Facing poverty, academics turn to sex work and sleeping in cars | US news | The Guardian
Adjunct English professor Ellen James-Penney and her husband live in a car with their two dogs. They have developed a system. ‘Keep nothing on the dash, nothing on the floor – you can’t look like you’re homeless, you can’t dress like you’re homeless.’ Photograph: Talia Herman for the Guardian
There is nothing she would rather do than teach. But after supplementing her career with tutoring and proofreading, the university lecturer decided to go to remarkable lengths to make her career financially viable.
She first opted for her side gig during a particularly rough patch, several years ago, when her course load was suddenly cut in half and her income plunged, putting her on the brink of eviction. “In my mind I was like, I’ve had one-night stands, how bad can it be?” she said. “And it wasn’t that bad.”
The wry but weary-sounding middle-aged woman, who lives in a large US city and asked to remain anonymous to protect her reputation, is an adjunct instructor, meaning she is not a full-time faculty member at any one institution and strings together a living by teaching individual courses, in her case at multiple colleges.