Saturday, January 20, 2007

I Would Hate to Have Your Job

"You think I just lie around all morning, but really I’m awesome!" I called out as hubby stepped through the door, bringing the kids back home from their Saturday-morning playgroup with their tummies full of Happy-Meal goodness. My declaration of awesomeness was prompted by the fact that during their absence I had

  • dusted, vacuumed, swept, and mopped the entire house
  • initiated two loads of laundry (still in progress)
  • picked up several of hubby’s ties from various locations around the house and put them in the tie drawer
  • found three outdated phone books on hubby’s desk and relocated them to the recycling
  • filled a garbage bag with junk including a broken iron, a hand-painted green-and-yellow kleenex-box cover, an empty box of clementines, and an empty Turtles canister
  • done all of the above while pausing only briefly to read two blogs and one email from a blogger-friend.

Very impressive, wouldn’t you say?


My parenting-class/support-group for single moms is all set to go on Thursday, which means it’s almost time for my friend (you may remember her as Felicia) to hand over the reins to me. For several months now she has been a dynamo of activity, arranging funding from the Crisis Pregnancy Centre and from her church, locating volunteers, and working out all the details: she’s got two women committed to providing child-care each week, another one who will do the set-up and tear-down, and legions of other volunteers who all envision themselves taking over the ministry and reshaping it to suit their own vision. It has been very much a case of too many generals and not enough troops, and yet somehow she has managed to sculpt from all these competing ideas and egos and workable schedule. Three wonderful woman are going to run a cooking class at the end of each month, sharing ideas of how to turn a pot of chile in to a series of burritos and taco salads, or how to roast a chicken with mashed potatoes and a side of veg (I expect to learn a lot from these classes). Another woman will be doing a crafting activity during the class on "me-time," and every week I will be attempting to engage the attention of five very-pregnant or recently postpartum teenagers as I hold forth on such fascinating topics as housecleaning, laundry, bookkeeping, and baby care. My awesomeness notwithstanding (see above), I am somewhat daunted.

Not nearly as daunted, however, as I would have been had I been unfortunate enough to have Felicia’s job. The phone calls alone would have killed me – the task of wrangling that many opinionated and occasionally touchy human beings makes me feel slightly dizzy and ill. Felicia views my job with equal trepidation: for several weeks she tried to make sense of the curriculum materials before handing them over to me – the task of organizing that much information into a twelve-week schedule was overwhelming to her, just as the task of organizing that many people would have been overwhelming to me. Throughout this process, both of us have been looking at one another gratefully and saying, "I’m so glad I don’t have your job."

It’s not the first time, of course, that I’ve been grateful not to be in somebody else’s shoes. One of the perks of my job at the university is that I often receive free desk copies of textbooks and anthologies. Occasionally that creates storage problems (I have at least fifteen grammar handbooks, only one of which I actually use), but I’m never one to turn down a free book: an anthology of children’s literature or a critical edition of Pride and Prejudice is always a welcome edition to my library. The down side of this particular perk, however, is the publishers’ representatives who roam the halls of the English department, hoping to buttonhole professors and talk them into adopting a new text. I try to be nice to these people, but really I just wish they would go away. And I’m uneasily aware that this is one of those jobs for people with English degrees they don’t know what to do with. There but for the grace of God go I.

I don’t waste a lot of time feeling grateful that I am not a police officer or firefighter – had I been captured by aliens and brainwashed into pursuing one of these careers, I could count on the authorities to prevent me from entering a field where I would so clearly be a danger to myself and others. It’s the roads only narrowly not taken that make me most grateful: in a parallel universe, I might have ended up as a kindergarten teacher or a home day-care provider, a publisher’s rep or a non-profit manager. When I consider such parallel destinies, I become grateful for my job, with its 4:1 ratio of alone time to classroom time, a job that allows me to read for a living (and even occasionally write) and never demands that I sell anything to anyone.

What is your road not taken? What are the jobs you’re really glad you don’t have?

Just Post Jan 2007


mamatulip said...

We were just talking about this today...I'd hate to be working with tar and asphalt in the summer or having to do any sort of outdoor physical labour in the summer. (Can you tell I'm not a summer kinda gal?)

I also don't think I could handle taking care of other people's kids. Mine are enough.

Veronica Mitchell said...

Anything in sales. Gak. I would be a total failure.

As for police officers - I spent a year training with a friend in an effort to get me into shape to pass the police fitness and agility test. The city spared me the task of protecting and serving when I was 12 seconds too slow to pass the test.

Suzanne said...

Sales, manual labor, sales, and did I mention sales? I had once considered a career in advertising; I'm glad I reconsidered -- I'm not creative enough or assertive enough.

Jill said...

Daddies are so good at making sure their children are supplied with happy meals.

Job I'm glad I don't have: anything to do with sales.

Road I sometimes wish I'd taken: ob/gyn or oncologist.

(Just read the rest of your comments. Guess us Bub & Pie readers just aren't saleswomen, are we?)

Beck said...

I worked in an office for one grim summer, and I would often wake up with the horrible knowledge that I had fallen asleep AGAIN in the very public main room.
So I'm glad I don't work in an office.

bubandpie said...

Jill - Maybe it's just the Bub & Pie readers - but if an aversion to sales is typical of bloggers as a group, it's kind of amusing that so many companies keep trying to turn us into advertisers, isn't it?

julia said...

Sales would suck. Pretty much interacting with people I don't know, face to face, one on one or en masse. People give me the heebie jeebies.

Mad Hatter said...

I stupidly have walked into most of the near misses in a volunteer capacity. Let me assure you that not-for-profit management sucks. I've been a cybrarian and that was scary too. Nope, I ended up where I was meant to be and it only took me 36 years to find my dream job.

Robbin said...

Daycare teachers. I love them, I wish I could pay them more, because oh-my-god, as much as I love children I wouldn't last five minutes in a room full of toddlers.

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

You'll think this is funny, but I narrowly missed a career in academia & I'm glad for it. Not that there's anything _wrong_ with academia, mind you... It's just that after awhile I want to stop talking & researching & start acting.

I would also hate sales. My husband is in sales and he's great at it, loves it; I would totally, totally hate it. The competition, the rivalry, the tenacity... The pay is nice, though, usually.

By the way, you rock. What a productive morning! I hope you sat on the couch and read for awhile after that : )

Jenifer G. said...

I was in London today...and while visiting friends this topic came up. My friend works at a women's shelter, she left an unrewarding office job to follow her true passion a few years ago.

After talking briefly about the shelter I asked rather bluntly how she does it - how do you turn this off when you come home at night? She ultimately believes that even though you cannot help everyone you must try to help those you can.

I know for certain that I could not do this for a living. The mental anguish it would cause would be too much. I have a limited ability to tune out things and I think my job would haunt me.

On a lighter note sales would also be at the top of my list as well. I just don't have the gumption to do it and would hate all that interaction with strangers.

Makes you glad for what you do.

Lady M said...

A number of past jobs are ones that I'm glad I don't have anymore. Technical stuff, IT, systems integration consulting. Good stuff to have done, but even better to not be doing it anymore.

I wouldn't enjoy sales either, although I admire the strengths of a good sales person. I sat next to a sales account manager in a class once and watched her in action. By the end of class, she knew every single person's name, spouse and children's names, current job, past jobs, hobbies, and had made friends and contacts with us all. Very impressive.

T. said...

Well, I missed Academia by the hair on my chinny chin chin. And I'm glad for it. I also escaped with my soul from the glamourous life of being a television reporter and from being stuck at a desk in newspaper office.

Of course, there is always the sales jobs from my teenage years that manage to still give me nightmares.

But the one I missed any sort of regret is med school. Should have went when I had the chance and now I am too damn lazy to go.

jen said...

i can't wait to hear about how your class goes.

i'd hate to work for the government. i don't follow rules easily. or yes, as the rousing crowd agrees..sales.

Rock the Cradle said...

I'll jump on the bandwagon here: any sort of sales or retail job. I worked at Borders for a while, and it was by far one of the most stressful jobs I've ever worked. I firmly believe that anyone who works in retail or the service industry should automatically start at $15.00 an hour.

Marketing for a company that sells lousy products would be another job to stay far far away from.

I've always kind of regretted not having more talent at my cello. Being part of an orchestra would be a pretty cool thing.

Mouse said...

When I worked retail, I liked putting out stock and was fine dealing with most customers, but I could never work in a sales position that depended on actually making sales. By phone (I hate calling someone cold) or face-to-face. I just can't push beyond the initial no. I tried to do the door-to-door thing for the Sierra Club once and gave up after a single day because I refused to badger people and knew I'd end up making much less than minimum wage.

TrudyJ said...

As I am doing THE job, possibly the ONLY job, I could ever thoroughly enjoy and be good at, the list of jobs I'm glad I don't have is rather lengthy. But I did want to say that your parenting class for single moms sounds like a really exciting project and I hope you blog lots about it, because I'll be anxious to hear how it goes!

ewe are here said...

I don't think I could wait tables or work in sales. I just don't have the personality for these kinds of jobs.

I did have to laugh when I read the 'one of those jobs for people with English degrees they don't know what to do with'. One of my majors was English/American I do understand the 'what now?' dilemma? Probably why I ended up in law school. ;-)

Mimi said...

What made me laugh here is that Pynchon is a non-profit manager. And HATES it: much prefers being a SAHD.

I always always knew I was going to be a professor. But I did start my uni days in biology, because the guidance counseler at school told me that anyone can do english, but girls who do science are more rare. Um, but I really hated it! If I'd stuck with that, I don't even know what I'd be doing. Lost nearly a year of credits to switch to english, but thank god!

penelopeto said...

First off, tell Felicia that if she ever seeks employment in our neck of the woods, my company could use her. we are definitely in need of a Chief Ego Wrangler.

As for the narrow misses, well, I actually applied to university to be a social worker, but thankfully, came to my senses and changed my major before i even started first year, and went down a different, though equally lucrative path - creative writing.

bubandpie said...

Penelopeto - "equally lucrative" Hehe.

Christina said...

Daycare worker for sure. I did that for 6 months when I had to, and while I enjoyed the kids, it was the most demanding, exhausting job I'd ever had, and for barely more than minimum wage.

I don't think I could work in any field that deals primarily with business or numbers. I like to do something that directly affects people, which is why I have always preferred the fields of education, healthcare, etc.

And I'd bet some of those salespeople from publishers probably had History degrees as well. Never found any use for mine, which is why I'm back in school again. :)

edj said...

I can't do office jobs, where I'm supposed to be there at 8 a.m. and wear coordinating clothes tucked in at the waist. I also can't teach children. I hate children. That is, um, I LOVE children but I don't want to be with them or in charge of them.
If you don't want grammar books, you can send them to Mauritania :) Don't think of this as spam, just as unsolicited request. (And I'm kidding--shipping is prohibitively expensive)