Job hunting is not easy in a flat or even contracting economy — that is to say, the “New Normal” — and many of the best jobs have long been taken. But perhaps you, the avid job-hunter, have been looking in the wrong places: positions in construction, engineering, medicine, and law may have been gobbled up, but there are a number of jobs that go begging for employees. Here are five professions that play a crucial role in our society but are so often overlooked:
1. Spaghetti Wirer. Once upon a time Americans could look up at poles along a highway and see telephone lines, perhaps electric lines, and that was it. Now, however, the number of wires added to roadside poles increases every day: cable wires alone are going up all over the nation, adding a spaghetti of complexity to the poles they are attached to and virtually guaranteeing that any downed pole will cut off homes and whole communities from the amenities they have come to depend on.
But why stop with wires? There are a multitude of conduits that can be added to these vulnerable poles, and they will require more and more employees to drive around in trucks, forcing traffic from several lanes into one lane or into alternating lanes, and creating traffic jams for miles in either direction. And job-seekers should know that as we become dependent on electric cars, the number and size of electrical wires is bound to increase exponentially. Spaghetti wiring has a bright future indeed.
2. Traffic-Jam Expediter. The folks who work for electric companies, cable companies, and phone companies are not the only ones whose vehicles fill and clog our roads: there have always been vans, SUVs, buses, and trucks lumbering down our highways, clogging our intersections, and often causing catastrophic accidents which cause traffic to back up for miles.
But why stop there? The traffic-jam expediter knows that he can always slow down traffic by encouraging the maximum number of bicycles to fill the roads, guaranteeing that everyone will have to go at 10 miles an hour or even slower. And what about joggers? Encouraging them to run on the road, especially at night when they are almost invisible, is a great way to turn their lives and your life into a nightmare. And a good traffic-jam expediter will be especially fond of the trucks with trailers attached that carry loads of lawn-mowing equipment. Not only are they slow but they also turn in bizarre ways, such as shifting all the way to the left before turning right. They’re great!
3. Little-Kid Scream Enhancer. It’s hard to believe that once upon a time kids in stores, restaurants, and other public places were well-behaved, almost as if their parents were taking responsibility for civilizing them. But today’s parents are more concerned about allowing little Janey or Johnny to self-express, completely without regard to how annoying their screaming might be to others.
As a result, there is a brilliant future for any industrious person in the wonderful world of little-kid scream enhancing. You might think that at this point little kids would not need encouragement to be as obnoxious as possible, but you would be wrong.
In addition to that small number of kids who are actually well-behaved and have to be encouraged to behave like savages, there are also certain austere venues where even little monsters are known to shut up. How about churches and synagogues? Legitimate theaters and concert halls? Intensive care units and funerals? A really top-notch scream enhancer will be able to get a kid to go berserk even while visiting the Lincoln Memorial or the White House. If you can stand the noise and provided you don’t start screaming yourself, there is a bright future in this profession.
4. Joy Counselor. Every time there is some particularly grisly tragedy, an army of “grief counselors” descends upon the stricken community, adding their empathy and their insights to the tragedy that has occurred. There doesn’t seem to be any particular training that qualifies counselors for this rather ghoulish profession, nor is there any reason to believe that they actually help anyone other than themselves when they collect their fees.
But since most people can grieve by themselves without a total stranger telling them how, why shouldn’t people be taught how to express other perfectly normal emotions? Joy counselors are prepared to barge into any community, grab people that they don’t know and probably don’t want to know, and teach them how to rejoice about every aspect of their lives.
Let’s face it: most people have more to grieve about than to be happy about, so a certified joy counselor can be the answer to their fondest wishes, getting them to rejoice whenever they become ill, break a leg, get fired, or simply watch their homes burn to the ground. Joy counseling: it’s easy, it’s fun, and you can always gloat when you realize that you are 100 percent better-off than the poor schmucks you are counseling.
5. Guinea Pig. OK, so you still can’t find employment in any of the five careers described above. You would like society to help you out, but employers are curiously silent. So how about you helping society? Every science lab and pharmaceutical company needs guinea pigs to test out their newest products. We’ve all heard those disclaimers in TV ads for new medicines. How do you think pharmaceutical houses know about their products’ ruinous side effects? They know because they have tested these products on people like you and me.
Think about how helpful you can be to the rest of us when a lab discovers that once people take their product, they develop rashes, seizures, incontinence, impotence, baldness, blindness, or death? Think about all the folks who will never experience those problems because you did. Could there ever be a more rewarding job than to have a seizure or start vomiting uncontrollably? And think about the gazillions of dollars that the pharmaceutical company will make even if, unfortunately, you die before you can see the greedy joy on your boss’s face.
My friend, there are many, many outstanding careers out there. Think outside the box, consider all the options that our post-industrial, permanently recessionary society has waiting for you, and you will have a future that looks very promising indeed.
Cheiten is a Princeton-based writer of short stories and plays who each summer provides real employment opportunities to the cast and production crew of plays that he writes and produces at Murray Theater on the Princeton University campus.