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The Best Jobs are sometimes The Worst Jobs  

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Gary Fletcher
(@gary)
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25/12/2018 9:19 am  

Bill James on twitter recommended this article. I agree; it's terrific.

Do You Want Options Or Do You Want A Job?

The link title is only indirectly related to the story. I have this opinion that every time we make a decision we reduce our options. Every time we make a commitment, we reduce our options. The catch-22 in all this is that if you don't make a decision, or don't make a commitment, that is also a decision (or commitment).

I've never had a career. More recently, in my mid to late 50s, a series of events led me to a reconsideration of sorts. Even more recently I've been nudged into taking on some job activities that at least indirectly acknowledge that I don't have much energy or desire to do a "real job." I've always tried to do what I really want to do, constrained and influenced to some degree by what I have to do.

What does all this have to do with the article? Well, I'm responding to it because at this point in my life I've pretty much rejected the idea of "prestige." I think that each life is an adventure. I think each change brings new revelations. 

I think it would be kind of disappointing if every chapter was the same.

Done.

He walks without purpose to an uncertain fate


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ventboys
(@ventboy)
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Posts: 173
26/12/2018 10:14 am  

I was one decision from a 20-30 year career in the Navy, deciding against it because I was worried that I would become a social outcast for life. To that point, I had spent six years in the service being treated like a second-class citizen, and the majority of it either out to sea or in a foreign country. My next duty station was a small communications station in South Korea, an hour from civilization.

In hindsight I sometimes think it would have been nice to have done it -- and have the security of a military pension -- but that's a fool's analysis. To have done it, I would have have to do it. And I knew, by that point in my life, that "doing it" would have rendered me socially insane. I was literally forgetting what it was like to be a normal human being.

To have committed myself to another 14 years of what I had already gone through, with the added stress of have reached a level of senority that gets the attention of brass micromanagers, who would in turn would judge my by how I forced others to do things I hated to do myself, was simply not possible. 

Now, at 56, I realize that this is how the world works. The ability to do things is not the primary job skill, at least not at the lower levels. The ability to deal with human interaction is. The ability to NEVER lose your cool when you are surrounded by 99 percent perfectly fine people and one percent sadistic pricks whose only purpose in life is to make everyone else miserable. Since I don't suffer fools well -- I was taught to be a 'fools sheriff' as part of my training as a bartender -- this has always been a struggle.

The guy freaking out about bathrooms must not be a drinker. I drove taxi for a year and a half, and I could always find a bar bathroom (and usually a cup of coffee, simply by tossing a buck at the bartender on duty). That was also part of my bartender training. Also, any inside delivery at a large business would be within a few seconds of an employee restroom.

 

Curmudgeon would be a great name for a newly discovered species of crab.


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ventboys
(@ventboy)
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Posts: 173
26/12/2018 10:22 am  

Thinking about it, the residential delivery areas would be the tricky ones. But I can't imagine it would be all that problematic to just use the gatorade bottle and toss it in a dumpster at the end of the day. It's basically a bathroom, isn't it? Just make sure you don't spray it all over the dammed cargo bay.

If I had to do that (I never have, not so far anyway) I would wrap myself in some sort of tarp, just in case, with my back to any packages. That might sound overly cautious, but there is a massive difference between 99 percent success rate and 99.9 percent success rate, and in that situation 99.9 percent isn't good enough. You need 100 percent success rate, like any driver needs 100 percent success rate in avoiding contact with pedestrians and other cars. One mistake is too many.

Curmudgeon would be a great name for a newly discovered species of crab.


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Gary Fletcher
(@gary)
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27/12/2018 2:44 pm  

I was once in such painful need of taking a piss that I had to fill up an empty plastic water bottle. I just wasn't anywhere near a restroom. I felt like a furtive criminal.

My uncle (now deceased) made good money back in the 1950s as shingle sawyer and also built houses on his weekends. He built one, moved his family into it, built another and sold the first one and moved into that one. He got a bit better at building each one and most of those houses are still standing and occupied.

Then he bought a resort up on Lake Shuswap (BC interior, near Canoe, BC). His sons loved it, but his wife found it lonely and so they moved back to the BC lower mainland. He bought a one hour martinizing franchise and settled into suburban heaven (hint: it wasn't).

After his three sons had all moved out, he sold the business and...you guessed it. He went back to being a shingle sawyer.

Happiness and contentment isn't just about the jobs we do. I understand that. Still, using hindsight, I was probably never happier than I was working in a sawmill, sweating it out, hating it but also never taking it home with me. Of course a lot of those years coincided with my most sexually active years and those are always the golden years, aren't they?

But they were also my most simple and personally honest experiences, too. Nowadays I'm old and tired and not really interested in a stinkin' job anymore. If I end up having to get a real job again, I'd prefer to be guided by this clip from American Beauty:

The Least Possible Amount of Responsibility

He walks without purpose to an uncertain fate


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ventboys
(@ventboy)
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29/12/2018 9:32 am  

Getting back to the story, I thought the point was sort of lost in the narrative. He made it sound like he didn't need the money, then spent several hundred words describing the hardships involved in the job.

Lost in the "poor me, but I'm tough" narrative was that he had a pretty desirable job, working for what most people would call really good money. I mean, 17 bucks an hour is a solid wage in most of the country. I'd be thrilled to get it from a job with the sorts of benefits Amazon offers.

Your take was more interesting to me than the actual story, because you picked up on the no-career career dynamic. That's pretty much been my life. I worked convenience stores and tended bar for most of it, drove taxi, stocked shelves at Walmart and delivered pizzas. In the Navy I ran warehouses, but in civilian life I wasn't good enough to even work in one. So I did what I could.

I spent 25 years, off and on, trying to be a professional musician. I made one good move (moving to Las Vegas in 1998) and two bad ones (moving to Spokane from the Navy in 1991, moving back to Spokane from Vegas in 1999). 

When I say bad, I mean bad for my musical career. I could have been a professional musician on the coast, where I was when I got out of the Navy, and I could have certainly made a lot of money in Las Vegas. In the long run, moving to Spokane has been disastrous for my various "careers" but it's been a pretty dammed nice life.

So I deal with the fact that I'm a complete professional misfit in my own home town. Being smart but not educated in Spokane meant I was over- or under-qualified for pretty much everything. Now that I'm educated, I'm too old for the smart jobs and too educated for the rest. But the economy is strong, so I am able to hold onto a couple of jobs as long as I'm willing to work part-time. 

My new 'career' goal is to deliver pizzas long enough to achieve the pizza-delivery dream of getting more than 20 hours of work per week. I will either get there fairly soon or find myself forced to find another 'career' because the economy tanks and there are too many more suitable candidates available for my position. 

I'm well-suited for delivery, though, don't get me wrong. If I wanted to work in an office I could, but I don't. I am not the office type; I have office skills, but not an office personality. And in Spokane, office work pays very little. That delivery job the author seemed to want to demonize would be a dammed good job for me, except for the uniform and the corporate mentality. But most delivery jobs have those issues -- including the one I have now -- so that's not a deal-breaker.

Yaknow, I might have to get cracking and see if I can score one of those jobs. I can pee in a bottle, or (because I know this shit) find the bars on my routes. 

Curmudgeon would be a great name for a newly discovered species of crab.


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Gary Fletcher
(@gary)
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29/12/2018 12:02 pm  
Posted by: ventboys

Getting back to the story, I thought the point was sort of lost in the narrative. He made it sound like he didn't need the money, then spent several hundred words describing the hardships involved in the job. 

Yeah, the author of that article told it with a kind of shamefaced-I-confess tone, didn't he? Job prestige is a weird thing, at least once you wake up.

Many years ago I read a Playboy interview with a guy - can't remember the name - who was an important figure with the United Steel Workers Union (I may have the name wrong, but that's what it was).

He spoke about people who looked down on him, working in a steel mill, packing a lunch box, wearing steel toed boots, working a physically tough job, whereas they were wearing a suit and tie. But he looked at it differently, that the steel mill jobs were directly productive and useful to the country, and paid damn well because of the union. On the other hand, these suit and tie snobs were often making less than half the money as sales clerks or whatever, kissing ass and licking the boots of the boss. S0, he said (or so I presume), where the hell is the prestige?

I'm glad of my work experiences, both in a hard hat and in a suit, both on a greenchain and in boardrooms. There's work - real work - in both places. I've found intolerance and ignorance directed both ways in each place. I've found intelligence and stubborn, prideful stupidity in each place as well.

In the end, I guess I'm on the side of the blue collar people. I grew up on welfare and never really progressed, economically, beyond lower middle class (if pushed to using labels). In the end we are all struggling; the good fortune of all of us who live in western democracies is that the struggle isn't impossible.

He walks without purpose to an uncertain fate


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John Hunter
(@islandlover426)
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29/12/2018 2:51 pm  

I make pretty good money for what I do; I'm a medical biller, and I make $21/hour. I have 28 years of experience in the field and hold just about every professional designation it offers, so frankly I SHOULD be making pretty good money. It's not a glamorous job, but it pays the bills. I no doubt could have gone to college and pursued a much more lucrative career, but I never found anything that really fired my imagination. Medical billing didn't really fire my imagination, either, but I do sometimes have the opportunity to make a difference in people's lives.

When Mrs. Smith gets that bill for $5,000 for her CAT scan that her insurance company refuses to pay, I'm her advocate. I'm her lawyer. I'm the guy who throws the horse's head into the insurance company's employee breakroom (well, not literally, but figuratively.) And after 28 years, I know all the insurance carriers' games. If you have to go to the mattresses with an insurance company, you want me in your corner. I'm gonna get that money out of them.

Again, it's not high courtroom drama, but it matters to the Mrs. Smiths of the world. 


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Gary Fletcher
(@gary)
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Joined: 8 months ago
Posts: 166
29/12/2018 3:55 pm  

Glad to hear from you on this, John. I can see where what you do is satisfying to the soul. It may not pay as well as advocating for a fortune 500 company, but who the hell should care about that, right?

I'm trying to imagine a meme composed of a still shot from the Godfather horse's head scene with a caption that articulates the symbolic act / message to greedy insurance companies. 

He walks without purpose to an uncertain fate


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