Saturday, December 3, 2011

Dreaming of My Dream Job

I was having lunch with a friend yesterday and he said he was going to look for a new job.  Like me, he works at a law firm, and like me, his long-time employer went bust a few years ago and he followed some of the attorneys to a new firm.  I asked what he didn’t like about the job and he gave a few examples, but, he acknowledged, “I might just be tired of working.”

Thanks to erix for the photo
He and I have both been doing clerical work at law firms for over 20 years.  As 99% jobs go, they’re great.  Good money, good (though worsening) benefits, not too much micromanagement from supervisors, casual Fridays, computer access.  But it’s unstimulating and a little depressing to think that we’re going to be doing it five days a week, 48 weeks a year or so, for probably another 18-20 years, assuming the economy doesn’t totally collapse before that.

A few months ago, I started thinking maybe I could do radio full-time.  I’ve been doing it almost weekly for more than five years, I’ve done a bunch of pretty good pieces and shows, and I love it.  I started looking online and there were actually some jobs at community stations advertised, and I thought I might apply for one.  It was in Seattle, at the University radio station.  As I started thinking about what to put (and not put) on my resume, I thought, Okay, this job only requires 2 years’ experience, so presumably it pays almost nothing.  I’m sure they are expecting to hire someone a few years out of college.  It’s an editorial job, working with the senior news editor.  Do I really want to spend my days arguing with a senior editor half my age – or less – about why what I think is important should go on the air, for probably half as much money as I make now?  Do I want to deal with the very likely possibility of not getting an interview, or even a rejection letter, for this job I’m way overqualified for?  No.  And while I love my Seattle and my friends there, do I want to move 800 miles from the community I’ve spent the last thirty years building?

I didn’t send the resume.

In general, when someone asks me how long I expect to be at my job, I say I expect to get carried out of there in a box, or dragged out in cuffs.  I’m not sure which scenario is more appealing.
But the conversation with my friend made me start thinking: there must be a job out there that would make me bound out of bed every day eager to get to work, like how I felt at Hedgebrook or my recent self-made writing retreat.  What would it be?  Here are few people I think have my dream jobs, so I guess all I have to do is wait for one of them to quit or retire:

Calvin Trillin, Deadline Poet for the Nation.  He gets to write one two-line poem a week.  Here’s one of his latest, coincidentally about his dream job:

One job’s a job I never would forgo.
That job, of course, is being CEO.
According to the customs now prevailing,
It pays a lot—and pays you more for failing.
It must be nice to have a job wherein
You cannot lose, for if you lose you win.

(Okay, Trillin fans, don’t get on my case.  I know he also writes books and New Yorker articles, including a recent interesting retrospective on the first Freedom Ride, which he covered in 1963). 

Terry Gross, host of Fresh Air.  Not only does she get to talk to all the coolest people, but she has a whole team of producers helping her get them and figure out what to ask, and then everyone talks about how brilliant she is (which she is).

Noam Chomsky.  Admittedly, the guy’s paid his dues.  But hey, now he gets to spend all his time giving political opinions in a monotone, and people actually listen.  In the same vein, Arundati Roy gets to travel the globe fomenting revolution.

Admissions officer for the Tipple Business School at the University of Iowa.  What?  Not only do I know nothing about and have no interest in the business, but when I was a TA in Political Science at Cal, lo those many years ago, the business students always wrote the deadliest dullest essays.  So who would want to read thousands of them?  But get this:  Tipple applicants now tweet their essays!  So as an admissions judge, you get to grant or dash someone’s hopes for their future in just 140 characters.  The top tweet was a haiku.  There are also, apparently, numerous Twitter scholarships available, many of which go unclaimed.  Whose Tweets?  Our Tweets!

Herman Cain.  Someone is obviously paying that man a lot of money to say outrageous things while pretending to run for president.

If you have a dream job and I didn’t mention it, please say so in a comment on my blog.  (If you have trouble posting under an ID, you should be able to post anonymously.)


  1. Herman Cain? How about Sarah Palin? She already has the job Cain wants (I'm guessing). And I'm guessing he'll get it too. Watch for him on Faux News.

    The other dream job: Anthony Kennedy's. He gets to decide everything.

  2. My dream job? Barrista at a relaxed cafe where people hang around all day talking politics and culture or working on their novel manuscripts. I've even drafted a blog about it, and am thinking of posting it later this month...

  3. Haha I have a dream job of sorts. Full-time community college faculty, but here's the dream part. I teach all my classes online from home. It's asynchronous too. I'm not saying it's easy, and it isn't always fun, but being in control of my time and location makes it worthwhile.

  4. Dream job: labor lawyer.

    You get to fight for working people all day, half the night, and weekends. It's like playing a gigantic, real-world version of "Risk" -- nothing but strategy, tactics, and implementation, day after day. You get to meet a whole bunch of different people from all walks of life, including lots and lots of fantastic folks you'd never meet otherwisee, and work with them to drive corporations crazy.

    You can make a living doing it, too.

    And sometimes -- just sometimes -- you can actually make a difference. See:

    Sometimes it's not clear that we're making any difference at all, but it's sure still a fight worth having. See:

    What could be more dreamy than that?

  5. Interesting, but

    Calvin Trillin is not a poet.
    He writes his opinions in clever rhymes, but they are not poetry.
    Real formed verse with political content can be found by Edna St Vincent Millay
    who wrote about war and peace, conscientious objection, and many other subjects.

    Also ref W H Auden's The Shield of Achiles

    I have a few good political poems of my own.
    I hope you enjoyed EPI's book you got last year.

    I have given up sending poetry to The Nation because Trillin occupies that slot pretty completely.

    Happy hunting.
    Hope you stay in the area.

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