Debut memoir about the author’s stint working at West Hollywood’s Standard Hotel, where she was paid to spend a few hours in an enclosed glass box behind the front desk.
Following her upbringing in Georgia and Connecticut, Snellings graduated from the University of Colorado with a journalism degree and decided on a whim to move to Los Angeles with friends. There, she floundered, working intermittently for a modeling agency, as a freelance writer, a waitress, an aspiring actress and, for one night per week, as a so-called “box girl.” The last job was more conceptual than laborious, and Snelling offers every imaginable detail about her weekly hours in the box, which measured 15 feet long, 4 feet wide and 5 feet tall. Required to wear white boy shorts and a white tank top, Snellings earned $100 per shift (8 p.m. to midnight) and was forbidden, while inside the box, from making eye contact with guests or employees, eating or drinking. The box was furnished with only a mattress and pillow, so Snellings read, dozed, watched people and eavesdropped. Her parents, “firmly planted in the one percent,” expressed concern over many of the author’s choices. She could easily have relied on them for financial support but admirably decided to make her own living. She includes other stories, the vast majority of which are superficial, failing to form a cohesive narrative. One chapter, “True Facts about a Box Girl,” is simply a list of random details, including the time she drank a bottle of hot sauce for $500. Snellings’ light musings on the sexualized aspect of working in the box briefly touch on Gloria Steinem’s 1963 article about going undercover as a Playboy Bunny. The author wonders “if Steinem would notice the obvious…metaphor: a woman locked below a glass ceiling.”
Occasionally funny and interesting, this one-note memoir eventually wears thin.