In the last few years in California, and indeed most of the nation, many of those who remained gainfully employed considered themselves lucky just to have a job. People were afraid to complain about working conditions or low pay or any other job-related dissatisfaction, because they knew they could be gone in the blink of an eye.
So along comes a chap named Dan Fastenberg whose job, apparently, is to write about jobs at aol.com. Which sounds like all kinds of fun. He’s also worked for Time and Reuters and other reputable folks, so you know his journalistic credentials are solid.
The other day a kind reader sent me Dan’s latest piece on jobs filed under “Top 10 Lists, Employment News and Trends.”
So far, I’m bored. But then I read the first seven words of Dan’s work and I knew I had to finish the entire article. The first seven words asked: “What is the worst job in America?”
Other than mayor of Woodland, I’m not sure.
“In a troubled economy, where unemployment is high and the employed are overworked and underpaid, the competition is surely stiff,” Dan writes. “But each year CareerCast.com, the employment website, ranks 200 professions in America to come up with the answer.”
Now I don’t know if Dan is working for aol.com, CareerCast.com, Time, Reuters or is maybe just a glorified freelancer. No matter, he threw out the bait and I bit down hard.
“The list is based on five factors: physical demands, work environment, income, stress and hiring outlook.”
Let’s see, when I started my journalism career as a sports writer 44 years ago, you had to be able to lift a heavy “portable” manual typewriter in its carrying case and haul it up 84 steps to the press box if you were covering a football game in a real stadium.
The work environment couldn’t have been too bad, since everyone else in the stadium was attending the same game voluntarily and had even paid good money to do so.
Income didn’t really matter once the game started because the action on the field was generally compelling enough to make you forget whatever bills you had left at home.
Stress levels were high only for night games on a Saturday when a deadline loomed as stadium personnel were turning off the lights and locking up the exits. If you didn’t finish before they did, you were then faced with the task of climbing a fence to get out, all the while lugging that enormously heavy portable typewriter.
As far as hiring outlook went, hey, I had the job. What difference did hiring outlook make to me?
So I’m figuring if they evaluated 200 professions using those five criteria, being a journalist would rank very near the top of the list.
But here’s where it gets interesting. Given that this is a “Top Ten” list, the 10 jobs that Dan Fastenberg lists are therefore the 10 worst out of the 200 considered, meaning No. 10 on the list is actually No. 191 if you were ranking best to worst.
Turns out flight attendant is the 10th worst job in America, followed by a roofer at No. 9. Again, that means roofer is worse than flight attendant, not better.
So far, all we know is that people who work at high altitudes are deemed to have bad jobs.
No. 8 is a mail carrier, followed by meter reader at No. 7. Now we know that working in the air and visiting people’s homes on a regular basis are not desirable occupations.
No. 6 is a dairy farmer and No. 5 is an oil rig worker. Again, drawing conclusions two at a time, we can assume that extracting liquids is also undesirable.
No. 4 is listed as “actor,” with an average income of $17.44 an hour. Presumably, if you move the decimal point several places to the right, “actor” will quickly move to the other end on the list.
No. 3 is “enlisted military personnel,” and No. 2 is “lumberjack,” which means everyone at Humboldt State University.
Which brings us, with a major drumroll, to the worst job in America. Yes, you guessed it: “newspaper reporter.”
This guy Fastenberg has obviously never walked a mile in my shoes. Without a doubt, given the excellent material the city of Davis presents to me every day of the year, I have the best job in America.
The worst job, clearly, is creating Top Ten lists.
— Entries in the “Replace the Above-Pictured Columnist” contest should be between 400 and 800 words in length and must be emailed by midnight Tuesday, Sept. 3, to [email protected] Please include a brief biography and mug shot of the author suitable for publication.
— Reach Bob Dunning at [email protected]