Hey, I’m not about to claim my job is worse than yours. That correction fluid misadventure was about as bad as it gets. I really like my job, actually, and often notice how lucky I am to be able to use the restroom, drink coffee, get online, or receive a personal phone call anytime. Lots of people–such as my child’s teachers–don’t have such luxurious flexibility in their work. I love being with kids, but when I was a Girl Scout leader there were never more than 18 in my troop, with two adults present nearly all the time, and I was on-duty with them a maximum of three days in a row–so let’s hear it for teachers, who go solo with that many kids or more, hours at a time, five days in a row!
On Labor Day, I always get a paid holiday. Lots of workers don’t. I ate in a restaurant tonight, staffed by people who were working on the holiday. I’m grateful. I’ve worked in food service, so I know first-hand that it’s harder in many ways than an office job, yet food service workers are often taken for granted and treated with little respect.
I’ve been thinking this weekend about some of the jobs I’m very glad I don’t have to do myself! Some are jobs I’m glad somebody else does so I personally can avoid them. Others are jobs I’m not sure any living being should have to do. Here are some examples:
- Arlene Miller had a good job in her field, but she quit when she felt called to help with the aftermath of the Pennsylvania plane crash on September 11, 2001. She has since become a mortician and now spends long hours working on mangled corpses.
- Mark Trautman is an arborist (takes care of trees) who after that plane crash was hired to pluck body parts out of the treetops.
- Tom Kelsesky collects tolls on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, a job that’s more difficult and dangerous than I’d ever realized.
- A man blasted pig brains out of the skulls with a compressed air hose–until the health consequences of inhaling pig-brain mist all day caught up with him. This article describes many other horrible jobs I never imagined.
There are many more; those are just the stories that have caught my attention most recently. You can see that the handling of dead bodies, human or animal, is not my cup of tea. But I’m also glad I don’t work in customer service or drive a truck or demolish walls, and I’m glad other people do those jobs for me.
Of course, another reason to be grateful this Labor Day is that I have a job at all. Lots of people don’t, and the jobless recovery of the U.S. economy isn’t helping them or the people who are still employed doing more work for the same pay. Gosh, I can be grateful, too, that I’m allowed to leave my work at work instead of having my home life interrupted by work-related calls and e-mails! I hardly ever even use the computer at home. But this Labor Day, my gratitude inspired me to write this article at home instead of waiting for my next lunch break!
P.S. For any readers who are thinking that social science data management is a dream career, I must note that I do not make a lot of money! (My salary is less than that toll collector’s.) That’s fine with me–I don’t seem to need a lot of money–but it doesn’t work for everyone.