /Sara Ransom

Sean Kelley

Sean Kelley /Sara Ransom

"Working for a living – tales of unusual jobs" was this month’s theme at the SpeakEZ’s MartiniMoth storytelling event. On July 22, 15 storytellers stood in front of a room full of people sharing their unusual and often humorous work-related stories. 

All stories have to be memorized, mostly true and less than seven minutes long. Two judges chose the first and second place winners with the scoring based on the topic, timeliness, engagement and creativity. The monthly storyteller that comes in first place wins their name on the SpeakEZ Chalice of Fame. The winner also receives a $25 gift card to the SpeakEZ.

This month’s judges were Julia Chateau, a special effects makeup artist and Ryan Gauthier, founder and CEO of the Guest Edge. Adam Hyde was the host of the MartiniMoth and has been hosting the event for the past 10 months. 

The event starts at 8 p.m. and ends around 10 p.m. Everyone is invited to come to the SpeakEz at 7 p.m. for drinks. Whether you enjoy beer, wine or specialty cocktails, the SpeakEZ offers a wide variety of drinks. If you're looking for some grub too, the restaurant offers unique appetizers and entrees.

The SpeakEZ is the first and only place in West Michigan that hosts a "Moth" storytelling event. Whether you have a story ready or just want to listen, the night has become a hit with local fans of this storytelling genre. 

The SpeakEZ was packed for the MartiniMoth. The crowd of chattering people quieted down once the storytelling began. The dim lighting created a night club ambiance. The stage in the middle of the restaurant was the platform where participants shared their story. The crowd itself was very welcoming and responsive to people sharing their stories. Even when a storyteller admitted that he was nervous, the crowd affirmed him by cheering him on.

The first place winner, Sean Kelley, shared a job he had in jail. He tells the audience that he is not going to share why he was in jail, just that he is dangerous, with a tone of sarcasm.

“By a round of applause can I ask has anyone been to jail before?” asks Kelley. Many from the audience clapped. “I didn’t expect anyone to clap at that. What’s wrong with all of you? That’s terrible." 

“The theme tonight is working for a living and in jail it’s more like you’re living for a living. Like your whole job is just to survive it,” says Kelley.

Kelley spent time reading in jail and writing letters to his girlfriend at the time. He was serving time during Christmas and remembers his girlfriend joking that the only present she wanted was a portrait of a shirtless Joe Biden, riding a unicorn. As an art student in the past, Kelley decided that he was going to create the portrait.

“I’m looking at the old guys in jail with me and sketching their faces like ‘yeah, that guy’s kind of a Joe Biden,’” says Kelley.

Kelley, an actor for The Shakespeare Company, spent some of his time in jail writing poems to send to his girlfriend. Kelley's cellmate told him that he could sell his poems in jail. Kelley says the currency in jail was coffee and envelopes and he became rich off them.

An inmate asked Kelley to write a poem for his girlfriend. Kelley wrote him a poem and the guy returned it, saying the poem was too smart for his girlfriend to understand, so Kelley wrote another poem.

“I’ll give you one line from the poem and tell you what he traded me,” says Kelley. “The line was: You’re my gingerbread woman, I’m your gingerbread man. I’ll eat your gumdrop buttons, you make my candy cane stand.”

The inmate traded Kelley a picture of a man without a head riding a unicorn, because he did not know who Joe Biden was. “That is what I sent to my girlfriend,” says Kelley. “And that is the strangest job I’ve ever had.”

Jen Hammerlund, the second place winner, has been a massage therapist for eight and half years. The company that she works for has a call center for scheduling massage appointments and also operates as a loan forgiveness program.

Hammerlund says her boss looks like a guy straight off Wall Street. He came in to get a massage and was constantly on his phone while getting a massage. During one instance of his cellphone use during a massage, Hammerlund told him that he was being rude. 

“You come in here with your cellphone up to your ear and I’m trying to do my job which I’m very good at,” Hammerlund told her boss. “And you’re not allowing me to give you the proper massage the proper way with your damn phone up to your ear.”

“Is anybody hiring?” she asked at the end of her story.

Next month’s MartiniMoth is on Tuesday, August 19, with the theme "Tales of Dining."  

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