Wednesday, March 07, 2007


My current job is somewhat uncommon, and yet not in the least bit exciting. I'm more than happy to tell people the company I work for, but I have a self-imposed gag order on giving anyone my actual title or going into any sort of detail about what it is I do, coworkers included. I've run through all of the different kinds of people that exist in the world (at least those found on the "Guess Who?" board), and there is not a single one that could possibly come away from an explanation of my job's duties a richer person.

While not at a particular loss for not being able to share my occupation with the world, I do sort of mourn the fact that I never grew up into one of the standard occupations rendered so lovingly in cartoons on the pages of my French workbook, like a butcher or a fisherman or aunt. There's something to be said for having a job of the ages, so that if you were to suddenly find yourself in another era past or future, Connecticut Yankee/Bill-Ted style, you wouldn't have to hastily make up some lie or risk some sort of grandfather paradox because you accidentally taught a civilization what a "database" was before its time. I kind of enjoy not having to explain my job to anyone for their own sanity, and though I have secretly always craved a unique job, I wouldn't relish having to give every new person I met a rundown of my life, like when you meet someone who's seven feet tall or from Alaska. I would make exceptions:

Furrier. I kind of like the idea of dealing in pelts, like a pilgrim or an owl. Plus, there's something very solid about coming home after work smelling like a bear or a wolf. It beats smelling like a spreadsheet. Downside: Omnipresent PETA members.

Mad scientist. This one's not that difficult to achieve, due to ever-expanding fields of science, and the rather general nature of the job title. All you have to do is become a scientist, then go batshit insane (I suppose it could work the other way around, as well, if one was up for the challenge). There are certain areas of science that would lend themselves more poetically to mental imbalance than others--a mad agricultural soil scientist doesn't have the same ring to it as say, a mad volanologist or a mad geneticist-- but on the whole, I think it's a pretty storied tradition. Downsides: Constant pressure to keep up with advances in the field and new technology, resulting in a stream of younger, hotshot mad scientists angling for your job.

Chess Grandmaster. There are two ways your day can end: One, you won. Two, you lost. There's a certain tranquility in the simplicity of it . Also, everyone would address you as "Grandmaster", mostly because you'd fucking insist upon it. Downsides: Birthday/Christmas gifts from coworkers and Secret Santas would always be novelty chess sets along the "Simpsons" or "Star Wars" line.

Funeral Director. Everyone you'd meet would be having a worse day than you. Assuming some sort of normal distribution, no matter how crappy your day is, within the scope of your universe, it's the best. Downsides: Constant realization of your own mortality; also, messy.

Q. From the James Bond series. The crux of his job is figuring out how to fit explosives into increasingly smaller objects, then basking in 007's appreciation; it's basically a Dremel tool, some C4, and a legion of devoted lab assistants rolling in hazard pay. There aren't a lot of opportunities for a science geek to save the world, but this is definitely the one that gets you most laid. Downsides: M seems kind of a bitch to work for.

Longshoreman. I don't really know exactly what a longshoreman does, but they seem to lead a pretty hedonistic lifestyle. You never hear about anyone frowning upon a longshoreman for swearing too much, getting too drunk, sleeping around. They get away with murder. Probably literally. Downsides: I don't know, but there's got to be some, otherwise I feel like I'd have met more longshoremen.

Jack-of-all-Trades. I dunno. Just seems handy. Would look good on a business card. Downsides: Union dues would really add up.

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At March 09, 2007 7:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Repo man
Cruise director
Equipment manager for a professional sports team

Love your blog... Deb

At March 09, 2007 10:15 PM, Blogger redaly said...

i learned the other day (from a shipping lawyer--who knew there was such a specialization!) that one downside of being a longshoreman in some less regulated ports is that you can accidentally be buried in grain when it's poured into the ship and then neither missed nor found until it's unloaded at the other end. apparently this happens more often than one might think. so that kind of sucks.

At March 10, 2007 9:38 AM, Blogger Terina said...

my grandfather was a funeral director in Los Angeles. He actually got to do some funerals for some famous people. he also had some crazy stories about how family members would treat their dearly departed. he recently passed, but he had everything planned out for his funeral. down to what we would eat afterwards. once he even got me a limo from his mortuary and then was my chauffeur for prom. can't beat a free limo!!

At March 10, 2007 9:23 PM, Blogger JMH said...

I'd like to contribute:


Your career is to remain in a place that you do not own.

Yes, the hours are long, and it sure would be a whole lot easier if you could just use a chair, or at least stand up, although your calf muscles have become freakishly sexy, and the pooping, well, let's not talk about the pooping.

At March 10, 2007 9:37 PM, Blogger headbang8 said...

Let me chime in as another ex-funeral director. Or, rather, a funeral director's clerk--a part-time job I had in law school.

Your customers aren't always having a worse day than you, depending on how you define "customer".

The deceased is generally doing just fine, given what goes into embalming fluid, I imagine that the jokes drunks make about having blood in their alcohol system may actually ring true.

Unlike the stereotypes perpetrated by shows like Six Feet Under, funeral directors seldom deal directly with the hysterical. Nephews, nieces, neighbours and family friends tend to make the arrangements if the next of kin are too emotional. So, you can sometimes enjoy a day full of people who are quite chipper. Don't know what that does to your thesis, RB. They are, at least, always grateful.

Oh, and these guys become, to put it mildly, quite existentially sound. Not afraid of having a good time. You should have seen their Christmas parties. Hoo-boy.

At March 10, 2007 9:42 PM, Blogger headbang8 said...

By the way, Jen, I notice you've acquired an actual name. Congratulations. This is kind of like a gay person coming out. Kinda.

At March 13, 2007 8:11 AM, Anonymous Old Hickory said...

If you're going to be a longshoreman, go glam and call yourself a stevedore instead. Then go stab someone.

At March 13, 2007 4:03 PM, Blogger copyranter said...

Sugar Baron.

At March 13, 2007 6:44 PM, Anonymous ms. ultimate said...

What about Captain of Industry? You could wear tophats and a waistcoat as you tour your steel/ oil refining/ manufacturing/ library naming empire.

At March 13, 2007 11:19 PM, Blogger heartinsanfrancisco said...

Duck plucker. You could moonlight as a turkey plucker during the holidays.

Well, SOMEONE has to do it.

At March 14, 2007 10:29 AM, Blogger Kate said...

I can't believe cruel schoolmistress/master or evil person who runs an orphanage (a la Miss Hannigan) didn't make the list. I'm kind of disappointed, because that's what I want to be when I grow up.

At March 15, 2007 3:10 PM, Blogger little dooner said...

Want to be IRL friends?

Blog is as follows:

I am the contributor known as Little Dooner.

Get with it.

At March 20, 2007 4:56 PM, Blogger Big Daddy said...

Personal Underwear Shopper for Jake Gyllenhaal


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