4 Difficult Jobs Everyone Secretly Thinks They'd Be Good At
There are some professions in this world that will never be respected as "real work," no matter how much effort they may actually entail. Sure, they're real in that you do them for money, but come on, it's not like you're actually working, right? Wrong. Almost always wrong. We talk about some of these misunderstood and wrongly maligned professions on this week's Unpopular Opinion podcast ...
Is it the three months off every year? I've always suspected that was the reason we pay most teachers about as well as we pay the fast food employees of the world. Also, what are you really doing? Just telling a bunch of asshole kids which pages to read in a book, right?
I've never been a teacher (you're welcome), but I suspect there's way more to it than that. Also, I know a few teachers, and while I do make it clear to them that I think teaching is a bullshit profession, it's only because I'm a terrible friend who resents the hard work and accomplishments of the people around me. Secretly, though, I respect what they do a lot, and I know for damn sure I'd never be able to do it.
For one thing, there are the aforementioned pay hassles, which often extend to having to go out of pocket for basic classroom supplies, since most of our tax dollars these days go to things like empire building and militarizing police forces.
Seeing this on the streets is all the education a kid needs.
Beyond that, no matter how often the comparison comes up, teachers are not glorified babysitters. For one thing, babysitters make way more cash. Also, their main job is to make sure a child lives, while teachers are supposed to make sure kids don't grow up stupid. I mean, good teachers are supposed to, anyway. I guess a shitty teacher could be considered a glorified babysitter, but anyone can be shitty at anything. That's not what I'm talking about. What I'm saying is that most of us aren't capable of being good teachers -- certainly not you. The reason for that is really simple: People just don't like you that much. Sure, it's because you're an "introvert" or whatever, but the fact remains, you're awkward as fuck in social situations, and that tends to resonate with people, especially kids. That's probably why Sting didn't last as a teacher; that guy is a total dick.
Nice fucking lute.
That he was a teacher isn't unimportant, though. Teaching is a public performance. All of the people I know who are or were teachers are also comics. I imagine teaching is harder. If an audience member doesn't laugh, their parents aren't going to show up weeks later to yell at you for it. That happens to teachers, sometimes to the point that things turn violent. That's when the students aren't busy getting violent, of course.
Basically, dealing with people is hard, and teaching is a lot of that. Just dealing with the public and their awful offspring. Hey, since we're on the subject of dealing with the public ...
Customer Service Rep
Ever since tightened regulations mostly killed the telemarketing industry, customer service reps have become the most hated aspect of owning a telephone. They exist merely to make the wait between discovering a problem and fixing that problem as long and unbearable as possible. While you sit on hold, listening to Sting wail on a fucking lute version of "Message In a Bottle," they sit behind a computer screen, refusing to learn anything about the company or product they're representing and doing crossword puzzles and shit.
Okay, for starters, nobody does crossword puzzles anymore, you elderly son of a bitch. Beyond that, customer service is an extremely difficult job. Sure, there's little to no physical labor involved, but that just adds an unexpected element of danger to things, seeing as how excessive sitting can cause blood clots in your legs that eventually break free, make their way to your heart and kill you.
Which probably sounds great to all of these people.
The real danger in customer service work is mental, though, and that's mostly because you're all a bunch of assholes. The average caller expects customer service reps to have instant access to every piece of necessary information about any problem that could possibly arise. For that to happen, every company needs to be a finely-tuned machine that communicates every change and update to every department effectively and quickly. That describes absolutely nowhere any of us have ever worked. All the waiting and jumping through hoops you have to do to resolve a problem are almost never the doing of the person on the phone, but they get all the abuse for it because they answer the calls.
It probably won't surprise you at all to know that there is almost no limit to the things people will say when they're angry and feel like their needs aren't being met. I answered phone calls about military health insurance claims for a few years. At least once a day, someone would call in, hear that a woman answered, and immediately ask her to put a man on the phone.
And stop voting!
I once got screamed at because a guy had to pay $35 of a $10,000 hospital bill. Customer service is, for all intents and purposes, getting paid to take insane amounts of verbal abuse. That's probably why depression is a serious problem in that industry.
Customer service representatives, in almost every case, are not your enemy. If anything, they're heroes for putting up with our shit on a daily basis.
I wrote another version of this article a few months ago and included club DJs on the list. People weren't happy about it, mostly because I implied that being a "DJ" these days mostly means having a laptop and enough of an ego to believe that it plays MP3s better than most other laptops. I stand by that. Sorry.
I will vouch for the back-breaking tedium that is being a wedding DJ, though. I did that for a few months, and it was easily one of the worst work experiences of my life. For one thing, a wedding party expects more than just music. I would spend half a day setting up all the lights and equipment ...
Give your 50/50 chance of divorce the celebration it deserves.
... knowing full well I'd only be paid for the few hours of work that took place during the actual reception. Everything else was just volunteer work on my part, basically.
Also, you're expected to be an active participant in the proceedings. Sure, you've probably done the chicken dance, but have you ever led a chicken dance?
It's harder than it looks.
Have you ever had to be the person at the party who suggests the hokey pokey? It's demoralization of the highest order.
Another problem is that when things inevitably get boring, as every wedding reception does, the blame usually falls on you. One bride and groom took the list of songs the company I worked for had available and highlighted every single one that they wanted me to play. About halfway through the night, the bride walked up and advised that I needed to start playing better music. So she picked a bunch of terrible music, but somehow, it was my fault that music failed to get her awful wedding guests in a partying mood.
Look, I know that every entry comes back to this same point so far, but I really can't say it enough -- you motherfuckers are awful, and any job that involves serving you in person is hell on earth.
Listen, I've never driven people around for a living, but I have paid people to drive me places, and that's all the goddamn research I need to do. Anyway, it may not be quite as prevalent in your town as it is in cities that matter, so just to get you up to speed, Uber is a ridesharing service that allows you to order a cab (aka some motherfucker's Toyota Prius and/or Hyundai Sonata) and pay for it all through an app on your smartphone.
It's that lack of human interaction that makes it so appealing, and it's also why so many people aren't cut out to be Uber drivers. And understand, every person with a fuel efficient vehicle and a past due bill in California has likely considered it at some point. Short of never having killed anyone with your car, there aren't a ton of requirements, and who doesn't love driving around in Los Angeles?
Pictured: Fuck all of this.
Once again, the problem here is that driving a person around is a form of public performance. When that passenger gets in your car, it's your responsibility to read the room and figure out if they're the small talk type. If they are, by all means, talk about whatever bullshit you want to talk about.
If you get the sense that person would prefer a little quiet, by all means, shut the fuck up. Just right up. Do not force the issue and pepper them with questions to get them in a talking mood. I don't care if it's uncomfortable, in that moment, silence is part of the job. You don't know what's going on with that person. Maybe someone just died and they don't want to talk about it, you know? Maybe they lost their job.
Which makes Uber kind of an irresponsible choice, but still.
Now, if you're incapable of making that kind of determination on the fly (or at all) and acting on it accordingly, I'm sorry, but you shouldn't be shuttling people around town for a living. I don't mind talking a bit -- I'm not a total grouch -- but getting stuck on a long Uber ride with a driver who talks incessantly is a special kind of awful. I hit the trifecta once with a guy who was a terrible driver, talked excessively, and drove me to the wrong address. When I explained that he'd fucked up, his go-to idea for breaking the tension that followed was to ask what I did for a living. When I told him I'm a writer and comic, he asked me to tell him a joke. So on top of everything else, he was asking me to work now. That's like finding out a person works at Subway and instinctively asking them to make you a sandwich.
Which is twice as shitty if you're talking to a woman.
Would a simple personality test to weed out the people who can't be trusted to not be obnoxious be too much to ask? As it stands now, the community is tasked with policing the drivers by way of a rating system, but that means they still get to go out and get their awful all over everybody for however long it takes for it to catch up with them. Fuck that, it's time to start catching them at the door. I don't care how you do it, just make it happen, Uber.
For more from ATB, check out 4 Ways America Screws the World (Nobody Talks About) and 4 Uncomfortable Situations We Should All Be In at Least Once.
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