Monday, June 1, 2015

Job Market

I was disappointed recently by a piece on the New Yorker website entitled “Jobs I’d Be Well-Suited For” by Dan Abromowitz.* You see, over the years I have attempted to compile my own list of jobs that I could do if forced back into the labor market at this late stage in life, and I had hoped, when seeing the title of the piece, that the author would offer a witty insight into some undemanding jobs in the real world. Instead, Abromowitz presented the reader with a list of lame inventions, such as:

Cool, crushable substitute teacher;      
Tattoo complimenter;
Horse spooker;
Do-over middle-schooler;
Ape taunter.**
None of the jobs on my list of “Jobs I Can Do” is an invention, but a job I have encountered in the real world. To get on the list each had to meet the following criteria:

It must require a minimum of physical effort;
It must need a minimum of mental agility;
It must not be susceptible to the vicissitudes of the weather;
And it must not pose a threat to life or limb.

My list began several decades ago when I drove onto the New Jersey Turnpike and received a toll card at the entrance booth. After tucking the card under my sun visor, I said to myself, “I could do that!” That is, I could hand out the toll cards to the drivers; after all, what did it take to do it? No physical effort to speak of and merely the ability to distinguish a car from a truck. And you were shielded from the weather by the glass booth. I recognized, though, that I while I could be a toll card giver-outer, I could not be a toll collector. That would involve the mental ability to add and subtract and the physical ability to juggle card, cash, and coins without losing anything under the wheels of a tractor-trailer.

The second job I could do I discovered while having an early dinner at a French restaurant in New York City prior to going to the theater. The table was covered by a tablecloth, which in turn had butcher paper on top as placemats. While my theater-going companion and I contemplated the menu, a minion was going around to all the tables with a rubber stamp in one hand and an ink pad in the other. What he stamped on the butcher paper was a message that read (something like):

Please Join Us for Sunday Brunch
11 AM to 3 PM.

Yes, I could do that job; all it would take was a steady hand not to smudge the ink and the recognition that the tablecloths were a no-no. And it was indoors!

The third job that I could do I found one Sunday morning (I was not having brunch at a French restaurant that AM) when I arrived at a nearby mall a little before the opening time of the stores. Since it was a sunshiny day, I spent a few pleasant minutes alongside the other early birds contemplating the meaning of life. At the stroke of 11 AM a fellow in a suit appeared inside the store doors and stepped forward to activate the electric sensor and open the exit door. He then walked through that door, took a few steps to the side, and tested the electric sensor for the entrance door, which, indeed, did open. Task successfully accomplished, he then proceeded into the store through the door, and we followed him in a line as if he were a modern-day piper of Hamelin. 

Stepping up to activate electric door openers? I could do that. I own a suit. And I'd only be subjected to the weather for the few seconds it would take to activate the entrance door sensor.
I'll stop my list here. Three jobs to choose from is quite enough and contemplating which one is best is too much like hard work.

**I will give him credit for “Door-to-door e-Bible salesman,” that's subtly good.