Squawk Radio

Monday, November 07, 2005

Liz Ponders the Wisdom of Her Career Choice

In the employment ads of my local paper yesterday, under the heading "Childcare," there appeared the following item:

"Seeking consultant who has extensive experience with child care and is knowledgeable about child development. We want this person to come to our home, read books to our toddler, do stimulating activities with him, and advise us on choice of books, toys, games, etc. Perfect part time job for an experienced child care worker/preschool teacher. Flexible (1-5 hours/week). $60-$100/hr. depending on qualifications." What followed was a PO box address for an area just outside town known for its incredibly wealthy residents. Lots of huge estates on secluded lots and very expensive cars. In fact, I've sited a couple of books there.

My first reaction to this ad was, "What? They can't spend 1-5 hours a week reading to and doing stimulating activities with their own toddler?" My second reaction was, "Wow. Just how rotten is their kid?" And my third reaction was, "!@#$%. I shoulda majored in child development instead of English."

Of course, I pretty much have that third reaction in some form all the time. When I volunteer in the school lunchroom and get to work the sandwich bar, I think, "!@#$%. I shoulda majored in culinary arts instead of English." That's because it's incredibly gratifying to have a job where all the choice is taken out of your hands. "You want wheat or white? Mustard or mayo? Ham or turkey?" Someone always tells you what they want, and it's very specific, and you can provide it IMMEDIATELY and COMPLETELY TO THEIR LIKING. Plus, you get to gossip with the other moms volunteering in the lunchroom. And urban legends to the contrary, after I finish my shift, there actually IS a free lunch.

Juxtapose that to me sitting in my office, looking at a blank page, and having no !@#$%ing idea what to do with it. Oh, sure, I can ask a lot of questions of that blank page--What kind of story do you want? What kind of characters do you want to populate it? Where do you want it sited?--but the blank page is in no way helpful. Not the way schoolchildren are. The blank page won't even narrow it down to meat or cheese.

And then there's the matter of how long it takes to fill hundreds of blank pages. Ain't no immediate gratification in writing a novel, the way there is making a sandwich in a school lunchroom. And then, even when you DO manage to finish the book, there's always SOMEone who doesn't like it. Only you can't take it back and scrape off the mayo and put mustard on instead, the way you can in the lunchroom. And SOMEone always feels compelled to go on-line and tell everyone else how much they hated the sandwich--ah, I mean book--you made for them.

So what's the ideal job? (And don't say novelist, 'cause I'll have to hit you with a brick.) Me, I think it would be floral delivery truck driver. It's got to be fun to deliver flowers to people, right? Make them happy all day long? Who can complain about receiving flowers? Of course, there's that potential road rage problem with all the driving. I'm not a patient driver. Then again, I'm always flipping my 'puter the bird.

Still, maybe I better stick with sandwich maker. I wonder if Subway is hiring...?
Elizabeth Bevarly, 11:08 AM