On this historic day of a new President's inauguration, I have contemplated that, for all that I would love the power to kick butt all over the world, especially when it comes to regimes such as are found in Myanmar and Sudan and the waters off Somolia, I really do NOT want the job of being President of the United States. That has me reflecting on the things people do for a living.
In this time of economic down-turn many people have lost not only their jobs but also their equity in terms of the value of their retirement accounts, homes, and the scalp-resale value of their New England Patriots tickets. People are finding they must plan to work longer at exactly the same time that many employers are trying to slash pay-roll. This has millions resigned to looking for jobs in the Drudgery Industry of fast-food restaurants and "big box" stores.
Dear Jon wants to remind you that there are still places in this world where people are working for a living at jobs that are a lot more fun than yours. Hopefully this will not fill you with despair, but instead will motivate you to go back to school and get the training you need to land the right internships to build the networks that will get you your dream job: manager in the quality control department of the potato-launching mortars factory.
This is not the list of careers that pay the most or have the most Chic-attraction Satisfaction. This is a list of the best jobs EVER. In order to qualify for this list, it has to be a job that I would want to perform. You might think that being a partner with a Big Three accounting firm is the best job ever. Maybe it would be for you. It would NOT be for me.
After reading this and noting how many of these great jobs have to do with cameras and sporting events in warm climates, you will no doubt protest that you, yourself, have the BEST job EVER. You will write me a note of reprimand, sunny in disposition yet petulant at the same time, describing how your Special Education class of third-graders never ceases to fill you with joy and wonder on a daily basis and reminds you of how fortunate you are to be able to make a difference in people's lives blah blah blah. That's great for you. Now I know. Please don't bother writing.
I have not put this in any order as of yet. I can't help but think that depending on one's stage of life and day of the week and other factors any one of these could be the best job EVER.
Super Bowl Camera Operator: Not only is the Super Bowl free but you are PAID to be there and you HAVE to pay attention to EVERY PLAY, so that no one of the opposite-gender persuasion is even allowed to pester you by asking questions like, "Why did the big guy hit him so hard? Isn't that illegal?"
Whatever Dave Barry Did: He wrote one humor column a week, collected a few dozen every so often and published THOSE as best-selling books, and he was given expense accounts so that he could do things like attend Alligator Wrestling Championships. Then he retired. To write novels. Do I want to live his life? Yeeahh! In Miami? Ehh, not so much. But it was Dave Barry who inspired me regarding two of the best jobs ever: One is a builder of toilet-launching catapults, and the other is Trigger Man for a bazooka that shoots potatos.
Testing Fire Extinguishers: True, I had a friend living in the vicinity of Marinette, Wisconsin (an hour north of Green Bay and two hours southeast of "Where the ^&*# is THAT?") who had a job testing fire-extinguishers. You test them by putting on a fire-protection suit so that you look like you are the first human to take a walk on Mars, and then, in a testing laboratory, you start a fire. Then you extinguish the fire with the extinguisher you are testing. This has "DREAM JOB" written all over it. And of course it is absolutely essential for the betterment of humanity.
What many do not know is that up in that neck of the woods, people are concerned that they have what they need to extinguish fires. Back in 1871, on the day of the Great Chicago Fire --which Tribune columnist John Kass has concluded was set by Illinois Governor Rod Blagoyevich, as a favor to Mayor Daly as part of his plot to expand O'Hare runways, because he owed him one for getting that double-parking violation withdrawn since the helicopter was on state business at the time of the ticketing, but to hide the collusion they "planted" the story that it was all an accident begun by Michele Obama's cow, because that story could be deniable as soon as it was investigated yet would be all the distraction needed for the truth to pass unnoticed, and if you are confused don't worry it all makes sense to Kass--the town of Peshtigo, Wisconsin, also burned, and with much greater loss of human life.
So yah, the northeastern Wisconsinites have a plant operation up by Peshtigo that tests fire extinguishers, and that's fine, eh?
Camera Operator for Olympics Women's Beach Volleyball: Speaking, of course, purely as a sports enthusiast, I am a strong advocate that we give women's sports equal time with men's. For every minute of the NFL that gets televised, there should be equal time given to Women's Beach Volleyball. But mine is a lonely voice, hollering against the hurricane of televised sports chauvinism. It is a scandal, I say! A scandal!
Coca-Cola Products Quality Test Taster
Budweiser Products Quality Test Taster
Frito Lay Products Quality Test Taster. I knew a guy who worked for Frito Lay. When I found out what he did I nearly kissed him and started to cry. It's not often we meet the people who are our real heroes, who contribute so much to our quality of life.
The next one has this disclaimer first.
We all know the story from last week of the heroic pilot who landed a jetliner on the Hudson River after a flock of birds knocked out its engines on take-off. Of course some people will say that rescuers have the best job ever. Like I say, to be on this list it has to be a job that I would want to perform. Riverboat rescuers are in a high-stakes profession where errors can be fatal to oneself and to the person one intends to rescue. So I salute all our men and women in our civil defense and rescue services and I honestly do hope that you all think you have the best jobs ever. But you are not why this story is in this column.
This disclaimer story is setting you up for the information that in the vicinity of Rockford Illinois there is a top-secret laboratory which tests airplane engines and their ability to withstand contact with birds. I know this because I am acquainted with someone who spent years there. I have it on his information that one series of tests involves shooting chickens from a cannon into a jet engine. This definitely makes my list for the BEST job EVER!
Of course those who do this are highly-trained engineers. Measurements must be precise. The speed of the engine must be guaged, and the velocity of the chickens calibrated, not to mention that the cannon has to be well-aimed. Yet this is all part of keeping YOU, the passenger, safe, BEFORE the need for an emergency landing in the Hudson River is required. After all, if your plane is taking off from Los Angeles and hits a flock of birds, you have a LONG way to coast before you can make an emergency landing in the Hudson River.
However, I need to be perfectly honest, I am not sure that I would want the job in the testing of the jet engines. There are too many routines and I don't have an engineering degree, and based on my last GRE exam it will be pigs that are flying before I could ever become an engineer that tests jet engines. No, I would much rather be the quality-control guy at the chicken-cannon factory who TESTS the CANNON.
I think the Hudson River Incident demonstrates that a jet engine having the ability to withstand ONE bird is not enough. In order to advance the safety of society we have to replicate the conditions of an entire flock colliding with a jetliner's engines. So I would like to be the inventor of a new generation of Chicken Guns. I imagine, for example, Dear Jon's Gatling Chicken Gun, a cannon with six rotating barrels for shooting chickens into jet engines.
In fact, while it might not be the Best Job Ever, I could see becoming a sales representative:
"This here is what has made us famous, our Perdue Pounder, our standard four-pound caliber fowl delivery system. While most jet engines have been able to survive impact, this can still wreak havoc on anyone intruding on your home security perimeter, including low-riding cars that drive by with the bass turned up on the sound system to make your windows rattle. Let me tell you, a four-pound chicken from a cannon will dent even a tinted windshield! Or is that just a pet peeve of mine? Anyway you might be more interested in the six-pound Tyson Terminator, which can knock over a Jamba Juice kiosk from fifty feet. For your personal defense with small arms I recommend the egg pistol with a clip of eight shells. You want to shoot raw eggs if you are looking to splatter a wide target matrix, but to drop a particular mark, you can always escalate to hard-boiled. Yeah, I know you're thinking, "Why don't they make clips for a dozen eggs?" Got me. Sounds like good matieral for a Steve Martin routine. Wild and crazy guy! Anyway, Among our featured specialty small-arms systems, you might want to look at our Kentucky Colonel, a rapid-fire machine-gun on a tripod; it comes with a belt of fifty drumsticks but I can throw in another belt if you pick that up with one of our big guns."
So this is my offer to you, Dear Jon reader. If you think the best job ever is to invent and patent these products, I bet I can sell them for you! But only if I get to test them first.
As I sort out what I would like to do with my life, being an Olympics Beach Sports camera operator is an occasional gig, and the Super Bowl is only slightly more frequent. I think when it comes to the Best Ever regular work-week kinds of jobs, I would want to put in my resume at the cannon factory at Weaponized Chickens Incorporated. I can put on my resume that while I don't have an engineering degree, I sure like to shoot stuff! Especially if the projectile is a flightless fowl.
Otherwise maybe I can send a resume to the Miami Herald. If they want to give me a big salary and an expense sheet so I can tour theme parks, visit breweries on a press pass and be the honorary judge to shoot the starting pistol at the international go-carts championship, all in exchange for 700 words once a week, fine with me. After all, they don't have Dave Barry anymore. And the Tribune already has John Kass.