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A priest, a dominatrix and a brain surgeon walk into a bar
March 24, 2013 6:35 AM   Subscribe

Fifteen people summarise their jobs
posted by hoyland (65 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite

 
I don't get upset by my job. I didn't put the tumour there, I'm dealing with what's gone wrong.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:53 AM on March 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


The 8bit drawings of each career are spiffy.. Especially the taxi driver's.

And I love the undertaker's closing remark :
There's not a day that goes by when I don't feel happy to learn so much about humanity, to feel so in my place, and I don't regret a single minute. It has been, basically, a privilege.
posted by DigDoug at 6:58 AM on March 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't rip people off.
As long as you're pretending you're actually talking to the dead or can see into the future, and it's more than "just a bit of fun", then that's exactly what you're doing.
posted by DaveChild at 6:59 AM on March 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


As long as you're pretending you're actually talking to the dead or can see into the future, and it's more than "just a bit of fun", then that's exactly what you're doing.

Was that the priest, the call centre worker or the financial advisor?
posted by srboisvert at 7:16 AM on March 24, 2013 [56 favorites]


As someone looking for a job this bit from the psychic scares me: "Lately I've been working for a famous hotel chain. I accurately predicted the owner had picked a new site with terrible foundations and saved him millions, so he employed me to help recruit his staff. He'll email me CVs and I'll tell him if someone's dodgy." But based on the profession, I guess I should assume it's just another lie.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 7:19 AM on March 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


These are great. I think the brevity and the contrasts really make them.
posted by Artw at 7:26 AM on March 24, 2013


I've got a Russian oligarch I've done a life insurance application for. I said, "Any health questions?" and he said, "No, no – perfect health," and then he fills out on the questionnaire that he's been shot three times and stabbed eight times.

Topical.
posted by Artw at 7:28 AM on March 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


But based on the profession, I guess I should assume it's just another lie.

Based on your correct prediction here, I'd like to hire you to evaluate my Nigerian royal contact.
posted by jaduncan at 7:29 AM on March 24, 2013


The Chef, the Paramedic and the Intern are all pretty grim.
posted by codacorolla at 7:32 AM on March 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


> We get through the day by playing games. Like, we try to fit as many animals into a call as possible. "I wonder if you had a few minutes to do a quick antelope satisfaction survey." And, "So would you say the service you received was: excellent, very good, good, fair tiger poor?"

I've done call center work in the past and this seems about right. The madness sets in quickly.
posted by Panjandrum at 7:37 AM on March 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


The dog collar can be a help and a hindrance. When I leave the gym, the other gym bunnies tend to do a double take, especially if they've been checking me out a bit.

Huh, I would've thought that was the dominatrix.
posted by chavenet at 7:50 AM on March 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


That someone can work a full time job, six days a week for five years and never get paid (intern) in this day and age, in a first world country, is shocking.
posted by triggerfinger at 7:52 AM on March 24, 2013 [9 favorites]


Gets by with selling freebies on eBay too!

plus the hundred grand a year off mum and dad
posted by fullerine at 7:55 AM on March 24, 2013


Gets by with selling freebies on eBay too!

plus the hundred grand a year off mum and dad


Or the nights-and-weekends job she talks about in TFA.
posted by lunasol at 8:08 AM on March 24, 2013 [6 favorites]


I told a Hollywood actor he wasn't in love with his wife and he left her that day.

Some people just have this gift...
posted by Rykey at 8:26 AM on March 24, 2013


This reminds me of the really neat AskMe thread(s?) where people explained the nitty-gritty of their jobs. I know this is generally more of a MeTa question, but since it's so germane-- anyone have links to those?
posted by threeants at 8:43 AM on March 24, 2013


I've done call center work in the past and this seems about right. The madness sets in quickly.

My (thankfully short but still too long) time at a call center has made me both more empathetic and way more fucking skeptical about customer service calls.

"Why of course; I'd be happy to let you speak to an extremely important supervisor!" /eyeroll, transfer call to whichever miserable coworker is available who doesn't hate me yet
posted by threeants at 8:46 AM on March 24, 2013


I don't understand why the cab driver hates being called "Driver."
posted by HotToddy at 9:03 AM on March 24, 2013


I don't understand why the cab driver hates being called "Driver."

It's quite dehumanising. In the UK we tend not to do things that way, and taxi drivers in particular tend to discuss the issues of the day on an equal footing. I guess it's the equivalent of snapping your fingers and calling the waiter garçon.

I would imagine that even chauffeurs would privately think that someone that did this in a non-joking manner was an arse.
posted by jaduncan at 9:09 AM on March 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


I've got a Russian oligarch I've done a life insurance application for. I said, "Any health questions?" and he said, "No, no – perfect health," and then he fills out on the questionnaire that he's been shot three times and stabbed eight times.

It was a crucial intervening 5 minutes.
posted by jaduncan at 9:10 AM on March 24, 2013 [8 favorites]


The Maitre d': The worst customers are those who are drunk and abusive. I've had people square up to me.

What does "square up" mean? They would try to start a fight?
posted by jcreigh at 9:12 AM on March 24, 2013


What does "square up" mean? They would try to start a fight?

Shoulders square, fighting stance. Mostly it's still bluster, as people who really want a fight tend to hit first and peacock later.
posted by jaduncan at 9:15 AM on March 24, 2013


This reminds me of the really neat AskMe thread(s?) where people explained the nitty-gritty of their jobs. I know this is generally more of a MeTa question, but since it's so germane-- anyone have links to those?

Here's one.
posted by JanetLand at 9:16 AM on March 24, 2013


I've got a Russian oligarch I've done a life insurance application for. I said, "Any health questions?" and he said, "No, no – perfect health," and then he fills out on the questionnaire that he's been shot three times and stabbed eight times.

It was a crucial intervening 5 minutes.


It's not doing much for Ennis-type stereotypes of what perfect Russian health constitutes.
posted by Artw at 9:17 AM on March 24, 2013


"Any drinking?"
"No."
"You just downed a liter of vodka."
"Is not drinking. Ha ha ha."
posted by Artw at 9:19 AM on March 24, 2013 [6 favorites]


Call center work really is the worst, but at least I learned how to pronounce Nguyen.
posted by lazaruslong at 9:24 AM on March 24, 2013


I could teach you to do a basic brain operation in two weeks. But what takes time and experience is doing it without wrecking the brain.

The good news: You don't need to be a fucking brain surgeon to figure this out.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:29 AM on March 24, 2013


One of my favorite books ever is Gig, which is roughly 700 pages of people talking about their jobs.
posted by mothershock at 9:35 AM on March 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


I don't understand why the cab driver hates being called "Driver."

It's quite dehumanising. In the UK we tend not to do things that way, and taxi drivers in particular tend to discuss the issues of the day on an equal footing. I guess it's the equivalent of snapping your fingers and calling the waiter garçon.

I would imagine that even chauffeurs would privately think that someone that did this in a non-joking manner was an arse.
posted by jaduncan 23 minutes ago [+]


Well, I confess that I very rarely take a cab and doubt that I've ever had occasion to call the driver anything at all, but I still don't quite understand why addressing them as "Driver" (say, if you needed to get their attention) would be incompatible with discussing the issues of the day on an equal footing. How does one properly address a cabbie, then? Would a cabbie in the U.S. take the same offense? To me it seems the same as saying "Waiter." (Which can be done politely, without any supercilious finger-snapping type of behavior.) Just trying to understand.
posted by HotToddy at 9:40 AM on March 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Working at a call center was pretty much the lowest point of my life. Other people had found a way to make it fun (mostly by selling as much bullshit as possible, or trying their damnedest to get the maximum possible incentive), but it wasn't something I could do. The combination of seeing hundreds of strangers' lives laid out as a series of credit statements (often under a mountain of debt), along with the occasional white-hot hate of someone traveling abroad who's had their card placed on hold, and the panopticon environment of having every call monitored for possible slip-ups in not presenting the most smiling happy face that you can for The Company were toxic. I got out of there after 4 months, where I never once put up any sort of decoration in my cube.

I looked at the senior members of the team - one guy was a really nice family man who had the pressure of providing for them to make him not care so much about the job, the other was a dude more or less dead in an alcoholic stupor who was seriously proud of how many worthless world-points incentives he pushed each month - and realized that brief unemployment was preferable... although this was also before the economy took a shit on itself.

On the very last day I walked out of the building to a beautiful spring afternoon and it seemed like I'd never felt better in my entire life.
posted by codacorolla at 9:41 AM on March 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Re: Driver

If it is a man I typically go with "Sir" and if a woman I go with "Miss" or "Ma'am".
posted by josher71 at 9:45 AM on March 24, 2013 [9 favorites]


To me it seems the same as saying "Waiter."

Addressing someone as their job is a great way to make yourself look like a real shithead. Exceptions exist when their job is also a title. Think Doctor or Reverend.
posted by Sternmeyer at 9:46 AM on March 24, 2013 [6 favorites]


I think the only situation where it's appropriate to call a cabbie "Driver" is if you're using the exact phraseme "Driver, follow that car! And step on it!"
posted by strangely stunted trees at 9:51 AM on March 24, 2013 [7 favorites]


The taxi driver isn't saying that being called "Driver" is the worst thing, but that the people who call him that also happen to be the worst customers. It doesn't preclude someone calling him "driver" and being a good customer.
posted by beau jackson at 9:53 AM on March 24, 2013


It had never occurred to me to call a taxi driver 'driver'. In the few occasions when I've needed to attract their attention, I've always gone with 'excuse me' and gone on from there.

Just making eye contact and waiting for a break in the conversation is good enough most of the time. Wait staff too, for that matter.
posted by YAMWAK at 9:56 AM on March 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't understand why the cab driver hates being called "Driver."

It's quite dehumanising. In the UK we tend not to do things that way, and taxi drivers in particular tend to discuss the issues of the day on an equal footing. I guess it's the equivalent of snapping your fingers and calling the waiter garçon.


This seems right. Interestingly, on the railway we get called "driver" or "drive" by our colleagues all the time and it seems appropriate and almost respectful. Not quite sure why that is.
posted by Decani at 9:56 AM on March 24, 2013


"Driver" is what the upper class call their chauffeurs. I can see why cabbies would be pissed off with that label.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 10:08 AM on March 24, 2013


This reminds me of the really neat AskMe thread(s?) where people explained the nitty-gritty of their jobs. I know this is generally more of a MeTa question, but since it's so germane-- anyone have links to those?


It's here!

P.S. Don't cry for me, Metafilter. I don't work in a call center anymore. I got a huge promotion.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 10:14 AM on March 24, 2013


Use of the word 'driver' would be seen as a total upper/middle class talking to lower class thing (because of course class in the UK is everything), I'd use 'mate' but that's a Midlands thing. Also if you want a conversation the standard opener is 'busy today?'
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:20 AM on March 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's here!

Thanks! Really cool stuff.
posted by threeants at 10:36 AM on March 24, 2013


Then I've got clients who live on a council estate and every time I see them they want to throw money at me: "I don't know what I'd do without you mate, have some pound notes!"

I don't think anyone deserves to be poor. But if you don't have much money and you try to bribe your own financial advisor, I guess you are sort of asking for it.
posted by forgetful snow at 10:55 AM on March 24, 2013


Anybody know why the brain surgeon does surgery for 12 hours at a time (twice per week) rather than, say, 6 hours at a time (four times per week)?

Can this possibly be optimal? I don't want to be the dude under the knife in the 12th hour...
posted by Fists O'Fury at 11:48 AM on March 24, 2013


I've been a taxi driver and a chauffeur, and can only think of one time that anyone called me "driver". Yep, they were real jerks.

As a taxi driver, the drunkest passenger I ever had was at the Blarney Stone on St Patrick's day evening. I honestly didn't understand a word that the guy said, but he had a matchbook cover for Oil Can Harry's and a twenty, so I loaded him into the back, and we motored off. He kept talking to me the whole time, and the words seemed real, but they made no sense, like an invented version of a language. His body-posture was way off as well, all hunching around, sudden jerky movements, and shit.

Anyway, I had my doubts about the guy the whole drive, and sure enough when we pulled in behind Oil Can Harry's he accidentally released this pigeon that he had captured outside the Blarney Stone and hidden under his coat during the ride (explaining the strange fidgety behaviour) right inside the cab as he tried to get out. Suddenly I have this panicked bird flying around the inside of the cab, screeching and smashing into windows, madly trying to escape. I had pigeon-shit and feathers all over the inside of that cab for the rest of night, but every passenger after that was too drunk to care.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 12:18 PM on March 24, 2013 [14 favorites]


The taxi driver illustration was my favourite too.
Incidentally the illustrations are by Craig Robinson of Flipflopflyin who you might remember for his much loved Minipops.
posted by tardigrade at 12:18 PM on March 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


This seems right. Interestingly, on the railway we get called "driver" or "drive" by our colleagues all the time and it seems appropriate and almost respectful. Not quite sure why that is.

and the Bristolian thing of saying 'Cheer Drive' when getting off the bus, seen as a polite thing.
posted by Z303 at 12:23 PM on March 24, 2013


In Edinburgh, people travelling on buses quite often say "Thank you Driver" when leaving the bus. I think it's an Edinburgh thing and this has always made me slightly queasy. I suppose as an Englishman I find the title "Driver" somehow demeaning, presumably Edinburghers don't.
posted by epo at 12:33 PM on March 24, 2013


I guess I'm one of the rare people who genuinely likes call center work. The experiences outlined in the article didn't line up too well with the places I worked, but it was a funny read. I've done call center customer service work since 2003, and have worked at three different centers within that time.

Only my first job was truly horrible. We sold maintenance agreements on appliances to people who could scarcely afford them. That job crushed my soul. We definitely had some weird tactics to try to make it livable. A lot of my coworkers did fake accents, or made up fake backstories to enhance their sales figures.

The second was customer service for a delivery/shipping company. A big diversion tactic there was to transfer angry customers to the Spanish line. I never did this myself, but it was rampant. One of the biggest problems was trying to stay within your AHT (average handle time) parameters.

I now work for a major fashion designer in their "contact center" (which I guess is meant to sound fancier than "call center"). It's a much nicer environment, and most of my colleagues seem genuinely concerned with providing the best experience possible. It's also the first such place I've worked that promotes quickly from within. Outside management hires in a call center are the worst.
posted by nohaybanda at 12:39 PM on March 24, 2013


It doesn't preclude someone calling him "driver" and being a good customer.

It kind of does: "But the worst people are the ones who call me "Driver".

Curious to know how their worstness is expressed in practical terms. Just attitude, or are they also cheap tippers? (I'm behind him all the way if it's cheap tippers.)

I tend to go with sir or ma'am in all anonymous business transactions, but I wonder, if I dressed a la Toff and did so in his cab, would he take it as patronizing? Would my good tip and American accent help? I can see a no-win situation here. (Wonder if he gave other options and the editor just cut them out.)
posted by IndigoJones at 1:22 PM on March 24, 2013


"I don't get emotionally attached to any of them: slaves are disposable – they need to work hard to make sure they are allowed to stay in my presence."

Jesus. Doesn't she ever get to stop working? Yes, we know, you can make your disinterest in your clients seem like part of your hype, not the fact that you're a sex worker (even if they can only masturbate when you time them!) but this is really hard on people who try to do this non-professionally.
posted by Phalene at 1:29 PM on March 24, 2013


Hm, well, when I waited table, I always felt vaguely patronized by "miss," and "ma'am" felt bizarrely off the mark due to my age, but certainly much better than the OMG infuriating "girlie." "Waitress" felt like a very matter-of-fact professional form of address that didn't absurdly try to guess at my marital status.
posted by HotToddy at 1:36 PM on March 24, 2013


I call everyone "Excuse me?" or "Mate".
posted by thylacinthine at 1:56 PM on March 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I call everyone "Sorry".
posted by doiheartwentyone at 2:22 PM on March 24, 2013 [12 favorites]


slaves are disposable – Jesus. Doesn't she ever get to stop working?

Yeah I found that really jarring. If it was a male dom talking about female submissives that way I think a line would be forming with pitchforks and torches being passed out.
posted by localroger at 2:35 PM on March 24, 2013


I always felt vaguely patronized by "miss," and "ma'am" felt bizarrely off the mark due to my age

I was raised (TENNESSEE!) to call almost all women "Ma'am". It wasn't until I'd moved to Portland OR in 1993 that anyone mentioned that woman might not like it. I've still not internalized that but use "Miss" as people have told me that's preferable. I still like to think "Ma'am" is the most respectful term, but obviously Y(and many other people's)MMV.
posted by josher71 at 3:27 PM on March 24, 2013


Decani - "Interestingly, on the railway we get called "driver" or "drive" by our colleagues all the time and it seems appropriate and almost respectful. Not quite sure why that is."

The driver is an engineer or otherwise highly trained professional with a lot of responsibilities (like, the train and what might be on the tracks), right? Almost like a ship captain?

I've heard that surgeons in the Australian (and British?) system prefer to be called "Mister" over the "Dr." that mere doctors are called.
posted by porpoise at 4:05 PM on March 24, 2013


"Unfortunately, our salon is opposite a Bikram yoga studio so you get the chancers who come straight from class and expect me to wax them sweaty."

Maybe they're just panicking over how they look through their sheer yoga pants.
posted by homunculus at 4:22 PM on March 24, 2013


Anybody know why the brain surgeon does surgery for 12 hours at a time (twice per week) rather than, say, 6 hours at a time (four times per week)?

Can this possibly be optimal? I don't want to be the dude under the knife in the 12th hour...


Fist O'Fury - I assume it's that since some surgeries can't be completed in 6 hours, it would be more problematic to try to hand off a patient mid-procedure to a new set of eyes & hands than to just keep going until you're done. So, it would probably be a shift of multiple small procedures with time for breaks in between, or one giant complicated surgery in the shift and then handing off the patient to the recovery room staff & whoever is on-call/doing rounds for your service the next day.
posted by oh yeah! at 4:23 PM on March 24, 2013


I'd want to be refered to as "Herr Doktor", in the German manner.
posted by Artw at 4:24 PM on March 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Anybody know why the brain surgeon does surgery for 12 hours at a time (twice per week) rather than, say, 6 hours at a time (four times per week)?

Can this possibly be optimal? I don't want to be the dude under the knife in the 12th hour...


In addition to what oh yeah! said, this also gives you other days of the week free for follow- up visits with prior patients and consults with potential patients. It's more likely for the surgeon to be able to see all their office patients is they have one day a week there exclusively.
posted by holyrood at 5:18 PM on March 24, 2013


Then I've got clients who live on a council estate and every time I see them they want to throw money at me: "I don't know what I'd do without you mate, have some pound notes!"

I don't think anyone deserves to be poor. But if you don't have much money and you try to bribe your own financial advisor, I guess you are sort of asking for it.

posted by forgetful snow at 10:55 AM on March 24 [+] [!]

I think what he was getting at is that people with lots of money frequently try to get services and things for cheap or free (also mentioned by the fashion intern), or get out of paying fees, while people with more modest means tend to be really appreciative of people who provide personal services to them - which translates into poor people being happy to pay fees, or wanting to offer tips or other kinds of compensation.

I have had exactly this experience - wealthy families constantly expecting to get out of late fees, or get extra services for free, while modest-income families offer extra payment at the drop of a hat. And are genuinely grateful for everything that you give them.
posted by ianhattwick at 5:28 PM on March 24, 2013


I've heard that surgeons in the Australian (and British?) system prefer to be called "Mister" over the "Dr." that mere doctors are called.

It's a historical artefact.
posted by hoyland at 7:58 PM on March 24, 2013


Pretty good. I think the undertaker's job seemed the most preferable. I could probably be convinced to accept $100 an hour to roll people around in custard but I don't know how wide the market is for that.
posted by amanda at 9:45 PM on March 24, 2013


The dominatrix story was kinder and more caring than I expected.
posted by SPrintF at 9:50 PM on March 24, 2013


Artw: "I'd want to be refered to as "Herr Doktor", in the German manner."
Bonus: when you get your second Ph.D. you'll be Herr Doktor Doktor Artw.
posted by brokkr at 2:46 AM on March 25, 2013


One of my favorite books ever is Gig, which is roughly 700 pages of people talking about their jobs.

Studs Terkel's book, Working has about another 600 pages of the same.
posted by frimble at 7:19 AM on March 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


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