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We Interview a Classified Document Seeker Who Makes $75 /hour. You Won’t Believe What She Finds in Politician’s Homes (it’s not just top-secret stuff)

Editor’s Note: Today’s column comes from our guest writer, Laura “The Meme Queen” Mayfield. and is the latest installment in the parody series “Smart People, Stupidly High Salaries.” Check out her previous post, We Interview a Paranormal Ghost Hunter

Getting to Know the Woman Behind the Scenes

When we first encounter Melissa Andwich, she is every bit the harried housewife, a characterization she says is untrue and sexist, and asks us not to repeat it again. Her hair is put into a messy bun, and she looked to be unspooling an entire ball of yarn over Zoom, while simultaneously cradling her teacup poodle, PooPoo, in her arms. She said due to the confidential nature of her work, we could not follow her along on the job site.

However, a preliminary interview and post-work interview would be able to paint an insightful picture of her daily routine at work. She also is going to smuggle in a video camera so that she can remember what even happened while she was working.

How It All Started

“I really fell into this job by accident,” Melissa explained. “I went to school to be a paralegal and I love the minutiae of examining documents with a trained eye, but I hate talking to people. My job at a big law firm was soul-sucking. I had an epiphany when, during a holiday trip, the baker in my hometown tried to sweep me off my feet by saying my job was “unimportant compared to baking cookies.” While she disagreed with the cookies and love part, Melissa did agree that she was unfulfilled at her job. 

As soon as Melissa returned to Washington D.C., restraining order in hand, she quit her job and applied to a job ad from an unnamed Agency looking for people with legal experience to search houses for classified documents. “This job is great because I am doing important work and also getting paid to snoop around in people’s homes,” Melissa said. “There are also unique bonuses, like the ‘Finder’s Keepers bonus’, where I get to keep all the change I find in people’s couches,” ‘Melissa said excitedly. 

 This week, Melissa was asked to search the house of a top politician, to make sure that she doesn’t have any top secret documents in her house. Melissa was also told if she found that person’s glasses, “which could be anywhere”, she would get a bonus.

Melissa says, “ Honestly, I feel like people get a little disappointed if I don’t find anything. Last week I had to tell a certain former Vice-President that the long roll of paper he found in a drawer wasn’t a Top Secret document, but an extremely long and crumpled CVS receipt for Corn Nuts and a Mcdonald’s edition illustrated Bible.” Melissa continued, “It was a big deal. He had to cancel his interview with NewsMax, and the agency had to fight for me to still get paid.”

Definitely not this guy

The Aftermath of a Search

We concluded the interview and waited for our follow-up interview, and sneaky little video from Melissa. While we waited, we searched, “What is Mike Pence into?”, and then had to take a break from the internet for a while.

Two days later, Melissa finally got in contact with us. She said that she found a potential classified document at the house she searched, which led to a longer debriefing than normal. Under the promise of anonymity*,  she shared the video of the home search with us. When the video begins,  Melissa is wearing comfortable clothes and holding a backpack and magnifying glass. Melissa explains, “I am allowed to conduct the search in whatever way I find the most efficient. Sometimes if I am in a hurry, I will stuff papers into my backpack and then go back through them later.

She went methodically through the rooms, emptying drawers onto the floors and inspecting each piece of paper she found. In one exciting moment, she appeared to find something with strange symbols all over it, but it was only a Venn Diagram comparing almonds and cashews. Melissa tucked it away for further analysis and continued her search. After her search, she found $0.35 in change and the bonus eyeglasses that the client had lost, but no classified documents as the Venn Diagram turned out to be a bust. “I get the feeling people just don’t send her stuff,” Melissa said. “Like she didn’t have print-outs of emails or post-it notes or anything.”

Advice for Others

Melissa has three pieces of advice for anyone looking for their dream job.

Every document seeker’s role model

Be Confident

“Being confident is extremely important,” said Melissa. She continued, “so many people act like having confidence is off-putting in a woman, but it is an important attitude to have so you are getting paid what you are worth and treated with respect. A lot of politicians try to bully me, but talking with authority to them will usually cause someone to back down. Having Michelle Obama on speed dial to give them a talking-to definitely helps as well.  I always say, “Have the frat-boy energy of defending yourself from a crime you definitely did, and you will get what you want.”

Don’t be afraid to look into jobs that seem a little strange.

Melissa says, “Of course, there is a fine line between strange and illegal, but I believe as long as you research the job thoroughly, you may be pleasantly surprised. I think this is a very unique job and every day is an adventure.

Lean into your skill-set

 Lastly, develop your so-called “annoying traits” into well-paying strengths. I took my noisy, “eldest sister” energy, and used it to develop skills that helped me be a great paralegal.Clients appreciate me tattling on them, so to speak. So something that always got me in trouble as a kid is now helping me save for a condo.”

*We are using Melissa’s real name but it is spelled slightly differently in real life.

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