Friday, December 19, 2008

best bullshit jobs

Drink, write very little, diddle students, generally have license to misbehave while sponging off friends and other nonprofit organizations

Compensation: $350 per annum from your actual poetry or if you're serious about a career in the business, you earn whatever college professors are making this year, plus what you get from these very cool writer-in-residence gigs you can apply for.

The upside: Unlimited sex from adoring fans. The knowledge that your pain can be turned into something of artistic and/or commercial value. The right to drink all night and wake up at dusk.

The downside: You give a reading of your work at a small lecture hall of a university that does such things. They put you up at the Travelodge. The night of the reading, you go to dinner with the head of the English department at a sad, empty place that still features a blue plate special. Eight people show up at your reading. One of them has a bottle in a brown paper bag and is dressed wrong for the season. Afterward, you go out for drinks with him.

The dark side: You are a dead caboose sitting empty on a neglected piece of track somewhere in a forgotten rail yard. You tell yourself that when you're dead, you will be appreciated. All things considered, that seems like a long time to wait.

Where you go from here: Greeting card writer.

Life coach
Take over hapless people's entire existence and reshape it in ways that you think are good for them

Compensation: Successful practitioners in this relatively new field can earn as much as a psychiatrist - hundreds of dollars an hour. But unburdened by the same ethical constraints, an aggressive bullshit artist could conceivably view his or her compensation as a percentage of the life that is being fully, you know, actualized.

The upside: It feels good when people pay you to yell at them.

The downside: Some days you may not be positive enough to get out there and make people bark that happy song.

The dark side: Every now and then you see one of your success stories sucking the pavement in front of your local tavern.

Where you go from here: High school hockey coach.

Download contents of your mind, even when there aren't any

Compensation: Relatively small, but prospects for high-paying bullshit job in the future are virtually assured.

The upside: This is one of the bullshit jobs you can do immediately, with no training and no prior experience. You can also become very famous, since the established media, increasingly devoid of excitement and ideas of its own, has taken to siphoning off daily blogging activity as a much better and more interesting alternative to actual news.

The downside: You need a full, daily dose of imagination, guile, bile, and people pouring nonsense into your head that you can repeat.

The dark side: Your skin glows an ethereal white, your eyes become rheumy and bloodshot. Hair erupts in horrendous places. You don't care. You are now nothing but a conduit through which pass all the rare gases of the universe. You are, in short, a blog.

Vice president of the United States
Be prepared

Compensation: $198,000. Which pales, you know, beside what the job is worth afterward, when you rejoin the gigantic multinational firm you've been steering business to for the last eight years.

Duties: Well, before the current administration, you'd have to say virtually none. Now, who knows?

The upside: Great title, decent perks, very little job responsibility (except for Dick Cheney).

The downside: Everybody makes fun of the office and thinks it's completely superfluous.

The dark side: You da man. What have you got to show for it? (Except for Dick Cheney).

Where you go from here: Back to Halliburton.

Visionary, autocrat, delegator

Compensation: You're beyond the point where you need money. Money is for people who move through space in a world not of their making. That's not you.

The upside: Your feet do not touch the floor when you walk. This saves money on shoes.

The downside: The voices in your head won't let you sleep at night. The Congress subpoenas have the same effect.

The dark side: Everything is crawling with germs, and nobody knows how to clean your bottom without leaving it all red and chafed.

Closet organizer
Organize closets for people who can't organize their own closets

Compensation: Middling, unless the closet belongs to some crazy rich person, and who else would hire a closet organizer?

The upside: Unparalleled opportunity for those with an unhealthy interest in footwear.

The downside: Hard to explain what you do to serious people, and therefore you may not find yourself around many.

The dark side: Obsessive-compulsive disorder acquired over time degenerates into horrible need to keep everything on matching hangers, followed shortly by madness and death.

Where you go from here: Stager, another bullshit job, where people set up an apartment that's for sale to look more attractive than it actually is.

Generate conflicting opinions

Compensation: Academics make professors' salaries, in the high five or low six figures. Those who work for Wall Street firms or other fiduciary institutions can make enough to force Eliot Spitzer to sit up and take notice.

Skills required: Write very poorly, or at least so obliquely that no matter what happens in reality, the theories and prognostications you offer can never be called wrong, exactly.

The upside: People think you're brilliant, and you may be! You might get appointed to head the Federal Reserve.

The downside: Your mother leaps off the side of a cruise ship when her retirement account goes south.

The dark side: Your ideas are adopted by the ruling class of a third-world nation, who then use them to exterminate the entire middle class. Or your ideas are adopted by the ruling class of a first-world nation and cause the end of civilization as we know it.

Say hello to people when they come into a store

Compensation: Minimum wage.

The upside: Easy to learn the drill.

The downside: Sometimes your face hurts.

The dark side: Your college buddy shows up with the girl you used to go out with.

Investment banker
Strumpet of capital

Compensation: Booooooo- yah!

The upside: These guys are so rich their Bentleys have Bentleys.

The downside: Sometimes you get a hangnail getting out of the limo.

The dark side: Under certain economic conditions (such as this current one), the 53rd floor window becomes increasingly, inexplicably, beckoning...

Where you go from here: Chairman, if you manage to ignore the beckoning window -- and the SEC.

Personal trainer
Build average humans into gorgeous beasts, have sex with as many as you like, marry some of them for brief periods of time

Compensation: $35,000 per annum. But what's the meaning of money when part of your job is holding J. Lo's foot while she tries to work out her upper thigh?

The upside: Lookin' great, eating like a champ, swinging high and hard and loose? What a gig!

The downside: The San Francisco Chronicle does a huge exposé revealing that the special additive you've been giving to your customers is, in fact, anabolic steroid. You go to jail and your clients are disgraced, in addition to having tiny, shrunken testicles.

The dark side: You are an overexercised monster, both bulgy and stringy at the same time, your body is aging, and so are the poor, hyperstressed clients you tend to; you wake up one morning, and God, you're tired.

Best-selling author
Crank it out

Compensation: $500,000 and up, depending on royalties.

The upside: Knowledge that one's name will live as long as there are airport bookstores. Kids worship you more than they do their biological parents.

The downside: Paparazzi begin to hound you as much as they do a minor Hollywood celebrity.

The dark side: You become paranoid that some people might steal thousands of dollars worth of business from your billions, and sue everybody -- as well as mandate when people can and cannot read your books.

Where you go from here: After your books overtake the bible in popularity, there's nowhere to go but downhill from there.

Quantum physicist/string theorist
Produce theories about the nature of the universe that are not amenable to proof by normal human means

Compensation: Academic professor salary. If you become a cultural icon, like Stephen Hawking, you can be one of the few who attain rock star status equal to that of, say, the host of a popular cooking show.

The upside: In your hands you hold the secret to the machinery that runs the universe. That's heady stuff, which is good--because you're a head case, dude! But seriously. The media loves you. Your last book was a best seller that everyone bought but nobody read, which, as you know, is the very best kind. And while other guys from your class are playing with petri dishes, you're accelerating fictional particles at hyperspeed underneath the mountains of Switzerland.

The downside: None of what you do helps anybody understand anything.

The dark side: Tomorrow... next week... perhaps a year or two from now... some sharp kid is going to come along with a theory that takes a wicked detour directly from Einstein, goes completely around quantum theory, and explains the entire universe in simple, elegant terms that do not need a billion-dollar machine to prove. Your entire realm of endeavor will be relegated to a footnote on the twentieth century, the way the nineteenth was obsessed with phrenology--the science of reading head bumps.

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Random thoughts on politics, social issues, money, finance, sex, humor, stupidity, or just about anything, of a hatemonger, an obsessive-compulsive, and a schizophrenic forced to live in a cramped and humid apartment.