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September 9, 2011 11:22 PM   Subscribe

Army soldier, model, or zookeeper: an A to Z of What People Don't Get About My Job. posted by divabat (47 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
U is for unemployed freelance writer; waiting for the phone to ring, wallowing in 100k student loan debt and waiting for my wife to leave me.
posted by gideonswann at 11:56 PM on September 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Another relevant AskMe thread.
posted by painquale at 12:48 AM on September 10, 2011


The video producer (who has apparently never shot double-system film and considers video tape to be "quaint") still has the balls to proclaim that non-linear video is neither "cheap" nor "fast." Whatta noob.
posted by ShutterBun at 1:27 AM on September 10, 2011


Coordinating all of this are the humble librarians. We are not mere cart pushers, let me assure you. This job requires a Masters degree for a reason.

Sorry - which one of those things requires a Masters degree again?

'Here, let me look up that DVD for you. It's not a book, you see, and I have a Masters degree.'

'Oh, I think you'll find typing obvious keywords into a box and clicking 'search' on JSTOR isn't quite the same as using Google. Step back - I have a Masters degree.'

'Did you know that government services are migrating online? No, nothing at all to do with me, unless you'd like me to show you how to type 'centrelink' into Google. I mean, not Google. Forget I mentioned Google, it's rubbish. Does Google have a Masters degree? I think not!'

'Yes, you can sit on those chairs with your friends! I chose the fabric! No, not really.'
posted by obiwanwasabi at 3:11 AM on September 10, 2011 [11 favorites]


Add:

Clown - After being a professional Clown for a year or two, you will get sick, tired and upset of people telling you that Clowns are scary. After 21 years of being a professional Clown, you won't care anymore....you'll just feel sorry for them all.
posted by JtJ at 3:11 AM on September 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


A is for Army Soldier

"Hollywood portrays Soldiers in many different ways. Sometimes we are burnt out social misfits that are incapable of fitting in and plagued by PTSD and associated terrors. Sometimes we are the devil-may-care thrill seekers that are an equal danger to the enemy and ourselves. Sometimes we are rapists and killers given to wanton slaughter. Most of all, we are often portrayed as mindless automatons that are incapable of independent thought."

Thank heavens it's only Hollywood which always lumps soldiers into these utterly clueless stereotypes.
posted by joannemullen at 3:36 AM on September 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


Loved some of it, liked some of it and hated some of it. Great read, thanks for posting.
posted by datter at 4:44 AM on September 10, 2011


I was surprised to find the phrase "bad guy" in the thoughtful essay about soldiers. Just seemed a bit out-of-place compared to the rest of the piece.
posted by fizban at 5:15 AM on September 10, 2011


D is for Dad
"Being a stay-at-home Dad is like unemployment."

What does that mean??? Is that really the best thing they could find a stay-at-home dad to say? It makes me sad.
posted by ChuraChura at 5:44 AM on September 10, 2011 [12 favorites]


I chuckled as I read the "Fashion-Model" section where she actually believed that people didn't know or would be surprised to hear what her job is like.

Seriously? Does she REALLY think that anyone believes it is physically possible to not eat?

Do you really think that us normy-ugly-folk wouldn't and couldn't possibly imagine that you have to audition for your gigs or that modeling "is a business"?

Holy shit. Getting paid is rewarding? I was confused because I thought the constant public ogling and male attention was enough to live on by itself.

I wonder if the silly questions that people "ask" her are just people fucking with her.

I suppose a professional narcissist might not have a lot of empathy or smarts. Maybe that's just a stereotype...
posted by hellslinger at 6:15 AM on September 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


'Army Soldier': A lot of ink is spilled on our mistakes but one thing that few understand is that thousands of contacts with civilians happen in the environment everyday and situations like this occur every single day and it is a testament to the discipline, morality and restraint of the forces involved that mistakes do not occur more often.

So we should be gratefull for all the people you haven't shot, tortured or abused?
posted by signal at 6:15 AM on September 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


I liked the ref's answer. Maybe it's because American society is so contentious these days; I really appreciate people who can stay above the partisanship and instead devote themselves to maintaining a fair process.
posted by benito.strauss at 6:30 AM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


So we should be gratefull for all the people you haven't shot, tortured or abused?

No, I think it's more like, it's easy to take the stance that "any civilian casualties is too many" when you're not the one in a war zone.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 6:32 AM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


You hold that shovel and think if only I could bludgeon that little tribesman in my brain. Then I could be free to give myself to wage labor, free to force my body to do what it doesn't want to. So when you see a man on the side of the road not moving just watching some machine manipulate earth, know that he may not be lazy, but just engaged in a struggle between a past that shaped us and a present that was made by us but not for us.

Even after reading the construction worker description, there is still no way I will think this about the next idle construction worker I see standing on the side of the road.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 6:36 AM on September 10, 2011


Even after reading the construction worker description

My problem with that description is that it told me very little about what he does. I mostly work in an office, and I spend parts of my day staring at piles of papers thinking "why do I have to read them? They are not food or sex." and then getting to work. True, most of the time, it's not 95 degrees and 80% humidity, except for when the A/C breaks, which is depressingly often, but I get it.

I've done manual labor (although not construction), and it's hard. Your body has to move ways that our bodies aren't designed to move. You are often putting your body between pieces of metal or metal and stone, and that's dangerous. It's loud. If there are machines around, you have to stay focused, because they can hurt you badly. If you have workmates around, you have to focus on them, too, because they can hurt you badly. It's hard, hard work, and it doesn't pay nearly enough, the benefits generally aren't great, and there is no career path to speak of.

As far as I can tell, a lot of the time people are standing around construction sites is because they are waiting for something to happen -- a truck needs to bring concrete, or a piece of machinery has broken down and a part needs changing, or something like that. The workers stand around because it doesn't make much sense to send them elsewhere to work for 5 minutes so you can call them back to the current project. Sure, I bet some of them are screwing off, but then that's true in every office in the world.

I wish he'd said something like that rather than "what you don't get about me is that it's hard to work, because work basically sucks." That's the human condition, and, believe me, I get that about your job.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:29 AM on September 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


In a different vein:

Metafilter: I have dreams beyond this popcorn counter.

Metafilter: You are the middle class! I'm helping you!

Metafilter: I know the answer to 75% of the questions I ask.

Metafilter: No, we do not hug our animals.

Metafilter: ugly things for incompetent people

Really, it's hard to stop.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:33 AM on September 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


I am bothered that the elementary school art teacher was categorized as a kindergarten teacher.
posted by trishthedish at 7:44 AM on September 10, 2011


I like how the graphic designer whines about being a peon, and then turns around and says shit like this: "We dominate decision making that is about cultural construction and make-up: music, food, bikes, clothing. You can't walk down the street and safely guess who's a doctor or lawyer, but you can guess who has an interest in graphic design."

Do they have peon is stamped on their forehead?
posted by 0xdeadc0de at 7:45 AM on September 10, 2011


When I was a kid, I had this idea that everyone who worked in offices in any function basically just sat around shuffling paper, rubberstamping, and talking fancy. My dad, an engineer, took me to work with him now and then from the time I was a really little girl, and I never saw anything that disabused me of that notion. I was just mortified at the idea of growing up and having a job someday. Happily, by the time I did, I'd figured out that there was a little more to it than that.

Some people never really get beyond that, though. There are a whole lot of people out there who seem to genuinely think that anything they don't understand is bullshit.

They basically think that office workers all shuffle papers, computer people are all programmers or Geek Squad employees, teachers are babysitters, etc., and there is really nothing you can say that's going to convince them otherwise. They're also the same people who think that people who appreciate things they don't--food, wine, art, music, literature, etc.--are just posturing.

People who are genuinely interested in what you do will ask you about it, and listen when you tell them.

The people who don't aren't really worth your time.

Oh and hellslinger: I know someone who is a retired fashion model, and she was much more interesting and introspective about it than the one in that article. I think the most important insignt she had was that models are not really supposed to appeal to the male gaze, as so many people assume.
posted by ernielundquist at 8:04 AM on September 10, 2011 [8 favorites]


Metafilter: Why do I have to read them? They are not food or sex

Metafilter: Really, it's hard to stop
posted by villanelles at dawn at 8:41 AM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


D is for Dad
"Being a stay-at-home Dad is like unemployment."

This guy has a much different experience of it than I do.

But I do get that people assume that if you're the stay-at-home dad you're unemployed. I got that a lot. And on occasion I would get someone trying to chastise me for letting my wife support me. I found this amusing on several levels.
posted by jscalzi at 8:43 AM on September 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


I couldn't tell if the SAHD was saying something people believe that isn't true? The format is inconsistent about that.

Any SAH parent who thinks it is like pre-kid unemployment has an unlucky partner.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:42 AM on September 10, 2011


Some of those were annoying, but none so much as the engineer. And oh-so-typical.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:40 AM on September 10, 2011


ernielundquist: "Oh and hellslinger: I know someone who is a retired fashion model, and she was much more interesting and introspective about it than the one in that article. I think the most important insignt she had was that models are not really supposed to appeal to the male gaze, as so many people assume."

If I understand correctly, they are intended to be anonymized, somewhat autonomous clothing perambulators. If the Realdoll people ever get around to adding servos and hydraulic actuators to their products, it's going to be hell on the modelling industry.
posted by vanar sena at 12:25 PM on September 10, 2011


I am not a fan of zoos, but it's neat to know some attempt to make a naturalistic scavenger hunts to keep the animals occupied. Even if it is just for our entertainment.
posted by sweetmarie at 12:50 PM on September 10, 2011


And yet again, everyone ignores the bass player. Don't worry Mr. B., I appreciate you.
posted by Hoopo at 1:01 PM on September 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Some of these are, "Let me complain about my job."
Some of these are, "Let me gush about my job."

And then some, like the stay-at-home dad one, are just offensive noise.

I suppose when you ask people about their jobs like this, they are going to focus on whatever features of their job are most salient to them. Those most salient features are going to be either things they hate or things they love, which is why they end up either gushing or complaining. I wish it could have somehow focused more on more objective facts about a job, like what you actually do, rather than features of the subjective experience of the job. Like the movie theater clerk one? I'm really curious about how they didn't make the popcorn -- I'd like to know more about where it comes from, if they didn't make it. I was already pretty certain they had a miserable job but weren't stupid for working it.
posted by meese at 1:33 PM on September 10, 2011


Coordinating all of this are the humble librarians. We are not mere cart pushers, let me assure you. This job requires a Masters degree for a reason.

Not all librarians have a post-grad. In fact, some of the libraries that are seen as "this is why libraries exist...to make information accessible to the rural and the socio-economically poor" do not even have librarians that have college degrees.

Get off your fucking high horse about your masters degree and learn to teach people to use lexis-nexis without that smarter than thou attitude.
posted by hal_c_on at 1:52 PM on September 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


I am a special snowflake and what we ourselves don't get about special snowflakes is that we are, while technically unique, really all very very similar.
posted by dickasso at 1:53 PM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


D is for Dad
"Being a stay-at-home Dad is like unemployment."

What does that mean??? Is that really the best thing they could find a stay-at-home dad to say? It makes me sad.


I agree. What was that all about? If he's disgusted with the idea that people insinuate that stay-at-home dads do nothing, then why didn't he explain the way the nanny did, that caring for a child is a real job.*

But of course, when women are stay-at-home moms, they're just unemployed parasites living off their husband's income, so whatever.



*Hooray for the nanny!
posted by BlueHorse at 2:26 PM on September 10, 2011


The nanny cracked me up because he's like "kids making neural connections!" and I am always like "kids saying funny shit and getting cuddles!" Heh.
posted by the young rope-rider at 2:30 PM on September 10, 2011


In my case, S is for scale man. Most people don't even realize my job exists; you think of scales for weighing things and you think of a bathroom scale or diet scale. But there are scales for weighing trucks, scales that weigh the things picked up by cranes, scales which are enormous liquid and powder tanks, laboratory balances that can weigh the ink of a printed period, automatic scales that detect improperly filled boxes and kick them off the assembly line before they're shipped. There are scales based on strain gage load cells (most of them today) but there are also fully mechanical scales with levers and pivots and bearings, hydraulic scales with pistons and Bourdon tubes, electronic balances that work by force restoration, and a slew of other minor technologies. We see them all.

It is the very rare industry that doesn't need our services and I've been in every kind of industrial facility you can imagine, from the local dump to the local nuclear reactor. If I'm sent out it's because you want your scale to print paperwork or automate a process or interface with your own computer system; my business card says "programmer" but I have a license from the State of Louisiana that allows me to legally break the seal on your legal for trade scale and service it. Whatever particular specialties I've brought to the job, that makes me first and foremost a scale man.

There aren't many people in the entire country who do my particular job, writing custom software and also visiting end users to install and maintain what I build. At my level I'd guess there are at most ten. Last week I drove 370 miles from NOLA to south Memphis and back to attempt an installation, and I'll have to go back because once on-site I realized the application was quite different from what our salesman thought. That happens a lot, and usually I go out on the sales calls too. We're still figuring out how we'll make my skill set available to the new offices we just opened in Little Rock and Birmingham.

Most scale companies are local regional distributors who represent a subset of the thirty or forty major manufacturers even the largest of which would themselves be considered small by Fortune 100 standards. It's a vital industry without which little else would work; the Founders saw the need for weight and measure standards and put us in the Constitution. I've been asked quite directly to help people steal, both by hardened veterans who knew what they were asking me to do and naifs who had no idea their cool plan to make the scale lie was, like, illegal. Weighing is one of humanity's oldest technologies; we've been using scales for around 5,000 years, and as I like to tell people who wonder why I need a license to open their scale, we've been trying to cheat them for 4,999.
posted by localroger at 3:04 PM on September 10, 2011 [24 favorites]


If you want to read more of this sort of thing, there is an excellent book of personal essays about jobs called Gig: Americans talk about their jobs.
posted by donajo at 8:01 PM on September 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


No, I think it's more like, it's easy to take the stance that "any civilian casualties is too many" when you're not the one in a war zone.

Actually, my stance is more like 'What sort of moron volunteers to be sent to a war zone to protect the interests of some plutocrats he can't even name?".

That, and the what I said about expecting to be congratulated for not murdering, disappearing and torturing people, what the solider quoted describes as 'mistakes'.
posted by signal at 9:12 PM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you want to read more of this sort of thing, there is an excellent book of personal essays about jobs called Gig: Americans talk about their jobs.

And, of course, Working.
posted by Jpfed at 9:48 PM on September 10, 2011


My dad, an engineer, took me to work with him now and then from the time I was a really little girl, and I never saw anything that disabused me of that notion.

Man, I know it. Take Our Daughters to Work Day is *such* a mistake. I took my daughter to work, and after a few hours she goes, "This is what you do all day? This. All day?"

Well... yes. And for the next 25 years. Actually, sweetie, maybe it'll be OK if we leave early today. Mommy needs a drink.
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 12:56 AM on September 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


'What sort of moron volunteers to be sent to a war zone to protect the interests of some plutocrats he can't even name?".

Well sheesh, you might as well as a teacher at Columbine High School why they volunteered to educate future mass murderers. The Iraq War was "sold" to plenty of highly educated people, and its unfair to place an extra onus on those who had more to give, and were willing to give it, to a cause they were told was just. And given the socio-economic circumstances in many parts of the country at that time (and since) one might effectively argue that there was an unspoken "draft" in place in some areas, wherein one's choices ranged from poverty, prison, or military service.

What kind of moron...? Well, John Kerry enlisted in the Navy during the Vietnam war, was he a moron? He certainly regretted his country's role there after the fact, but I doubt his initial impetus was based on some sort of blatant intellectual shortcoming.

That, and the what I said about expecting to be congratulated for not murdering, disappearing and torturing people, what the solider quoted describes as 'mistakes'.

No, they are not expecting to be congratulated for this, any more than the average Catholic Priest is expecting to be congratulated for not molesting any children. He's simply saying that the vast majority of them are indeed out there doing a difficult job (which our country WILL demand of *someone*, volunteer or not) to the best of their ability, and they ought to be afforded the benefit of the doubt against a few (extremely) bad apples just as much as any priest, or teacher, or postal worker would be.

Again, this is a job that is *going* to be filled by someone, and I think we're ALL a lot more comfortable with it being filled by volunteers, aren't you?
posted by ShutterBun at 3:31 AM on September 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


The Iraq War was "sold" to plenty of highly educated people, and its unfair to place an extra onus on those who had more to give, and were willing to give it, to a cause they were told was just.

The quote states that one shouldn't judge US soldiers for their 'mistakes' (ie.: murder, torture, etc.) because of all the times they could have committed them but didn't. I am pointing out that when you volunteer for an army that is always 'liberating' some brown or yellow people somewhere, you shouldn't expect any slack for not making a 'mistake'. If you break into somebody's house at night with a gun, should you be congratulated for not shooting anyone by 'mistake'?

and I think we're ALL a lot more comfortable with it being filled by volunteers, aren't you?

Not really, a volunteer army selects for psychos and oligophrenics.
posted by signal at 5:27 AM on September 11, 2011


Re the "Librarians" entry:

Sorry - which one of those things requires a Masters degree again?

Get off your fucking high horse about your masters degree and learn to teach people to use lexis-nexis without that smarter than thou attitude.


I'll grant you that those were horrible examples of why we have post-grad degrees, and that too many people in our profession toot their own horn about having an MLS.

But seriously, don't be dicks. An MLS is maybe not on par with, say, a master's in the sciences, but we do have specialized training in the way information is collected, organized, and preserved, and how to put that knowledge to use in the service of the public interest, academic institutions, and private industry. Those libraries that don't have degreed staff suffer because of it, and you'll notice that the best-funded libraries ALWAYS have them.

I think the author's frustration stems from the millionth time a patron says, "It must be nice to be able to volunteer so many hours a week!" or "So, you guys just sit and read books all day?" or yes, even "Doesn't Google make you obsolete now?" (It doesn't). Poorly argued, but I think that's what (s)he was getting at.
posted by Rykey at 5:54 AM on September 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


As someone with a master's degree in library and information studies, I have to say that I think it could be just as good an undergraduate major. Sure, there's a lot to learn in the organization of materials, how to make things easy to find in a catalogue and on a shelf, but it's not like you need a bachelor's before you can learn them.
posted by Margalo Epps at 8:51 AM on September 11, 2011


I agree Margolo; the bachelor's prereq to the MLS is there to ensure a subject specialty in something other than librarianship. My point isn't that the master's confers some level of brilliance upon us (although yeah, some folks act like it does), it's that we do have some specialized training that most patrons don't realize we have. And that people shouldn't act like dicks toward librarians on Metafilter, I suppose.
posted by Rykey at 10:00 AM on September 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Man, I know it. Take Our Daughters to Work Day is *such* a mistake. I took my daughter to work, and after a few hours she goes, "This is what you do all day? This. All day?"

It could have been worse.
posted by homunculus at 11:44 AM on September 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


hellslinger: "I chuckled as I read the "Fashion-Model" section where she actually believed that people didn't know or would be surprised to hear what her job is like.

I work with models. I guarantee you that even if someone sits and studies every single episode of America's Next Top Model, they will not truly understand what models go through and deal with professionally, behind the scenes. It's not an easy business. The show puts a gloss on it, with a lot of silly hype.

Seriously? Does she REALLY think that anyone believes it is physically possible to not eat?

It's not meant literally. She means living on a bare subsistence diet. Jokes aside, many models eat quite well, and some live on very little during photoshoots or Fashion Week.

Do you really think that us normy-ugly-folk wouldn't and couldn't possibly imagine that you have to audition for your gigs or that modeling "is a business"?

Yeah, that's not what she's saying at all. She's saying it's a competitive field, harder to break into and become a hot commodity than most people realize, and that once a company finds specific models to be the face of their brand, they are unlikely to change them often.

I suppose a professional narcissist might not have a lot of empathy or smarts. Maybe that's just a stereotype..."

It is.

Many models aren't rocket scientists. They don't need to be brilliant to do their jobs. But some are quite well educated, or putting themselves through college. There's a lot of variation.
posted by zarq at 3:49 AM on September 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


zarq you don't understand, that model is probably pretty and therefore WE MUST DENIGRATE HER!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:42 AM on September 12, 2011


The librarian can't tell the difference between herself and her place of employment (where 80% or more of the workers are not librarians, but are poorly paid part time help without benefits).

You can't learn how to do a reference interview at library school. You can learn cataloging and boolean searching, but I'm told they don't teach those any more.
posted by QIbHom at 11:23 AM on September 13, 2011


But seriously, don't be dicks. An MLS is maybe not on par with, say, a master's in the sciences, but we do have specialized training in the way information is collected, organized, and preserved, and how to put that knowledge to use in the service of the public interest, academic institutions, and private industry.

To be honest, I don't really know what an MLS entails, and I would not have said that its NOT on par with another graduate degree.

And yeah, to backup your point...MLS=MBA to me just because they want EVERYONE to know they have it.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:53 PM on September 13, 2011


"harder to break into and become a hot commodity than most people realize"

No, Zarq, that is exactly what she and you are saying: that we're ignorant of how hard it is to be an artist. I'm not aware of any such field (or people who agree with you two) where lots of people just fall into it and become successful - artist or otherwise.

Her description reads exactly the way I would imagine a naive, self-centered person who has always had an easy time getting people's attention would. Just because she had all these foolish assumptions about what she's talking about doesn't mean anyone else does.

Pat yourself on the back for being understanding or open-minded all you want, but I don't think her situation is unique. Yes, yes, there are exceptions to every rule, but I do not think she is.
posted by hellslinger at 2:06 PM on September 13, 2011


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