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Every Saturday we have some of our favorite writers from around the web fill in for us. They get the opportunity to be insulted in the comment section and we get to push the neighborhood kids into leaf piles. Today's post comes from Zach Oberman, the man behind Underpants on the Outside which is about superheroes, not fashion.

For some reason, we expect our children to be able to answer the question: "What do you want to be when you grow up?" Some responses are downright idiotic (I wanna be a dinosaur) but for the most part, kids tend to choose the last person they saw in a uniform.

Unfortunately, no one is explaining to our children that there are reasons most people don't stick with the careers that sound so awesome in kindergarten.

5
Fireman

Why Kids Think It's Cool:

From a kid's perspective, being a fireman is awesome. You spend all your downtime hanging out in a clubhouse with your friends and a Dalmatian. To go to the first floor everyone slides down a pole. And if that's how they go downstairs, imagine what else firemen get to do! They probably take baths on a water slide! When you factor in the occasional siren, a fire station is only a ball pit away from being a Chuck E. Cheese.

Also, you get to play with the most powerful squirt gun on the planet, which never needs to be refilled. Once the fire's out, all that's left is for you to take pictures with your shirt off, like the ones on Mommy's calendar that make her breathe funny. (Because no childhood fantasy would be complete without some uncomfortable Oedipal implications.)

Why the Job Actually Sucks:

To adults, the idea of wrapping yourself in asbestos and running into a fire with an axe is freakin' INSANE. But there's no point in explaining that to a child. Kids think danger is awesome - it's what makes childhood pastimes like "Hot Potato: M-80 Edition" so popular.

One thing kids absolutely hate though is being bored. Sixty or seventy years ago, when houses were built out of dry leaves and matchsticks, fireman had plenty to do. But now everything's made of flame-retardant materials. These days, being a fireman means a whole lot of sitting around waiting for something to happen. When there is a fire alarm, it's usually some stoner burning toast.

And while firemen may be surrounded by the coolest toys around, what good are they? Sure, you can drive a big red truck, but if you drive it fast, people yell at you. If you use it to play Bumper Cars, people yell at you. And if you use the gigantic water gun to spray your friends, people yell at you (that goes quadruple if some of your friends happen to be African-American). Basically, you sit around, bored, surrounded by toys you can't play with or else you'll get yelled at. Being a fireman is like being in Time Out for a living.

Oh yeah - you also can't play with fireworks ever again. In fact, if you see people playing with fireworks, you have to put them out. Happy Fourth of July, kids!

4
Princess

Why Kids Think It's Cool:

According to our six-year-old niece: "You get to wear pretty dresses and you get to ride ponies and everyone calls you "Your Highness" and you get to eat cake all the time and you get to live in a castle where no one ever tells you to make your bed and you get to marry a handsome prince and did we mention the ponies?" (This is where we became too engrossed in pouring a scotch and soda to continue listening.)


The pony is also a princess.

Why the Job Actually Sucks:

As we explained to our niece, she's correct about almost everything, right up until that part about the handsome prince. It's much more likely that she'll have to marry her cousin - the one you guys see at the lake every summer who picks his nose. If she doesn't like it, too bad, them's the rules, and no amount of preventative cootie measures are going to make the process any easier. In fact, cooties might be the least of her worries, because cooties won't be the reason her children end up like Charles II of Spain, who was so retarded he couldn't chew his own food. That sort of thing comes from "homozygosity." (You'll probably want to spell that for her.)

But hey - you take the bad with the good, right? PONIES!!!

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3
Policeman

Why Kids Think It's Cool:

If you have to ask, there is something wrong with you. Let us put it this way: OHMYGODYOUGETTOCARRYAGUN. Kids think that guns are the coolest thing ever. When you have a gun it means that you don't have to clean your room until you're goddamn good and ready, and anyone will trade you their Hostess cupcake for your carrots.

As for the job itself, that seems pretty cool too, when you keep in mind that a five-year-old doesn't have such a solid grasp of the American judicial system. As far as they can tell, cops arrest people who piss them off, which is appealing, because kids tend to have a lot of grudges. Maybe a couple years of solitary confinement will make Sally Johnson rethink not inviting you to her birthday party.

Why the Job Actually Sucks:

It's the first rule of the playground: No one likes a tattletale. While an adult might be able to understand a policeman's function as a pillar of society, kids need to know that to be a cop is to be the world's hall monitor. Which means no one will want to hang out with you, Captain Buzzkill. When you come around, everyone will stop playing their games (such as, "Hide and Seek in the back seat of my car in exchange for fifty dollars") and then put away their coolest toys, like that six-foot pipe that Daddy smokes for his asthma.


"Stop having fun, right now!"

Worst of all, everyone will call you "Narc," which is the way adults say "Teacher's Pet."

2
Pilot

Why Kids Think It's Cool:

Basically, being a pilot has the two most essential components a child looks for in a job. Big machine? Check. Motherfucking flying? Check. Furthermore, if movies are to believed, flying a plane involves a lot of pulling levers, flicking switches and pushing buttons, and kids love that kind of shit. It's as if someone put wings on an arcade.

Why the Job Actually Sucks:

In general, pilots fly either passenger or cargo planes, which involves three stages: Takeoff, Landing and A Long Time of Being Bored, when pilots have to sit in a chair for hours on end and they can't get up except to go to the bathroom.

If that sounds familiar, it's because we just described the experience of everyone on an airplane. Kids hate flying in airplanes. In fact, every kid who has ever sat near us on a plane seemed to believe that flying was somehow poisonous, and the only antidote was for them to scream their friggin heads off for the entire six hours from New York to L.A. Kids, at least, can go to sleep or watch the in-flight movie; not pilots. Pilots can't sleep at all, and their in-flight movie is… the sky.

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1
Astronaut

Why Kids Think It's Cool:

Where should we begin? First you get to fly on the world's largest bottle rocket from planet to planet, where you meet all kinds of aliens. Remember, at the age when kids want to be astronauts when they grow up, they still haven't seen movies where aliens rip out of your chest or hunt you for sport. As far as little kids are concerned, aliens are fun and playful, like dolphins in outer space.

Dolphins who own ray guns.

Even if your child is a bit more practical and understands that being an astronaut is not the same as being a Jedi, all they've ever seen astronauts do is float around in anti-gravity, doing somersaults and squirting their food out of tubes before chasing it down and eating it mid-air. Astronauts are professional food fighters, and as we all know, they eat nothing but freeze-dried ice cream and Tang. That kind of nutrition gives them energy to do their jobs, like when they fly to the moon and perform vital scientific experiments such as golf, and jumping around like they're on a great big bouncy castle.

Why the Job Actually Sucks:

Because you need a Ph.D. just to do an astronaut's dry cleaning. To be an actual astronaut, a person has to be two-thirds Stephen Hawking, and one-third someone who has perfect vision and awesome hand-eye coordination. To make sure they have the right guy, NASA subjects their astronauts to an endless series of grueling tests.

Before they go to the celestial trampoline we call the moon, astronauts spend about ten years keeping themselves in peak physical condition while essentially taking the SAT every single day. Even if your kid's some rare breed of super genius who enjoys both tests and pushups, it's still not all it's cracked up to be. To give your kid an idea of what an astronaut's job is truly like, do the following:

Step 1: Go buy a van - preferably a 1976 Peugeot.

Step 2: Have the owner's manual translated into Russian.

Step 3: Tell your child to pretend the van is a space station, and that his or her assignment is to rotate the tires.

Step 4: Push the van to the bottom of a swimming pool. Hand your child the translated owner's manual, a toolbox and a balloon full of air.

For more careers that will only disappoint you check out The 5 Most Overrated Jobs Of All-Time. Or, get paranoid reading 6 Emails You Get When Your Company Is About to Go Under.

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