Tired of cashing your unemployment check and sitting on your bum all day? That sounds amazing, actually, but I imagine it could get old. And who cashes checks anymore anyway? We don’t even have coins. Well, if you’re one of the millions of Americans who aren’t working these days, and you’ve grown weary of looting and blinding officers with lasers and toppling statues (Frederick Douglass, included–seriously, y’all?), I present to you some options that may or may not be essential, but you’re better off without them.
Numero uno: mining. Nevermind the grime or the chafing overalls or even the soggy lunch pail egg sandwich; the worst part was the community shower at Orient No.3 Mine near Waltonville, Illinois. Are we still allowed to say Orient? Anyway, these guys deserved double overtime. You think your cubicle stinks? Try spending half a day 800 feet below the ground, extracting bituminous coal. Pass.
You might think those miners would give their right pinky toe to trade places with this next lady, spending all day in the sea air, mending the nets of her fishermen husband, but it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. It exacerbates (if not induces) rheumatoid arthritis, offers the agreeable company of no one, save an errant and greedy seagull, has zero promotion, and requires solid maintenance of sturdy prescription readers.
Next: kidnapping a blind shoeshine man and taking him to Florida to experience the joy of green turtle hatchlings frantically peddling to the sea for their first swim. Terrible pay and no travel reimbursement. Possibly illegal.
Numero quatro: feeding and hefting an endless procession of magazines at the RR Donnelley & Sons commercial printing firm in Chicago. Despite the boss cap, gloves, and jacket, the tasks were backbreaking and tedious. Presses printed more than half a million pages an hour. If stacked atop each other, a single month’s press would tower over 27 miles high, or the same amount of miles it would take to hit the gas and drive from Chicago to Munster, IN, where the amount of vandalism and arson is considerably lower.
And lastly, a job that requires both creativity and compassion: talking people off a cliff.
That might seem like a job better suited for 1967 than 2020, as we have any number of reasons to hurl our bodies over the edge these days, but 1967 was a time of civil unrest. Sure, RFK and MLK had yet to be assassinated, but the nation was reeling from the loss of young men in Vietnam and plagued by riots and demonstrations of its own.
In any event, somebody had to man the cliffs like a modern-day second class angel Clarence to the handful of would-be bridgejumping George Baileys. Sometimes it could be hard to determine which park visitor was there to appreciate fall foliage, and which one was there to give up the ghost. However, bonuses were fresh, clean air and a view.
Let us now pause and be jealous of John Harrison, who has arguably one of the best jobs on the planet, as a Dreyer’s ice cream “tastemaster.” Spending four to five hours a day, sampling 20 different flavors, one understands why he has kept the job for 30 years. And no, he doesn’t use a wooden spoon, as that would distort his tastebuds. Nay, he has a gold-plated spoon (and those buds are insured for a million buckaroos, per payscale.com). Now back to work.