Wednesday, July 29, 2009

"My Name is Michael Anthony...."

There are a lot of tough jobs in this world. I'm reminded of this every day when I pick up the newspaper and read about a cop who was killed or a construction worker who fell to his death. We can probably all agree that jobs like police officer, fire fighter or soldier are inherently dangerous, but there are things about work that make it tough besides physical danger. We will differ on this point because a person's makeup and point of view help define a tough job in their eyes. Outdoor types who hate dressing up would find working in an office torture, while those who abhor the thought of working up a sweat in all kinds of weather think office jobs are ideal.

I have come to think of teaching as a tough job. I taught college courses for a couple of years and it's hard work. I believe teaching children is even harder, especially with all the crap elementary school teachers have to put up with from disrespectful brats, interfering parents and archaic bureaucracies. Throw in low pay and it's difficult to understand what would motivate anyone to enter this field. We should feel lucky that there are teachers out there who find their reward in the satisfaction of knowing they influenced a child's life. Thanks to all teachers (not the ones just taking up space waiting to retire) for their dedication and sacrifice. Yours is one of the noblest professions and you deserve more for choosing it.

One of my past jobs was managing a customer call center. That experience causes me to list "public contact" jobs as tough. I'm not talking about civil service jobs where people who deal with the public are routinely rude and never held accountable, but real customer service jobs where people have to bite their tongues and live by the philosophy: "The customer is always right". In fact, many customers are total a**holes who come into a store with a chip on their shoulder knowing the people they belittle can't fight back. I have bullied my share of clerks, but only after they show by their attitude that they had no interest in helping me. They must put Valium in the water coolers in these places so the folks at the counter can get through the day without throwing a punch.

High stress jobs can take a toll. Air Traffic Controller at a really busy airport like Newark is an example. As you ride on the New Jersey Turnpike, you see all these planes stacked up just waiting to land. Planes are lined up on the ground in traffic almost as heavy as on the Turnpike waiting for a runway to take off. Most of us can have a bad day at work with no serious consequences. People in jobs like this don't have that luxury. A bad day for them can end in flaming wreckage and body bags. Doing an eight hour shift day after day would take its toll on me. And how about the people who staff those suicide hotlines...holy Toledo, I'd be out on the freakin' ledge myself!

Jobs where people deal with mind-numbing monotony can also wear you down. Imagine rounding up grocery carts in a supermarket lot, cutting lawns in 90 degree heat, or drying cars in a car-wash all day. I applaud the folks who do this work. Many are immigrants (some illegal) but they see work of any kind as a way of providing for their families. For many native-born welfare recipients, this kind of job is undignified or somehow beneath them; I guess it's more dignified to sit around playing Dominoes and drinking beer all day while taking other people's hard-earned money.

One endeavor that doesn't usually get classified as a "job" is "mother". determined that the time mothers spend performing 10 typical job functions would equate to an annual salary of $122,732 for a stay-at-home mom. Working moms have it even harder. Moms just don't get enough credit for the way they perform a very tough job. Yes, Dads help to a degree, but the day-to-day, grind it out, thankless work unfortunately falls largely to Mom. Take time out to let your Mom or wife know how much you notice and appreciate what they do.

Enough about hard jobs....what are the best jobs in the world? The experts say the hottest fields are computers, education and healthcare. If we're fantasizing here, I'd like to be Michael Anthony, the character on the 1950s TV show "The Millionaire". Every show started the same way: "My name is Michael Anthony. and until his death just a few years ago, I was the executive secretary to the late John Beresford Tipton. John Beresford Tipton, a fabulously wealthy and fascinating man, whose many hobbies included his habit of giving away one million dollars, tax free, each a total stranger. " I'd love searching out all the hard luck cases in this world who deserved better, and handing them that check. Be nice to could happen.


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The Whiner said...

I'm a Mom and a teacher...what the hell is wrong with me?

Joseph Del Broccolo said...

There are so many MANY teachers in my and TLW's family, when we all get together, one has to raise their hand to be excused from the room!

Jim Pantaleno said...

I'm sending each of you a check for $1 million.

PS I forgot nurses.

The Whiner said...

excellent! now we don't have to sit ont he virtual patio anymore!