What’s Something About Your Job We’d Be Surprised to Learn?

[This is a Dinner Table discussion. If you don’t know what the Dinner Table is, read this.]

About a year ago, there was a popular Ask Reddit thread that asked people who work for airlines to share tidbits about their professional world that passengers didn’t know. By scanning through the thread for a few minutes, I learned a bunch of new things, including the following about a pilot’s job:

  • Pilots are asleep for much of the time on a flight—sometimes even both pilots simultaneously (but pilots are never allowed to eat the same meal in case of food poisoning).
  • When planes have a hard landing in bad weather, it’s not because the pilot is bad at landing, it’s because he’s intentionally coming down at a sharper angle to avoid hydroplaning.
  • DT - JobIf there’s a hijacking or something else bad happening on the plane, pilots leave those wing flaps that slow the plane down in their up position even after the plane has stopped. That signals to the airport that there’s an emergency in the plane.

Fascinating. And all it is is an ordinary person talking about their job and revealing some behind-the-scenes facts.

No matter what you do for work, you spend a large part of your life in a world most of us don’t know much about. Tell us something interesting or surprising that we don’t know about your (current or previous) job or the industry you work in.


Tim’s Answer: I got a bit carried away on this one and turned my answer into a mini post.

Note for the future: I’ll write my own answer to many of the Dinner Table questions, but there will be some weeks when I won’t, either because I’m in a panic about the upcoming post I’m working on and don’t want to take too much time away from it, or because it’s a personal question that’s best answered with a degree of anonymity. In those cases, I may answer the question under a different name below in the comments.

Two reminders: You can sign up for the Dinner Table email list here to be notified about the new topic each week (2,000 signups so far), and remember to submit future topics to table@waitbutwhy.com—we already have a bunch of great suggestions from readers.

  • Jessie Timberlake

    My day started at 5 a.m. and ended at midnight….bet you wouldn’t have guessed that!

    • Tim Urban

      How! Explain.

      • Jessie Timberlake

        UP at 5, walked the dog,dressed, gathered stuff together, got to school, ran stuff off, taught non-stop, helped after school, walked the dog, supper, then papers and papers and papers and lesson plans, games to do with kids, tests to prepare, tesst to correct……never ending, tburb! but the best years of my life!

        • Tim Urban

          The dog needs to learn to walk himself. Otherwise this all makes sense.

          • Jessie Timberlake

            But wait…… the dog walk is one of the best parts pf my day..She walk, she does “her thing” , I think ……

  • lucha

    Freelancing (working at home in your pajamas) is the envy of office workers, but they might not realize that it also sucks because you only get paid for the work you actually do. I read recently that the average office worker doing an 8 hour shift only does 3 hours of actual, focused work. I only freelance part time because I make enough to live on, but I can’t imagine being a freelancer doing 40 hours of focused work / week! I’d go mental.

    • Truth


      I do freelance full time and have for 5 years. It’s the most stressful job I’ve ever had (but also the most rewarding).

      I keep track of my work by something called an efficiency ratio – basically billable time (invoiceable time) vs unbillable time. Mine is around 60% which, according to my finance friends, is pretty good for a CEO/janitor.

      What falls into unbillable time? Sales, project management, follow-up, marketing, networking, going to the bank to deposit checks, doing your taxes, studying the latest software or trends, research, blogging, updating your website, updating pricing, customer service, fixing or updating computers, answering phone calls, etc.

      The problem with this line of thinking is its really easy to confuse unbillable time with non-value add time.

      You try to make the menial tasks as efficient as possible, but writing contracts is certainly value-add, even though it’s not billable. Not to mention, you HAVE to give yourself some space to be creative, think clearly, and problem solve. You might even have prototyping. All of this time invested requires a good understanding of your processes, how long creating your “widget” takes, and then setting your hourly rate appropriately.

  • Kärrollahin Campbell

    I work for Diebold, a financial security firm that services banks and ATM’s and alarms and cameras for banks, and I schedule calls for our technicians. When I started here a few months ago I never would have thought this job would be dangerous. Our technicians don’t carry any money on them all they do is fill paper or fix jams in the machines. I was very surprised when one of our technicians in Ohio was shot and killed while servicing an ATM. There are more risks than I thought…

  • I’m a UK personal trainer and I need to know far more about people’s emotional landscape than I ever thought. Being good at putting a workout together is secondary to caring about how your client feels, lives, what their history is, how yesterday went and whether something is stopping them sleeping. Should have been trained as a counsellor.

  • Matt

    I’m a Software Engineer, and I wish I knew how much work I’d have to do that ISN’T writing code. That’s also one of the things I wish I knew when I was 22 coming out of a pure computer science program.

    • curious

      name some of the extra tasks

    • MRK

      I consider becoming a Software Engineer in the future (I’m going to study CS next year), so I’m always excited about new information or opinions on this job. What do you do in your work that isn’t coding? Is there any regret in following this career? Do you have any tip that could help me go through this?

      • Kelly Benson

        Software Engineering is a great career, one of the best things is it is constantly changing and new technologies are always appearing which keeps it interesting.

        Depending on the size of the company and the role other than programming you may be doing requirements gathering, research, testing (unit testing, load, performance, etc), dealing with clients, monitoring processes and systems, release strategies, project planning.

    • Lucian

      I’ve been working as a Software Engineer for more than 8 years. I can confirm that lot of work isn’t exactly writing code. Some examples:

      1. Understanding/discussing requirements: The client has some rough idea of what he wants, but in the code there are lot of decisions and details that need to be implemented.

      2. Understanding/reading other people’s code: If you work in a team most likely you’ll have to work also with code that wasn’t written by yourself. It can take a while to understand what the other person(s) tried to do.

      3. Meetings/discussions/planning. If there’s more than yourself in a team these will be (arguably) needed for coordination.

      4. Dealing with people: depending on the team and its members this could take a lot of time and energy. Also, office politics happens whether you like it or not. Ignoring it doesn’t mean you won’t be affected by it. Soft skills are very important in team-based software development, try to develop them early.

      5. Writing/reading documentation.

      6. Testing your code

      7. Debugging (if you’re working on enterprise products then a lot of debugging).

    • Brian Gottfried

      Lucian nailed it with his examples. How your time is split will depend on your industry (I develop for a company in the Electronic Medical Record field, so quality control is top priority, because bugs in the code can literally be the difference between life and death) and the quality of your company (I’m personally of the opinion that the more your company focuses on developing skills OTHER than developing in their SEs, the better off you are), but in general, you’ll spend a lot more time doing everything that comes before (planning, design work, approval) and after (testing, fixes, usability testing, more testing) than actually developing.

      A few notes I’d add:
      -If you join a company with an established product that’s been around for multiple years, expect to deal with legacy code. Reading it can be extremely frustrating (it turns out the two developers that started the company aren’t always the best at commenting their code, because who’s going to read it besides them, right?) and it can be rather ugly to look at. However, if you’re writing software for a complex problem (finance, healthcare, business needs, etc) and you join an already established company, don’t expect to be rewriting legacy code. Changes to code that’s already in production in a customer’s environment is a big no-no unless absolutely necessary, because handling that transition safely is difficult and if you DON’T handle it safely, you just destroyed a customer’s business.
      -Related to the note above: if you’re working on a complex problem (and you’re working for a good company), expect to do a lot of training just about the business of the people you’re developing for. I just recently started at my new job and I’ve got a required six-month certification program that I need to go through before I’m considered a full developer; a solid 7 weeks of that program is just training on our software from the customer’s perspective, not only so we understand how the software works, but so we can understand all the rules of the industry (or at least scratch the surface of those rules).
      -There is a trade-off to be made working for a company with a large code base: these companies are often the most successful and are doing the most interesting things, but the changes you make on a daily basis will be far smaller than if you were working at a company with a smaller codebase. I recently spent an entire day working on a single fix that consisted solely of changing the structure of displays in a table, because the cascading effects of those tables reached across many different pieces of code.

      And lastly, the most important note (the advice I give CS students who are still in school):
      For every one of your CS courses, find the person in the room who thinks they are the best developer (ideally, they actually ARE the best developer, but sadly that’s not always the case). With every assignment/piece of code you write for the course (or as much as they’ll let you get away with), ask them to check it over and point out what’s wrong. This will help you become a better coder (hopefully), but more importantly, it’ll get you used to having your code criticized (the point of choosing the person in the room who THINKS they are the best developer is that they’ll criticize every part of the code they can, presuming they’re the pedantic type of developers I met in college). Not all of their criticism (or even any of it) might be valid, but it’s intensely important that you get used to having your code looked over by another developer and marked up; coming out of college, that was the hardest thing for me to accept, that the code I so lovingly crafted over many hours had really basic flaws that I was blind to (this is essentially the process a writer goes through with an editor and I encourage anyone who’s in school for a profession related to writing do a similar thing with their own subject) because I was the one who wrote it.

      • Whanata

        I know that feel, I hate letting people see my code, cause I never write beautiful code.

        • Lucian

          Don’t be too hard on yourself. Code can be “more beautiful” compared with other code, or can be “beautiful” compared with some specific standard. But it isn’t the only important thing; the code should also do what it’s supposed to do, shouldn’t contain too many bugs etc. Functionality is more important than aspect.

          If more people can see your code then you’ll have more feedback on it and ideas how to make it more pretty and your skills will improve in time. If you’re writing in an object-oriented language, then the SOLID principles (http://butunclebob.com/ArticleS.UncleBob.PrinciplesOfOod) and other ideas from “Uncle Bob’ can be helpful.

          Another thing might be that you’re underestimating your skills, what is called the “Imposter Syndrome” http://www.hanselman.com/blog/ImAPhonyAreYou.aspx

          • Whanata

            Wow, I never knew about the Imposter Syndrome. I feel like this sometimes, even when achieving relatively well among my peers in study. I always feel lucky and never really think I did well. Maybe cause I don’t want to be like those people who always think they do really well.

            In terms of my code, I have just started first year university, so I cannot really say that my code is supposed to be beautiful and neat and easy to read. Also another reason is the people I hang with seems to be confident in what they do and they do it really well, while I have doubts if I will do well in IT even if I really like it. I plan to get into databases and data analytics due to the short demand of programming jobs in Australia.

            Maybe in the future I will get a programming job, but I still believe I cannot write good code unless I practice creating my own code for fun, which for some reason, I procrastinate after a few days of programming.

            • Kelly Benson

              Short demand of programming jobs in Aus? I’m in Melbourne and I’ve never found that to be the case – maybe depends what language you’re programming.

            • Whanata

              I live in Sydney, ooh, we I am not exactly in the industry, but from what I have heard, it is hard to get jobs in Sydney regarding programming. I might be wrong though. I have also read an article about the state of the IT industry where even though companies want IT employees, all of them require a high amount of work experience which recent graduates do not have.

            • Kelly Benson

              Maybe Sydney is tougher, or it could just be the particular skill-set is not in demand. The old ‘no experience = no job’ definitely sucks, but I don’t think that rule is really limited to programming, it’s just the downside of being a recent graduate 🙁

            • Whanata

              Yeh that’s true, I have a slight head start with getting an IT job in my first year of university even though its more of the IT help desk than anything else. Hopefully my boss will let me get into the Business Intelligence later on. Are you also a software developer in Melbourne?

  • Jason Crystal

    Those of us in the audio industry (specifically live sound) spend a ton of time, money, and effort dealing with how slow sound is and getting it to arrive to the listener at the “correct” time relative to the source. Two related facts:

    • Sound can travel from a microphone, to a mixing console hundreds of feet away, through an amplifier, and out a speaker all in the time it takes the original (acoustic) sound to travel only a couple of feet.

    • As a result, getting sound from two sources (acoustic and amplified, or two speakers) to arrive at the listener simultaneously involves careful measurement and literally delaying (digitally) the “faster” (electronic) signal to sync things up.

    • Joe

      Whoa I had no idea…makes me realize how many little things I must take for granted.

      • David at SIPS Solutions

        Makes sense.after watching the CMA’s and all the singers with earpieces were pitchy and seemed to struggle with timing and tempo.

    • JB

      You work in live sound? That’s awesome! I’m currently studying audio design in college, and while I’m personally looking to work in studios, I’ve still dabbled in live work(and have professors with careers in it).

      I knew that delay times existed, and that time-alignment and phasing issues are huge problems, but I honestly had no clue that the separation could be so great. Thanks for the insight!

      • Same here, still studying! I was aware as well but not that it was this big, thanks for sharing!

  • seriously

    i work with disabled people and want to kill them all

    • Jones

      You need to find another job then

  • Rob Caruana

    I drill irrigation wells in NE Nebraska. It’s a very dangerous occupation that can cripple or kill you at any given time, but almost all injuries are sustained by whacking your shins on towing hitches. 😉

    • Big Wally

      True and funny!

  • Harald

    Bouncer (security at nightclubs). I never applied to a police academy(contrary to every angry customers belief), and drunk people are mostly funny.

  • Bridget Overson

    I am a Graphic Designer and Marketing Director and when you send me your logo in a Word Doc I hate you just a little bit.

    • Tay

      I feel like you need to elaborate a little bit..why is that so shitty?

      • Bridget Overson

        A) Putting the extra effort into embedding the image into a doc before sending is first of all silly when you can just send the image file

        B) Extracting it is a pain in the ass and the resulting file is junk. http://support.microsoft.com/kb/555171

        C) Now I have to email you again and ask for the image file, wasting more time, or you will complain about how terrible it looks

      • Pepperice

        Basically, because Word isn’t an image program, it’s a word processor, so it doesn’t actually handle images properly. It’s like doing a sketch of your logo and expecting the designer to be able to recreate it from that.

    • Pepperice

      I used to be a graphic designer and it pains me so much when people (usually preschool and primary school teachers, for some reason) put images into word and then stretch them to fit the space with absolutely no understanding of aspect ratio. How can you not see that these children now look like they have been through a mangle? :S

      • Jonathan

        I’m not a graphic designer and this sort of thing winds me up too! 🙂

  • Jane

    As a teacher, I work a ridiculous number of hours, including a large amount of unpaid hours doing marking and preparation at evenings and weekends. The majority of people think teachers have an easy life and long vacations, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Most teachers I know are trying to change professions because they can’t cope with the long hours.

    • Chemical-T

      I’m a teacher too. I have been teaching for 10 years and while I have a few days every few weeks where I am incredibly busy and need to stay for extra hours due to grading, most days I do not. Of course, I coach and run a club and will stay after for that. Also as an AP teacher, my springs are pretty busy. Still, I feel like the majority of days I get get to come home and relax and do things that allow me to achieve balance in my life.

      This, however, was not true my first few years teaching. I was overworked and incredibly stressed building my curriculum and spending an incredible amount of time figuring out the best way to teach skills and content. I still look to improve every unit or add fun new ideas as often as I come across them, thank you WBW for a few of these sources. And I genuinely enjoy my time with my students. They always make me laugh and surprise me with their thoughts.

      My point is that if you can make it through the tough beginning years, the later years are much less stressful and much more enjoyable and should not require the ridiculous hours. If they still do, you might want to rethink your efficiency. I would be no good to my students if I was as stressed now as I was when I first started.

  • Kate

    One of my jobs is as an Invigilator. I’m the person who walks around and makes sure you’re not cheating while you’re doing an exam.
    One thing about my job that even I find surprising, is how many people are willing to cheat. Cheating is an automatic zero and possibly getting kicked out of your program. The ones that I’ve caught the most often are the Nursing students, Police Foundations students and International students.
    Nursing students often cheat on a certain Math exam that they need to get 80% on – which is scary. Police Foundations students will get kicked out if they get caught. I’m not sure if cheating is more commonplace in other countries, but after a few International students get caught the first semester, the cheating lessens.

  • Kostina Prifti

    I’m currently working in a student NGO called AIESEC for two years now, and although it’s voluntary work, it was totally different than from what I expected, because you actually work in a very professional environment and besides the fact that you get to develop yourself, there’s room for failing and improvement as everyone is understanding. It has been an amazing experience for me so far, and I suggest everyone (especially students) to follow voluntary NGOs as it’s a great boosting to the corporate or entrepreneurial world in the future.

  • Francisco

    I work in a offshore oil platform, and we work 14 days straight there, away from our family, and got 21 days at home.

  • Emily

    I work in fashion. Most employees in fashion aren’t paid enough to afford the lifestyle their company sells to their customers. Nope, not even the biggest couture houses.

  • Marcelo Ramires

    I’m a software engineer, and programming is among the tasks that we do on our work.
    Most people think that programming is writing code, which is somewhat correct, but studies show (and you can clearly notice that after acknowledging it) that you spend only a small fraction of your ‘programming time’ writing. Most of the time you are only reading and thinking.
    It’s like if a construction worker stood in front of a wall for 20 seconds before laying each brick to build it.

    • magignis

      I’m also an software engineer and I mostly program games. For everything I want I have to think what do I want, how do I want it and then I finnally get to the actual action of writing code.

    • Whanata

      It depends though, if you are a programmer in a corporate business, your job mainly consist of supporting the software and adding modules and fixed to an established software. In start-up companies, that’s where programming is actually writing code.

      • Kelly Benson

        But even if you’re ‘actually writing code’ you’re usually spending half your time googling to see if someone has done it before so you can copy/paste

        • Whanata

          True, hahaha, I don’t work in a start up company, I am just going with what my friend tell me. He does front-end development so HTML, CSS, Javascript, Ruby on Rails

    • Kelly Benson

      I work in a small company and find a lot of my time is building requirements, questioning requirements and then refactoring what I’ve just built.

  • annetea

    Capitalism is weird and huge and results in people having incredibly strange jobs making sure the system is always full of things. These can be very good jobs, with nice benefits and good pay, but sometimes all you do in a day is have meetings and discuss some small aspect of a small input in a huge system so you really REALLY have to not look to your job for fulfillment. No one is passionate about SKUs or planograms but these are jobs that can support a lot of volunteering and community involvement or pursuing a hobby you’re passionate about.

    I think this actually ties into last week’s topic too. It’s why I like Mike Rowe so much. It’s ok if your job isn’t your vocation or you aren’t passion about it. You don’t need to love your job.

    • I like planograms.

      • annetea

        I ended up liking them too, actually 🙂 My favorite thing now is seeing planograms out in the wild when a store is changing its set.

  • John tdi

    I have been in the professional audio video business for the past two decades and seen quantum leaps in the technology. Designing a conference room or classroom is not about the equipment, but about how the people using the room are able to seamlessly interface with the technology. In the end it is about people communicating to other people and the means of doing so are relatively unimportant and probably are already obsolete. Every meeting or training facility today should have some means of accommodating “virtual presence” using inexpensive PC-based, web-hosted conferencing software such as Skype, Webex, Go-To-Meeting, etc. Distance learning, webinars and virtual meetings are both efficient and productive. I recently completed my master’s degree completely online and enjoyed sharing ideas with people from all over the world. Just add a decent microphone and camera to your computer and open your business to the world.

  • ethibeaux

    I’m an Audio Post Production Engineer focused on voice/dialog production. An immense amount of time and energy goes in to editing out noise (tongue pops, saliva clicks) from recorded dialog before it gets processed to create a more realistic sounding voice. (People can’t hear those things as well in person, but a microphone picks up everything, and it sounds horrible.)

    Even the IVR (interactive voice response) dialog you hear when you call the bank to set up your new credit card has been cleaned up. Yes, the recorded messages are annoying, but I promise you, general public, they could be so much worse.

    • Jed

      My friend and mentor as a kid was an ADR editor in LA for like 30 years and I watched this process take place so many times…

      • ethibeaux

        Ha, it’s a terribly boring thing to watch – as it is a rather tedious thing to do. But it’s always nice when someone understands the process. There’s a very specific crowd that is impressed when you can edit audio by the shape of the waveform.

    • Aina

      AAAhhhggg the dry saliva clicks!!! I had to stop watching a few ted talks because of it (those mics pick up everything indeed). Just wanted to say that I’m so happy you exist and do what you do: you make the world a better place

      • ethibeaux

        NPR is the worst culprit of them all – but they just don’t have the time it takes to clean up audio. Those guys are constantly scrambling to just make things intelligible and relevant, and throw it on the air. And their sources come in from EVERYWHERE so it’s not like the can control the environment. TED talks have no excuse, though. Judge them as you will.

        • Aina

          NPR is great 🙂 I forgive them

  • Caro

    I used to be a server and we would sometimes eat food off of guests plates once they were cleared…

    • That’s disgusting! I used to be a cook and saw people do that. Ebola much!

    • Elena

      I used to be a server as well and I’ve never ever seen anyone do that. That is absolutely disgusting.

    • James

      If you worked in the service industry and didn’t do this good for you. Working 15 hour shifts with minimal breaks(definitely no time to sit down and eat) forces you to grab what food you can when you can. If there were any mess up orders sent back the staff would gobble it up like vultures lol half a sandwich they literally didn’t touch? Fries? Chicken wings? Sushi they didn’t touch? Don’t mind if I do

  • Hanna R

    I worked wıth editing photos for a photo comany in Fuerteventura. There are people who actually ask for pornographıcal photoshoots on the beach (outsıde an famıly all ınclusıve hotel) in the middle of the day. The most surprısıng about the sıtuatıon was that they dıd not understand why they got a no for an answere on that request…..

    • Jed

      Photographer here… I couldn’t agree more… The shit people ask us to do is crazy sometimes.

      • John

        Got a good laugh out of this one..!

  • Starla

    I am a librarian and people think I read books all day….I wish! Actually, the further up in most librarians careers the less you do with books. Most of my time is spent making partnerships, doing programs, trainings and leadership work. Library managers spend most of their time with personnel issues and interfacing with the community. Libraries aren’t really about books anymore. They are community and learning centers.

    • Calla

      I’m also a librarian, and people assume I read in peace all day. Actually, As a data librarian, I’m closer to a data scientist, showing students how to access and model data from the library’s subscriptions to academic datasets. I teach students, alongside professors. I am considered a member of the faculty, so I sit on university committees and help to run the university. I have multiple graduate degrees, and actively research and publish on how Americans use data and information today. Enough with the book jokes! :-p

    • Nola

      I am also a librarian, working at a small international school (nursery through to Grade 11). I am currently

      working on converting a room with a pile of books in it – into a library. I am always very surprised by how many people believe that all I do all day is check books in and out of the library and read. I spend most of my day right now cataloging, building bar codes, and labeling books, so that they can be checked in and out of the library. Only a handful of people realize that the books don’t just magically appear in the computer system – someone has to enter the data. They are also surprised that the job requires a Masters degree.

    • I consider myself a born bookworm but to my dismay when I became an academic librarian, the most reading librarians can actually do on the job is to check user statistics, review print or online publishers’ catalogs or list of new and upcoming publications or description of databases, inventory reports, business email, library users feedback, RDA rule interpretations, etc. There’s just too much happening in one work day. So yes, contrary to popular belief, librarians don’t get to read books on the job nor just hang around waiting for users to return their overdue books. In fact in academic libraries, it is busiest when the libraries are closed during semestral breaks.

      I’d like to add that there are actually many types of librarians and the basic skills set required for most positions today includes familiarity with databases, as well as marketing and coding skills.

      Also, in the Philippines, librarianship is a government-regulated profession similar to medicine, law, engineering, education, architecture, and etc. A board exam is conducted annually and unfortunately, it is not easy to pass based on the historically low passing rate of examinees.

  • Stephen Lamb

    Teachers Have Become Stupider, and Women Are to Blame

    Picture in your head a female scientist, professor, surgeon, engineer, CEO, and coach who makes decent money. Got those women in your head? Now, ask yourself, 75 years ago, what would they have been doing if they wanted a profession? Statistically, if they weren’t nurses, they would have been teachers, the overwhelming career choice of the smartest and best-educated women from the mid-19th to mid-20th century. It no longer is, and this has consequences.(1)

    The reason and result? Intelligent women (and black men) have labour opportunities they never had before and teachers today are less intelligent than they ever were. These are the very clear and demonstrable findings of University of California, Irvine professor Marigee P. Bacolod, based on studies of numerous standardised tests, SAT and IQ scores, and teacher-training admissions standards from 1960 to 1990.(2)

    By every measure, American teachers at the end of the 20th century were not as smart as those in the middle of it, and this dip coincides precisely with the feminist revolution and decline of teacher salary relative to other professions available to women. Educated women, Bacolod argues, used to be a captive market for schools. What else were they going to do, nurse? There was only one female nurse for every six female teachers according to the 1910 US Census. Hence, until the 1960s, schools could get away with paying them fairly low salaries for working fairly long and stressful hours.

    That all changed, and resulted in one of the least-discussed but most potentially devastating brain drains in history. And it started happening all over the western world. Why don’t people want to discuss this? Well, who wants to stick their hand up and admit to being part of a less intelligent and prestigious profession? Who wants to consider the possibility that maybe 75 years ago they would have been too stupid to do their current job? But this brain drain raises very important questions, the answers to which have very important implications, and intellectual cowardice is never going to provide answers to them.

    So let’s start with one that might have a pleasant answer. In the past, did many more women become teachers because they had no choice, whereas today, only women who really want to teach do so? It’s setting us up for a potentially happy response until we consider this: today, the brightest women who want to teach still do, but they probably go by the title of professor or lecturer. Still, the fact that bright women don’t have to be teachers if they don’t want to must have some positive impact on these professions. Until you consider, what if teaching became one of the only professions open to people barely smart enough to complete a dumbed-down BA?

    What exactly happens when an entire profession becomes stupider? Well, as Bacolod demonstrates, one of the first outcomes is that admissions standards drop across the board for any programme or course related to it, and this means male practitioners become stupider, too. Since these teachers didn’t demonstrate as much proof of learning at school and university they will be less equipped to enable greater proof of learning in their students, unless by some miracle stupider teachers happen to relate much better to stupider children and are better suited to assisting their achievement. They may also have lower expectations of what constitutes good achievement, and be less likely to notice flawed work.

    Next, we can expect a more prescriptive and supervised practice. In the case of a government-funded profession, we can expect this to take the form of a centralised committee of experts prescribing practice universally to all practitioners, the latter of whom will be more supervised and monitored. This is precisely what happened with ministries of education all over the world during the years of Bacolod’s study. While this could be part of a trend across professions, we can expect it to be especially strong in teaching (ever been to an officially observed doctor’s appointment?).

    We also should not be surprised by a shift of focus from talent to method, a shift that will in fact be appreciated by untalented practitioners. The methods prescribed will necessarily not require too much talent, with great expertise only required at the level of central committee. We can also expect more collaborative practice in order to distribute dwindling talent more evenly. Fewer teachers will have the literacy or numeracy skills to identify grammatically accurate writing or accurate processing and estimating of statistics, and so these skills will be deemphasised at school and in teacher training. Fewer teachers will have the ability to acquire difficult specialisations and so subjects will be generalised.

    The final thing we can expect is a focus on quantity rather than quality of education to maintain a façade of professional improvement, and financial compensation will reflect this. For example, a practitioner with a bachelor’s and master’s degree with C+ averages should expect to earn a higher salary than one with a bachelor’s degree with an A average, even if the latter has demonstrated academic achievement the former is incapable of. Seniority will also be a very large determiner of collectively bargained compensation. What we should not expect is salary based on measurable outcomes in such a situation. Unsurprisingly, these are also features of western educational practice today.

    It’s easy to see why teachers may not like to give this explanation of some of the reasons the profession of teaching has gone down the path it has. It’s embarrassing news, and there’s not much we can do about this. Looking at the few fields of education that have seen a demonstrable increase in teaching talent may give us some answers. And in America, there’s one field of education – one that also has really weird gender dynamics – which has probably seen a greater increase in teaching talent and student output than any other in the past 40 years: girls’ sport.

    In 1972 an amendment to the US Education Act known as Title IX aimed to end discrimination against women in education, especially at universities. Title IX created sweeping changes and had many consequences, some foreseen and some not. Amongst other things, it diverted a lot of the brightest women from teaching at schools to teaching at universities, and it diverted a shitload of money into women’s sport. Overnight, women’s sport, especially basketball, went from highly ignored to highly lucrative. The most notable change? Talented men now wanted to coach women.(3)

    In 1972 less than 10% of coaches of women’s university teams were male. Today? 60%, much like the labour force in general.(4) The government mandated heaps of great coaching jobs for women and men rushed in to take them. Title IX had an immediate and massive trickle-down effect. The high school girls’ basketball coach with a consistently excellent record could expect a call from a university offering him a six-figure salary (so could a highly successful NZ university coach on a five-figure salary).

    His girls were much more motivated to perform because they were competing for as many sport scholarships as boys. To get more girls into university schools, especially poor ones, had incentive to hire better coaches and attract more athletic girls. Coaching girls was now a very viable career option and ambitious men were onto it.

    At university, the man standing courtside was no longer a volunteer dad but a suit with a TV camera in his face. This was big-time, and big talents, both male and female, wanted to be in that suit. As ridiculous as it may sound, basketball coaches were probably one of very few breeds of educators who got much more and not less talented between 1960 and 1990. If they had company it was probably the coaches of other sports girls like.

    The USA’s women’s teams can now kick much more of the world’s asses at sports Americans don’t even like and only watch once every four years at most. Their women’s Olympic team is larger than their men’s and wins more medals, an inconceivable notion in 1972. And for the first time since slavery there emerged an identifiable group of white men who had a disproportionate personal financial interest in the development of black girls: basketball coaches. Sport went from being a side dish to the main dish of Title IX.

    Now let’s look at the professional dynamics of American public educators who coach high-profile sports. Their salaries vary wildly, from no additional pay to about $5 million a season. There’s almost no job security; most can be hired or sacked for any reason, and for the most talented this is a huge benefit. Academic qualifications count for almost nothing, though if they were excellent students of their subjects this will advertise their potential to many employers. Their employers don’t tell them what to do – they’re free to employ any teaching strategy they like so long as it gets the results their employers want. Seniority only counts if it reflects success. Outsiders judge them and their institutions by their salaries – bookies and gamblers use this as an indicator of success at the start of annual tournaments – which provides further incentive to pay them well. The job’s open to just about anyone who can do it, and many, many talented people want to do it. In short, it’s a talent-based meritocracy that couldn’t be more different to the professional world of public school teachers who aren’t coaches.

    So what does this world of coaching and tremendous improvement of girls’ coaching tell us about teachers’ diminishing intelligence? There are forces that could stop it, if certain things are prioritised and incentivised. Six-figure salaries might be asking a bit much (people aren’t going to fill arenas to watch our students write essays) but there would surely be a dramatic rise in the number of bright people applying if teaching had a salary similar to other jobs requiring graduate education.

    Admission standards? It’s a touchy subject, but with any surplus of teachers it would really make sense to raise them. The number of children isn’t growing compared to the adult population in industrialised countries. But what university departments ever want to shrink?

    Salary determined by university marks? You could argue university marks don’t necessarily correlate to teaching ability, but if schools did this, I can guarantee three things would happen: university students considering teaching would get better marks and learn more; more people with really good marks would consider teaching; and many existing teachers would enrol in extra papers and try to do well to bring up their averages. These could only be three very good outcomes.

    But what would happen if we treated public school teachers more like American coaches at educational institutions? Well first, with the example of girls’ improvement at sport we have to remember we’re talking about an elite minority. A minority that during the same period was vastly, shall we say, outweighed by a much larger minority of girls who became obese. Next, there are good reasons to believe that academic success would be more difficult to improve rapidly than athletic success. We don’t have, for example, a large pool of intelligent teenage girls who happen to be illiterate or innumerate that we could rapidly develop.

    However, we do have from this situation the very clear example of how money, respect, prestige, and opportunities to employ initiative to get better results really do attract more talented people to jobs. We should promote this fact at every opportunity and let people know a lack of these is why teachers are less intelligent today. The feminist revolution did not make teachers stupider: the prior century of disrespect for intelligent women did.

    (1) I’m indebted to economist Steven Levitt for sending me down this path of thinking.
    (2) Bacolod, M. ‘Do Alternative Opportunities Matter? The Role of Female Labor Markets in the Decline of Teacher Quality’. _The Review of Economics and Statistics_, November 2007, 98(4): 737-751.
    (3) Title IX requires universities to provide equal funding to female athletes, but not necessarily to play the same sports as men. Coaches of the same sports must theoretically be paid similar salaries, and after NFL football, basketball pays the best. One reason American universities aren’t keen to start NFL football programmes for women is that the coaches of men’s teams can make multi-million-dollar salaries – by far the best-paid coaches in “amateur” sport.
    (4) Cruz, C. _Gender Games: Why Women Coaches Are Losing the Field_ (Saarbrucken, 2009).


    • Big Wally

      Yawn! You have this set up as a preloaded troll or rant to dump at any opportunity? I believe the question was something you wanted to share about YOUR job? Rush is on; back to your bunker and the radio with you.

      • Stephen Lamb

        Sorry – I tried to post something Tim might find interesting, not a dumbed-down BA.

        • Big Wally

          My mistake and I apologize. I don’t agree with you, but at least you take the time to post actual data to back your case. Have a most excellent Sunday!

          • Stephen Lamb

            Thanks – but Sunday’s over down here. 🙂

  • Heidrun Searles

    I am totally disabled so I don’t work and live in a nursing home where I wish that the aids did work, because I have nothing to do, I am back in college and working tword my PhD. I am taking 20 credit hours a semester just to have something to do durring the day. I spend 8-10 hours/day, 6 days a week studying, I give myself one day a week off.

    I am also reading the classics, 1 or 2 chapters a night, 4 books an evening. I was a housewife for 20 years, can you imagine how productive I would be in the real world in a real job?

    • Kate

      From the sound of your determination, I think nothing would stop you from getting a ‘real world’ job if you wanted one.

  • Jonathan

    I am an Air Traffic Controller and I don’t wave table tennis bats at aeroplanes, nor do I work at an airport! I work at a Area Control Centre and control aeroplanes at higher levels using radar. Despite popular belief (thanks to films like Pushing Tin) it’s not a stressful job and we work in a fairly calm, quiet and bright operations room.

    • Jonathan

      The area that I control changes depending on how busy it is. When it’s quiet at night, we can join up multiple sectors and control a very large area. During the day we split it up into smaller areas.

  • Carol T

    I worked for a large International Fortune 400 company. We had a lot of MDs and PhDs working for the company. I learned early on that just because there is an MD or PhD attached to their name didn’t mean that they had one ounce of common sense. I am not sure how these people functioned outside the labs. It would not surprise me if they had their power turned off at home simply because they forgot to pay their bills.

    • Business degrees do not compare to common sense or street smarts!

    • curlychica

      I currently work at a very prestigious ivy league university’s medical campus and I learned that MDs and PhD are only smart in their subject research… THATS IT.

  • Elizabeth

    I’m an Interior Designer. Most people think that means drawing pretty
    pictures and picking out beautiful colors and fabrics all day long. Who
    wouldn’t like that, right? What I really am 100% of the time, is a psychologist/marriage counselor.

    • curlychica

      HAHAHA! This sounds like my mother. She runs an after-school tutoring program for children (Kumon) but most of the time she is a behavorial therapist and parenting counselor. She has spent so much time counseloing parents that she actualy decided to enroll in grad school as Child & Family Studies major.

      • Elizabeth

        Yep, I think it’s true of so many professionals who deal with the public on such a personal level. As a designer, I’m in there private sanctuary messing with their personal stuff. As a teacher, you mother was messing with their kids. Can’t get more personal than that.

  • Emily N

    I work in a lab that tests soil samples for farmers and researchers. We find out what’s in their soil, and for farmers, tell them how healthy their soil is and how much fertilizer and organic matter to add and stuff like that. The hardest part of that job is getting a large piece of plastic wrap to cover thirty beakers at a time without sticking to itself. Also, soil comes in all different colors, but most of the time it’s sort of a dull brown or gray. It’s really exciting to see deep red or sparkly samples! (yes, I’m a nerd.)

  • Rox

    I work as a Medical Writer. I did not know what it was before I started working as one. Most people ask if I work in a hospital transcribing patient charts. Overall, medical writers are responsible for writing medical-related content in a wide variety of platforms. These include patient information brochures/pamphlets, books/articles, content for websites (pharma, medical devices), and loads more.

    My company specializes in making training materials for pharmaceutical and medical device industry worldwide. I write the content for home study modules, live workshops, eLearning, videos, etc. At the best moments, the job is pretty stimulating and lets you be creative — I get to collaborate with graphic artists and programmers and other science professionals from backgrounds different from mine to produce interactive and engaging content. There are times where it’s really boring, though — pharma and medical devices are tightly regulated industries. Everything must be referenced and must pass through legal and regulatory review. So, that part is less fun.

    But, I guess what’s cool is that we always have to keep up with the demands of clients, but also of the technology available at the moment. If they want programs to work on iPad and also smartphones, we have to be able to do that, and it makes you think of training people in an entirely different way.

    • Deepblue

      May I ask you how did you start to work in this field? What training or study path do you think are best to become a medical writer?

  • Tootiebird

    I work in HR and receive resumes from people from many different fields.
    I often wish I could call people back and coach them on
    their resumes because they could generally improve them with a few
    simple guidelines. Also, people who think they are doing something to stand out in a positive way are often doing the exact opposite. For example, people who bring in resumes in person when the posting clearly says to email them in are not going to be farther ahead. They are just making it more awkward to review their application. Also, people who use the cover letter to explain why they actually want the job and demonstrate that they know something about the company are much farther ahead than the people who use the letter as a blanket opportunity to talk about how great they are.

    • Big Wally

      I was an HR Mgr. Your advice is what I also share. The cover letter is where one gets to make their pitch. I’d add that in job descriptions, add what accomplishment one achieved in that position. We all know what a cashier does. But if one gets an award for excellent customer service, write it down!

      • Shana

        Another recruiter here as well. I agree with both of you. I would add that spellcheck is your friend. I have talked to people I think would so well at a certain job but they have so many typos that a hiring manger would toss the resume. I will correct everything for a candidate if I believe in them.

        • Chris

          “I have talked to people I think would *do* so well […]”.
          So much for typos. 😛 And English is not my mother tongue.

    • AllisonErin

      HR here too, and that is spot on. Also, the number if people who apply for jobs they are not remotely qualified for is staggering. I know that “trying everything” is often given to job seekers as advice, but there’s a fine line that many are not aware of. If the job posting asks for 5 years of high profile fundraising experience, please don’t apply unless you have actually spent some time in a fundraising environment.

  • Lala

    I am a teacher of the blind and visually impaired. When you’re sighted, your hands function as tools. When you’re blind, they function as tools and eyes. Just as you’d never grab someone’s head to turn it to look at something, never grab a blind person’s hands or shove something in them.

    • Grateful

      Thank you for sharing this! I never knew….

  • Spants

    I do scientific research on a developmental disorder and it’s a big week if I actually get to spend a couple of hours with anyone who has it. Most of my time is spent alone in front of a computer. Actually, I’d be willing to wager that’s the case for the majority of scientists, which is kind of sad. A lot of the researchers in my field don’t seem to even have any familiarity with the disorder itself and wouldn’t recognize someone with it in a casual conversation.

    • Lala

      What disorder is it? I work in special ed and come across many disorders and syndromes.

      • Spants

        Autism Spectrum Disorder.

        I volunteered in a special ed program for a few years–it is definitely a calling. Thanks for your work 🙂

  • Prometheus313

    I currently work in web analytics (basically summarizing website performance, traffic, advertising, etc.) which isn’t too groundbreaking, but I would say the most surprising thing is how much we can figure out about individual users. Retargeting advertising is pretty creepy (ads that target you based on products you’ve viewed or your browse history).

    But my more interesting is probably the three years I spent doing crime statistics and auditing for a major metropolitan police department. I’d say the most surprising thing about that job is how primitive things are from a tech perspective. You would think that an important government agency would try and stay at least close to current, but when I started in 2009, they were still tracking every single individual crime with paper crime reports and putting only some data into a computer for aggregation. But on an individual level, there was not a “digital” copy of your full report. As in, you need an accident report for insurance? An assault record for a restraining order? Someone has to go physically find it in a library of loose papers and make a photocopy. And yes, they lose these things more often than you’d think – they typically work off copies too to protect the original, but it happens.

    By the time I left a few years ago, they were on a computer reporting system (not because of me, coincidental timing). But it required a ton of growing pains – we actually had to teach a few of our auditing staff how to use a computer (one woman used a permanent marker to circle on a monitor her first time using it because that’s what they did with the paper copies). It took almost a year to load the prior few years of crime reports into the system for search purposes.

    Beyond that, little things like:
    – Most of the staff I worked with were very email-averse. Some would go a full week without opening their inbox.
    – Fax machines are still used constantly. When I’ve offered to scan-and-email, many didn’t know what this meant or how they would receive the document.
    – A lot of documents still needed to be hand-walked for signature for approval to multiple parties.

    Weird to see with my own eyes, but they do always feel a good 5-10 years behind in tech.

    • Brian Gottfried

      I’ve found (in my admittedly limited experience) that most government agencies are well behind the times in terms of tech adoption. My brother is an air traffic controller and says that the tech they’re working on is 20-30 years old. It’s a combination of more than a few things though: 1. Government agencies are largely dependent on the tax payers (or the annual budget, which is set by legislators and tax payers) in order to maintain operations and perform upgrades and it’s much harder to make individual voters see the benefit of a multi-million dollar cost NOW that will save that money and more in 10 years time. 2. There’s not competition the way there is in the private sphere, so once an agency decides on a software or tool suite, there’s no competitive pressure to ensure that it’s the best one on the market (part of the reason why a government contract is so enticing to most companies). 3. Just like in the private sector, people get used to the current way of doing things and hate having to learn a new system, especially if it’s a complex system (usually a requirement for complex problems). Again though, since it’s not the private sector, that agency can’t lose to another agency that embraces the new and better technology. 4. Adoption of new technology often saves money by eliminating workers (who are hands down the most expensive part of almost any business; anyone know of any examples where a business spends more on something OTHER than employees?); lower performing workers who know they might be cut loose if technology makes them obsolete compared to their better-performing peers have no reason to celebrate the adoption of new technology and a very vested interest in fighting any new technology adoption. 5. Many other reasons I’m sure I haven’t thought of yet.

      • Julia

        I work in a state government office. Over and over again modernizing technology systems for government agencies go WAY over the time limit and WAY over budget. A lot of this, at least in my state, has to do with the competitive bidding process that the government uses to select a provider. Ultimately, firms that write the cheapest proposal tend to be awarded the government contract. This leads to those providers either not being the most qualified, or possibly purposely dragging out the implementation in order to make up the difference in money that they did not put in their bid on the project to begin with. There are lots of other problems, such as the ones you described above. But the workforce is shifting, and the older generations that are uncomfortable with computers are slowly retiring. I think technology systems will still continue to lag behind in government offices despite a higher level of comfort with technology in the workforce, largely because of this competitive bidding process. The process is so costly and difficult to implement, there is a disincentive to modernize and stay with the times.

        • Brian Gottfried

          Definitely a good point. As a tax-paying citizen, I’m in support of the competitive bidding system, but it definitely gets abused by companies that have learned to game the system. Construction seems to be a really common target for underbidding, which is even more frustrating because it drags out closed down roads and highways even further than what is expected. Is there any way for your office to consider a firms past history or ratings from reviewing agencies in the field? I’d think that’d be about the only way to combat companies knowingly underbidding.

  • Big Wally

    I worked the first half my career in the private sector and now, finishing the last half in the public sector. Both have the same amount of deadbeats. I actually find workers in public service more dedicated because they plan to be there for the long haul. The bureaucracy adds to the impression of slackers.

  • Alwin Williams

    I am a mechanical engineer and I work in an EPC (engineering, procurement, construction) company…basically we build oil terminals, refineries, power plant’s, etc from the ground up…gets pretty hectic as you have to be on the job literally the whole time, but I’m not complaining since it’s my passion and it pays well too

    • Raphi

      What state do you work in? Is that where you went to school? Did you have internships in college?

  • smudge

    I work in an entry-level administrative position for a private university. When I started a few months ago, I foolishly thought the focus of everyone’s efforts would be towards the advancement of knowledge, common good of the students, etc. Instead, I learned that nothing can get accomplished without first navigating through the politics and the egos of the various Deans vs. Faculty vs. Staff. I am really shocked by how inefficient everything is run – especially considering this particular university is an elite research institution that employs some of the greatest brains.

    • James

      Humans, even highly educated ones, are petty

  • Jed

    I’m a photographer… Don’t do your own pose. Let us direct and help. It’s better that way

  • OfcrCool

    In kid’s jail, the most cooperative kids are commonly sex offenders and the least cooperative have relatively minor charges; shoplifting, misdemeanor criminal damage etc.

    • Dean

      Can you speculate on why this might be…?

      • jaoatp

        My guess is that the sex offenders are driven by mental illness, whereas the kids with shoplifting or property damage charges are driven by lack of discipline, lack of respect for others, lack of regard for authority, etc.

  • Steph Lewis

    I am a middle and high school science teacher and am very thankful for a thoughtful, progressive, and inspiring training through a graduate program. Since entering the classroom, however, I am astounded at the very poor quality of teacher professional development. We spend so much time working to engage our students through project, inquiry, activities, and critical thinking, yet we are asked to sit through 3-8 hour lectures watching and listening to the benefits of certain iPad apps or differentiated instruction.

    For the amount of work we have to do, and the improvement we always want to make in our classrooms, I am always surprised we must consistently endure the overall agreed-upon least effective (for most students) teaching strategy- lecture. I try to always advocate for hands-on work where we can learn the benefits of certain methods then spend time, with guidance, planning our lessons to implement them. Unfortunately, this is not often the case.

  • mmKALLL

    Programming has been said to be an art.

    • Whanata

      Hurrah for that

  • Rick

    I’m a farmer, and grow many different vegetables for farmers markets and cafes. Only about 20% of any day is actually farming, the other 80% is everything else- cleaning, building, trucking, reading, painting, watching, deciding, paying, worrying.

  • Pepperice

    I teach English as a foreign language.

    Two things. One is how surprisingly open people are when they aren’t speaking their own language. It’s like “what happens in English class, stays in English class”. Which means I get to hear some fascinating things. Since I started doing this a year ago, I’ve learned some top secret police laws about when it’s legal to pull out a gun (in this non-English speaking country), what it’s like to grow up as one of seven children in a not very well off family, a tantalisingly brief description from one of my beginner students “My husband is NOT my favourite!” (and she continued to act pissed off the whole lesson, making me wish that class was more advanced) and the heartbreaking saga of a student’s father who is suffering from dementia.

    The second thing is that teaching a class is sometimes just an exercise in “how best can I fill up this time”. Perhaps it gets easier with experience, but it’s very difficult to gauge how long it’s going to take for a class to actually grasp something. (And the bigger the class, the harder it is to know where individuals are on this scale). This leaves you with a problem. Sometimes they will take the allotted time perfectly, and everything will go great. Other times, you realise somewhere between immediately and halfway through that you’re sinking here, and they have no idea what’s going on. If you have a flexible curriculum (which is the best), then here is when you can break it down into individual parts, slow it right down, and make sure they can eat, sleep, breathe this concept before you explore it at the level you actually intended to. This is actually my favourite part about teaching, and it sucks if you’re in a school which insists you follow a curriculum at a set pace because it doesn’t give you chance to actually do this.

    Other times, the class grasps the concept so quickly that you’ve gone through all the work you had set and then you’re left with 30 minutes and no work to fill up the time with. This is something I’ve come to notice in other teachers – when you let a role play or practical drag out just a little too long, when you announce “And now we have time for a game!” Or once, inexplicably, when the teacher just left the room to do some “photocopying” but took twenty minutes and arrived back just before the end to clear up. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, if the game or activity is planned well then it always means extra practice and helps with a feel-good mood for the end of the lesson or course, but it just amuses me now how often I notice it.

  • SiliconScribe

    As a screenwriter I think people are often surprised to find out how much formatting and control there is on a script. That there is an industry standard (sorta like GAAP) from which if you want to be taken seriously you must adhere in detail. For example: The Font must be 12pt Courier font, approximately 55 lines per page, regardless of paper size. Dialogue Speaker name must be in all caps 3.7 inches from left side of page (2.2 from margin), Dialogue itself is 2.5 inches from left side of page (1.5 from margin) – just to name a few… AND here is something else – The reason WHY this began is because typically, one page of a screen play equals one minute of screen-time. Thus it used to be that a screenplay that is 120 pages works out to be a 2 hour movie. – But not in all cases, movies with less dialogue film faster than movies with lots.

    Now, before I get blasted. This is a standard and of course there are ways to break the rules, not every movie fits this format to a Tee but a massive amount do.

    • Do you use Final Draft? As an aspiring writer/screenwriter, I’ve heard that if you don’t use Final Draft you don’t sell scripts — wondering if that’s true.

      Also, have you had your work produced? I’d be interested to see some of it!

      • SiliconScribe

        There are several screenwriting software programs available. Final Draft and Movie Magic are main players but others worthy of note (and I think are free to use) Fountain (I believe created by Screenwriter John August) http://fountain.io/ and Celtx https://www.celtx.com/index.html

        • Nice. I started using Celtx earlier this year and I found it extremely handy. Didn’t translate at all into Final Draft, though…

    • Hagbard Celine

      There is a book called “Save The Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need” by Blake Snyder that is the Bible of screen writing. It is the main reason in my opinion, why all of the current movies seem so similar.

      • SiliconScribe

        I know it well, however,STC is unlikely to blame why movies seem so similar. The movie business, like most business’ have trends.

  • Anatol

    I’m a student working at a library at my university and we have to do 20-hour weekend shifts (10h each Saturday and Sunday), which amount to about 45 mins of actual “work”. Most of the time I’m just sitting around, reading, surfing the web, but I have to be there in case someone wants to check out a book.
    Interestingly, it never gets boring. And I don’t even know why.

    • Kate

      That’s what I’m doing at this very moment. 🙂

  • Catalina

    I work as a Network Engineer in the technical department of a mobile operator. Most of my daily work consists more on working with Excel and procedures, than the actual technology.

  • Shanghighed

    Every “reality” show is fake (especially ones on MTV Networks and HGTV). If it shows “real” people doing anything, it’s set up and fake as hell. Period.

    • Hagbard Celine

      A friend was asked to make an audition tape for a reality show (the batchelor) because an ex-boyfriend who had been on another reality show recommended her to a asst producer.

      She did not make the cut, but the following year she was asked to come back and audition for a high school reunion reality show that the asst producer was now working on.

      The catch? She never went to that high school. They had an entire character created that they wanted her to play.

      • Shanghighed

        Ha! I love the audacity. We should produce the only real “reality” show where people talk about their reality show experiences. Ultra reality.

  • Anthro

    I worked at Anthropologie (80% of people just tuned out) a few fun facts –
    1) People always asked us what the wafting girly smell was when you walk in: most Anthroplogies use the Blue Capri candles they sell so that there’s a “signature scent” whenever you walk into one of the stores…they use either volcano or aloha orchid.
    2) You can return ANYTHING. regardless of the tag/how old it is/whatever. You may just get store credit, if it’s really old, but that basically just makes it a great exchange program. It’s their way to show they love their customers/allay the guilt of everything being ridiculously expensive
    3) Customers buy way more of whatever the sales girls are wearing, think that’s the case in most stores.

  • Pepperice

    The other job I’ve had for a far longer period of my life – retail. Now I’m sure this won’t be uncommon so I hope people will add to this or share their experiences. There are about a million buzzfeed articles on this, so just a few which I found really surprising.

    1. Apparently people high-up in retail are too rich to have ever been into a shop, because they’re the ones who insist that we do all of the highly irritating things like asking you, even you the regular who comes in three times a week, whether you have, or would like, a membership card.

    2. If you work in a shop which offers trade-ins, especially trade-ins for cash, people literally think this is some kind of bank and get really really pissed off if you dare to tell them that a, you’re not doing cash today, or b, their item is not worth (anywhere near) as much as they think it should be. I had one dude tell me that I, personally, had left his children hungry. Since he was trying to sell a brand new console that he’d bought the week before, I didn’t really feel at all guilty.

    3. Some people are really, really stinky. Like, I don’t even understand how it is possible to accumulate so much stink. And when I say “some”, I mean “a frighteningly high ratio”.

    4. Retail workers (usually on minimum wage anyway) only get paid for the hours the shop is open. When you’re banging on the door at five past closing, don’t. They’re already working unpaid overtime by cashing up. When you insist on being let in and then be deliberately slow in order to annoy them, you’re taking their time for absolutely nothing. Not cool.

  • Paralegaling

    Right out of college, I worked as a paralegal at a top 3 law firm in NYC. They hired a “class” of paralegals – most of them had gone to top 30 schools, but not ivy’s. I found out they don’t tend to hire ivy graduates, because they’re more likely to quit because of how boring the job is/get dissatisfied by the lack of substance. As it turned out anyway, half of my class (including me) quit before our 2 years were up.

    • Wim K

      I blame Suits for building up people’s expectations of legal careers.

      • Hagbard Celine

        And LA Law.

    • American2345

      Hey, that’s ME they are talking about; I was an “ivy” graduate hired as a paralegal at a big law firm right out school. But then I quit because it was boring and unsatisfying…:)

  • The Delicate Place

    I make vaccines that get injected into cancer patients on a clinical trial that I derive from their blood and resected tumors. The whole process takes ~3 weeks to make one batch. You might think that this job would pay a lot…I mean it’s pretty sophisticated science and yet, I know people that tweet for a living that make more than me.

    The upside is that I know my work is truly making a difference in people’s lives and furthering knowledge in the scientific community. This job has not only taught me that money isn’t everything, but has entirely shifted my perspective and in turn have become a much more sensitive and compassionate person.

  • procrastinating

    I am currently a medical student and I am still surprised by what you can do in medical school and still remain in the program. I suppose it’s because of the subsidizing by the government towards our training (even though we pay a lot we still cost that much more), but the medical school will do everything they can to hang onto you. You failed all of your exams this year? No worries- take a year off, think things over, and come back and rewrite them and your transcript and future residency programs (and patients!) won’t know the difference. Did you have a history of stealing opioids in your pre-medicine career? No worries, come back after your court dates. Arrested for animal cruelty? You’re still welcome back after mental health treatment.

    I’m sure we don’t get the full picture hearing about these stories in a gossip fashion, and I’m sure the students who are allowed to remain in school have been assessed to be safe, and given proper limitations when necessary (prohibited from opioid prescribing, for example). But I still find it surprising that med students aren’t always the rule-abiding, healthy, stable Type As you’d imagine.

    • L

      mind sharing your country?

      • The Delicate Place

        it’s like that in the United States

      • procrastinating

        Yes I’m in US

    • James

      I think this holds true for a lot of professions and celebrities, people are people, we’re all the same. Just because someone is in a “respectable” profession or has a lot of education doesn’t make them better people or held to a higher standard. I find it funny when people are so shocked and outraged when they find out someone is just as human and flawed as everyone else.

  • Jay Chiah

    I used to work as per contract editor in a small video production house, there were few times when we were working on an Australian low budget movie and we had to lie to our cilent that we simply don’t have the knowledge, or equiped to do the visual effects they wanted. Actually they just weren’t pay enough for us to spend those time.
    Their budget was tight, that’s why my boss never told them about needing more money, and he said he ain’t doing charity work.

  • lawyer_island

    I work as a mid-level associate attorney in a large law firm. I was one of the few in my graduating law school class to obtain a big law firm job with a big law firm salary in a time when the economy was still floundering. For the first year or so of my employment I engaged in almost no critical thinking about this job choice; I was just so grateful I had a job that afforded me the ability to make my crushing student loan payments every month. Before I started, I was prepared to develop my legal skills in a prestigious firm working on complex matters for high profile clients. Although I do work on complex matters, some even for high profile clients, I was not at all prepared for how isolating the career would be. Attorneys work on the billable hour, and at large law firms, much of the associate level work involves document review, due diligence, or motion practice all of which is accomplished alone behind your desk. In other words, I usually cannot bill unless I am at my computer cranking out work. I suppose I pictured a collaborative environment where team work, team meetings, active mentoring, and shared projects were part of my work load. Instead, as I get more senior and my work demands more focus, I spend more of my day with my door shut. As a result, most of the 50-70 hours a week I spend in my office I feel as if I am in complete isolation. There is certainly still a part of me that feels “grateful” to have a salary that allows me to make my student loan payments, but I am tired and lonely. As I write this on a Sunday I am sitting in my home office working on a brief with my door closed so my husband does not bother me. I think the law can be a challenging and rewarding career, but the big firm work, which most law students seem to strive for, can be very lonely. I really wish I knew this before I took on the student loan debt. I am at the point now where I am trying to figure out either how to like it, or what to do next.

    • Milvie

      I’m moving from a non-profit office that is more “collaborative” to a large firm setting in a week. What kind of team work did you see yourself being involved in during law school? I sometimes wonder whether us lawyer folks tend to see things through the “grass is greener” lens because many of us just went with the flow and didn’t really ask ourselves WHY we wanted to be lawyers. And then reality kicks in — the crushing weight of student debt is too much of a sunken cost for many of us to think about moving into a different career.

      I think what helped me learn to love the legal practice is actually this website. You sort of realize that the chances of you making a mark in any given career is statistically low, you’ll die without having a page on Wikipedia, and after 10 year or so of your death only your family members would care that you ever existed. So, in a way, I made peace with my mediocrity/absolute insignificance in the grand scheme of things and I consequently prioritize family and comfort over some grandiose vision of finding my passion or whatever.

      Yeah, due diligence and doc review can get pretty numbing, but what profession doesn’t have elements of isolating/mindless grunt work? Maybe it really is the case you’ll prefer working in a more laid back office setting where you’ll spend more time on team meetings and various other collaborative projects. I do wonder what the day-to-day life in that setting would actually entail. Would the face time you’ll have with coworkers be that much more meaningful than the face time you might get through actively getting lunch with co-workers, attending happy hours, and playing on the company’s softball team? And would the added face time outweigh the financial security you enjoy? You noted you’re married. Are you thinking of having children?

  • Rick

    I posted earlier as a farmer, and the time spent farming. But I should also point out that I am a plant breeder also, and should explain about organic food.
    1. All food labeled organic anywhere in the US must be certified with the National Organic Program, and have paperwork to back it up.
    2. Organic food is usually cleaner in terms of pesticide or herbicide residue, but it’s literally impossible to make the sweeping claim that it’s healthier. Most people think it is, hope it is. But nutritional content can vary wildly even on the same farm.
    3. What makes food “healthier” can swing up and down depending on soil, climate, variety, weather, fertilizer, trace minerals, farmer care.
    4. The more a plant is stressed, the greater the nutritional profile usually. Stress comes in many forms- drought, heat, cold, pests, weeds, planting space, compaction, cutting, crowding, and so on.
    5. Effective plant breeders do everything the opposite of what farmers do- replant in the same area year after year, don’t fertilize, withhold water, crowd, encourage pests and fungal infections, increase weed competition, plant in unfavorable weather. All to save the strongest plants, take them to seed, and pass the genetics on to the progeny.
    6. Bottom line- organic farmers don’t like to stress their plants, they want their stuff beautiful. And they do a good job. But beauty doesn’t equal superior nutrition. Look for crops in farmers markets that are less than beautiful and less than perfect.

    • Curious J

      Definitely did not know this! Rick, do you know why organic produce usually cost more at the markets? I would think that organic means less time/money spent on chemicals therefore shouldn’t it be cheaper?

      • Rick

        1. Chemicals are much cheaper than hand labor. 250 gallons of Roundup = about $70.00, enough to kill every weed on my property twice over. But one 600 ft2 bed of carrots = about 3-4 hrs of hand weeding. Multiply that by the 40 or so 600 ft2 beds per season
        2. Organic= no synthetic fertilizer, which is very cheap compared to compost, or something similar deemed “natural”. Add on time spent looking for shit within reach is frustrating and time consuming.
        3. Organic= using organic seed, if available, which is much more $$ than conventional seed.
        4. Organic= organic certification, very expensive vs nothing for conventional farming
        5. Organic= growing for taste, texture, beauty, heirloom type thing, shorter shelf life, more crop loss, lower yield. Conventional, usually growing for yield and shelf life, less worried about everything else.
        6. Organic= every pest you can find on Google will come out to eat your crop, and your options are much more limited; expensive but less effective pesticides, or bunches of homemade sprays that are useless
        Hope that helped J

  • minimax

    Less is more. Much more.
    (Oh yes, I work in advertising.)

  • The Annoying Photographer

    My summer job was at Water World, a 64-acre water park in Denver, Colorado. I wasn’t a lifeguard or grounds or anything like that. I was photo team. I was that annoying person who insists on taking your picture five times a day. We are told during training that we should not ask anyone for a picture, we should tell them. So for example, we don’t say, “Would you like to have your picture taken?” Instead, we say, “Group together for a picture!” because when you’re running on auto-pilot, you’ll do almost anything we ask. The only think I ask of you, the potential guests, in return is if you come to the park within the first hour of being open, let the photographer at the front gate take your picture. 90% of my coworkers hated working front gate because they had a hard time getting more than 50 pictures. (I thought it was easy; I could easily get 200 pictures.) So please, ask them for a picture.

    • James

      No one wants to take a picture when they know they won’t see it because they won’t pay $20 for a photo they can take with their phone. At least thats why I don’t like taking pictures like that. Sounds like a fun place to work though!

  • Stewart

    I spent most of my life as an electronics service technician. As such you don’t need to know everything but you do need to a troubleshooter. Things go wrong or break but the key is to finding out why. I also worked as a technical manager in a university where those same skills were needed often. Students would learn, design, then build or create projects but often they did not know where to go when something didn’t work out as planned. It was a pleasure to come alongside them and share my special skills to help them resolve the problems and really satisfying and rewarding to see them graduate full of confidence.

  • Wim K

    I’m a radio presenter. Much of what we do is pretty straightforward obviously (play music and ads, chit-chat with our co-presenters, conduct interviews etc.), but there’s a lot of misconceptions people have as well.

    1. Our entire show, from the music that plays to the topics we discuss, is scripted at least a day before. The music mostly comes from a programme manager (though if we have a feature, eg. “Remix of the Week”, then we’ll have some discretion – but we’ll still decide on it way before the show).
    Our links – what we say when we go on air – are all written by us, but at least half of them are written around topics that management has given us. Often we’ll bring up an event or product seemingly at random and banter about it – this is usually when our sales department has been paid a good sum by the owners to push their product/event.

    2. Nobody just randomly “calls in”. When we mention we’re taking calls, they immediately start coming in, but they’re almost always first answered and briefed before they go on air. This is to make sure they don’t swear or mention any brand names, which would mean a loss of potential ad revenue for us.

    3. This might be off-putting to some people, but with the exception of live, in-studio interviews, most of our telephonic interviews are prerecorded. We conduct the entire interview sometimes days before, and save each answer as a sound clip. On air, we ask the question (to no-one), wait a beat as if the person is thinking, and play the sound clip. Most of our interviews are done this way, because it’s much easier to control, and you can cut it short if the person is a rambler.

    4. Radio presenters are anything but “laid back”. I can’t even count how many times I’ve run into studio seconds before I had to go on air, my co-host frantically waving through the window, because I’ve had to quickly download a clip we needed for a link, or make sure a song we needed was playlisted, or just go refill my coffee. You’d be amazed how much preparation is done while a song is counting down its last seconds.
    Also, at least with the software we use, when a song finishes, nothing plays afterwards. We have to manually play the next song. So if we’re still frantically copying clips or interviews to flash drives while a song finishes, thousands of listeners are just going to get dead air.

    • Travis Owens

      Canned interviews are lame and completely obvious on-air.

  • Dr. Awesome

    Currently, I work as a cinematographer/editor for a magic wholeseller. Being in the magic business, there’s a lot of secrecy but the one thing that people find most surprising is that the business makes a whole lot of money and we’re always working. There’s always something to do.

    Oh and Chris Angel and David Copperfield don’t have the best reputations. And every magician I’ve seen has done a David Blaine impression.

    • Nina

      Not sure I really get what a “magic wholeseller” is, let alone what a cinematographer for a magic wholeseller is. Care to elaborate?

      • Dr. Awesome

        Haha, sure thing.
        We sale magic tricks to magic companies, who then sale to magicians.

        I work on producing instructional magic DVDs and promotional material. Promotional material covers things like trailers of magic tricks that are releasing soon.

        We also shoot a live show with various magicians that teaches all kinds of magic.

        It’s an entire world I was unaware of before I got the job.

        • James

          So magicians don’t even come up with their own tricks! GASP

  • Amy Wolitzer

    I’m a park ranger and although I love my job and get to spend a lot of time outdoors, much of the job is telling people they can’t do what they want to do and “ruining their day”. And cleaning bathrooms.

    • Brian Gottfried

      Out of curiosity, what branch of the parks do you work for? Local? State? National? Oops, I guess I shouldn’t assume the US either, but presumably other nations have a similar structure.

      • Amy Wolitzer

        Local, US.

        • Brian Gottfried

          That’s awesome. I was lucky enough to grow up in an area with a great county metropark system and it was amazing how much the rangers did behind the scenes to keep even the really remote parks (the ones I never saw anyone else at) looking pristine. Keep up the good work!

          • Amy Wolitzer

            Thanks! My agency is one of few out there that still have generalist rangers. We are law enforcement but also do nature walks and maintenance. And in my case grant writing and implementation and resource management! Love my job.

  • K

    Journalism is often about two things: waiting and reading. Waiting for a key source to pick up their phone or call you back – and this could take hours, often late hours in the office, because the deadline is fast approaching. Also, reading through loads of very bureaucratic material and trying to make sense of it, and even worse, then explain it in a very understandable way in like one short paragraph. Also, cutting loads of details in the progress. Loads! And dealing with unhappy sources, even if you have done everything right, because neither officials nor other people don’t always understand why you have to cut out so many details (this may even result in a hate speech by an academic, for example). And cutting out massive amounts of PR.

    And starting musicians spend a LOT of time trying to figure out where to get all the necessary and expensive equipment and wires from, and then how to transport them from A to B. And most importantly, how to make them work at a random place when you can’t really hire a sound engineer. So interest in and knowledge of music equipment is very welcome.

  • meregoround

    I’m an environmental engineer, and my main focus has been landfills and transfer stations. We don’t call them “dumps” anymore because they’re so much more than a hole in the ground. I find designing a landfill fascinating but few people would understand what truly goes into making a landfill up to standard. They have a bottom surface of fine clay, thick HDPE plastic, a layer of rocks/gravel and at the low points there’s pipes with holes in them to collect leachate (or garbage juice). That’s just the bottom liner. This continues (minus the leachate piping) up the sides of the landfill. The final shape (height, side slopes) of the landfill are decided before any garbage can be accepted. Big landfills have vertical pipes running through the waste to collect landfill gas and some burn it for electricity. Groundwater and landfill gas are measured at and surrounding the landfill (ie I’ve taken a landfill gas mintors to all the neighbours houses in case its accumulating in their walls etc) at regular intervals and any “hits” are treated very seriously. One a landfill is full it’s monitored for years. The top surface is “capped” (layers of different types of soils and specially picked vegetation so the roots aren’t too deep so landfill gas doesn’t have a preferential pathway that isn’t the pipes) and essentially that land can never be used for anything other than “recreational space”.

    The coolest project I ever worked on was when part of a landfill had filled up but the landfill had since changed the final design to a much higher final cap level. But because of the fact that the first part was full and hadn’t had the same quality of bottom liner that would be used these days we had to design and construct a ” piggyback liner “. Essentially it was about seven layers of varying plastic HDPE, and plastic netting to allow movement yet make sure that any leachate from the new waste would be directed through the pipes to the leachate pond.

    Might sound boring to the rest of you but part of the most interesting part of landfills is that that is your and my garbage! When you go to a landfill you find all sorts of things. Bowling balls, sets of keys, envelopes of letters, photos. Everything. Needless to say I find my job really interesting on the whole.

    • Valerie

      I toured a local landfill and was fascinated. I was surprised to learn about the amount of work that goes into preventing ground water contamination, dealing with the huge amounts of methane, and just how complex it is to get garbage into the ground and keep it there safely.

      I also I learned that the city I live in sends all of our garbage by train to a neighboring state even though there are landfills nearby.

      • meregoround

        Yep that’s the same as the town I live in, kinda scary how far our bags of garbage go!

    • Sam Kozman

      I do similar work as an intern, but mostly with the leachate that drains down the landfill into our man-made water reservoir. This is easily the most polluted water I have ever come across. Just black gunk, sitting at the bottom of the landfill. It amazes me how much of the garbage drains out of the fill when it rains. Figuring out how to deal with and treat this water is the challenging puzzle that makes the job interesting. The motto at the landfill is “Smells like money.”

      Also, just wanted to say its cool seeing another reader with similar interests! Any tips for a new engineer?

      • meregoround

        Do what you find interesting don’t chase the money (that could be a motto for anyone though). Take advice from more experienced engineers, they’ve seen a lot of these things before so ask lots of questions! And make sure you double check everything, I bet you’ve messed up how (at least) one cell in excel is calculated 😛

    • This is going to sound gross, unhealthy and well probably pathetic, but, we kids (rez kids, mind you) used to spend hours rummaging through the land fill/dumps every chance we got, for anything worthwhile we could find. We’d clean it up, and if we didn’t keep it for ourselves, we’d resell it to people who hadn’t a clue where we had come by it.

      We found the most amazing stuff too. (new, old, expensive, and crazy). bikes, jewelry, sewing machines, games, TV, clothes, dishes, coins, safes, art, radios, etc. Pretty much anything, and everything ended up there. And probably 50% of it was new. My all time favorite, a real coffin. LOL, yeah, we didn’t sell that, but, we had hours and hours of fun floating it down the river.

      While gross, and many would say unhealthy, the plus side was we never got sick, ( truthfully it probably helped build our immune systems lol ) and we learned young, that one mans trash is some kids savings account, and every trip there was an unknown adventure waiting. But, my big plus was by the time I was accepted to college I had enough saved to make a huge dent in what my scholarships’ didn’t cover.

      Years later they turned it into a park. It’s beautiful, but, looking upon what it is now makes me melancholy for what was, and the hours upon hour we kids spent there rummaging for treasure, pretending to be kings, fighting turf wars to hold on to the piece of the dump and the spoils, that belonged to each of our private kingdoms.

      Aw, kids now have no idea, what they miss out on sitting at home playing video games. 🙂

      • Caroline

        Now that’s recycling! Yeah not very hygenic lol but hey you’re obviously still with us 😀

        Very enterprising, and I don’t think it’s bad to have resold it to people since you cleaned it up.

        Where I live you can take your stuff to the dump and they have a shop there where if it’s not completely trash you can just drop it off to them. Municipal dump so money goes back into the community in that way. It’s a great way to find furniture and things for projects, though you can sometimes find very nice things. I think it’s a great option for things that maybe aren’t good enough to donate to charity but still have some use left in them.

        Like you say, so many people throw out perfectly good stuff anyway, it’s good that there’s a last chance saloon for these things 🙂

      • meregoround

        We used to be able to do this as kids as well – getting bikes and billy carts out of the tips was the best fun. It has huge problems though – think of needles, sharp steel and machinery that might run over a gas bottle which could explode right near you? Not safe. That’s why there’s free stores and thrift stores encouraging reuse of products!

    • Alicia Hurst

      This is an interesting topic! I was wondering if you and the rest of the environmental engineers on here, and anyone else who works directly with landfills, would be interested in answering a few questions I have that have come out of real-life dinner table debates?

      1) What percentage of the country’s open (not full) landfills are old-style? (I’m not exactly sure what I mean by this, but perhaps, the kind that were not designed and were merely just holes in the ground.)

      2) How long does it really take different kinds of garbage to decompose, or does it ever? I feel like there are several myths about this. For example, I have heard that lack of air causes things to break down super slowly.

      3) Also if you’d like to talk about the environmental impact of putting your household garbage into a landfill vs. recycling and composting?

      • meregoround

        I’ll answer as best I can 🙂

        1) Honestly don’t know – obviously first world nations are more advanced but even then indigenous communities in Australia and Canada (where my experience extends to) with limited funds often have reasonably recent “old style” landfills. They aren’t allowed in legislation anymore but in the rural areas it’s harder to mandate. Most “old style” landfills are being closed or newer cells of the landfill, where they’re currently placing waste, have to be in the “new style”

        2) A long, long, long time. Beyond our lifetimes but once again, not exactly sure. Depends on the material, how wet the waste is (mostly dependent on how much water seeps in from rainfall), how the waste was compacted (or if it was at all), and what other waste is surrounding it. Obviously a landfill of mostly concrete and rocks won’t decompose plastic quickly, but one of organics, batteries and lots of rainfall would be much quicker. Air changes whether it’s anaerobic or aerobic decomposition which would affect different waste differently. I’ve seen cores from holes drilled into waste years after it was placed – it essentially looks like a mashed up version of it’s original form.

        3) Recycling saves energy and resources from making the original material from totally going to waste (punny). For example a pop can is made of aluminum, that aluminum will run out from being mined eventually and once it’s buried in a big pile of waste it’s basically useless and never to be seen again. That can’t last. Having said that recycling takes it’s own energy and needs to be economically viable. Some forms of recycling are so labour and technically intensive that at this point it doesn’t make sense – hopefully some day packaging lines up with what can be recycled/reused.

        Composting is a whole different kettle of fish. For a big landfill that collects landfill gas it makes sense – makes that operation more efficient. Otherwise for small landfills it creates problems such as landfill gas migration. Organics can make up over 50% of what gets thrown out – that is pretty unacceptable and quite avoidable. Watch this movie if you can to get an understanding of organic waste: http://www.foodwastemovie.com/

        Hope that helps understand your and my waste a bit better!

  • Fiel

    I used to work for online sportsbetting companies, managing live odds for football matches (or soccer, for some of you).

    The minute after the underdog goes ahead can be a good time to bet on the pre-match favourite. Bookmakers tend to lose money, underestimating the stronger team in this situation.

  • Christian Murga Cotrina

    I’m a chemist and I work in the paint industry. As you might expect, everyone who works in my lab, around 40 people, is either a chemist or a chemical engineer.

    What is surprising is that almost 1/4 of them do not believe in evolution and think that the Earth is 7000 years old. I do not have problems with people believing in ‘god’ or practicing a religion, but I do confront those who abandon all logic and all that they have been tought and deny science facts.

    I attended a private secular school, but we had a mandatory religion class of about two hour a week. No one of my classmates (which now are lawyers, doctors, engineers, etc.) ever thought that evolution was not true. After that, I went to university and again, no one from my chemist classes thought that evolution was not a proved theory. This is why I found very surprising that, of all people, scientists I met at my workplace would be the first social group that did not believe in evolution.

    By the way, I live in Lima, Peru, where amost averyone is catholic. However, most people here accept evolution as a fact although they believe that it was driven by god.

    • wakagi

      Here is the thing, the theory of evolution has been neither fully proven, nor disproven; and this is the reason why there will always be people who do not believe in it, including chemists.

      • Nor has any religion gods, deities, what have you been proven, nor disproven to be true, and yet they believe that, but think evolution to be poppycock? It’s truly mind boggling!

        • wakagi

          Well, that is the reason we have and always will have people who do not believe in religion and deities. It goes both ways, you know. 🙂

      • Christian Murga Cotrina

        I’m sorry, but evolution is a fact. There are tons of evidence (fossils, DNA, embryological, etc.) that support this theory :).

        • James

          By definition it is not a fact

  • DeeDee Massey

    I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.

    • Caroline

      So you’re an assassin with privacy issues. Pfft. They’re two a penny. 😀

      • DeeDee Massey

        I can neither confirm nor deny.

        • Caroline

          *wink* Your secret is safe with me 🙂

      • Touché! That was excellently played.

  • Martin Nick Smolík

    I work as a scene shifter, and you wouldn’t believe what is going on backstage of a big theatre. A lot of actors drink before and during the show and the costumes and set pieces look hideous up close. Scraping paint and crumbling edges everywhere. But if it looks okay from 3 meters away with strong light on, it’s fine.

    • Unbelievable!

      • Martin Nick Smolík

        It was for me. The thing that was most shocking for me was seeing the phantom from phantom of the opera hitting a blunt and giggling like a little girl, in his full costume. It killed most of magic in that show for me.

    • Pepperice

      I can believe this! I remember greasepaint from amateur theatre. It looks awful up close but on the stage it has to be strong to survive the lighting. I once played the Caterpillar in a production of Alice and had green eyebrows for about three days.

  • bobr26

    I am a psychologist with 30+ years experience and, as far as the insurance companies are concerned, am as qualified and reimbursable at the same rate as a newly minted, fresh out of school practitioner. There is no recognition of experience. They write the contracts and expect you sign them without informing you of their reimbursement rates. They can, unilaterally, change the rate structure (and they do), without regard to your fiscal realities.

    • James

      Obviously you can’t go into too much detail, but some general insight into your career would be great.
      Like what kind of psychologist you are, your general thoughts about patients(they don’t really have problems and just need to get over themselves, you really enjoy helping people, its boring/interesting, your favorite/least favorite diagnosis to deal with, etc)


  • Elea

    I co-own a local adventure travel company. We offer hiking trips, expeditions, kayaking etc. However, (to our own frustration) about 95% of our time is spent behind the computer doing sales, making reservations, quoting trips, coordinating trips, reconfirming services etc.

    Something which I would think is obvious, but masses of people seem to forget every year: If you are going to some awesome natural place, and want to have a real “wilderness experience”, forget about the highlights that are mentioned in all the guidebooks. If you can see its photo everywhere and almost every company offers this product, you can be sure it will not be a wilderness experience. Instead, if you have the funds, book a guide to take you to their favorite place or pick a less well known tour. It might not be the most famous place, but you have a much higher chance of discovering something even more beautiful and having an actual adventure.

  • In 2011, I quit my job at In-N-Out Burger in California because I got a gig playing cover music in a fancy Italian restaurant. I’ve been playing cover songs professionally since then, and I was even able to break into the music scene in a new city in Northern California so I could chase my then-girlfriend-now-wife to college. I was able to make a pretty good living as a single guy, but it was important to up the income once I got married — Hello, guitar lessons at $40/hr. These days I play the same 2 gigs every weekend: a fancy seaside restaurant and a sweet little downtown wine bar.

    A few interesting tidbits on playing music for a living:

    1. It’s frickin’ awesome (big surprise, right?).

    2a. You need to know a lot of songs. My first regular gig was at a café/bakery (paying me in sandwiches — yum!) whose clientele ranged from young moms with their toddlers to a couple who had been married for 75 years. I got song requests from Disney to Johnny Cash to Beyoncé and beyond. At first I didn’t know anything (except Paul Simon and Coldplay — my faves), so I would have to apologize and play something else. Then I would go home and look up their requests on YouTube and memorize them. I picked up a huge variety.

    2b. You need a pretty good memory to be impressive and make good tips. My wife suggested I write up a list of all the songs I have memorized and then print it out and let people flip through it at my gigs — like a karaoke list. I have about 100-120 titles in there and people absolutely love it.

    2c. Memorizing your songs means you can interface much more freely — and people love interfacing. If I had to carry around a binder with all my lyrics and chord progressions, I wouldn’t be able to shake everyone’s hand and play face-to-face because I’d be chained to my music stand. Which leads me to…

    3. Personality is the difference between making it and not making (when you’re not a superstar). It seems like superstars are the biggest dillweeds in the world, but if I acted like a dillweed I wouldn’t make a cent and I’d probably get fired immediately. You could be a mediocre player, but if people like you, they’ll support you — tipping big, buying your EP for $10, etc. And people will like you if your personality, so smile, shake their hand, and tell them it was a pleasure to meet them. ***This is doubly true for management and staff.***

    4. Lots of people cry when you sing ‘their song.’ This is probably the most fulfilling part of the job. “They played that at my dad’s funeral” and “That was our first dance” are the two most common tear-filled professions of thanks.

    5. I don’t love music any less because it’s my job. I played music for about 6 years before I got my first paying gig, and my dad’s (stolen) old adage rang in my ears: “Make a living doing what you love and you’ll never ‘work’ a day in your life — but remember that you might not love it anymore.” Well, I don’t play music in my spare time anymore, but that’s not because I don’t love it — it’s because I already play 10 hours a week (plus lessons) and I want to keep up on my Assassin’s Creed skillz!

  • Foxy Shazam

    I’m a massage therapist and you wouldn’t believe how many therapists have a tenuous grasp on anatomy.

    • voscerote

      I see what you did there…

    • Guest

      curious — how many male customers ask for a “happy ending”?

  • Travis Owens

    I’m the executive producer for an extremely conservative “right-wing” talk radio show in a mid-sized American market. None of us are particularly conservative, and I am as liberal as they come. We ridicule most of the callers off-mic while they talk on air. The host routinely cuts his mic off in the middle of a monologue to shout obscenities, make crude jokes and fart. There is endless barrage of eye-rolling and mouthing between the host and I during interviews with elected officials and political candidates. We have inherent distrust of sales people and often refuse to cover stories suggested by the program director (a luxury only afforded to smaller market shows). I pick all the bumper music myself and play one Radiohead song every show. I can’t speak for other radio hosts, but a lot of what you hear on the radio is an act; political entertainment for conservatives 35 to 55 so we can sell advertising.

    • Elizabeth J.

      “..is an act”. I KNEW IT!

      • Travis Owens

        Like I said (minus the typo), I can’t speak for every conservative radio host in the country. It is perfectly plausible that guys like Sean Hannity or Michael Savage actually believe the crap that comes out of their mouth. Cheers.

    • CapitolJenn84

      Question for you – and I am honestly curious here, no offense intended – why do you do what you do, since you’re liberal and clearly don’t think too highly of your interviewees? I would think/hope, with your background & abilities as an executive producer, you could find a show that isn’t just an act, put on for ad revenue.

      • Travis Owens

        Good question. Aside from public radio, there are very few successful progressive radio outfits. Air America failed miserably in most markets, and I have no desire to work for Democracy Now or other nonprofit stations. Ultimately, I love small town life and I love working in radio, so my options are limited.

  • FirefoxGuru

    I’d explain it, but no one would care unless you’d be in the field/industry.

    Currently an IT student who has been on two corporate-based internships and wants to join the startup dev/design life 😀

    Oh, and loves blogging about tech, science, engineering and entrepreneurial stuff! 😀

  • Rio Lacroix

    I’m a delivery driver for Pizza Hut

    There’s a ton that I could talk about when it comes to this job, such as how I risk not only my car, but my life, just to bring you pizza when it’s blizzarding outside…all for a 1.50 tip

    One of the most common misconceptions with Pizza Hut is that we’re expensive, and so a lot of people then look at their total of $20 for a single pizza and blame US for wanting just one pizza.

    Here’s the thing, don’t ever ask “what kind of specials do you have?” because then the employee will just rattle off whatever random deal of the week is going on. You have to ask specifically for what you want, as in “what’s the best deal I can get for such and such” or “Is there a deal that can get me 2 pizzas and wings for cheaper?”

    A few more facts:
    -90% of the time the pan style pizzas end up gross because people put too much oil in the pan and the dough gets soggy as it rises, giving you a crispy crust instead of a chewy one.
    -If the delivery driver is late, the majority of the time it is because 20 people ordered at once and no one changed the delivery times (delivery times can only be set by a manager, and 10 internet orders can show up on the screen in the time it takes to get into the system to change it.
    -If you can’t tip the delivery driver with cash, offer them a slice of your pizza. This is the best tip you could ever give.
    -Breadsticks can be combined with almost anything we sell for a reduced price. My personal favorite is $5 for a two liter and breadsticks (they are normally $4 for 5 breadsticks btw)
    -If anything on your order comes with marinara sauce, order garlic sauce for an extra 0.50 and mix it with the marinara. This stuff is like liquid gold.
    -You can put up to 3 toppings on top of an ultimate cheeselovers. Keep in kind that the UCL comes with Alfredo, so if you want red sauce you need to specify it.
    -Any pizza can be made with Alfredo. My personal favorite is a chicken, bacon, onion, pineapple pizza. I don’t normally like those toppings either.
    -If you get Canadian bacon ask to have them put it on top of the pizza. It will crisp up that way and taste like strips of bacon.
    -If there is a deal going on that lets you have a pizza ANY WAY YOU WANT IT, don’t get a 1 topping pizza and complain about not having enough toppings. Any topping can have multiple extra additions. 3 toppings doesn’t mean you have to choose 3 different ones. If you really like pepperoni, get extra extra pepperoni for that 3 topping.

    Honestly, I love my job though, which is probably the most suprising thing. Being on the road for 60% of the work night is pretty nice. You get to listen to your own music and be by yourself for a while, in the comfort of your own car. I also use that time to listen to my YouTube playlists or podcasts or educational channels just to think about life or get my mind off or whatever stress is happening back at home.

    If anything, I’m glad that I actually enjoy working more than I do sitting at home.

  • starswim

    I am a case manager at a high school (grades 7-12) for students with autism. We are a charter school, and what surprises many people is that a charter school is public. There is no tuition, and we accept whoever applies through a blind lottery system. We have kids from something like 40 different “home” districts, some of whom routinely travel 45 minutes to an hour one way to get to school. Also, since it is a public (USA) school we are bound by testing and curriculum standards and must teach basically the same stuff that kids get anywhere, only in our classrooms it is not unusual to see kids pacing, flapping their hands and making noises. Also blurting, a lot of blurting, which is how some kids connect to the material. Every classroom has a sensory area, screened off from the the rest of the room where a student can set a timer and take a break without missing instruction. Another surprising thing is that some (5 of my own caseload of 18) students don’t even have autism, but chose to come because they want an environment where there is no bullying and many ways of addressing whatever needs they have. Before this I worked in a more typical public high school where many of the kids with autism had been bullied throughout middle school and found high school almost unbearable.

  • Sarah P.

    Currently I’m a college student and have worked several other jobs in the past, yet the one job that taught me the most was working at a Steak n’ Shake drive thru.. Something people may not take into consideration when getting their burger and fries is that the drive thru worker taking your order is often doing fourteen things at the same time. If it was not this way people would be sitting in the drive thru for a whole -gasp- five minutes before yelling at the worker and leaving, angrily checking their bags to make sure the dumb b**** did it right. Another fun fact about drive thru workers is that they can receive tips, but most people don’t even bother like they would if they walked in to eat and saw a tip jar. During my two years working here I have received one tip of $1, and that absolutely made my day. So if you like to spread happiness in the world tip your drive-thru attendant a dollar. I understand that a lot of people who wish to be served a drive-thru are hungry and have low blood sugar, but please, for the sake of the sanity of all fast food employees, do not yell at the drive thru attendant. It will make the attendant pause working to get chastised yet again by the next customer for being a few minutes late with the food. If you have a problem I highly recommend asking for the manager. Most managers are more than willing to compensate for your complaints with coupons and such. Drive thru working is a rather complex, fast paced system that should never be underestimated. I commend anyone who dares to take up the job.

    • I worked drive-through at In-N-Out Burger in California and, my God, was it crazy! Drinks, tags, double-checking orders, communicating with your co-workers, paying attention to what the barely-audible customers are asking through the headset… phew!

      I need to take a nap…

      • Sarah P.

        I feel ya! lol. This job pretty much squished any chance of insomnia for me.

      • Sarah and Michael,

        {Big sigh!} 🙂
        I worked behind the counter in my father’s successive drug stores for about twenty years, starting out wrapping Christmas presents when I was five.

        My champion customer was the lady who wanted to buy just half a box of some Dr. Scholl’s product because whatever she had she only had on one foot.


    • Lydia

      I worked at Baskin Robbins in high school. Something many people don’t know is that not all drive throughs have a machine where the worker types in the order and someone else prepares it. At our shop, the drive through person took the orders and prepared them. We couldn’t put the order into the computer until the car was at the window. If it was a busy night, we would have to remember 4 orders at a time, and prepare those while taking another order. It was difficult. Truly, the most shocking thing is that we made so few mistakes.

  • Aruwei

    I worked at a video game studio for 2 years and launched a top teir MMO. Here’s some things you might not know…

    -All those complaints and personal attacks, memes people make of staff members, DO get seen by the people who work at the studio, and it effects them. (Please be nice/constructive! They’re not celebrities, they’re regular people just like you.)

    -Sometimes players send us letters, fan art and gifts, they are all kept and put up on display. I love to walk by and read them, it brightens my day! People found their future husbands and wives, made friends, had their lives changed, all by one online game. It’s amazing!

    -Everyone who makes the game minus the publisher exists in that studio. The server farm, the audio teams with acoustic labs, the designers, artists, programmers, HR, community teams, and so on. Sometimes employees train themselves in new skills and swap around to different departments.

    -It is both the best and worst place to work. The culture is unbeatable. Office nerf gun fights, gaming on your lunch break, company outings, fun employees with common interests, parties, free candy, drinks, and snacks. Internal education- we were allowed to take classes on company time that were offered by other employees like life drawing, design, commerce, whatever interested us. Company sponsored movie nights where they rent out the theater.

    On the flip side, you might have to work with unpleasant management. Sometimes there is favoritism. The pay is not very high for most employees and you work very hard. There were times we were working midnight to 6am to run demos for game expos in other time zones. Full time employees are salary and often work more than 40hrs a week. There were times hourly temp employees were making more than FTE because of all the time spent. There are times you’ll lose your weekends for a month (imagine working 7 days a week with no weekend to look forward to!) It can be very stressful.

    • clint r.

      Hey there I’m considering Going to school to get into the industry. If you don’t mind, could you email me at crushinkov @gmail.com so I could ask you some questions?

  • I built the first coin laundries in Japan, 400 of them all over the country, between 1972 and 1984, so naturally I got to learn a bit about dirt.

    The sort of dirt I find most disgusting to clean up is laundry soap caked in places it shouldn’t be.

    The sort of dirt you want to clean out of your clothes, however, has three main components: soil, literally blown earth; human skin and sebaceous oils, because people, like snakes, shed their skins about every eight weeks; and soap and other laundry products, which you continually rotate, replacing the old with this week’s new.


    • Jessie Timberlake

      well I did not know that about shedding our skin…….guess I better do my laundry more carefully..

      • James


  • SeriaPonderosa

    I’m an Assistant for a senior executive (commonly known as the “C-Level”) at a multinational corporation . A few things I’ve learned along the way… 1/ It’s one of the few remaining professions where you can earn a decent living without some sort of academic/field specialization (as long as you have good organizational and people skills and knowledge of a limited number of domain-specific software applications, which you can learn o your own) . Some people at my level earn up to low six figure salaries, although generally it means they work for Type-A “super c-level” personalities and therefore can be expected to be available practically at all hours if necessary. Not my jam personally, so I’ll never make it to the tippy-top of this particular mountain. Oh well 🙂 2/ Knowledge of a second language opens the doors to working for int’l subsidiaries (even within the US) and can earn you mucho more bucks relative to the basic job requirements . 3/ This might be a generational/personality thing, but I find that in my current position, I have had to become a human stopwatch for my boss ( I can often tell you what time it is within a few minutes’ accuracy even without a clock nearby…) and just generally stage manage his day-to-day in often very subtle ways. Multitasking is taken to a whole new level with this sort of gig….

  • makeuswait

    I work for a global luxury fashion company.

    Those who are removed from the fashion industry tend to have a preconceived ideas about the types of people in this industry. We are frequently judge as shallow, self-absorbed and narcissistic individuals. The fabulous gay man or uptight female boss are common archetypes.

    When in truth most people who choose this line of work-even outside of design- are creatives that are very open minded. Some of the most down-to-earth, authentic and humble people I have met have been my colleagues working in Fashion.

  • American2345

    I am an epidemiologist. Maybe post-ebola people now understand better, but I have spent most of my career explaining that I am NOT a skin doctor (as in epidermis). The thing that people least understand about epidemiology is that lots and lots of us do NOT study epidemics in the traditional sense (infectious disease). Since most of the big killers in the US are chronic diseases and injuries, whole subfields of heart disease epidemiology, cancer epidemiology and injury epidemiology (to name a few) have sprung up. I have spent two decades studying occupational injury epidemiology (why do people get hurt at work). In an ironic twist of fate,this non-infectious disease epidemiologist suddenly finds herself living in West Africa in the middle of the ebola outbreak. Time for a new focus, perhaps?

  • nielmalan

    No longer in it, but working in Antarctica as a scientist taught me a few things:
    1. Research in Antarctica is not driven by a thirst for knowledge, but by geopolitical interests.
    2. Getting too hot is just as often a discomfort as getting cold.
    3. The low temperatures are easy to handle: the thing that makes life outside difficult and/or unbearable is the wind.

  • Luis

    I am unemployed so… I dont have a job.

  • Zhenya

    I’m a dentist. Just starting my career. Large majority of my patients are afraid of dentists, and that is often the first thing they mention when they come in. And what probably people don’t know is that if a patient is stressed the dentist is stressed out too. At least for me the pain person feels, reflects in my mood for the rest of the day. I prefer patients who are relaxed and positive – there are also patients like that and they make me feel good.
    A lot of people don’t brush teeth before they go to dentist, which takes much more time and makes it much harder to diagnose cavities.
    Majority of people don’t floss and don’t know how to do it, but mainly because of laziness. And flossing is necessary becuase the majotity of cavities form on the side of the tooth (in between teeth).
    Ah and because I don’t have much experience yet, I do not really know how much should I talk to my clients. Do you like when dentist asks you about personal life? or should I just concentrate on work?

    • Zusiqu

      don’t mind if a dentist talks about their life IF I’ve been there several times and we have developed (or are developing) a relationship. Don’t reveal too much too quickly.

      • kevin

        It is weird though when your dentist asks you questions when you are clearly unable to answer as your mouth is full of dental equipment. Never know how to act. Like mumble my answer or take notes and answer all of the questions at the end?

        • Zhenya

          haha, so true, usually when i do something in the mouth of a patient and talk, i try not to ask any questions, or only “yes” or “no” questions, that they can answer mhm or hmh… But it’s really good time to tell the person about oral hygiene as they will listen anyway and can not escape while i’m talking (muhaha) 🙂

          • Barry Geibel

            A lot of people treat professionals differently –some like to carry on conversations, some like to be silent, and you can never tell which they are. I think you should try to engage them, as that can alleviate some of their apprehension, and see if they respond. It IS quite awkward trying to do that with my dentist though, so after having them attempt to answer you back, you could just start monologuing and hope they aren’t bored to tears. Personally I choose professionals who are willing to strike up a casual conversation over those who are strictly business.

    • RJBurn

      Ask if I’m married/am I from here/what do I do? And then actually listen to the reply and take it from there. For instance, I make jewelry and people become quite interested in that and…I should post my own response to the question!

      I had (past tense) a dentist who asked me the surface questions without paying attention, but now I know about his tax issues, how he lost his boat, the status of his ex-wives, his educational pedigree (reassuring) and that his son is in troubled kid school. While fascinating in that it distracted me from the mayhem in my mouth, it really surprised me that he was so free with his private life. I am, though, one of those people that others download on — which is fine — but he didn’t remember on subsequent visits that he’d said all of these things, and I found that disconcerting. I wonder how many he times he said all of that to patients.

      So…try to make an effort to remember what sorts of conversations you’ve had with patients in the past. His hygienist DID remember these things, and I found that reassuring and relaxing.

      My dentist before that (he retired, dang it — he took great care of my teeth) was old school and very particular. He made his staff nervous and that made me nervous. He’d bark at them, and I’d tense up. He did remember me as an individual person, and picked up conversations we’d had in the past. He offered me a job about six times, and I said no thank you. I likely would have said yes if he weren’t so tyrannical with his staff.

      • Zhenya

        If i’d ask if he is married…it would sound like im flirting haha. Thank you very much for the advices, RJBurn!

    • Kate

      I love going to the dentist. Probably because of all the good memories of laughing gas that I was given as a kid.
      I like it when the dentist doesn’t talk, it’s not like I can respond when they have their fingers in my mouth anyway. Mine sings softly, it’s kinda nice.

      • Zhenya

        haha, unfortunately in my country (Estonia) we usually don’t use laughing gas 🙂 And that’s very funny that you dentist sings 😀 that’s a great idea!

    • Duane

      personally, i like it when my dentist engages in a conversation — i’m not good at starting one with just about anyone, so it helps a lot when others do. but i think it varies from person to person. some, like me, enjoy sharing stuff with their dentist/barber/doctor/masseuse. while others may prefer to keep quiet. anyway, i think you should always try to be engaging. if they respond, good; if not, then also good. the bottom line is that you tried. as my friend always says, “When you don’t ask, the answer will always be No.”

      • Zhenya

        Thank you, Duane! 🙂

    • Lizzie

      I appreciate my dentist making small talk but it’s hard to carry on much of a conversation with someone else’s hands in your mouth. I understand when the dentist is quiet because he’s assessing my teeth and I don’t take it personally.

  • geolocke

    I draw, update and maintain utility maps for a midsized city. As part of my job I actually get paid to watch “dirty movies”, but not the kind most folks would find interesting. We send remote controlled robot cameras down into our sewer mains to record the condition of the mains and as part of my job, I get to look at those videos and make note where the lines are blocked, or broken or another utility has run their line through our (by using directional boring.) It can be quite amusing at times, especially in fast forward as you see all the cockroaches racing away from the light, or when some big-daddy rat attacks the camera because it is encroaching on its turf. I suppose I am immune to the other sites these days because I no longer have any problems eating my breakfast while watching the videos.

    The world that lies hidden under our streets is just as complex (if not more complex) as the world that rises above the pavement. If you want a good (interesting – amusing) account into what all goes into the world under our streets, then I would recommend a book by Scott Huler called “On The Grid” (see Link below)

  • Christina Guntert

    You’d thought that with a University degree in marketing and event management, speaking three languages, being reasonably computer skilled, having no kids to look after and several years’ work experience in different fields, you’d get a job in no time .. currently, I am working as a cashier at a supermarket. Anything that seems wrong here ?

    • Liam Donald Fraser-Quick

      There could be any number of reasons you’re struggling to find work. You could move to a bigger city where jobs are easier to come by, or maybe your resume needs work (it always helps to tailor your resume to the job you’re applying for, most marketing jobs won’t care about the two years you spent at McDonald’s!). Unfortunately, right now it’s an employer’s market and there are way too few jobs for the amount of potential workers. Good luck in your search 🙂

  • Kamil

    I’m a programmer. People often imagine my job as sitting in front of a computer and writing code. What (I think) is not commonly known is that actually gross majority of the time in front of a monitor is spent on reading already written code, analyzing it and analyzing what/how to write new code. Actual writing (typing text) takes VERY minimal percentage of overall time spent on creating software (just to give a perspective – probably minutes, not even hours a day during a 8h workday). Actual amount of text (computer code) created by a single developer daily can vary greatly though (sample discussion on the topic: http://stackoverflow.com/questions/966800/mythical-man-month-10-lines-per-developer-day-how-close-on-large-projects).

  • I am in Marketing. Working on consumer behavior, marketing tactics, advertising changes completely how you shop or watch any ad. With marketing and advertising being so prominent in our lives, I feel like I have this work part of my brain always on. It is a great, fulfilling, creative career, but I do wish sometimes I could just walk in the supermarket and shop like a normal person without thinking about the brand positioning etc. It’s also a weird profession to explain to people, because everybody thinks marketing does not impact their purchase decisions. Yeah, right.

    • Totally seconded. I can’t go shopping, watch tv, listen to the radio, or even read things on the Internet without analyzing the marketing. It doesn’t shut off. So you end up explaining what was so interesting/mind numbing to your spouse or friends and they’re all “whatever MadMan, just let me buy my McRib in peace, okay?!”

      • Wil Meister

        Same here. Sold radio for a year, worked in advertising long enough that I can’t NOT analyze commercials, packaging, sponsorships, etc. It never turns off, and people tend to be annoyed when I won’t shut up about a super effective commercial.

  • Renee

    I’m a midwife.
    When you ask us after the birth whether you did a poo in labour, and we say no, we are probably lying 🙂
    My job does not involve cuddling lots of babies so please don’t become a midwife just because you “love babies!”
    If you hear the phrase “Mrs Brown is fully”, it means someone has got the tea trolley ready for the staff.
    Dads, it is not funny to ask us to “put an extra stitch in for me”. We have heard it many times and it makes us want to punch somebody.

  • Linda Christopher Watson

    I am retired. This seems geared towards young people. I am sorry….old lady, waaay too much to say. But it hurts to wake up and your friends have passed, parents. My whole life-gone. I drove a school bus-taught aerobics-worked in Library-single mom.
    I am all about horses, always have been……….

    • kevin

      In scrap metal recycling because you are dealing a product that’s not made but is a by prodcut of something else being made (or trashed) and therefore in finite supply it’s hard to buy and easy to sell the opposite of every industry I can think of. Our customers are our vendors and we have to kiss their butt and conversely the people we sell to kiss ours.

  • Ron Hause

    I’m a cancer geneticist. This may or may not be surprising to some, but there will unfortunately never be “a cure for cancer”. It’s a lot more complex than some people may think when I hear talk about “the cure” (or those crazy conspiracy theories that pharmaceutical companies already have it but won’t distribute it…).

    Cancer’s a generic term for when cells in your body go awry, typically because of an accumulation of mutations that tell the cells to grow, grow, grow. We’ve developed a wide variety of effective treatments for specific types of cancer, such as imatinib (Gleevec) that can block constant growth signaling arising from a specific translocation where two parts of different chromosomes join together in chronic myelogenous leukemia. However, cancers can eventually acquire different mutations that can circumvent these treatments, and many cancers have as of yet unknown genetic causes that can be unique to the particular individual that has them, giving physicians no obvious avenue for treatment other than excision and/or shot-in-the-dark chemotherapy.

    Because of its incredible genetic heterogeneity, “curing cancer” will require an in-depth understanding of the myriad of mutations in all individuals. Despite the sequencing of the human genome over ten years ago, we still have limited understanding of what each of those 3 billion letters does, not only the ~10 million sites (0.3%) that are variable across humans, but also rare mutations unique to a person. As such, we geneticists are actively working to collect as much genomic data as possible to find statistical associations, functionally validate them, and (with chemists) design novel therapeutics to attempt to “correct” for the aberrant signaling resulting from their existence. Eventually with enough knowledge and R&D, personalized medicine will be important for effective treatment of cancers in each person given their genetic makeup.

    We all want to cure all cancers! But it’s an ongoing and never-ending journey!

    • Tim Urban

      Really well explained. I think people think of cancer as a puzzle and it’s actually that each instance of cancer in a single human is it’s own unique puzzle with only certain similarities to others like it. I know how complex cancer is, but I always still assume that in 50 years, the general technology for detection and eradication of most kinds of cancers will be so much further along that cancer will cause far less harm than it does now. But maybe I’m just not understanding how little different cancers have in common with one another.

      • Ron Hause

        I absolutely agree with you Tim–we’re getting better at detecting and treating cancers everyday. In 50 years, I agree that cancer will likely be less deadly than it is now, mostly because of an increased understanding of the underlying factors (both genetic and environmental) involved in its development across large numbers of people from different world populations.

        I just wanted to dispel the notion held by some that there will one day be a pill that you take that makes cancer go away. Although that would be absolutely incredible, it’s an over-simplistic view that we unfortunately still encounter people having sometimes. Like my grandfather who encourages me to “find the cure, Ronnie!”. 🙂

        • BM

          Speaking of pills, one of my best friends specialized in creating the optimal drug treatments based on the type of cancer, the genetic make up of the afflicted person. It was really fascinating to see how different combinations of pills could have a huge effect on a specific type of cancer.

    • PinkTheBush

      I loved reading this. Cure or not, thank you for your work. Whether it’s just scientific understanding of the mutations, or developing new treatments, it’s a beautiful thing.

    • Kat

      So interesting! I wonder whether any cancer geneticists have looked at plant galls? Insects lay eggs inside plant material (stem, leaf, flower bud…) and the insect’s action causes genetic mutations in the plant to grow in ways that are beneficial to the insect larvae. ( . . . sometimes from the larva, sometimes from the material injected from the mother.) There is a one-to-one connection in most of these galls between insect species and plant species, so if you know the plant, you can ID the insect from the gall, and vice versa. I wonder whether it would be beneficial or easier to trace the process through plant genes as a starting step?

    • samantha

      Got to say this was well explained, I have cancer and was on a clinical trial and still on chemo and I wish I could carry this around with me to be able to explain to people! Thank you!

    • matthew

      Thank you. I find it very frustrating ( biologist here) trying to explain this to people. Far too many people actually believe that “big pharma” is covering up a cure.

    • Dave

      I’m a professor in bioengineering working on developing new cancer detection technologies, and as a technologist I disagree with you. Everything you say about the cancer science is correct, but breakthrough technologies are never expected even 5 years before they become available. Just like how we didn’t go past the 30 miles per hour limit by breeding better horses, the way to “cure” cancer may not be the “whack-a-mole” approach of targeting every single driver mutation (driver mutations are the mutations that cause cancer, as opposed to passenger mutations which are caused by cancer). It may be stem cell therapy, it may be genetic editing, it may be cloning. Or it may be something really crazy like uploading our brains that Sci-Fi has talked about for the past 50 years. But I really think one should never underestimate the creativity of humans as a species.

      In the field of sequencing itself, for decades people thought it would be Sanger sequencing forever, before Rothberg and NGS really changed the way we approach genomics forever.

      • Ron Hause

        Definitely can’t argue that some technology that we’ve as of yet not conceived of could better treat cancers (like uploading our brains), but the idea of a wonder drug that can effectively cure all cancers is highly improbable. But so far, stem cell therapy, genetic editing, or cloning (which the FDA will never/take forever to allow) won’t cure most cancers *in their current state*. But yes, totally agree that we don’t know what the future will hold, so let me rephrase that I feel that it’s very unlikely/will take an enormous amount of time before cancer is completely “cured” in the sense that it’s no longer an ailment we have to take seriously.

        Also, since you work on new cancer detection technologies, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this 538 article posted this morning on the statistics of early cancer detection:


  • Kate

    Everyones jobs and the little peeks of what goes on behind the scene are fascinating! It’s like Humans of WaitButWhy without photos…

  • WW

    I’m an investor in finance. It’s gotten a pretty bad rep lately so I’m surprised that I’m even writing this.
    – If you apply the rules that make you a good ethical investor to life, it makes you a better person in life. Why? Because trading requires you to be logical, diligent, unprejudiced, willing to admit when you’re wrong and if there is a probability that you’re wrong, humble, decisive, and willing to get up when you’re down over and over and over and over again.
    – Social psychology is as important as mathematics and economics, because just about everyone gets scared when they’re at the brink of losing a lot of money or their jobs. Just about everyone gets greedy when there’s a big pile of money on the table. Traders are susceptible to the same faults of human nature as everyone else.
    – Although the dishonesty in finance has been magnified on the news, this is a job where dishonesty is extremely dangerous. Because actions are tied to your profits and losses, it is also tied to your job security from day to day… actually job security is so volatile, that I think “security” is definitely the wrong word. So you cannot tell yourself that you know something when you don’t. You cannot invest based on hope or luck, or someone else’s hunch. All of these are a great way to guarantee a short career.
    – A lot of people work 18 hour days. It’s not 9am-4pm. That just happens to be the times when a bell rings at the NYSE. Almost all markets, including equities, trade for much longer hours. On a related note, people work from 7am-3pm on a “half day”
    – The finance world is large and varied. Most people don’t appreciate being blamed for bad things that happened in which they had no part in making (and were themselves a victim). As a result, many people hide the fact that they work in the industry even though they work hard and do good and honest things.

  • Sara

    I’m a dog groomer, it’s my job to squeeze the butt juice from your dogs bunghole! It’s called, expressing the anal glands.

  • Lise

    I’m a preschool teacher and if you have silly little complaints about your child, we will no like your child as much as we did before.

  • PinkTheBush

    I am a writer (the corporate kind, not the fun kind). Regarding casual internet correspondence, like chat forums or comment sections, I choose to write how I speak, which is very rarely edited for grammar. I write properly because I type *really* quickly, and it actually requires more thought to *not* hold down Shift before I hit the next key after a period. I do not expect people to treat their internet comments like a college dissertation. I do not respond to an unsavory comment by correcting someone’s grammar. I could go back over this paragraph and wreck it with red ink, but, I really just don’t give a f***. This is a shared mentality with everyone in my department; our work e-mails look like total shit. Although I did just go back and connect the last two sentences with a semi-colon. I’m so ashamed…

    My point? Those with an English/literature background are generally not pompous turds on a mission to make you feel like an ass for spacing out on a homonym. That kind of attitude comes from pseudo intellectuals with something to prove, or college freshmen high on the stench of academia, or people who just need a pick-me-up and language is the only ammunition they have. People who really care about the written word know a couple of truths:

    – There’s a time, place, and purpose. Also, there’s no such thing as a perfect first draft.
    – Language is fluid and open to stylistic preferences. And anyone who tells me not to start a sentence with a conjunction can eat it, because I do what I want.

    • Salty

      Alright! Agree! People who correct other people’s grammar online are not listening to what the person is trying to say. Typos happen! Big deal…

    • Rob

      Yeah, but you did use “homonym”. You pseud.

    • CamillyVanilly

      Am a professional editor and agree with you 100%!!!

  • Tracey G.

    I am a teacher. Many of the things I could tell you about my awesome job are things you probably already know. Here are some things I think are important:

    1. The custodian and the secretary run the school. You would not believe how important their jobs are, and when they are sick, the ship just doesn’t sail as smoothly.

    2. I am constantly looking over my shoulder when I’m about to say something less than ‘teacher-ish’–in the grocery store, the hairdresser, the mall–really, anywhere there might be a child I’ve taught within a 50km radius, to ensure that I am not offending the gentle ears or minds of tiny people. My friends think this is equal parts hilarious and neurotic. They are right.

    3. My job is just as much about PR as it is about education. Being able to communicate with parents, colleagues and students can make or break me, and relationships with all stakeholders are really important to student success and teacher sanity. Nobody cares that I have a Master’s degree, but they really care if I use the wrong inflection with my voice. Or if I forget to say hello in the hallway.

    4. I really work hard for my summers “off.” I know teachers get eye rolls for having 6 weeks of the year off, plus all the school breaks, and I won’t lie–it’s pretty fabulous. I could give you a laundry list of the things I do that make 4 out of 5 days at least 12-hour work days for me, but bottom line: I honestly do work hard for those summers. I mean, REALLY work. And I love every minute of it.

  • Kat

    I’m a realtor, affiliated with an internationally-known brand. I say affiliated because we are all self-employed. (US tax 1099 – if you are familiar with that). We are each our own small business.

    There are several misconceptions about our business model. The one I’m asked all the time is how I am paid. I don’t get paid until my clients get what they want. Our compensation is 100% commission.

    That means if I’m helping someone sell a house, I’m paying for marketing/advertising, printing, professional photographer, and many other services out of my pocket with no guarantee that the sellers will actually sell their home. I know agents who have invested thousands of dollars to prepare and market a home only to have seller clients say “Gee, it looks so good now, I want to stay.”

    The same applies to buyers. I find/filter houses, I show many homes, I make sure my clients know exactly the risks they are taking in buying a particular property, and walk through the contract and the stack of disclosure documentation, and then I negotiate the contract so they get their dream home. Until they get the keys, all my work is free. There are agents who show clients houses for a year, write offers, and then the clients decide not to buy.

    Regardless of all of these services, frankly, the reason people hire a realtor is because we know how to negotiate. This is another common misconception. They don’t know that when they hire me, they find that out along the way when we’re walking through the strategy to put a house on the market to get the highest price possible, or when there are multiple offers coming on a house they want to buy and I get them the house over 9 other offers even though we’re not the highest priced offer, or we’re coming in with a loan and someone else is all-cash. (Another misconception: The offer isn’t just the price, there are other terms/conditions that can be equally important to sellers.)

    Each state in the US has its own regulations about how we can practice our craft. Some states require us agents to define ourselves as either only a buyers’ agent or only a sellers’ agent. Some states require attorneys, some don’t. Some states, the one I’m in for example, permit us to represent either side of a transaction.

    In my state, we have a fiduciary responsibility to our clients, meaning *by law* we must put our clients’ interests above our own. Although it is legal here to represent both sides of a transaction – and many agents do – I choose not to. Why? Because if I’m hired by the seller to get them the best price/terms/conditions, and I’m negotiating on their behalf, how can I advocate for them if I’m also representing the buyers?

    There are exceptions to every rule, of course, and I can name a few, but the general point is I don’t think it’s appropriate for an agent to “double end” a transaction in the vast majority of circumstances. Right now in we are in a sellers’ market, meaning there is low inventory and many buyers have to compete for a house. Often potential buyers come to the open house and ask me as the listing agent to represent them. Here’s another misconception. They think they will have an advantage of some sort over other buyers. They also think that if the same agent represents both sides that they will get some savings on the price, or get a refund on the commission. The assumption continues, if one agent represents both sides, that agent gets paid twice in one transaction, which must be good for the agent. The truth of the matter is they are doing themselves a disservice by trying to hire the listing agent – even in a seller’s market. Let’s break down the points of this assumption.

    A good buyers’ agent can win over other offers if the agent has prepared the buyers for what to expect, asked the buyers a lot of questions about their comfort level and their thoughts/feelings about the particular property they want to buy, and walked through various negotiation strategies to find the one the buyers are most comfortable with. Then the agent negotiates with the sellers’ agent following the strategy that they buyers set together as a team. A good buyers’ agent can negotiate more than his/her cost (the commission) on behalf of their clients.

    A good sellers’ agent can drive the price or terms on the sale of a house to cover the sellers’ commissions, too. Again, the agent asks the sellers a lot of questions about their priorities and comfort level and what they want out of the sale. Then the team agrees to a strategy before the home comes on the market.

    Now imagine, the home is on the market after the house has been repaired, prepped, cleaned, photographed, advertised…. I’m at the open house, where I’m greeting people and answering questions about the property and potential buyers walk in and ask me to write an offer for them because they think they’ll have some savings or extra advantage by working with me, *while I have a fiduciary responsibility to the sellers.* They think that saving a few dollars on commission is worth losing my strength as an advocate – on one of the biggest purchases/investments of their life. They don’t understand that getting an agent to represent them is more beneficial *to them.* You wouldn’t ask an attorney to represent both sides. Why would someone ask a realtor?

    Next, they think for the detriment of giving up a good agent’s negotiation skills, they are asking the agent to take a pay cut to represent them, thinking getting paid twice in one transaction is less work. It’s actually more work. Imagine trying to balance both interests, getting the seller the highest price and the buyer the lowest. Now let’s add to that. Let’s say during escrow (after the offer has been accepted and investigations/inspections are happening) there’s a surprise in the condition of the property. The clients are now basically negotiating for themselves with the agent acting as mediator. Mediation and advocacy are quite different. Clients pay for an advocate, why should they settle for a mediator?

    There are agents who do represent both sides. It’s legal. They see the potential buyers asking them for their services. I simply ask myself “What’s best for my clients?” Then the answer is clear.

  • Rob Armstrong

    At my old job we had two lockers each; one for clean clothes and one for dirty. We also had an elevator that would take 150 men 900m underground in about 2 mins. When we said there was a potentially explosive atmosphere at work, we weren’t talking about a couple of the guys having an argument. There was literally the potential for the air we work in to ignite and kill everyone. And we used to set off explosives there. Keeping the roof and walls from falling in was a big part of our job. Sometimes the walls would explode and move 20T pieces of machinery around so we tried not to be there when this happened. It was so dark there that if you turned the lights off, the only way you could tell something was infront of your face was if it touched you. But I’ve given up coal mining now and I’m trying to make some money from traveling around the world by motorcycle

  • emily8miller

    I’m a dance teacher.
    Contrary to popular belief, it’s NOT always all fun and games. Although I may not spend a full 8 hours each day in a studio in front of the kids (you can really only run classes from 4-9pm with school in session), I spend my (unpaid) mornings prepping for my classes for the day. When I get to the studio, I answer emails, process payments/mail, order costumes, cut music, etc. usually right up until kids walk in the door at 3:45. I typically teach non-stop for 4-5 hours nightly, stuffing quick snacks in my mouth between classes to stay fueled.
    Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE what I do. But sometimes I think people don’t realize all the other stuff that we do. Costuming the classes can be fun or can be a nightmare – backordered items, students with body issues, things not getting shipped in time for a show, exchanges that need to be made. And good luck if you have to deal with moody teenagers. And then there’s the bullying that’s so rampant these days, as well as over-committed students who barely make it to class because they are also involved in swimming/marching band/drama club/cheerleading/insert-activity-here. Not to mention some of the parents (ever heard of a little show called “Dance Moms”?). But, all in all, I feel pretty lucky that I have the job that I do. 🙂

  • Duane

    This is my first job. I’ve been employed with them for nearly 2 years. I used to be Tech Support, but am now a Data Manager and a writer of technical manuals for the our Systems Development Team. I’ll try to share about…all of them.

    As Tech Support:
    1) A lot of the stuff we do to fix our clients’ computers, we search for in Google. That means you can do it, too.

    2) Thank you’s mean a lot to us. Actually, thank you’s mean a lot to everybody. Even the security guard who opens the door for you.
    3) It’s okay when our clients can fix their own problems. But please don’t ever ever reformat office computers without creating a backup. Let us do it. The previous owners have feelings (and files) too.
    4) No Ma’am, we did not take or make modifications to your files. It is your call which folders you want to share over the network, we can’t just enter into your computer willy nilly.

    As Data Manager (we do a lot of Excel):
    1) Data cleaning isn’t as simple as most people think. It’s just tedious and time consuming; but we have to correct those 1000 misspelled words or names because standardization helps us in the future when we have to generate data summaries.

    2) We also googled how to use most of our formulas.

    3) I may not speak for the rest of us, but I enjoy listening to the stories of how we captured these data sets. I might even suggest better ways of organizing them.

    As a writer of manuals:
    – Yes, I do repeat statements.

  • jupo

    I’m studying to be a highschool-teacher. What you don’t know is how teachers in general behave amongst eachother:

    The main activity of teachers having there lunchbreak is gossiping about students. Adults gossiping about teenagers. They pretend it’s ok because students are the object of their jobs and they need eachothers advice on matters right? But in fact they just gossip about kids.

    • Elizabeth J.

      What looks like “gossip” is serving many purposes. The subtext is that we are sharing experiences and responses inside our classrooms and gauging co-worker response. We are bonding. We are decompressing. We are learning from each other.

    • James

      Like what kind of gossip? so and so is dating so and so? so and so fell asleep in class today again? so and so is so fucking obnoxious I wish they’d drop out?

  • C.G.

    I am an interpreter (American Sign Language). Common misconceptions about my job include:

    – ASL is an easy language to learn (Like any other language, it takes 5+ years of active dedication to become fluent; I have spent $60,000 to get a Master’s degree in Interpretation and to build my fluency).
    – ASL is universal for all deaf people (ASL is only used in America and Canada. Other countries have their own unique signed language, just like they do with spoken languages. Most notably, British Sign Language has nothing in common with ASL. An ASL user and BSL user meeting would be like trying having a conversation with someone who doesn’t know English and only speaks Swahili).
    – Sign language interpreters only work in schools (We work in all facets of life from elementary school to the Department of Defense to a hospital emergency room to a Boy Scout meeting to the President’s office to the hip hop concert. We are everywhere and spend many years building skills to effectively interpret in those situations).
    – It is easy to interpret into ASL because there is a sign for every English word (This would be like saying that Arabic has 100% equivalency on a lexical basis with English. ASL is its own unique language and there are many aspects of both ASL and English that are a challenge to interpret. We are not simply signing word for word when we work. We are navigating meaning, situational context, cultural norms, expectations of the speakers involved and more).
    – Sign language interpreters are just ‘signers’ (No, we are interpreters. Think the interpreters who work at the UN, except we get to do more stuff beyond just government work).
    – Finally: many people seem confused by how to work with an interpreter. Here is a helpful article that explains the Dos and Don’ts of working with an interpreter when you encounter a deaf person. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lydia-l-callis/working-with-a-sign-langu_1_b_5909288.html)

    • kevin

      How do you get the job of signing the lyrics at rock concerts? The lady that was doing it at the pearl Jam show I went to was awesome. I found myself watching her a lot of the time as she was so animated. I was curious though what she was signing when they played “yellow ledbetter” as no one knows the actual lyrics to that song haha.

      • C.G.

        It depends. Typically, the venue/band/festival hires and interpreter through an interpreting agency. The agency puts out a call to interpreters that have specific experience doing musical interpreting, and those with those skills sets get the job. Most music interpreting (also sometimes called platform interpreting) is very complicated to do well. It is not just signing along to the words. The interpreter sits down and looks at what the lyrics actually mean, and then tries to create an appropriate translation from that. There are lots of ASL students on youtube who try to interpret music but do it very very very badly.

        For an examples of good musical interpreting see:

        This is an interpretation created by students at a deaf camp (nearly everyone in this video is deaf themselves):

        Anything by D-PAN (Deaf Performance Artists Network) which is a group of deaf artists who interpret music:

        This popular interpreter:

        Friendly note: The job is called interpreting, not signing. 🙂 Signing is what deaf people do when they communicate – just like speaking is what we do when we use English or another spoken language. The act of translation between ASL and English is interpreting. I know it may not seem like a big deal, but to us interpreters it makes a big difference to be called interpreters.

      • C.G.

        Oh and one last thing I forgot- Facial expressions and body movements are part of the grammatical features of ASL. They are absolutely essential to the language. So when you see an interpreter who looks animated and who may be making lots of facial expressions, just remember that they are doing their job well and providing full communication access for the deaf people in the audience. 🙂

  • Michael

    I supply gasoline to a geographic area that has a total population on the order of 500,000 people. These 500,000 people pump about 15,000,000 gallons of gasoline every single day of the year.

    One tanker load of gasoline provides enough fuel to fill up ~800 cars.

    If you could put this much gasoline into your tank, and didn’t have to drag the weight around, you could drive a 30 mpg car around the world at the equator more than 10 times before running dry.

    One tanker load of diesel fuel provides enough fuel to fill up ~25 tractor-trailers.

    One tanker load of diesel fuel provides enough fuel to fill up ~1.5 locomotives.

    It takes 11 tanker loads of jet fuel to fill up one Airbus A380. (Yeah, I couldn’t believe that either. The jet holds 17 times more fuel than a locomotive, and gets fuel economy of about 0.114 mpg. Thrifty. Your business meeting is super important, I guess. I wouldn’t know, since flying is for people who make a lot more money than truck drivers.)

    If you loaded a standard tanker to full capacity with diesel fuel, it would weigh about 92,000 pounds, and be 12,000 pounds over gross. That would be an expensive overweight ticket.

    Swerving to miss a deer or some idiot in a car who pulls out in front of you is almost guaranteed to roll the truck over, and rolling the truck over is almost guaranteed to kill the driver.

    If a tanker rolls over, the insurance deductible is $1,000,000. Cleanup takes months, and involves removing many cubic fuck tons of dirt for decontamination to remove the petroleum and the dead driver’s bodily fluids.

    A typical .357 magnum shot from a carbine can kill a deer with a 158 grain projectile traveling in excess of 1,000 feet per second. A typical tanker loaded with diesel fuel can kill a deer with a 570,500,000 grain projectile traveling in excess of 95 feet per second.

    If a good sized buck jumps out of the woods in front of you, and you catch it mid-air with the radiator of a 2013 Freightliner Cascadia, the truck is immediately disabled, and the resulting damage costs $25,000 to repair. Ouch. (I was REALLY glad there was brown fur wedged into all the broken truck parts.)

    The guy who showed up to tow the damaged tanker hooked to the tractor, and towed tractor, loaded trailer, and all in a combination that weighed about 120,000 pounds. He didn’t wear his seat belt. He was also smoking cigarettes and flicking them out the window at the tanker. I think his last name was DuMass. I’m pretty sure I heard his balls clanging as he walked.

    If a tree falls across the road in a national forest, blowing SOS on your air horn won’t summon any Boy Scouts.

    You can’t do anything effective against a 2′ diameter tree with a KA-BAR or a Leatherman tool.

    If you take the vine that’s wrapped around the tree and tie it to your 18-wheeler, the vine will snap, but the 2′ diameter tree won’t budge.

    Backing a tanker 12 miles on a curvy mountain road to find a place to turn around and take the long way around the tree really, really sucks.

    Every single night I get approached by somebody who needs gas money, or a prostitute, or a prostitute who needs gas money. I look like Mr. Moneybags I guess. Also, all of these people are drug addicts.

    OK, I’m bored now.

    • annetea

      A good illustration of why my insurance agent insisted on giving every 16 year old being put on their parents’ policy her “Do not swerve. The safest thing to do is kill Bambi.” speech.

  • Kelly Benson

    I am a web developer – also known a programmer, software engineer, analyst programmer, software developer or code monkey.

    People often think a web developer is a web designer – it’s not. If you were building a house a web developer would be your builder/plumber/electrician while your web designer would be your painter/interior designer. But they’re both important and have some crossover in skills.

    Things about being in development that are unexpected are:
    – team environment – development is definitely not some nerd sitting in a corner on a computer,
    – culture – because the base skills are the same worldwide there are a lot of developers who move round so you get to team up with people from all over the place or it’s easy to get jobs in far flung places.
    – women – the rate of women in IT is dismal and seems to be in decline. I’m not sure why as development has so many pluses as a career choice.

    And it’s great having a job where a key skill is being able to google well 🙂

  • Jerry

    I’m a firefighter. Almost 20 years into my career in an urban/metro department.

    1) Most people don’t know that the efficiency of your fire department affects your
    homeowner’s insurance rates. Sometimes an increase in property tax is offset
    by reduction in insurance premiums. You should be informed and hold your local
    government accountable for how your tax dollars are spent.

    2) Our ladder truck was struck on the freeway recently, it saved firefighter and civilian lives
    because we blocked the lanes we were working in. I’m sorry it slows your
    commute but I assure you we will be out of there as soon as possible—I’m much more
    afraid of traffic than fire.

    3) 50% of on duty firefighter deaths are due to heart attacks. Sometimes this is due
    to lifestyle choices/diet, sometimes it’s not, but it’s ALWAYS within 24 hours
    of responding to an emergency.

    4) We do not install, maintain, or otherwise control fire alarms in buildings. I don’t like BS alarms anymore then you do. I will do everything in my power to stop BS alarms including calling a building inspector to cite the property manager if they fail to properly maintain their systems. Please don’t yell at me for the alarm going off.

    5) You should have a carbon monoxide detector.

  • Angela Riley

    I’m a stay at home mom of an almost 3 year old boy and 1 year old girl, and I think a lot of people think stay at home moms have such an easy job. When in reality, I work 12 hours a day, every.single.day. No weekends, no vacations, no sick days. I love what I do 100%, but it’s easy to get burnt out being a SAHM every so often.
    I make most of our food from scratch, do laundry almost every day (which is something I said I would never do), constantly clean my house, and am always busy during the day, but yet it’s hard to describe what I do all day, because it’s so routine that it’s all second nature to me.
    Because I do Babywise with my kids, we only leave the house right after breakfast for about an hour, or right after dinner. I am a stickler when it comes to naps and bedtime, and make sure we are home for nap/bedtime.

  • Jill

    I work at a University advising and teaching students. I receive phone calls from unhappy parents probably twice a semester. (When I was a student, my parents didn’t even know there was someone they could have called.)

    Most of the time, while a parent is telling me what I did wrong, it becomes really clear to me that the child is not sharing all of the information with the parent (or the child is throwing me under the bus to cover for her/his dropping the ball). As much as this generation is coddled, they really will excel on their own if you let them and have faith in the upbringing you provided; if you coddled them, it means they’ll be thrown into the deep end at some point, but they’ll do ok.

    For the younger readers: don’t be the student whose parent calls. Realize that by not talking to your parents and not giving them information, they call us. It does impact how I communicate with you in the future.

    For the parents: Don’t be the one who calls your child’s college professors. Your kid needs to and will figure it out. It might be painful for everyone, but we work to put them in situations of calculated risk so that they have a soft landing. One of the best things you can teach you child for college success is to be resourceful. Don’t solve their problems for them. Coach them and teach them how to navigate a system to solve their own problems.

    • Sarah

      I work at a university as well. The helicopter parents amaze me, they’re showing their adult children that they really don’t see them as adults at all.

  • Kory

    I’ve taught remedial math at an inner-city community college for 20 years. Every time I thought I was looking at a real slacker, a five-minute casual conversation would forcefully disabuse me of that notion. “My parents are dead and my brother has leukemia and I’m trying to take care of him, but I’ve never done this before…” “I work two jobs. I try to sleep on Thursdays.” “My wife has liver cancer now and stays on the couch. It’s hard for me to leave the house.” “I got locked out of the motel I was in and now I’m living in my car, I had to pawn my laptop so I go to the library to work online.” On and on, not asking for leniency with grades or deadlines, just sharing a bit with me after class in the hallway, or in my office. Most of them are fighting so hard against the worst obstacles life can contrive, but they just don’t quite know how to do college yet. They have my deepest respect and admiration.

    • Sarah

      Thank you for making yourself available and taking the time to listen and look beyond the exterior to the deeper issues.

  • Steven L

    I’m interning at a research laboratory working with skin cancer, and I intend to enter into science once I complete university. I find it interesting hearing about what people think it actually means to be a scientist versus what I’ve experienced so far. Note to scientists – this will probably differ from your experiences, this is just what I’ve seen.

    1) Scientists are easygoing people, even while trying to manage a large amount of work. In our lab, the researchers and research officers are essentially allowed to manage their research however they see fit, as long as they accomplish their goal to a sufficient standard. The researchers work when they need to, how they need to, and beyond that they can do what they want.

    2) Everyone in the lab is like a big extended family. We all have a healthy respect for one another, and the staff are incredibly welcoming of clueless nobodies straight out of high school like myself. The organization that manages the complex of labs I’m in accepts many interns, and acceptance isn’t restricted by something inane like final exam grades.

    3) Nobody here cares about anti-science activists. At all.

    4) Becoming a scientist is not a massively huge thing. The only thing you need to be a scientist is a genuine love of it. As long as you can stomach the awkward, changing working hours, the repetitiveness of lab work, and the ‘two steps forward one step back’ nature of it, while still wanting to come to work every day (well, most days), you can be a fantastic scientist.

    5) The world sees scientists as some Other Class of people, this impenetrable cabal of geniuses that the ‘ordinary person’ couldn’t possibly be a part of. This is perhaps the biggest misconception of them all. If you met any of us (I’m hesitant to group myself with scientists yet because I’m not really but whatever) you wouldn’t be able to tell what we do for a living. Just because our job involves amplifying DNA rather than stock returns, it doesn’t mean we consider ourselves above you, or anyone else. We’re just people over here, and that’s how we like it.

    Edit: what a long post. Whoops.

    Edit edit: is a stock return a thing? I never had an interest in business/econs stuff.

    • matt

      Accurate with the exception of number 3. That literally makes us die inside, because it goes against logic entirely.

      • Steven L

        Well, I think I didn’t phrase it correctly. I mean that while we do acknowledge them and very much dislike the idea of them, we’re not afraid of them, and they don’t affect the operation of our lab at all.

  • Raisa

    I work as a Coordinator at a non-government organization that works for technology commercialization for poor people- sounds interesting and noble? In my portfolio, technologies include toilets. Everyone poops and everyone needs a toilet but damn- what people do after pooping effects so much of the functionality of these toilets that even a good functional technology needs to be completely redesigned based on whether it will be used in Africa or Asia. Forget about all the other sound engineering or designing factors. There often is a non-functioning toilet and I often spend hours with the technical teams thinking about these behavior aspects and finding ways to research it more effectively. It’s interesting, I absolutely love my job but looking at pictures of non-functioning toilet it not fun- at all.

    • Elizabeth J.

      What.. does that mean… “behavior aspects”… “after pooping”? More information requested.

      • Raisa

        In some country people use water to clean themselves after pooping. Based on this one behavior combined with different scenarios of using more water or less water over a period, you end up having poop stuck in the pipes and not flushed properly or flooded toilet pit with poop everywhere.

  • Thrifter

    I worked at a thrift store for a short period of time. For being an operation that generally is seen as being earth friendly, I was amazed by the amount of things we threw away. A lot of times it’s because people snuck in donations we didn’t accept and therefore weren’t allowed to sell due to liability (such as car seats or toys- it’s too much to keep up with the safety recalls), or items would waste space on the floor because we knew they would not sell quickly (entertainment centers, encycopedia sets etc.). Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, or, the sorter of the incoming donations. I’ve rescued many vintage items being thrown out by a coworker who saw them as “old” or “outdated” items, and I found that they were selling for decent money online. Waste also happens simply because we do not have the space to store it. If the book section on the floor is full and the standby book storage in the back is full, most of the incoming books will get thrown away unless they are top notch quality. Some books are donated to other charities or prisons if there is an ambassador from these places who comes in regularly to take them.

    • James

      My girlfriend LOVES shopping at thrift stores so this was interesting, thanks

  • Krusty Shakelford

    I used to do research on animals (mice, rats, rabbits). One technique I mastered was the isolated heart where I dissect a rat heart and connect the aorta to an apparatus that pumped osmoticaly balanced solution through the heart and kept it beating for over an hour. Free from the influences of the body and blood, I was able to test any compound or drug on the heart’s function (EKG, coronary flow, atrial pressure, etc.).

    • Kat

      Without revealing any trade secrets, did the drug have any effect on the heart’s function for that hour? I have no experience with this field. Were the research results worth keeping the animals in cages all their lives and then killing them earlier than their life expectancy? Did it help anyone? I’m so divided over this question. Have you read Ursula Le Guinn’s short story about Omelas?

      • Krusty Shakelford

        I tested many drugs. I observed a whole range of effects. My work was a minuscule fraction to the volume of knowledge scientists contribute to humanity. At first, the animals were just objects to me. I later struggled with the fact that I had mortal power over another life form. I would never go back (I don’t even kill spiders anymore), but I fully support animal research. But to answer your question, every bit of research on animals helps us in some way. We all have benefited from animal research in one form or another. I’ve google searched Omela’s and will read it tonight.

      • juliet

        “Those Who Walk Away from Omelas” changed my life and was the reason I chose to become a teacher. I teach English and creative writing at the high school level. I assign that story every year and wait and see whose life it changes too (which is the best part of my job.)

  • ScHmo

    you know that star trek episode (you mean there’s only one?) where spock doesn’t have enough information to come up with an informed answer and kirk says “well, give it your best guess”, and then we get the raised eyebrow? that happens surprisingly often in the engineering business. not enough info? can’t determine how big an electrical service is needed? what size that beam should be? how deep that water line is buried? ah, it’s usually this and this because it’s been that and that on the last job. DOH! if i had a nickel for every time some one guessed. engineers are great if they have all the data, and if they don’t… well, let’s just say spock is a much better guesser.

  • Little Shit of an Intern

    It’s very possible your awesome novel manuscript got rejected by that literary agent/publisher because the little shit of an intern in charge of the first read got dumped/evicted/served subpar espresso that day.

    Don’t give up 🙂

  • James Noyes

    My job has fewer misconceptions than the university I graduated from, so I’ll write about that instead. I graduated from Harvard University. Here are some misconceptions about it.

    1. There is rampant grade inflation: there is grade inflation up to the B range for sure, but it’s stupendously difficult to get an A/A-. The reason for this is that most classes grade on a bell curve where the middle of the bell is a B. So no matter what your numeric score is, you have to beat most of the other students to get an A. This leads to extreme competition, and to a situation where everyone seems to have a decent GPA, but very few people have a great GPA. In short: it’s easy to graduate from Harvard, it’s extremely difficult to graduate with a great GPA.

    2. Harvard graduates get big $$ jobs when they graduate: in fact, most of the really-well-paying-right-out-of-undergrad jobs (investment banking, consulting) recruit mainly from Ivy League or comparable universities, and only those with outstanding GPAs. This makes the competition mentioned in (1) more vicious and puts even more pressure on getting a great GPA, which is in fact an extremely difficult thing to do. The majority of graduates go on to do a regular-paying corporate job (me), teaching, or post-graduate work.

    3. Many Harvard undergrads are the sons and daughters of wealthy Harvard graduates: Harvard did away with legacy admissions some time ago and can afford to subsidize or waive tuition for all who need it. As a result, most of my peers came from middle class or lower, and were extremely hardworking kids who needed it. My roommates were: the son of poor ethiopian immigrants, the son of poor Cuban immigrants, the son of poor Chinese immigrants, two sons of white middle class parents, and one wealthy white kid with no familial ties to the University.

    4. Harvard’s endowment is so vast it could afford to waive tuition for everyone for decades, but it doesn’t because it is greedy: Harvard’s endowment is vast, but every dollar comes with strings attached by the donors. There is in fact very little donated to support undergraduate tuition, and the school frantically tries to fundraise every year so that it can bankroll the generous financial aid program mentioned in (3).

    5. Harvard is the best college in America/the world: let’s be honest, education is what you make of it. Every year there are kids who will get more out of their community college education because they applied themselves, than my Harvard classmates who never attended class and coasted on B- grades into a not-special job. What Harvard has is a great research faculty and The Biggest Goddamn Library Outside Of Congress. Many smaller, teaching-focused schools (Williams, Amherst, etc) are probably better for undergrad education than Harvard.

    6. The movie The Social Network accurately depicts the social scene at Harvard: Actually this isn’t a misconception. What is depicted in that movie is spot on where the social scene is concerned (can’t say the same for the depicition of Zuckerberg and the other main characters). The Final Clubs dominate the social scene because their old, old money allows them to have the best parties that all the girls want to go to, even though the membership has by far the worst reputation of all the men on campus. The social scene is broken, and will be and until the school decides to spend time and money on fixing it, instead of declaring the clubs “unofficial” and wiping their hands of any responsibility of the awful things that happen within.

    • AllisonErin

      This was super interesting! Thanks!

    • patty

      totally agree, and to add to #5 – in my experience, all any of the faculty really cared about was the graduate students. most undergraduates spend their time in massive 200 to 800-person lecture classes, and the only discussion time you get with anyone is with…a graduate student. unless you are super-specialized in the cell biology of marmots, in which case that one bio professor might care about you.

  • Elizabeth J.

    Teaching is a drug. It can be what I imagine a stand-up comic feels like after a good set. You write your material, you engage your audience, they respond and a “moment” happens. It doesn’t happen every day or even every week. But you strive for it.

    There’s a moment all experienced teachers recognize when a student’s guard is down and their brain is WIDE OPEN… the face has a certain look. You move quickly and skillfully when you see that look because that’s when whatever you say is going to stay with them their whole lives and you want to make it count.

    Yes, there are the hecklers and dead audiences but the successes make it worth it.

    And I make a good salary. 70K+ after fifteen years of teaching in rural California plus full, cadillac benefits for 180 work days .

    My original career was a registered physical therapist. This is so, so much better.

    • PinkTheBush

      Some of the most profound role models I’ve ever had were teachers and professors. I am absolutely *terrible* at math. Just… terrible. And, you know, when something doesn’t come naturally for you, the struggle can feel embarrassing and demoralizing. In middle school, I had a math teacher who was just beyond patient. She had a way of explaining the content that somehow bypassed that math-hating wall in my brain and for a time, everything made sense. Suddenly I was succeeding, and the little homework, quiz, and test victories — my god, they felt amazing. I’ll never forget that woman. Learning from a good teacher is a drug, too.

      • Michael

        One of the more depressing moments of my life was the day I went to high school orientation for my oldest kid, and got to meet one of my most influential teachers after ~20 years.

        It was her first year, and I was her best student. I have a plaque on my wall to commemorate and corroborate the memory. For two decades and change I operated under the delusion that I was somehow special to that teacher, but when I met her ~20 years later, she just yelled at me for making her feel old, and kicked me out of her classroom very brusquely.

        That was rude, and hard on the ego, but enlightening.

        • Elizabeth J.

          Wait, what? You returned to your previous high school with your own kid in tow and she wasn’t thrilled to see you? That’s just weird. Teachers love seeing their old students even when the moment is bathed in the awkward “Wow, we’re both a lot older, aren’t we?” sensation.

          I hope there’s some other way to see that painful moment so your good memories aren’t totally ruined. Maybe she was having a colossally bad day or life of late was going poorly for her.

          • Michael

            I had a conversation with my daughter just the other day, and she mentioned that this teacher had something snide to say about me making her feel old. This is two kids and seven years after the incident in question.

            I detect no wry humor or irony in any of this. Sometimes there isn’t anything deeper than the surface. Sometimes people are just assholes.

            It happens.

            • Elizabeth J.

              You will always be younger than she is so you have that going for you, which is nice.

    • Ai Po

      Hi Elizabeth (: I can totally relate to your post. I am a nurse by profession but I have experienced teaching once and since been hooked to it. I really love teaching especially when your students are satisfied, as you can see from their faces and also by what they say, and it is much more satisfying than anything else. I guess my vocation is teaching and I love it (:

      • Elizabeth J.

        What do you think of healthcare? I did PT for many years, even overlapped these professions but by the time I left, I was totally disgusted by the way we treat geriatric patients. It just seems like we poke, cut and overmedicate them to squeeze one last buck out of them. It shortens their lives AND reduces the quality of the time they have left!

        I was the point person for dragging these really ill people up and down the halls– at stupendous cost and profit, of course. Horrible. It’s too bad we can’t change end-of-life care into something of total comfort and respect.

        Are you a nursing school teacher?

  • wah wah wee wah

    in Automotive Aftermarket, there are 3 main things that people don’t even realize a dealership is doing when selling/offering you a service.

    1. They will most likely not be doing the job, instead they will find the cheapest shop in the area that can get it done the fastest which equals to. A. bad or cheap parts, B. rushed work C. double the price you would pay said shop in the first place

    2. You know that part you’re looking for desperately that may or may not fix your car…there’s a reason you’ll never find it at a dealership…Parts Dept doesn’t get paid commission and are always looking enough stuff up for their oil tech/salesmen and catching up with new parts whenever a new model car arrives. Which means pretty much…they ain’t got time for that.

    3. When you buy a new car, they will sell you on as much as they can, for as much as they can…hide it in the financing department…and let’s face it, you will most likely be paying 300% markup on everything…not to mention the price of the car. Haggling is a gimmick….even if you manage to take $2000 off the tag price….they will already have $5000 profit from the get go and there is nothing you can do to get that low.

    • Michael

      I love those fake rebates everybody offers. Wow, you can save $5,000 on this brand new truck because your last name starts with a letter between A and Z and that makes you really special and unique. Here, have a cold day-old cheeseburger and a tiny bottle of water while you wait! We’re going to go in the office and bullshit about the latest football game for half an hour to make you anxious and impatient.

      The thing I find the most annoying is that all of this stuff is codified into state laws everywhere. I heard some piece on the radio about how somebody wanted to revolutionize the whole market by selling direct from a website. He got an audience with Bill Ford, I think it was, and Ford or whoever shot him down instantly. It would be highly illegal to bypass the whole automotive sales establishment by making direct sales like that.

      I’m thinking the various legislators responsible for writing this kind of thing into the law books got great deals on new cars.

  • Not A Doctor Person

    Well I’m a final year medical student. I’m sure plenty of
    people in the medical profession will share their stories here as well, but
    here are some things I was surprised to find out:

    According to my psych rotation, up to 30% of
    doctors have Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Okay, in truth, by the time
    that statistic was shared with me, it didn’t
    surprise me.

    We have a constant battle in my country (South Africa)
    between doctors working for the national health system and doctors working
    privately. Most assumptions are that the ones working for the state are the
    selfless heroes of the everyday, willing to battle the harsh hours, poor pay,
    underequipped hospitals and disgusting toilets in order to fight for the
    underdogs, the ill who cannot take care of themselves in the carpeted well fed
    luxuries we privileged people expect.

    Okay, so to be fair, some of them are exactly that awesome, and they work in smaller hospitals where I don’t see them. But I’d say about 80% (a conservative estimate) of these doctors are douchebags,
    whose main goal in life is to show off, become big names and be rude to smaller
    doctors. Meanwhile, those who work in private tend to be humble, kind and
    giving of their time.

    The reason for this paradox is that, in our
    country, the only way to gain recognition is to be affiliated with a university,
    and our universities are affiliated with the state hospitals. SO if you’re one
    of the 30% of the profession with Narcissistic Personality Disorder and you need
    your ego bloated on a larger scale than impressing strangers at cocktail
    parties, you have to stick to state hospitals. This also, unfortunately, means
    you have to spend more time talking to patients and teaching students, two
    activities you seriously don’t enjoy.


    I dunno how many of you watch Grey’s Anatomy.
    But. Okay, I’m not gonna get into the rant about the accuracy of the medicine.
    Actually, they’re not bad. What I do find hilarious is how obsessively
    enthusiastic they are about doing things.

    Aside from the gunners, for the most part, we are not that excited about life. We don’t fight each other to see a patient,backstab to perform procedures or stay extra hours at the hospital just for
    funsies. Sure, it’s exciting at first, but scrubbing in to assist in surgeries
    gets old after ten minutes of standing at an angle a contortionist would be
    proud of, trying to retract in the opposite direction without snapping your
    elbow in two while the surgeons unhelpfully say things like, “Can you see that?”
    Or after any C-section.

    To extend that, C-sections are the absolute
    worst surgeries I’ve ever witnessed. Since they’re so common, I don’t think
    people expect them to be so rough. I sure didn’t. Graphic imagery alert: The
    cut in the uterus is only slightly thanks to a scalpel. What happens is they
    make a relatively small horizontal cut with the scalpel and then the guys on
    each side put their fingers into the angles of the cut and they lean back,
    pulling with their entire body weights to
    tear the cut wider. This is supposed to be less traumatic. Whatever. It’s
    hugely unpleasant for me; I can’t fathom how the uterus feels about it.


    I should probably find something nice to say as
    well. But I’m writing final exams right now, so I’m feeling pretty dark, with
    my main desire being to yell THESE PEOPLE ARE ALL COMPLETE MORONS! (contrary to
    popular belief, being a doctor is not synonymous with intelligence) And then to
    blast them all with a paintball gun.

    If you want to smile, watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EtAG3e3JLNI

    • Steven L

      I was born via C-section. Thank you for that wonderful mental image of that happening to my mother.

      Nice to hear from a fellow saath efrikan. Keep up the good work.

    • sacupa

      Forget”Grey’s anatomy”, surprisingly it seems like “Scrubs” is much closer to reality..

    • Rick

      my God, you people are Hi-larious!

    • Hilarious! I used to work for a doctor who has Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I used to call it his God Complex.

    • a fellow one

      Greetings. I’m also a med student, living in Brazil.

      It is good to hear from you, and I say things are quite similar. Here in my country we have two health systems: the public one, wich is accessible to everyone without restrictions; and the parallel private one.

      The “evolution” of the average doctor would be work for the public system for a couple of years, get a specialization degree and then start working for both systems until you can quit the public job (I’d rather say jobs, because it is common to work in more than two places. Oh and don’t mind if the day has less hours than the sum of your contracts’ weekly hours do)
      Then, the goal for achieving that glamour is being a private-only. To work in the few first-world class hospitals we have.

      Very few are interested in staying forever in the public system because there are almost none fine career plans. Also we don’t seem to have this requirement of state hospitals.
      Surprisingly, the “30%” are not only in the private consultories, but teaching at the schools as well. The payment is low and there is not proudness in being a professor anymore. So they surely do for their ego fulfillment reasons. I guess some are really interested in the art of teaching. But others maybe just unconsciously see us students as a indirect way of therapy. They speak whathever they want, whenever they want, and even can turn us into punching bags. Not literally for all I’ve seen.

      And yes, the narcissistic personality disorder prevalence is kinda high, as you said. And almost all of those 70% have narcissistic traits. But, most doctors are just fine, though, not everyone is a dickhead. Do have faith in some of us.

      • L

        Never thought about the therapy angle, but it sure makes sense. I’ve never seen old people saying such such absurd BS as in class.

  • Valerie

    I’m a cake decorator at an upscale grocery store.

    This sounds glamorous, but 80% of my job is assembly line drudgery. I’ve made the same 15-20 types of cakes 5 days a week for almost three years, and I generally make 2-6 of the same cake at once.

    The best and worst part of my job is working with customers for special orders. I get a lot of joy out of taking a vague idea and turning it into something you’re really happy with. On the flip side, I really dislike recreating Pinterest cakes, and 1st birthday cakes are by far the worst.

    My job is very subjective. There is a base line price and level of quality that is expected of me, but beyond that how much work I do and how much I charge is really up to me. If you’re sweet and considerate, I’m much more likely to work harder for you and charge you less for it. If you’re rude and obnoxious, I will do the minimum and charge you extra for it. It pays to be polite!

  • DarkEnergy

    I am a Math Instructor at a company called Mathnasium.

    I HATE Common Core mathematics. I’ve been working there for a little over a year and every time a student is working on Common Core required assignments, it is confusing and they hate it. I think that the content that Common Core is trying to teach is important to learn. But, the way it is being taught is unnecessarily confusing and I wish I knew WHY they are teaching it this way.

    • WarpedCompass

      As a parent with kids just starting school, I’m curious. I’ve heard a lot of rumors about the Common Core stuff. What is unnecessarily confusing about it? Do they just pick bad methods for solving problems? How should it be taught differently?

  • good_morning_laos

    I am the marketing manager for an elephant riding camp in Luang Prabang in Laos.
    Surprising fact about my job: We need a marketing manager!

    It is really great though to be given this chance to work in such a wonderful part of the world. It is also great that even in the middle of the Laotian jungle, we can still get wifi, I guess the world really is completely connected nowadays?
    My job is to increase the amount of guests coming to our camp so that we can continue to rescue elephants from the logging industry, really great and I am happy with it.

    • Brian Gottfried

      I always find companies in niche markets like these intensely interesting. If you’re able/willing to answer some questions about your company, I’d love to know!
      -How many customers do you serve (roughly) on an annual basis?
      -Is there a focus on short day trips? Or are expeditions normally multi-day excursions?
      -Are your employees largely brought in internationally based on skills? Or from people in the area that have past experience?
      -Presuming you have employees who are international or not from the area, do they transition well to living in what I assume is a relatively remote area? Or are they able to commute in from a more urbanized area to where the trips are taken?
      -Do you have a specific “type” of customer you get more often than not? Or is it pretty much a grab bag?
      -How do you find your customers find you normally? Word of mouth? Ads? Social Media?
      -What is interaction with the Laotian government like? Do they consider companies like yours as tourism draws?
      -Do you have competition from other companies? If so, is it based on services? Or expertise? Or areas of travel?
      -Can you elaborate on how you get the elephants/where they come from?
      -What are the competing interests that you have to worry about? (It sounds like the logging industry is one of them!)

  • ariel4thou

    I am an Independent Piano Teacher.

    1. Because I teach mostly children who are in school during the day, my working shift usually starts at 3:00 p.m. and ends at 8:00 p.m. Which means I hardly every get to see concerts 🙁

    2. My industry isn’t regulated. Anybody who can convince someone to pay them for it can be an Independent Piano Teacher; this is perfectly legal. That’s right. Have they had even one lesson themselves? Perhaps not. But they still can give piano lessons. Often, people without credentials charge very little, because — well, because they don’t even know what the going rate is.

    3. Most of my potential clientele is highly uninformed about what it takes to be a good piano teacher or a good piano student. So they haven’t any idea how to contract services. Many of them judge solely based on price. HUGE MISTAKE, if you’re going the cheap route because … See No. 2, above.

    4. Furthermore, if the parents of my students haven’t had good lessons themselves, they may not be able to discern good playing from bad. So they may think their child is improving when in actuality … they kinda stink. Lotsa fast notes played poorly ain’t art.

    • Elizabeth J.

      How true! Early in my music teaching career, I took on private students in addition to my classroom career. Parents were happy to just drop kids off and give me money. I was not very good when I started. But mistakes are the best teachers and I am much better now.

      “Lotsa fast notes played poorly ain’t art.” HA, yes! It drives them crazy to make them play s-l-o-w-l-y, doesn’t it? “The only way to play fast well is to learn slow.

  • In IT industry I was surprised to learn that the desktop operating system (windows) was a smaller part of what made every thing work. The biggest part was played by a different operating system call linux / unix. Linux is the most used operating system world wide and it is given away for free. It just does not sit on most desktops and so is invisible to most people who are using it.

    Check out this promo.

    It dominates the super computer arena, it dominates most of the IT infrusture on the internet and in fortune 500 companies. All the data pipes that move information across the internet, devices called routers are predominantly running linux. The internet we today is because the most used operating system for technical and innovative work done is linux.

    And it is given away for free, not just to use but in its entirety. Meaning you can make any changes you wish to linux. To make in run on a TV, a smart phone, a desktop computer, super computer, mainframe, server, car, washing machine, watch etc. It is truly amazing, some thing free, and community developed keeps the capitalist world economy running. There is some much to get how it is collaboratively developed.

  • The Gingerbeardman


    I started writing this post antagonizing the way people view architecture but decided to change for fear of being ‘too negative’. Let me just say that it’s not nearly as fun as it is being projected in the media and society and the job opportunities are pretty slim.

    Some fun facts:

    1) You know that cool guy at parties; with the skinnys, facial hair and John Lennon glasses. That guy is probably an architect…and those glasses are not John Lennon glasses; they are glasses made famous by a guy called Le Corbusier. He was an extraordinary architect at the beginning of the 20th century and had a major impact on how architects design buildings…oh, and that is also where the ‘cool guy’ facade ends.

    2) We are trained to ‘snag’. It is the process of walking through a building after it is built and pointing out the mistakes for the builder to fix. It serves a good purpose since you ensure the quality of a project. The problem is that after you start learning to see the mistakes, you pick up mistakes EVERYWHERE. You know that situation when you are sitting in a business meeting and you see a mounted portrait on the opposite wall, and that portrait is just slightly skew, and for the life of you, you cannot… possibly… listen.. to… a… word.. he…is…saying…unless…that…portrait..is…re…aligned!
    That is the feeling architects sit with 24/7. Except, it includes all kinds of things like ceiling tees, cornices, carpet tiles, electrical sockets. It is a constant source of frustration, everywhere.

    3) Architects are more philosophical than technical. That is possibly why most architects are slightly unhinged. We tend to go on and on and on about the meaning of this white wall or that roof slope and most people don’t even realise it. This makes the career quite interesting. Especially when you study some internationally renowned projects. Those buildings are famous, not because they are pretty (most of the time they aren’t). They are famous because they mean something. They’ve got an inherent philosophical idea at its foundation (pun intended) that affects society. One of the best architects to use philosophical principles to affect society is a guy called Rem Koolhaas.

    4) Oh yeah, and architects do not make a lot of money. Engineer’s do. Architects can be aligned with artists and rock stars in terms of the occupational success ratio. This is a common mistake that people make about architects. They must have a passion for design and philosophy. Otherwise they won’t make it.

    • vivi

      My gf is an architect and she couldnt stop laughing while reading it. You are absolutely true.

    • Brad

      Addendum #1

      1) This is a stereotype, though it is a stereotype for a good reason. And to reinforce the stereotype we also wear black and are pale.

      2) Also code violations, or things that would be code violations if this were a new building. Especially if they are in regards to handicap accessibility or fire protection.

      3) There are two types of architects. Type one likes drawing. Type two likes talking. Notice, neither type likes math. …or shop drawings.

      4) I should have been a cartoonist instead. I’d get to draw more and wouldn’t make that much less.

      Additional comments;
      5) We do like Frank Lloyd Wright. We’re just tired of talking about him because there are so many other notable architects.

      6) We have lots and lots and lots of stories about our time in college, mostly about something we refer to as “studio”. We’re sorry for making you listen to our endless stories and inside jokes about studio.

      7) We almost always know where the bathrooms, stairs and elevators are in any building regardless of whether we’ve ever been there or not.

      • The Gingerbeardman

        Number 7 is very true

  • Karan Rajpal

    I work in Marketing in a top notch firm in India. In my country, regardless of which company I worked with, if I told someone I work in Marketing, they automatically thought I’m a Sales person. Unfortunately (or fortunately), I’ve worked in Insurance and now Real Estate, two sectors thought to have really low entry barriers when it comes to hiring sales staff. So mostly, outside of peers, most people think less of my job than it is. And I’ve stopped caring.

  • Hi I’m an actuary. I earn my living by making up numbers! 😉 Jokes aside, I spend a tremendous amount of time in performing a lot of calculations and analysing when we expect people to die/how long they survive, when we expect people to withdraw their insurance policies, how much return we expect to earn on our investments and how all of this impacts various parties involved.

    In other words, I try to make sense of a hugely complicated and large data by identifying trends. I also help the business make crucial decisions on whether to venture into a new area/product based on how much profits that venture can make. I also help companies determine and monitor the amount of money they need now and also in the future and avoid going bankrupt.

    It does sound interesting, yes? 🙂

    • Barry Geibel

      So at a very basic level, you have control over what things are pursued by a business and what things aren’t? Just hypothetically, how plausible would it be for you to take a bribe over- for instance- which medical technologies are being developed and which aren’t?

  • RegardtSA

    I’m an auditor (boring right?) What’s interesting is A) that most people think auditors work just with numbers and B) that no one ever likes their auditors who perform the audit on their financials and C) that all auditors are boring.

    For A) you would be surprised to know how much time we actually spend corresponding and talking to clients, clients’ staff, organizing meetings and explaining complex accounting issues (what is deferred taxation?) to clients that just don’t understand why they have to disclose “this or that” or why they can’t change “that number”.

    We also vent and joke a lot about the clients’ abilities (mostly meager) even though they run (in most cases) a rather successful business and are highly educated people (or supposed to be anyway).

    For B) we are actually obliged to be ONLY professional when working with clients to maintain our objectivity and independence. Making friends and being overly friendly with clients is therefore discouraged. We are after-all only there to do our job. And if you give us what we ask for and document and remember why you do the things that you do in those records of yours the entire year long we will be out of your hair as soon as we possibly can.

    On C) all I can say is that it is mostly true! Not all of us are the boring financial type nerds, obsessed with tax law and accounting principles, some of us watch football (soccer) and participate in hobbies and even like to broaden our minds horizons (such as reading and actively following WBW). This paragraph is starting to feel very defensive now so I’ll stop writing now, haha.

    This dinner table is a grand idea guys, love it!

    Signed Auditor from South Africa.

  • G.P. Goodall

    I’m an accountant. Last week I had to kill a man with my bare hands and bury him in the woods.

  • Graeme

    People are surprise when they find out that, despite having taught fire safety for ten years, I was never a fireman.

    • Graeme


  • dev

    I’m a software developer with 20 years of experience. What still surprises me and is not known by a lot of people is how poorly written most apps and websites are. If the site is developed for a client, it’s usually a low-budget over-schedule junk where the developer was forced to cut corners and rush to finish all the unneccesary features late at night before launch day.

    Then there’s security. Even large mature projects that power most of the internet are full of security holes that make you cringe. Heartbleed, shellshock, etc. You need to constantly keep track of these things before someone takes your site down. Most people don’t and everything is just standing together like a house of cards.

    Weinberg’s Second Law: If builders built buildings the way programmers wrote programs, then the first woodpecker that came along would destroy civilization.

    • Rick

      I laughed for 10 minutes after I read this, whoa ho!

    • Brian Gottfried

      Good god, security as a developer is a terrifying thought. My limited experience with security work as a CS student showed that in order to effectively defend against security attacks, you need to have intimate understanding of your development, the language it’s built on, and the OS or server architecture it’s running on, all while trying to think of all the ways it COULD be broken so you can patch them before someone exploits a weakness.

  • Charlotte Van Den Heuvel

    I work for an indian pharma company in Europe and my boss almost only hires women as sales reps because they work harder for less money.

  • Anneka Pearton

    I run my own piano school. I have been teaching about 100 students every week for the last 15 years and I love it. The method I use is based on the premise that all people by nature are musical and very capable of learning how to play, and indeed I have never had one student that wouldn’t learn song after song and over time become a fine player.

    One of the things that is different with this method is that we don’t start off with teaching people how to read, just like you don’t teach kids how to speak by teaching them the alphabet and how to read, so that they end up only being able to speak from a script. When I meet piano players they’re often either people that have had years of lessons, but they apologise and say they’re not very good and they can’t play anything without their music, or they play beautifully, but then they apologise and say they’re not very good, they just taught themselves and they can’t even read music. And both types of people think there’s something wrong with them, whereas I believe that by the way we commonly teach music in Western society we’ve perpetuated this myth that making music is only for the privileged few.

    When I take my students through the reading process they already have their primary connection with the piano, and they are familiar with all the patterns, chords, themes and “landscapes” in the music and actually also become much better music readers (and writers) in the long run. I am loving YouTube for instrument learning also and I look forward to seeing its impact on musicianship over the next few decades. Oh yeah, I also teach my students in groups of 8 – 10, which works fantastically.

  • Guest

    I act as the HR in the company…and nobody would guess that there’s a little bit of dishonesty involved in this department to protect the company…mmmm…

    • Valerie

      Oh no, I figured that out a while ago, and I think most of my coworkers have too. HR is not there to protect workers, it’s there to protect the company.

  • Doctor

    – Your day always starts too early. And no amount of coffee can change that.
    – Ward rounds take forever. Literally forever. Usually only the consultant is paying attention to what he’s saying. Everyone else is bored out of their minds and thinking one of two things: 1. My feet hurt. 2. Food fantasy
    – Medical interns are glorified personal assistants.
    – Boxes marked “Human Blood” make really useful pillows/leaning posts on call.
    – A good way to pass the hours on call is to check your blood glucose and haemoglobin every half an hour.
    – Nobody can prepare you for the number of times you’re at risk of being covered in shit.
    – We like patients. Unless they’re mean to us. Then we don’t like them. We’re pretty simple that way.
    – Food becomes your main goal in life.
    – The vast majority of your hours are spent, not actually doing procedures, but trying to find the equipment you need in order to do it. The hardest thing to find is a pair of scissors.
    – The emblem of medicine should be a pen, not a stethoscope, as can be illustrated by the following reactions:
    Bob: Damn, I lost my stethoscope. Can I borrow yours?
    Sue: Sure.
    Bob: @#$&%!!!! Where the $#%@ is it?!
    Sue: *bolts*

    • Rob

      “Nobody can prepare you for the number of times you’re at risk of being covered in shit.” Tea came out my nose.

  • Software Developer. The average developer writes only 10-15 lines of code per day (according to a podcast on .NET Rocks). The rest of our time is spent thinking, scribbling, editing, talking, eating, drinking, and googling.

    • JP Atiaga

      Software Developer too: Lines of code are actually the result of thinking, googling, refactoring, etc. So 10 good lines of code are not like 10 likes of copywriting, they are the solution to a larger problem.

      • Melissa

        And to get even 10 good lines of copywriting takes a lot of googling, thinking, scribbling, talking, eating and hundreds of other killed/not approved lines of copywriting.

    • Barry Geibel

      Even in school for C++ programming, most of my time was spent drawing diagrams on notebook paper and writing super-small functions (5-10) lines. I still hated it though, so I changed to Network administration.

  • Bibo

    Hi, I’m from Italy and I work in Marketing for a no profit organization. I successfully graduated in Marketing, I worked for multinational companies and now I work in fundraising. Maybe you could think: wow, you have experience, and now your job means something more than just selling more and more lipsticks! Well, this was my intention when I switched profit for no profit, but now I know 3 thruths:
    1) you work exactly like in a company, but you are paid way less, and not compensated at all by good purpose. Associations are managed like companies, you would expect a more ethic environmente or a more friendly and collaborative one. It is not.
    2) it will be very difficult for you to come back to profit, nobody will take you seriously
    3) everybody, and I say everybody out the industry, will think you are just someone who ask for some money, without having to work a lot about strategies and targets and kpi.
    In the end, it is so frustrating.

    • wakagi

      Could I ask what kind of non-profit organization you’re working for?

      • Bibo

        A big one, I’d rather not say more…but I know this is a common feeling among my colleagues 🙁 Do you have a different experience?

        • wakagi

          No, i’m still in college and have been considering going into an environmental non-profit organization. That is why I was wondering if the situation is the same in that strand of non-profits—because your post certainly made me think again. Thank you. 🙂

          • Bibo

            The situation I described is based on my experience in Italy, but I know from my foreign colleagues that is USA and UK there is a very different attitude about no profit and working as a fundraiser has a bigger acknowledgment there than here, so good luck!
            Furthermore, let me tell you that you are young, it is right for you to pursue a passion and to try different experiences…the important is to recognize early if something is not giving you what you expect, and than don’t be afraid to quit it and to try another road.
            I understood signals too late and now as a 30-something it is not so simple to start again and to risk to pursue another path, both for my age and for other reasons (family, mortgage, etc)…but I don’t give up 😉

    • curlychica

      I have been in a similar situation. I would suggest switching over to a university. People will take you more seriously and it is a good mix between non-profit and profit.

      • Bibo

        thank you for your advice! Unfortunately here in Italy it not so easy to have an access in the University world but I could try…

  • Criminal Appeals Lawyer

    Broad category: the myriad ways defendants get screwed

    – Felony Murder. That means you can be convicted of 1st degree/capital murder (at least in my states) because you were in the course of committing some other felony with the one who actually pulled the trigger. So, say you and another person “Chris” go out to break into a closed store that you think is empty and you believe Chris is unarmed. Turns out you’re wrong on both counts. Someone is there, and Chris kills him. You did nothing. You were waiting in the car. And Chris is smarter than you, and has been in trouble before so she knows the game. She “cooperates” and testifies against you. She gets reduced charges and a few years in a plea deal, while you get life or even the death penalty. Perfectly fine with our criminal justice system. My guess is that the law was enacted so that a mob boss or someone who ordered a killing couldn’t walk, but it’s used in ways I simply can’t believe.

    – Innocence v. Fair Trial. As Scalia said, innocence is not a proper basis to have a conviction/sentence (even a death sentence — he said this while reviewing a capital case) overturned, as long as the defendant received a “fair trial.” Fair trial means it met the constitutional minimums, which are remarkably low.

    – Pleas. The vast majority of defendants plead. Something like 95%. That means most cases are not decided by the courts but by prosecutors, who have vast discretion. Lots of these are under pressure. What would you do if the State claimed to have rock solid evidence against you and you could choose either 10 years on a plea or they would go after a life sentence? Tough choice.

    – As a society, we’re paying little/no attention to what happens after arrest. We assume guilt. Think about it: when you hear on the news that police have caught the guy that’s been [ whatever ], don’t you breathe a sigh of relief, dust off your hands, and that’s the end of that? Unless it’s a truly sensational case, then we might pick up again later, but usually, we know nothing about arrest, booking, arraignment, jail, hearings, jury selection, trial, sentencing, prison, release, re-entry, consequences of living with a felony record.

    – Jail/prison. It’s mostly neither a country club nor an insanely violent place. Most people say it’s the filth, noise and unending boredom.

    – Jail/prison and $$$$. What’s available to inmates varies (education, phone calls, work, visits, etc.), but the facilities that I’m familiar with have “canteens” from which inmates can buy things like toothpaste and other toiletries that aren’t nasty, canned or packaged foods to supplement the food provided, a fan for summer, a radio, paper to write home. Inmates pay outrageous prices for this stuff, from money they get from loved ones. Phone calls home, which are a lifeline to their small children or aging parents, also cost outrageous sums, paid by families. And, especially pre-trial, all phone calls are all recorded. The newest thing is that families must now send money through a service that takes a huge chunk of it.

    And remember that too many of these folks (and all of their families?) are actually, factually innocent.

    OK, getting myself all worked up here. 🙂 Better go fight the system some more. Enjoy that freedom you have today!

    • Rob

      This post needs reposted again, and again, and again. Thanks.

      • Linder


    • Joshua Warhurst

      Another big takeaway from this is that along with assumed guilt, even if you are proven innocent, no matter where you go in the world, you always need to explain yourself at customs and potentially spend hours each time if you were arrested. And you can be turned away, like that. To say nothing of having to come forward when applying for jobs. Not nearly as bad as sitting in jail innocently for years (and imagine trying to work after that), but still worth consideration.

    • chendaddy

      I’ve always wondered this. If the police catch a suspect, and that suspect makes it to trial but is found not guilty, is that the end of the case or do the police then immediately go back out and try to find the actual criminal?

      Like after O.J. Simpson was acquitted, did the LAPD go out and search for the “real” killer(s), or did they just go, “We got screwed. Oh well.” and then move on to the next thing?

      Because, technically, they haven’t found the guilty party yet, right? Though obviously, in practice, they may not have even if they get a guilty verdict.

    • anonPetty

      As someone who was pulled over for speeding but arrested for “fleeing the scene” (a felony) and finally given a plea for a petty / summary offense (less than a misdemeanor)… once applied for an apartment and was denied because of my “offense against person or property.” Now I did something stupid in my case, though I did not hurt any people or property! But even little petty crimes can affect your life in relatively major ways (in this case up to 7 years after the offense!)

  • Aaron Barbee

    I work for an international law firm as a Training Specialist. I get paid to (among MANY other things) show attorneys how to use an iPhone or check their email via the internet.

  • Christian B

    I work at a university. The folks with the advanced degrees are every bit at human as those without them. Meaning they can behave in childish ways just like the folks that don’t have them. Not this huge revelation, but I suppose I mistakenly held them to a higher standard. Makes it easier to work with them now that I view them as just like me.

  • Ellie

    My job is in the department of Justice. It is a very lonely job, me sitting in front of my computer and drafting decisions. Not a big deal revelation but keep in mind cause we re all humans.

  • Jake

    I am an aerospace engineer working for a major satellite manufacturer. What many people don’t understand is that the purpose of all these rockets that make the news regularly is to launch satellites that sit in the top of these rockets into orbit. These satellites provide countless services for each and every one of us yet don’t have the glamour of the launch vehicles that get them into space. These satellites take more attention to detail than anyone realizes as every single piece of a spacecraft down to the lowest level (like a screw) is analyzed and tested rigorously. Most people don’t know that a full spacecraft is tested on earth for every environment the spacecraft may encounter to ensure that it will work for its lifetime without any issues. The take away is that spacecraft engineers spend more time on tiny details than I can fully explain and that the level of engineering going into these vehicles makes most of what we interact with on a daily basis look like those generic legos that never really fit together quite correctly.

    • Rob

      Ok, I’m an engineer, but I nkew that, and I think most other folk I know know that, too.

      • Jake

        Well the readership of this website in general is very well informed but I can assure you the average person I run into has no to very limited knowledge of this. The crazy thing is that the average person, who use satellite technology constantly, have no idea how satellite communications occur or the industry behind it. I know most people reading this understand those rockets have satellites in them but with the press focusing on NASA missions and launch vehicles these amazing pieces of engineering are often overlooked and unappreciated in the public eye.

        • Jay Kay

          Jake, Most “normal” people don’t realize that it takes 2-4 YEARS to develop the next gen cell phone in their pocket. Or how many times more powerful it is than the computers that put man on the moon or even the first “super computers.” Some people may know that the last space shuttle that flew had TEAMS of people scouring the internet for 8088 computers in 2011 to keep the Shuttles flying because they proved that the software and machines can take the abuse of flight…. but I digress. Most people also would never eat a hotdog or Turkeydog if the saw how the animals were raised, slaughtered, & processed… Ignorance seems to be bliss…

    • Cherry Zimmer

      I was born in Huntsville when my dad was working at Redstone Arsenal. I am currently looking at a framed print of a redstone missile taking off that lived in my parents kitchen before it moved to my computer room. My dad worked on the satellite (Explorer I) not the missile, but the missile is SO much more exciting. The satellite was, however, covered in a thin layer of gold (much to the chagrin of the GAO).

  • Stefany

    I worked as a property manager for three years. All I have to say is NEVER AGAIN WILL I DO THAT. Worst three years of my life. I lost weight, my hair started falling out, and my whole body broke out in hives from the stress. You would be surprised to know the following:
    1) Property Managers are not miracle workers. For example, if you live by an active train track and the train runs every morning at 6 am, I cannot call the train company and change around the schedule for your convenience so you can sleep. Also, if you live in a dog friendly building, there will be dog shit on the sidewalk sometimes, and it is impossible for me to identity which dog it came from.
    2) Property Managers are not your therapist and don’t want to hear about your personal problems. If your oven broke down, fine, call me and I’ll dispatch maintenance. But don’t call me at 4:45pm on a Friday to cry about your boyfriend breaking up with you and moving out.
    3) A thank you goes a long way. Property Management is a thankless job.

    OK, rant over! I now work in construction and am much much happier!

  • Page

    I’m a dental assistant. We actually DO mind if you have food stuck in between your teeth and all over your mouth. Just because we don’t mind working in the mouth doesn’t mean we want to clean your breakfast/lunch out of your teeth for you.
    P. S. We also know if you are a smoker even if you won’t admit it!

  • Erica

    I work for an Aerospace company that leases commercial aircraft to airlines. Most people are surprised to learn that airlines do not own their entire fleets, they lease aircraft from us or similar companies because it’s just to expensive to own hundreds of commercial aircraft.

  • Kim

    I’m a real-tor. Nope not a real-i-tor. One thing surprising about my job is that nobody pronounces it correctly. Also, my job, like many others is drastically over simplified. Yes, I sell houses. BUT, I also help people cope with drastic changes in their lives such as divorce, down-sizing, marriage, tragedies, relocation, bankruptcy. I am also required to know far more about taxes and financing than most. I consider myself more of a life-coach most of the time.

  • Emily Hartman

    Most companies do not manufacture their own products. They outsource this to contract manufacturers like Flextronic, Foxconn, Jabil, etc that own and manage plants overseas.

  • Lily

    Most floral shops use older nearly dead flowers for funeral pieces. The reasoning is most of the flowers go on to the cemetery and are not going to be enjoyed for days on end like they would be if going to a home.

    • patrick

      Your username now makes perfect sense.

  • I’m a DJ. Not a bedroom DJ either, I have a weekly residency in Fort Lauderdale and I regularly play a club in South Beach, among other gigs to give credit to my post. I’m also not a big enough deal where I’m playing the giant music festivals like Ultra or EDC (yet). Here are a few things people who aren’t DJs may or may not know:

    -I’m not a jukebox. I take requests but it doesn’t mean I’ll play them, and if I do play your request I most likely won’t play it next. I play for the crowd, but in a sense that I see everyone dancing, and grooving, and really vibing to what I’m playing and I already have a good idea the direction I’m taking the music and if your request doesn’t work with what I’m doing I probably won’t play it.

    -I regularly practice harmonic mixing. This means I pay attention to the key each song is in and either stay in that key for a few songs or go up one or two semi-tones when I do change keys. I don’t ALWAYS mix this way because there’s always a song that I have that would work PERFECTLY in the mix NOW.

    -I still get really nervous before a set, even after doing it for an audience for over 3 years.

    -Unless I’m playing a club or some other venue with sound in place, I have to haul hundreds of pounds of equipment worth nearly $10,000 in and out of wherever I’m playing. That shit isn’t cheap. Or easy to carry.

    -I spend hours and even days preparing for a set. New music doesn’t magically appear in my track list, and and it doesn’t learn itself. I have to learn what each song sounds like from beginning to end. I also have to recognize the feeling each song has to it. Songs I begin my sets with are ENTIRELY different than songs I play in the middle and the end, respectively.

    -Finally, my sets are a journey, from beginning to end. I want my listeners to have an experience, not just a bunch of songs I like played back to back.

    • Kim

      As you well know, music is probably the most important element to any social get together. I don’t DJ but my best girlfriend does. Her vinyl collection alone is worth more than most have in their savings, and it is HEAVY. The heavy lifting (even if it is just electronics and stereo equipment) alone makes every true DJ break a sweat way before anyone even gets there. You guys amaze me.

      • Thank you! I didn’t even think to mention the music, mine is all digital so I have mad respect for the vinyl DJs!

  • IRSuk(s)

    I’m an accountant and the biggest misconception about my job is that having that title means I can help you with your taxes. If I got paid a dollar every time someone asked me if I could do their taxes or if I’m really busy in April, I’d be rich. My day to day job doesn’t even involve doing anything with taxes at all. There are lots of other things accountants do such as financial statement audits, payroll, cost, etc etc.

    • Belle11

      Fellow CPA here and I can’t count the number of times people assumed I do taxes and that I’m busy in April. When I correct people that I’m an auditor, they then assume I’m an IRS auditor (I was an auditor for a Big 4 firm before changing jobs). I’ve honestly stopped trying to correct people, including my family.

      To tack on to yours, people assume that accountants are all anti-social and just prefer working on our spreadsheets to interacting with humans. While I do enjoy a good, well-organized spreadsheet, I’m not a hermit and neither are any of the accountants I know.

      • CM5K

        Turns out I am a ‘tax accountant’ (CPA, former Big 4, gone private). However, I DO NOT DO INDIVIDUAL taxes. I use TurboTax personally, but know very little about individual taxes. I get the exact same questions about April, and I have long since given up on correcting people, especially my family. I know that they are still wondering why I have not offered to use my tax skills to prepare their returns annually. Turns out I do a lot more than tax returns – I am responsible for recording entries, preparing financial statment disclosures, tax planing, due diligence, and foreign reporting. My current company actually contracts with the a Big 4 firm so we don’t have to deal the data entry component of tax returns. I feel your pain.

        • Brendan Dillon

          Another accountant here. I work for a small, full-service firm and do (among other things) individual and small business taxes and payroll. One thing that constantly amazes me is the number of people who view their tax return as a savings account. They over-withhold tax from their paychecks so that they can get a big refund at the end of the year. They don’t seem to grasp that they’re giving the government an interest-free loan. I know that savings interest rates are low right now, but they’re not zero, and there are better ways to get a better return on your savings with just as little effort. Unfortunately, many people don’t have the basic financial education to do this.

  • Aegis

    Fortune teller here (Tarot; it pays the bills so I must be doing something right) — you’d be surprised about how it isn’t “seeing the future” as much as “looking at possibilities and how they fit in”. It’s far more “filling in the blanks with pieces from your own head” rather than saying “X is going to happen to Y and Z will be the result.”

    • WarpedCompass

      Completely agree with the above. I did it for a while too. I hope you don’t mind if I elaborate a little. Tarot, in my experience, was not so much a magical phenomena (like Aegis said) as a psychological one. All of the cards have somewhat vague meanings and many evoke common psychological archetypes, similar to dream interpretation. Likewise the imagery of each card is often emotionally and symbolically charged.

      When I (the fortune teller) describe the potential meaning of a card, the client’s subconscious mind jumps to clarify the ambiguity of the words and images with specifics from their own life. This bypasses the conscious information filters so that the client and I can more quickly establish rapport. The client, thinking I already know what they are about to tell me, freely discusses their problems. Many times, just being able to face the problems openly without being judged allows a person to work out the right course of action.

      My most frequent clients just wanted a listening, non-judgmental ear.

      Then again, I never found the Fortune Teller union, so I may have been doing it all wrong. Does this sound similar to your own experience, Aegis?

      • Aegis

        Most of the time my clients were more a “tell me what I wanna hear” type. When I could understand them at all (that and many of them come from countries that have no concept of credit cards, so when their free minutes run out they call again and again and again and again, etc etc etc.

    • M.B.

      I think most people who visit WBW are aware of the whole tarot card scam.. In my opinion it is profiting of the weak minded who actually believe in it’s genuineness. You see these scam lines all over television during day time.. I think it’s appalling.

      No personal attack, just felt like venting my opinion.

      • Aegis

        It’s more intent than anything, I don’t see it as profit (edit: for cash only) if I can put someone’s mind at ease and make them go “oh hey, maybe this might work, or… that isn’t something I’d considered…” Besides, these days I make pennies, the site I work from has been all but forgotten.

  • Not Plew Tork Stock Exchange

    I work at one of the two big stock exchanges in the US and it always shocks people how CHEAP my company is. My laptop is a four year old Dell, my work phone is the cheap, plastic iPhone 5C on T-Mobile (and used to be Blackberries up until about 6 months ago!), we use Oracle CRM rather than Salesforce because they used to be listed on us (but then moved to our competitor), we very, very rarely have work-sponsored social events and we are not allowed to bring a significant other to our holiday ‘happy hour’ party because it is too expensive. The party is for 2 1/2 hours at 5:30 pm and it’s too expensive to bring someone?!

    People can’t believe that a brand with such a big name would be only focused on cost-cutting. The company always claims they are a technology company but clearly do not value providing their business or employees with the technology necessary to be competitive in today’s market. It’s no wonder our exchange is no longer known as the go-to listing for tech companies.

  • Laura

    I work as an event manager at a banquet facility that does multiple weddings every weekend. One thing people don’t ever seem to get at weddings:

    WE DO NOT DECIDE THE BAR PACKAGE! While some facilities do have a certain amount of say in what is hosted, what time the package starts and ends, if the bar is closed during dinner, etc. most of those decisions are left up to the discretion of the bride and groom. So when the bar is shut down completely during dinner, please do not berate my bartenders or me for this. We hate having to tell you no just as much as you hate hearing it.

  • bunnyparsnips

    I work at Fenway Park. The window behind my desk overlooks Yawkey Way – absolute best place for people watching on a game day. I’ll also never eat another hot dog or sausage w/peppers & onions for as long as I live.

    • patrick

      Is it because you’re sick of seeing hot dogs and sausage w/peppers, or is it because you’re sick of seeing the ravages of what hot dogs and sausage 2/peppers does to people?

      • bunnyparsnips

        I think a little bit of both.

    • Tim Urban

      Jealous. I went to roughly 300 Red Sox games growing up, and now anytime I’m back it’s all comforting with the familiar sounds, smells, and sights. It’s like the feeling you get when you visit your old grandparents’ house except there are 35,000 drunk grandparents with Boston accents.

  • Stavia

    I work in a psychiatric unit of a hospital in a small state. A big problem for psychiatric care is money. Roughly 80% of our patients have no insurance( we did not get Medicaid expansion), most have no job. The hospital loses money on each admission. Our unit in a delapidated place, but the powers that be are reluctant to do a refit as we are a drag on the economy.
    Generally the public thinks that electronic medical records is a huge improvement, but here ‘s the thing. In our hospital the ED, OB, outpatient psychiatric department all have different programs that do not “talk “to each other, so getting accurate information on meds, previous diagnosis and treatment cannot be found in a timely manner.
    Most of our admissions do not present with a serious mental health diagnosis such as schizophrenia, but they are not managing daily life well at all. These often can be noted to have a personality disorder of one kind or another, such as borderline personality disorder.
    Our favorite patients are schizophrenics. We try hard to follow along with their thought processes (tough); often there is an unusual internal logic. Most times they get better, and can actually interact in a more “normal” manner, but they will never be well. After any violent horror reported in the news, there is an outcry about mental health. Yes, this is hugely important, and can help some people. But there is no panacea, no magic pill to prevent violence, and it cannot be predicted with any certainty on an individual basis. There has only been one person I ever took care of that really scared me…he had no identifiable psychiatric illness, there was no basis to hold him, but the deadness in his eyes…

    • Linda Christopher Watson

      I have a bi-polar disorder. It was not diagnosed until I was 50! I lived a full life, drove a school bus, showed horses with my kids. I have a B/A in music. As you can tell I have the manic type. Always on the go……
      Thank you for caring about your patients.

    • Brian Gottfried

      Can sympathize with the EMR frustration. I work for one of the companies that offers an integrated suite of EMR software, but an integrated system takes much more time to train people correctly on and is very expensive to develop, which puts it out of reach of many organizations that operate on limited funding or serve low-income patients without insurance.

    • Barry Geibel

      I can only imagine how difficult it must be to diagnose someone and having to tell the difference between personality quirks, symptoms of drug use, and mental illness. In my own (non-medical) experience, so many lie to their doctors, at least the psychiatrists. Thank you for caring and doing what you do!

  • Robin

    I work in Early Intervention. One thing nobody knows is that physical, speech, and occupational therapy services are available FOR FREE in all 50 states, for kids who are under three years old with developmental delays.

  • Dr.Wheatie

    I am a Physician in a hospital owned urgent care in southern Ohio where I provide minor acuity care to a fairly rural-Appalachian population. Though I believe the following tidbits are not an exaggeration and are true, I will preface them by saying they are purely anecdotal estimations.

    – 90% of what I learned in medical school has nothing to do with my day to day job. (We spent 6 weeks on the Kreb’s cycle for crying out loud.)

    – I would categorize the patients at our facility as such: 20% require treatment from a medical professional , 30% require an evaluation to rule out a problem that requires a medical professional, 40% have mild, self -limited injuries or illnesses that do not require an evaluation by a medical professional, 9.9% have some secondary gain (work/school absence, narcotics) and 0.1% simply have nothing else to do and no financial repercussions for coming to the facility.

    -50% of being a good physician is medical knowledge, 50% is good people skills.

    -I spent 6 years in a combined B.S./M.D. program and 3 years in a Family Practice residency. Keeping in mind that I am a physician who deals with minor acuity issues, I believe it would take me 1 year to train someone with above average intelligence and above average people-skills to do my job effectively.

    • Ron T.

      So far I have found your information tidbits the most interesting. I was especially fascinated by your last statement about training someone to do your job in a yaer’s time.

    • Linda Christopher Watson

      People skills most important. I know~I have been ill and do not like it when the doctor is too serious. Or does not listen. Thank you for all you do.

    • Sooty Mangabey

      Never was a fan of Krebs either.

    • Cherry Zimmer

      I am a fairly complicated sick person who appreciates that you have all that training when I present with something really strange (which no longer surprises either my neurologist or oncologist). Just saying – thanks!

    • Paul

      Man, it’s great to hear this from a doctor. I think that this is one of the reasons why medical costs are so high. The 40% that don’t require an evaluation by a medical professional (I assume you mean doctor) should probably be handled by a nurse at a much cheaper cost per hour. We need to train an empower nurses to make decisions and write prescriptions for simple medicines. Can you elaborate on the .1% that don’t have financial repercussions?

      • Dr.Wheatie

        The 40% actually included people who really did not need a visit at all. People such as those with 2 days of runny nose and cough, no fever, feel okay but just wanted checked or twisted an ankle 3 days ago walking on it, it feels better but want it checked or need a pregnancy test but can’t afford the $1 for a test at the store (meanwhile it took $2 in gas to get to the facility and they smoke a $4 pack of cigarettes each day). The 0.1% are those who have no actual complaint, or make up some vague complaint such as a rash that I physically can’t see and have either excellent medical insurance or a state Medicaid card that pays for the visit.

        I could go on a long diatribe about what, in my opinion, ails the medical system. I’ll briefly state that the financial disconnect between health care consumers and providers and the inappropriate use of the healthcare system are the primary reasons.

  • Nickie

    I run a daycare in my home and I have a few interesting tidbits for all new parents out there. Interesting insights to rearing children because we all know how much informations is out there!

    RELAX, your doing a great job.

    -The child will sleep when it is tired.
    -The child will eat when they are hungry.
    -Activity will make them both tired and hungry.

    RELAX, your doing a good job.

    -Two year olds are not here to run your life. You are a smart adult and would never higher a two year old to run your business why do you let them run your household? It’s not good for either if you.
    -Lastly, potty training is a MYTH.
    It is a matter of maturity not intelligence. You would never try to “train” an adolescent to grow body hair with a sticker. Stop trying to do it with toddler bladders.

    Interesting or not, this is what I have learned. Keep it simple and RELAX your doing a good job!

    • Linda Christopher Watson

      I ran a small day care many years ago. Thank you for taking care of children! Your job is very important.

  • Katie

    I’m a nonprofit grant writer. I work in spurts. Most of my days are filled with Facebook, Twitter, reading the news, etc. Then I work for a few minutes and pump out some awesome writing, and people think I work super hard all the time.

  • IrrationalNumber

    I’ve twenty years experience in blue collar factory/assembly/labor jobs. People of America, people of the world, you have NO IDEA how much of your material goods are manufactured by people who are drunk or high.

    • Tim Urban

      When I started reading this, that isn’t where I expected it to end up.

    • chendaddy

      This is the best thing I’ve read in between WBW readings, and it brings me an immense amount of joy. Question: do you think Chinese Foxconn employees are jumping off the roof because they’re drunk and high or because they’re not getting drunk and high enough?

  • Ryan

    I’m a geomatics engineer and I work in aerial surveying. I map the earth’s surface and features such as forests and infrastructure from a helicopter or small airplane using a laser scanner (LiDAR), digital cameras, GPS and other high-tech gadgets. The most common surprises or misconceptions that I encounter after being presented with the inevitable question “so what do you do?” are:
    – No I don’t work with rocks or look for oil. Geomatics is not geology or geophysics, it is the field of engineering that encompasses land surveying, mapping, navigation and almost any kind of spatially represented information.
    – Yes, most of the Earth has already been mapped in some way or another — I am not an explorer looking to discover new lands like Columbus. I am creating very high-detail, high-accuracy 3D models of the earth for large, expensive engineering projects such as highways, pipelines, hydroelectric dams, urban planning, etc. Google Earth is good for a lot of things, but you’re not going to design a highway or power line using it.
    – Yes, flying in a helicopter or small airplane is kinda cool, but the novelty wears off very quickly (unless you are a pilot or an avid aviation buff) and generally the guys in my crews would rather stay on the ground than fly if given the option. Working in small aircraft is physically tiring due to the limited space, loud noise, constant movement and inability to get up and stretch for hours at a time. Not to mention the requirement to hold one’s urine during the entire flight (or attempt peeing in a bottle in front of another man). And if you’re unfortunate enough to get stuck in a single-engine Cessna on a turbulent day, you’ll be wondering if you’re getting paid enough while puking the contents of your breakfast into a little bag during your spare moments from looking at the operating computers.
    – The field work can be exciting and stimulating, getting to work in a multitude of environments around the world, each with its own challenges. Some of the places I go are quite exotic (picture hot steamy jungles, rugged mountains or barren arctic landscapes) while most of the places are not quite so exotic (think small prairie towns where the only restaurant in town is closed on Sundays and you have to purchase your dinner at the nearest gas station before retiring to your motel room for an evening in with cable tv or Netflix if the internet connection happens to be working that night).

  • CamillyVanilly

    I work in test development, helping create standardized tests in the higher education industry. One thing that a lot of people don’t realize is that being an expert in one field of study (e.g., math, English, physics) does not mean you know how to create a good exam. Test development is an entire field of study in itself, with ongoing research. Some of the more common degrees in this field include a focus on Measurement, Evaluation, Statistics, Assessment, and/or Psychometrics. Having a PhD in biology doesn’t mean you’re automatically an expert in teaching biology or in measuring student comprehension in biology.

    Most exams you took in high school or college that were created by your teacher or professor would probably be considered crap among testing experts–and most likely these exams were statistically unreliable and invalid, simply because most teachers and professors are not trained to create valid, reliable exams. They are usually trained only in their specific field of study, not in how to measure and evaluate other people’s understanding of the subject.

    Creating a good assessment/exam (a physics exam, for example) requires a careful balance of expertise from both the testing expert (e.g., someone with a degree or experience in Measurement and Evaluation) and from the subject-matter expert (e.g., the physicist). Once the exam is created and students begin taking the assessment, you can collect data to help determine whether you’ve created a good exam and make necessary modifications. For example, only 3% of students are getting #14 correct? Well maybe the question is worded confusingly, or maybe that question is miskeyed, or maybe students are receiving inadequate instruction on that topic. It’s amazing how much you can learn from data about your exams. And it’s a shame that more schools and universities don’t take advantage of the vast body of knowledge available from the field of measurement and evaluation.

    • Timothy Fortner

      If I may ask, how did you get into this field(college, classes, connections)? This sounds really neat, and also is it interesting/fun?

      • CamillyVanilly

        I started as a professional editor and was interested in higher education, so I got a job at a university editing assessments. This role gave me some good training on what makes a good assessment. Since then, I’ve been internally promoted a couple times and now work in a project management role, managing all of the standardized assessments for one of our colleges. As to being interesting/fun, it is definitely interesting and challenging. We have a very large number of assessments that I’m responsible for, so that can be overwhelming and stressful sometimes. Regardless, my coworkers are great, which makes things better. Also, I work from home full time which is pretty much the best benefit ever.

        For others who want to enter into this field, there are lots of educational opportunities available. You can get as little as a certificate in assessment or as much as a PhD in Psychometrics or in Measurement, Evaluation, Statistics, and Assessment. Project management experience or certification (PMI, for example) can also be helpful for getting your foot in the door. There is a lot of job opportunity within the industry for anyone who is interested.

      • CamillyVanilly

        I was originally a professional editor and was interested in higher education, so I got a job editing assessments at a university. This role gave me some good training and experience learning what makes a good assessment. I’ve since been internally promoted a couple times and now serve in a project management role, managing all of the standardized assessments for one of our colleges. It is definitely interesting, but it can be pretty stressful as well due to the large number of assessments I’m responsible for. Regardless, I have awesome, passionate coworkers, which makes things better. I also work from home full time which is pretty much the best benefit ever.

        For those interested in the field, there are lots of educational opportunities available that can make entry easier. You can get as little as a certificate in assessment, all the way up to a PhD. Project management experience or certification (PMI certification, for example) can also help you get your foot in the door. There is a lot of opportunity in the industry right now–high demand but short supply of assessment professionals.

    • James

      Thank you so much for what you do, as a recent college grad, I appreciate your work. The amount of completely unreasonable, confusing, inaccurate, and absurd tests and questions I had to take were so frustrating. Scores were so often not an accurate representation of subject comprehension, wish more teachers knew about people like you.

  • Deborah Hill

    I’ve been a “stay-at-home mom” of two kids for 15 years. In that capacity, I also do A LOT of volunteer work, centered on my kids. I live in a bedroom community outside a major US city. You might be surprised to know:

    1. There are two main kinds of SAHMs: the ones who volunteer a lot, and (coincidentally?) seem to be the ones not living in the biggest houses and wearing the trendiest clothes; and the ones who are always looking for somewhere to drop off their kids while they get manicures and massages and go to the gym and get their hair done and ignore volunteer requests.

    2. The “Mommy Wars”, if they are defined as working moms vs non-working moms, are alive and well. Both groups look down on the other. Many working moms think SAHMs have it easy, and many SAHMs think working moms are neglecting their kids. (My own mother worked my whole life, so I know this is not true. As a parent volunteer, I try to help out the working moms as much as possible by offering free rides and babysitting for their kids. When I ask for parent help with something, I try to do it far enough in advance that the working parents can schedule around it. Most working parents are appreciative and helpful. What burns me most is the women who look at me, no matter what I do or offer, and say, “My son/daughter can’t do that or I can’t do that because I WORK.”)

    3. Working with large groups of women, which is your lot if you are a volunteer SAHM, really, really SUCKS. Before I quit working, I was in the military, and boy do I miss working with men. If you are in charge, and you give your group an order, a group of men will go do it. Even if they don’t like you. A group of women will not even BEGIN to consider your order until you ask it very, very nicely, after complimenting them and thanking them for listening. If they don’t like you, they will ignore you and then whisper about you. If they’re really feeling vindictive, they will spread horrible rumors about you. (I have LOTS of experience with this. So much so that I no longer lead any volunteer committees or groups, even when requested, even at church.)

    4. Moms new to staying home will constantly do what I call “give their resume”. They will fit into every conversation where they went to school, what they used to do in their old job, and how good they were at it. Sometimes they will try to make up for their lack of career by taking on volunteer jobs and running them like they’re a Fortune 500 company. I blame the ’80s’ Supermom concept for this.

    5. Being a SAHM is very isolating and involves a ton of tedium. If you are the kind of person for whom social interaction takes effort, like me, you can get lost in your own head. This is especially true once the kids are in school all day. The housework NEVER ENDS. EVER.

    6. Your family completely depends on you as the master scheduler, carpooler, shopper, cook, psychiatrist, laundress, housekeeper, go-between, babysitter, paramedic, and finder of lost things. This is both exhilarating and frightening.

    7. Your husband’s life and career will benefit immensely. You take a crapload of stress off of him. He is free to work late or travel for work at a moment’s notice.

    8. You don’t have to spend your family time on weekends running errands or doing housework. You can do things like “family game day” or go to museums. You can hang out with your teenager, which is actually really cool.

    8. Your kids are totally worth every minute of it. 😀

    • Linda Christopher Watson

      AMEN! Single mom with 4 kids, all grown. I stayed home until they started school. My girls showed horses, boys had piano lessons for one and the other played the trumpet in 4th grade thru high school. I became active in a church when they were young so we spent a lot of time there.
      Your kids ARE totally worth it. Thanks Deborah.

  • Joanna Rene Rasmussen

    I’m an accountant working for a CPA firm. The majority of those I work with, including myself, are avid extreme sports enthusiasts. We’re skydivers, rock-climbers, canyoneers, white-water boaters, motorcyclists…. BUT, the work we do is about as boring as anyone might expect.

    • Linda Christopher Watson

      At least you get out and enjoy life on off time. Enjoy your sports!

  • Vinay Kapadia

    I’m a software developer at a small company that does work for Microsoft. Live in the Seattle area, of course. I’m working on a building a website that MS employees use to review content that has been flagged with violations such as langage, nudity, offensive, etc. The other day, while testing the site, my monitor basically had pictures of naked girls all over it.

    • Linda Christopher Watson

      LOL~My son wants to move to Seattle as he is training for a computer career. We live in San Diego. Well at least it wasn’t naked guys!

      • Vinay Kapadia

        Seattle is a good place for it. A bunch of tech companies are opening new offices here, like Apple, Facebook, etc. And I haven’t seen them yet, but I’m sure the naked guys will show up. It’s inevitable.

  • Cara

    I’m an astrophysicist. I only know a small handful of constellations and can’t tell you about your horoscope. I don’t think you’re “not smart” because you didn’t do well in math. I don’t work on finding near earth asteroids or life outside of earth (though I definitely think it is out there).

    I spend a lot of my time programming (taking observations or doing data analysis) and writing (proposals for telescope time or grant money — or papers). I don’t work nights (::gasp::) and generally keep a 9-5ish schedule. I *do* get to work on many interesting topics (of my choosing) and travel the world to observe at telescopes and attend conferences (Spain, Hawai’i, Greece, Italy, Chile, etc.).

    While I don’t spend every day bowled over by the enormity and beauty of our universe, I do enjoy those fine moments in which I am.

    If someone on an airplane asks what I do and I’m feeling social, I will cheerfully announce “I’m an astronomer!” If it’s been a rough day then, “I’m a physicist.” The vast majority of guys-who-talk-to-you-at a-bar become visibly uncomfortable if you tell them that you’re an astrophysicist.

    I worry sometimes about the utility of my profession, when my work is so removed from the well-being of That-Guy-Over-There or Anyone-with-Ebola. In the end, I comfort myself in saying that the human experience on Earth is made better by brief encounters with something greater than ourselves. Perhaps a seemingly blank deep space image which actually contains 10s of thousands of galaxies (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mcBV-cXVWFw) or a moving piece of music.

    • Thank you for your work. I’m always humbled by deep space imagery, especially when paired with the right piece of music. My most recent “Whoa” moment (besides reading WBW’s “Religion for the Non-Religious”) was this:


      • Cara

        That’s a great video (and really cool visualizations) – thanks for sharing!

    • Linda Christopher Watson

      Thanks for the share~I think it’s a moving piece of music! ♫

      • Cara

        Thanks Linda, glad you like it! Actually, I meant that as two separate items 1) a deep space image, 2) a moving piece of music or any work of art, really. I often liken astronomy to art because they seem to perform a similar function in society.

    • Gerry

      I like running into astrophysicists in bars. 2 things that, many years ago, brought me out of the fog of religious fundamentalism and into the light of science, were the studies of astronomy and geology. Both had to do with observable, irrefutable deep time, which of course did not reconcile well with the myth of a recent creation. I maintain my love of both these subjects.
      This summer, while visiting our farming operations in Chile, I made a side trip to Valle Del Elqui, a magical place I like to go back to whenver possible. There, in a small cafe, I met an astrophisicist (astronomer?) who was working at Cerro Tololo. That observatory has long been on my bucket list (have you worked there?). He invited me to visit him there next time I am in Chile, and I will definately take him up on that offer.
      As I said, I like running into astrophysicists in bars.

      • Cara

        Thanks for sharing that story, Gerry! It encourages me to say “astronomer” not “physicist” next time I’m on a plane 😉 I haven’t been to Cerro Tololo yet, but I hear it is spectacular. I’m very glad that astronomy helped to bring you out of a fog — I feel so strongly about education for this reason. Tell people about the world, give them a choice, and see where they find themselves. To empower people with knowledge would make the world a better place for all of us.

    • DB

      that sentence “I comfort myself in saying that the human experience on Earth is made better by brief encounters with something greater than ourselves.” right there, made me feel “love” and “connection” towards you. Which are feelings I also think are worth living for.

    • M.B.

      I’ve always wondered what it’s like to use one of the famous large telescopes, as the ones in Chile for example. I for one think it’s really cool what you do.. and in my opinion is contributing to the evolution of mankind in a great way.

      • Cara

        I very much appreciate the encouragement! Thank you. M.B., while it’s not quite as cool as hands-on experience with a large telescope, if you’re interested in working with beautiful astronomy data to do real science you could try one of these Citizen Science Projects (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zooniverse_%28citizen_science_project%29). And most observatories have ‘open houses’ or ‘public nights’ if you want to check out a (smaller, more local, but still cool!) telescope. Here is a listing of some in the US, but most observatories everywhere will have some open nights: (http://stardate.org/nightsky/public). Or start working on a telescope proposal (they’re accepted from anyone, as long as the scientific and technical case are good enough) and go use a big telescope in Chile 🙂

    • krusty shakelford

      One of my dreams is to meet an astrophysicist in a bar. Closest I got was my 60 year old Latina barber (totally hot) who goes on and on and on about astrophysics when she’s cutting my hair. She’s a junkie for wormholes, gravity, and exo-planets. I could listen to her all day.

  • Counselor

    According to WBW, I’m a fog expert. This basically means that I’m trained to ask people the right questions. Ideally, these questions help scare the fog monster away long enough for them to answer their own questions. I’m currently working with terminally ill cancer patients, who I’ve found to be the least burdened by fog. Perhaps nothing more effectively shakes irrelevancy out of a person than facing one’s own death.

    • Linda Christopher Watson

      My daughter cared for her terminally ill mother in law. About a week before she passed she seemed spacey and was talking to unseen people~even reaching for them. Wonder what she was seeing………

  • Jay Kay

    As a former Telecom Engineer, yes, it really is a bad idea to talk on a wired phone during a lightening storm… but we don’t have those anymore so it doesn’t matter, unless you visit your aunt or grand parents- and they have a rotary phone.

    Your body absorbs more electromagnetic radiation from talking on the cellphone than from high-tension transmission wires (go Google right-hand rule for field strength vs distance from the current or transmission source) – yet people have no problem holding a phone to their head, yet won’t live under the wires…

    The fun with all of this is if you push a “lightening bolt’s” worth of current down a cat-5 Ethernet cable, the twists nullify and amplify the magnetic force to the point of the cable exploding like primer-cord, embedding strands of copper with sufficient force into oak paneling that you cannot yank them out with pliers.

    The “telephone pole farm” in Chester NJ is actually a test lab – it is so iconic, that even though Bell Labs doesn’t exist, and the people running the tests have all retired (or been “happy sized”) and the land has been sold, that the poles are still there – like some weird statement or bizarre art project. I guess science is now art. (There was a machine that could make hurricanes on demand as well as lightening as well, but those have been since removed…) http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/telephone-pole-farm)

    I can go on, but I now sell real estate and have to pay the bills.

  • Sandra S

    I work in Death Registry – meaning whenever someone dies in the county I work in I have to review and register a death certificate submitted to me by hospitals, funeral homes, or the county’s medical examiner.
    – We’re not goth, not even a little bit. Neither are any of the mortuary employees that we work with. One of my co-workers is obsessed with Legos and Star Wars and the other is a huge local sports fan. I am a music and movie nerd and I love to paint/re arrange my apartment often.
    – We never see cadavers/corpses/dead bodies. We use the internet to look up diseases we are not familiar with and their causes and sometimes there are pictures like this:

    – It’s not as depressing as it sounds. Sure the immediate acceptance of our mortality is kind of a smack in the face but then each person eventually becomes a statistic – ie – everyone dies of heart disease and cancer. Not to say I am desensitized, I just see many of the same causes of death extremely often and it doesn’t bother me as much. Except glioblastoma – this brain cancer always bothers me.
    Interesting tidbits:
    – A ton of people choose cremation as their or their loved one’s final disposition. It is often the cheapest route. You can even arrange for a cremation online without having to speak to a human!
    – In California you do not need to hire a funeral home to dispose of remains – it’s just a million times easier because they do all of the arrangements that a grieving person does not want to deal with. I’m not talking about murder so please don’t kill someone and dump them in California cause you thought it was ok.
    – Many people do not tie up their loose ends so when Uncle Nino leaves you some cash in his bank account make sure that you have the legal documents to back it up or else you won’t be able to get a death certificate to cash in.
    – I used to judge people that put their family members in nursing homes but sometimes it really is the best care you could offer your loved one. Just don’t be a dick and forget about them. Go visit them and bring some kids.

    • Linda Christopher Watson

      Dogs too, my daughter takes her Golden when she visits her grandpa in the nursing home. The other patients enjoy as well. She decorates his room on holidays, usually putting some up for his roommate. You are correct about visitors, her name is the only one on the sign-in sheet. I AM a morbid person~love cemetaries, even have one picked out. I want to be buried. Adamant about it. I visit ‘best gore’ a site that shows gore~real gore. I am interested in road accidents. They are all from 3rd world countries that seem to delight in taking photos of dead people at accident site. I have even watched a few autopsy’s, they have Betty Short’s on video. I have been this way since I was little. Loved going to junk yards with daddy so I could look for blood in crashed cars, it turns brown. I too am a normal lady, raised 4 kids, drove a school bus and eat, sleep and ride horses. Nice to met you!

    • Lizzie

      As someone who relies on death records in her own data-driven job, I appreciate what you do!

  • Jenny-J

    I’m in B2B marketing. A majority of a marketer’s time and budget is spent on metrics and systems
    proving that marketing tactics, which were based on an educated hunch, are indeed effective and worth the money spent.

  • Lauren P.

    I work for an Online Public University in enrollment. I work primarily over the phone and respond to new student inquiries, follow up with current students, and call previously interested leads. Since I make a lot of phone calls I have learned A LOT about phone etiquette, etc.

    1. If you want a telemarketer, etc. to stop calling you then say so! Don’t let it go to voicemail, don’t pick up and hang up, just say “Please take me off of your call list.” They should have an internal do not call list and will block out your number. OR put yourself on the national do not call registry. Trust me, we don’t want to waste our time either!
    2. If you get a phone call and it’s a wrong number don’t be weird about it! You’d be so surprised how many people seem offended that I dialed the wrong number! Also, if someone leaves you a message for the wrong person, call them back and say so! If you don’t, you’ll continue getting called.
    3. Speaking of voicemails – have one! And make sure it’s professional! I’ve heard it all… From the girl doing a “fake out” to make you think she’s answered to the girl who says, “If you’re a bill collector, stop calling! You won’t get paid until I do!” (Think of potential employers calling!!!) Also, put your name on your voicemail. That helps me, too, know if I’ve called the right number.
    4. Finally, if your name is something odd… Don’t be surprised if I mispronounce it. Also, know that I’ve probably polled all of my teammates before I called on how to pronounce it.

    Also, with the government discussion about Public Universities and loan default rates… There is an internal term we have called “Pell runner”. These are students who go through all the paperwork to go to college, make it through their first 6-9 weeks then go MIA once they receive their financial aid disbursement check (typically about $2,500). Unfortunately, there are many people in the world who would rather go through this process than finish school, probably get a better job, and earn that $2,500 an honest way.

    • I’ll certainly apply these manners. Thank you for sharing 🙂

    • Linda Christopher Watson

      I am always polite. Sometimes they don’t even say good-bye, once I say no thank you~click. Not all just a few. Thank you for the info.

    • Michael

      I love my voice mail prompt. “Bienvenido al móvil del hombre más interesante del mundo. Para español, oprima uno. Para inglés, oprima dos.”

      Almost everyone thinks they got the wrong number, and I practically never get voice mail anymore. I hate voice mail. If I missed the call, I’ll call you back when I see it, and I really don’t want to have to dig around for five minutes listening to someone blather awkwardly, and trying to decipher what the hell they said.

      “Helllomrsoandsomynameisblatherblatherblather BEEP”

      Waste of my time.

      Uh… Nothing personal; just ranting about voice mail. Now get off my lawn!

  • Zoe

    I’m an immigration attorney who used to work at an immigrant detention center, where people spend months to years waiting on the outcomes of their deportation proceedings. What people don’t know:

    – Most asylum seekers who admit they are seeking asylum when they reach our border are immediately detained without hope of bailing out, until an immigration judge decides whether to grant asylum or not.

    – The government pays private prison contractors over $100 a day per head to detain people, but detained immigrants earn only a dollar a day if they work inside the facility.

    – Most detained immigrants have no attorney, including asylum seekers, kids, and victims of trafficking, etc. because unlike criminal court, the immigration court won’t appoint an attorney to defend you if you can’t afford one.

    – There are a lot of horrible immigration attorneys out there because the client population is so vulnerable.

    • Linda Christopher Watson

      That’s sad. People that are greedy at innocents expense will have to answer to a mighty judge someday.

  • Linda Christopher Watson

    I drove the most precious cargo in the world~other people’s children. I am a retired school bus driver. Fun job, a ton, 50 to 90 kids, of responsibility. Weirdest thing that happened to me was some jr. high kid brought some semen on the bus in a baggie. Yep, he threw it in a couple girls hair~GOOD TIMES. Once while going downhill I noticed a stream of pee flowing towards front of bus~GOOD TIMES. I spent the day jet skying while getting paid as my field trip was all day and my friends were not far away, picked me up~whee. I love kids and so I loved my job. It was fun driving that big bus. Half the time it was empty as I was en-route or on a layover. A job with freedom as the driver seat is your office! The End. Thank you for reading.

  • I work as a music teacher for kids and everyday I have a plan for the class and every single time I have to change it as the time goes by because some things I thought might have worked, end up being totally boring for the kids. Being a teacher is a really scary thing, you need to stay creative and open to what the kids want to do and at the same time stick to the ‘teaching plan’. The most beautiful thing about my job is when this little obstacles come my way because I prove every time that that happens, that if something doesn’t work I can be creative enough to engage the kids and make them passionate about what I love some much in this world, which is music.

    • Dr.Wheatie

      I hope Common Core never reaches the music class.

  • Melanie Blair

    I am head of Science in a private high school in Johannesburg. Independent schools in South Africa have been pushing the use of iPads in class, for notes, textbooks and homework. Apple has been amazing; they provide us teachers with free training weekly (if we want) and sell us iPads 2s for a really good price (I know they are old, but are still perfectly fine for high school students).
    Thing is, there is so much resistance from the teenagers to use them – they prefer paper and pens. I didn’t expect this at all. Us teachers are finding it very exciting, and if one reads recent research, studies say that the use of technology in high school teaching does not actually improve student’s results it actually increases teacher enjoyment and learning, and this filters down to their students.
    I am sure as time goes on students will become more used to using their iPads instead of paper.

    • Whanata

      Wow, in Sydney, High School Students got given a Laptop, but the problem were they were too slow for any use and the teachers did not know how to use them properly, so it was not that successful.

    • Maria Luisa Medina

      Wow, I find that almost unbelievable! One would think that teens would be happier using this kind of devices in school. My jaw dropped when I read that my 2 year old daughter will use one when she’s in kindergarden (and that I will have to pay a fee for it).

  • Crazy Woman

    I work at a local grocery store as a cashier…the produce department uses the oldest produce to make their fresh cuts (bowls of fresh fruit, veggies) and salsa and guacamole. so they are not really that fresh.

    • Chick cop

      Well, that makes sense, I guess. Thanks for the heads up! I’ll make my own guacamole from here on out…

  • Sleepless

    I manage a small charity that is part of a national umbrella organisation – we do advice and campaigning. Things people may not know about my job:
    1. People that work for charities can be just as small-minded as any you will find in other walks of life
    2. Point 1 notwithstanding, you can encounter some amazingly dedicated, hardworking and generous humans in not-for-profit organisations
    3. The advice sector has a knack of attracting pedants – they can make amazing advocates but challenging employees and volunteers!
    4. For most of us in my organisation, if we won the lottery, we would still choose to come to work. By and large we have been volunteers ourselves, and when we leave the job, we tend to stick around on an unpaid basis. So although it can be hard – it rarely feels like ‘work’.

  • Dragonfly

    I work in the investment industry – asset management
    to be more precise. The biggest misconceptions are (1) everyone is extremely
    wealthy and (2) the working environment is wild and chaotic, propagated by
    movies such as Wall Street and the Wolf of Wall Street. Some of the banks and
    exchanges may be loud and have had/facilitated some crazy experiences. But, for
    the most part, the environment of their clients (the larger segment) is quiet
    and rather academic. You could hear a pin drop in my office and I spend 70% of
    time in my own head with the remainder in meetings or conferences. It was
    similar when I worked at a hedge fund with maybe a higher proportion spend in

  • colinblacky

    I work as an anaesthesiologist:
    1) Yes, we do sit there for the entire duration of the operation to make sure you don’t die
    2) A senior colleague once told me the job is 95% boredom, 5% blind panic – this is true, and its the blind panic that makes the job interesting.
    3) Physics is by far the most important science for understanding how to do our job correctly as it has major implications in physiology, pharmacology and the equipment we use.
    4) Patients never say thank you to us, only the surgeon 🙁

    • Josh

      Hey Colin, I managed to crush my hand at work last Friday and spent my Friday night having the plastic surgeon sorting it out for me. The anaesthesiologist took the time to tell me what his part of the job was and i asked him to make sure i woke up again 😉 Anyway, afterward, he walked past me on his way to leave the hospital and i stopped him and thanked him for making it a hell of a lot more comfortable for me. So, i’m glad to read that your profession stays on hand making sure you got it right and i’m saying thanks.

      • X-ray Doc

        I am an MD and make damn sure who is giving me anesthesia. Like flying, it’s the take offs and the landings where shit can happen. I always interview the anesthesiologist before I permit them to do anything. Talk about important jobs!

    • wakagi

      Aww, I would gladly say thank you to my anaesthesiologist, if I saw him after the surgery. I think patients say thank you to the surgeon because it is often the only person they get to so afterwards. 🙁

    • Deborah Hill

      I thanked the anesthesiologists profusely after each of my C-sections! They were incredibly nice and explained everything to me the whole time. I’ve had one other surgery that I was not awake for, and I didn’t get a chance to thank everyone involved — I meant to, but I was too out of it afterwards. 🙂

  • Luciano

    I can share my vision about barcodes: they are basically a time/space divide in a serial communication between two computers.

  • Bogdan Voicu

    In my profession I find interesting that money at large with the exception of cash (that means bank accounts, deposits, wired amounts even Treasury Bills and Bonds) are mere digits saved on some servers. If a bank needs cash to satisfy requests from customers, usually that bank “buys” the cash from the Central Bank or another bank who has a surplus and some digits change in some computers in exchange for what we call money. That’s it!

    • Dr.Wheatie

      You actually piqued my interest. A quick search turned up the following.

      “According to the Federal Reserve, there was $1.2 trillion in the M0 supply stream as of July 2013 [source: Federal Reserve Bank of New York]. That sounds like an incredible amount, but think about it this way: According to the CIA, there were 316,668,567 Americans alive that month [source: CIA]. If you took all the cash and divided it up equally, each person should have about $3,800 in cash on them.”

      source: money.howstuffworks.com

  • Maria Luisa Medina

    When asked what I do, I answer “I make books”. I don’t literally “make” them, I design them, which brings in a lot of questions mainly because people usually don’t understand what graphic designers do, even less what editorial graphic designers do. The interesting thing is that I receive a text and images and I have to fit them in a certain amount of pages, with a certain size constraint, and it has to: 1. Be readable, 2. Be affordable (meaning it has to be constrained to a budget), 3. It has to be appealing, or in other words, it has to look good and pleasant. It sounds easy but there are infinite amount of considerations to be made about the text and images. There’s no little task and projects can go as fast as two weeks and as long as 6 months to a year. I can be working on 6 to 10 projects at a time (not simultaneously but I can have as many as 10 projects on the going). Even though some people think printed books are fated to die, I believe they won’t, there’s just something about books, about holding them and reading them, and marking them as yours, and revisiting them that digital books are just incapable of giving you.

    • Lor

      From a book lover, thanks for all you do!!!

    • rresaff

      Do you choose the typeface as well? I like to read the little history of the typeface when it’s at the end of the book.

      • Maria Luisa Medina

        Yes, that is one design decision that has to be made and a very important one. Although is rare when you can describe elements that you used, at least not in the type of books I design. That usually happens on graphic design books, or art books.

        • rresaff

          Now that I’m thinking about it, I haven’t seen that history in a while. I’m a library person and I’ve definitely picked up books printed as far back as the 1930s but it may have been about the 1980s I last saw the description. Even without the backstory the choice is important, I’ve definitely read a few books with an awkward font.

  • Amal B

    I am an engineer who works in the oil and gas services industry(developing technology for oil companies) and I constantly face comments such as ” you are on the evil side” and that oil and gas is killing the world. But what people dont realise is that the world, as of now, is inexorably dependent on oil and gas for survival – for everything from transportation to healthcare to electricity.
    Even if an amazing clean renewable source of energy or the technology to harness it should come up tomorrow, it would take at least half a century for humanity to transition to an oil and gas dependent infrastructure to this new infrastructure. And it is vital that we do not screw up the planet completely by then.

    So its very important that we develop technology which makes the exploration, harnessing and utilization of oil and gas more efficient and more environment friendly. Its dirty work. Yes , we do have blood on our hands. But it is essential work, and is as essential to helping save our planet as our search for a viable renewable alternative source of energy.

    And thats what I do(or try to do) at work 🙂

  • A basketball fan

    I am a vice president at an investment bank. I focus on mergers / acquisitions, primarily on the “sell-side” (meaning our clients are typically companies that want to sell themselves). 85% of my time is spent doing relatively mundane work: financial analysis, preparing valuations, reading public filings, catching up on industry research, hanging out in the dark playground., etc. 10% is spent with clients – pitching, management meetings, road shows, phone calls, etc. 5% is the fascinating stuff that keeps me engaged and interested in the job: negotiating a deal (including disputes/threats to walk away), bombastic client personalities, engaging conversations with industry leaders, etc…

    One thing that most people (read: college students applying for jobs) probably don’t know about investment banking is that it is nothing like it has been portrayed in movies/TV. Most guys are down-to-earth and somewhat boring. The “models and bottles” culture hasn’t existed for some time…

  • Kwayedza Bokani Butshe

    I am a radio dj currently working as a waiter in Abu Dhabi United Arab Emirates. What people don’t know about my current job is that it’s super duper hard. We work 12 hour shifts have and have only one day off a week and that’s never on a weekend which is peak time so it’s all hands on deck. It’s not easy work because whilst you do get nice people a more than a few are impatient and the worst are those who think because you wait on them you are of below avararage intelligence . Oh and we have the memories of elephants so please tip generously because of you do you would be amazed at the lengths we can go to for you.

    • James C

      As a resident of Abu Dhabi – thanks for the heads up, and for what you do!

    • Vysakh S

      And as a resident of a neighbouring (sort of) emirate Sharjah, thanks for what you do. It certainly is a sad situation when waiters’ intelligence is decided based on their salaries or mode of work.

  • Bianca Pellet

    I’m a teacher. You might be surprised to hear how early we come in (often an hour or more before classes begin) and how late we finish (sometimes 2 or 3 hours after classes are over)…and that doesn’t count the work we bring home.

    You might also be surprised at how much money teachers spend from their own pockets on resources for the kids, or by the fact that we don’t just write lesson plans once in our careers. Even if we teach the same topics or texts over many years, we revisit lesson plans every time we’ve used them, just to tweak them according to what worked or what didn’t. We also write new ones to accommodate curriculum changes, special days (e.g. international days) or just things that inspire us. Lesson plans also have to be made even more detailed when someone is observing us (you might be surprised at how a plan for a lesson lasting 50 or 55 minutes can take as long as this – or longer – to write, and how this can stretch over 2 or 3 pages).

    You might be surprised at how illiterate some teachers are. Yes, some of them may not be teaching English, but being basically functionally illiterate is a real problem when it comes to, say, writing report cards or contacting parents.

    You might also be surprised by how much bitching and gossip goes on in the staffroom (about colleagues, kids and parents…).

    You might be surprised to know that some parents are worse than the children to deal with.

    You might be surprised by all the little tips and techniques we use to control behaviour through our body language: things like pacing the entire classroom so that you ‘own’ the whole space (not just the front, with kids owning the rest), kneeling down to speak to students so as to appears less intimidating (as opposed to leaning over them/getting in their faces), and surveying the class/giving instructions from one corner of the room, as you can see much more that way. You might be surprised; in the early years of teaching, when you haven’t really got these tricks down, at just how intimidating a class of CHILDREN can make you feel.

    You might be surprised at how much we care about the kids: how we lose sleep over them, have dreams (and nightmares!) about them, and spend hours desperately trying to make the experience of learning successful for them.

    And you might be surprised by how, despite all of this, I still love teaching so much.

  • Sooty Mangabey

    I am a veterinarian and I get to use the “B” word professionally and with impunity.

  • Jenge

    Water Treatment Engineer (US based)

    Unless you live in a few select places where you are the first user of your water, you’re drinking (highly treated) wastewater. Please don’t let that stop you drinking your tap water! There are federal, state and local regulations to ensure that you are protected as possible from both acute and chronic diseases (for example, acute might be disinfection of a pathogen that causes diarrhea while chronic could be removal of benzene, which is a carcinogen). In contrast, the only regulations for bottled water in the US are specific to labeling (meaning that you have to prove that your spring water does in fact come from a spring but you don’t have to ensure that the spring is free of contaminants).

    One aspect of water treatment design that I didn’t comprehend until I started working is how incredibly useful and necessary chemicals are. We use chemicals to target certain removal or destruction of pollutants, to force particles to behave a certain way and to disinfect your water. Speaking of chemicals, I promise that the use of fluoride is really important for dental health and not a government conspiracy to control your mind. (I love bitching with my dentist about fluoride conspiracy theorists.)

  • Elle G

    Lots of your answers involve “you might think being a _____ is easy, but it’s actually really hard! Wah!” So I am here to tell you, I work at a library and a local law firm while studying at college as a full time student and bringing in a 3.9 GPA and I’ll tell you, I spend most of my time laying in bed watching TV or reading on websites like this! I spend the majority of my time at work pretending to be busy while getting praised by my bosses. You all need to stop working so hard! One day you’ll be so old and look back at “successful” people like me who do nothing, and you’ll be jealous!

    Take it easy folks.

  • Alex J M

    When I was a computer engineer, 90% of problems I fixed were just a result of searching Google.

    • Vysakh S


  • vitaminCMC

    My previous job was at a credit reporting agency. The department I worked in assisted mortgage lenders in improving their clients’ (meaning people looking to purchase a home, refinance, etc.) FICO scores, so they could get better rates. Aside from being incredibly boring, it was also surprisingly stressful. Mortgage lenders, loan officers, and anyone that worked under them, are some of the most high-strung and unpleasant people I have ever dealt with – and I used to work in retail. Imagine talking to Ari Gold on the phone, every freaking day.

    Anyway. You may be surprised to know that NONE – and I mean, NONE – of the people I dealt with on a daily basis had a clue about credit, or how it works. I had loan officers call asking how to read a credit report – which is something they have to deal with every day. Granted, not all credit reports have the same lay out, but once you’ve seen a few, you can pretty much take it from there. They also were incapable of following instructions regarding the documentation required to “rescore” the credit report; which usually lead to a delay in the process, and pushed back all of their closing dates – because they didn’t follow directions.

    The worst thing, though, was how they would scam their clients. When you sit down with a loan officer and they tell you that your credit score needs to improve to qualify, and they say “we can do that for you” – they CANNOT charge you for that. The reason they cannot charge you, is that you can go to the major credit bureaus directly and do that for free (it takes longer, but it still gets done). But we constantly had lenders trying to pass the fee over to their clients. The rescoring process could cost hundreds of dollars (I had completed orders that were upwards of $700), and they were trying to squeeze that out of their clients, who were already paying crazy fees.

    I am thankful, every day, that I no longer work there.

  • Augustus Q. Broccoli

    I teach math at a community college; every math teacher I know doesn’t care how smart a student is, only how hard they work. We can help them be smarter, but not if they won’t try.

    Also, basically everything about teaching at a CC is pretty great, honestly. Except the grading. Grading sucks.

    • Christian Brix

      I really hope that’s your real name.

  • lldemats

    I work for the government and a lot of my time is spent overseas. I won’t name which department I work for. The amount of time and energy that I and my colleagues spend on self-promotion and working on career advancement is staggering. That, and the assumption that we are going to first and foremost promote the institution, kind of like being 24-hour cheerleaders for it. Image is all. Why is it that the higher up you go, the worse it gets? You run into all kinds of people, some of them very nice, and many, many dickheads. Those that aren’t dickheads are assholes. There’s a lot of intellectual snobbery involved, and my observation is that most people, as they climb the ladder, tend to kick the face of the person immediately underneath. Even that would be okay for people who know what they’re getting into when they sign on, but its so hypocritical because over it all, we hang a veneer of fairness, openmindedness, and collegiality. Enough whining, though. Just an observation.

  • Josh Ivory

    I work as a heavy diesel mechanic in the oil and gas industry. One thing that never ceases to amaze me, and also surprised me early on, was the lack of ability of the engineering minds in some fields. There appears to be a large amount of semi capable engineers being propped up by a small amount of outstanding ones. Quite often, us as mechanics will end up running the project whilst the engineer enjoys his monstrous salary and rests on his laurels…I do get great job satisfaction when everything runs as it should though 😉

    • Matt

      This is interesting for me as I’m studying engineering.

      In your opinion what is the difference between outstanding and semi capable? Do the seconds are just stupid or even if still novice really too self confident or because of their degree don’t ask advice from experienced technicians? And if you had occasion to meet the outstanding ones what make them better? Have only more passion or are more involved in practical problems other of only theoretical ones or make lot of work to improve their knowledge in new and different fields or are just more intelligent?

      I would really appreciate your advice, if I’ll finish my studies and start working as engineer I would really hate to just enjoy my salary giving all the job to technicians and mechanics and i think your opinion will be quite objective as you can be totally honest because we don’t know each other so it’s a real occasion to learn something.

  • Jennifer Tislerics

    I work in the field of organ, tissue and eye donation (though I have no medical experience – I’m in the communications department).

    My coworkers who work with the donor families at the time of death are some of the most compassionate, loving, kind, amazing people you will ever know. They’d much prefer your loved one had survived, making their presence unnecessary, too. Yet they are perceived by the public (and sometimes by hospital staff) as vultures, or grim reapers, or people out to do whatever it takes to get those organs/tissues/eyes.

    We have nothing – ABSOLUTELY NOTHING – to do with why/how/when your loved one died. We aren’t contacted until every attempt to save your loved one was made and, unfortunately, failed. We are there simply to honor your loved one’s last wish (to help others), or to give you the opportunity to spare other families from experiencing the same loss you’re going through.

    We know it’s a bad time, emotions are high, that you’ve got a lot going on and don’t really have time to talk to us right now. Unfortunately, this is when we need to talk to you. Organs and tissues have only a matter of hours before they deteriorate and are no longer viable for transplant. If your loved one is going to save and heal lives, the surgery needs to happen soon. And we have some very personal questions to ask you before that happens, to make sure his/her organs and tissues are healthy enough to donate.

    Also, please do not believe any of the bunk that you see on TV or in the movies about how organ donation or transplant works . It’s almost all wrong, and misleading. And damaging – because so many people DO believe it, deciding not to donate based on fiction. Which means people die waiting for a transplant that never comes. That’s a fact.

  • I’m a full time day trader (shameless plug: click on my profile to see my blog!) It’s a job with a lot “things other people don’t know”. There should be 2 lists: things most don’t know and things most well-informed people don’t know.

    Things most people don’t know
    1) High failure rate — 90% of traders lose 90% of their money in 90 days. Hard way to make an easy living.
    2) I don’t need to do a lot of research since I trade off price action. I am frequently in a position where I have no idea what the underlying company does. They’re just tickers to me, not companies.
    3) It’s a huge psychological/emotional challenge. Trading’s not about being a master intellectual who can make great calls about where the market moves. It’s about maintaining discipline and sound risk/money management. You can be 50-50 on ideas and still make a lot of money if you cut losers short and let winners run (easier said than done because of whipsaw/noise).

    Things most well-informed people don’t know
    1) There are a lot of methods out there that work — technical, fundamental, news catalysts, quantitative, hybrid, etc. Some people will never believe in technical analysis. Some people think the chart is the only information that matters. But I’ve met so many profitable traders with all kinds of different methodologies to the point where it’s kind of silly to debate what works and what doesn’t. What makes sense to your mind, backed up by profitable backtesting or real-time forward testing, is all that matters.
    2) Markets change all the time and there are always anomalies and tail risks. That’s why you can’t compare it to a casino game or a coinflip — the distribution of outcomes is so dramatically different. You will always know it’s 50-50 for heads vs. tails, but the market is like a coin where it’s front loaded on heads on Tuesday and Thursday, then tails for weekends, and it will re-randomize after 3 weeks.
    3) I don’t worry about HFT’s (high frequency trading) anymore. There’s a lot of negativity out there about how evil HFT’s make it impossible to profitably daytrade (or more relevant to most people: how they rip off billions from everyday investors). The market is going to go where it wants to go, and all HFT’s really do is distort the path from point A to point B on the lowest timeframe. HFT’s have also made transaction costs much cheaper.

  • M.B.

    I work for an international Banking and Retail IT company. It’s my first ‘serious’ job, and what really surprised me the most was:

    1. You would expect such a massive company to have the most mundane processes in order – such as delivering the required training to new employees and have standardized forms for requesting necessary items.. (such a hassle, incredible) It’s not arranged all that well – a LOT of optimization can be done. (I see loads of time being wasted while it is really unnecessary – same goes for the endless meetings where little progress is made)

    2. Different divisions within the company do not seem very willing to cooperate. It’s like their having turf wars.. in a sneaky way.

    3. I used to have a pretty stereotypical view of german people.. being very systematic/serious and all that. Working with mostly germans for the past year has taught me that they are generally very warm, funny and open people. (weird right? haha)

    That’s it. Was a lot of fun reading through the stories here – definitily learned a thing or two.

  • Chick cop

    I’m a female police officer. It is an exciting, exhausting, heartbreaking, crazy, wonderful job.

    A few things you don’t know:
    1) The amount of times I’ve been covered in a bodily fluid in the last eight years is probably in the triple digits. The only bodily substance I have not had on me to date is brain matter.
    2) At least once a day, I walk into a room and someone puts their hands up and says, “I didn’t do it.” I only pretend its funny.
    3) No one warned me about the ridiculous amount of nudity I would see as an officer. Its never anyone I’d want to see naked.
    4) Guys don’t want to date a female cop. We carry a sidearm with us everywhere (even church), we get called out at the most inconvenient times (birthdays, anniversaries, ski trips), and our work stories are full of vomit, feces, blood, and sex assaults. And that’s only we aren’t automatically assumed to be lesbians.
    5) I don’t care about the color of your skin. What I do care about is what the &%$! you have in your hands.
    6) Its not like it is on TV. Realistically, its hours of boredom and mundane calls, followed by 10 minutes of sheer terror, followed by hours of paperwork.
    7) If I shoot someone (most officer never will), I will not be back on patrol until I am medically and psychologically cleared, AND they seize the gun you fired.
    8) We save lives all the time. No one ever says thank you, though we get a lot of “%*#@ you!”
    9) People hate me because of my uniform and have no compunction about telling me so, but will call me at the drop of the hat to save them when their neighbor/boyfriend/girlfriend/mom/dad/son/daughter/pet alligator goes crazy.
    10) I can’t imagine doing anything else.

    • Sooty Mangabey

      Fascinating, and oh the supply of stories you must have
      for dinner party convos! This may sound like a no brainer (no pun
      intended) but how does #1 happen to you? I can understand that happening
      with pathologists and other medical professionals having to
      expose themselves to explosive diarrhea or projectile vomiting from
      patients but from the standpoint of a law enforcement officer, I can’t
      imagine how that would happen unless you were present at the time of a
      massive explosion involving body parts or if you were involved in
      retrieving biological evidence. Sorry, if i sound naive. :/

      • Chick cop

        Not naive at all! This may be all the explanation you need: I’m a cop on a college campus. Or, if you prefer the detailed version, officers are often the first contact before an ambulance is called. In my jurisdiction, we’re often the ones who make the decision whether or not the individual in question needs medical attention. I’ve had people defecate themselves while being handcuffed then go on the fight, spreading the love. I’ve had underage college students vomit on me after I found them passed out in an alley. I would argue that a 1/3 of all heavily intoxicated people I deal with have urinated on themselves (I usually work night shift, so that’s a majority of my contacts) or do so while we’re trying to render aid. Throw in some psylocibin mushrooms, some prescription pain killers and Adderall, maybe a little Dust Off, and people start expelling things out of every orifice! I’ve pulled people out of totaled cars, out of ditches, off of roofs, through windows, and down stairs. I’ve held pressure on all manner of wounds and held peoples’ hair while they vomit. I’ve been spit on (both intentionally and unintentionally), urinated on (mostly unintentionally), bled on, you name it.

        People are kinda gross.

        On a happier note, I got over my vomit-when-I-smell-vomit thing pretty quick, which will be helpful when I have kids!

        • Sooty Mangabey

          Thanks for the info! Yeah I agree with you that humans are gross. That’s why I chose veterinary medicine over human med.

    • Elizabeth

      Thank you for your service.

    • Brian Gottfried

      “It’s never anyone I’d want to see naked”. I feel like this needs to be emphasized more often.

    • M.B.

      Interesting story Chick Cop. Thanks for sharing. Had a chuckle or two 🙂

  • Barry

    Hmm, well, I work in Corrections (others might know it better as a jail) and a common misconception, or thing people don’t know, is that we do not punish offenders as the courts are the punishers. Our role is to try and help them to make better choices in similar situations to the ones that brought them into conflict with the law. A big issue is shame based vs. guilt based perspective. A shame based person believes they are bad and although they might do good for a while, they will eventually do bad because that is the default response if you are a bad person. A guilt based person will understand they made a poor choice, apologize for the choice (may or may not get forgiveness) and learn not to make the same choice again. So we try and get them into a guilt based perspective through challenging the beliefs and values which allow then to hurt those around them in a variety of ways. To do this, there has to be stress and/or a realization their current choices are hurting them and jails do tend to be stressful for all concerned.
    Another thing is the centre I work at is a minimum/medium/maximum but has no bars – so if you want a drink…jk, but has Lexan glass and very strong doors which often surprises people.

    • Chick cop

      Barry, I appreciate you! Corrections Officers are some of the hardest working, most under appreciated people I kn0w!

  • wobster109

    I work in healthcare software. Much of what we do is make stuff interactive for patients. As a population (US) we like to think of healthcare as going to a hospital where the doctors and nurses work on you, but that’s actually just a tiny part of it. How much time do the healthcare workers have with you anyway? A tiny fraction of your life. So we call that “sickcare”. Did you know that up to 50% of organ transplant recipients are medically non-compliant? It means they don’t take the prescribed medications, making it that much more likely that the transplanted organ dies. We keep talking about how healthcare is broken in the US, and we keep trying to fix it. But the biggest impact comes from changing patient behavior. . . in everyday life, not just in the hospital.

    • Brian Gottfried

      I’ve always liked the idea that when a patient goes into a hospital, the responsibility for care is on the hospital staff, but when a patient goes into an outpatient setting, the responsibility for care is on the patient. I think the goal of most medical professionals is to ensure a patient never needs to be admitted from outpatient to inpatient.

      • Vancesca Dinh


    • Vancesca Dinh

      It’s really interesting to know what you do! I’m currently a student so I haven’t had many experiences in the field so please excuse my inchoate thoughts and opinions. I am also very interested in learning about the projects you’re working on and softwares you’re developing to help patients (our population!) have a better care experience!

      Health reform in America have received much attention in the past couple of years; instead of practicing the former care model of caring for the sick, we have shifted to a model where we are trying to promote health to decrease the number of people who enter the hospital. I hear a lot of talk about what organizations and health systems are doing to stay updated on the change of policies and such but what I have not seen or heard enough of is patient accountability. In an ideal situations, sick patients go to the hospital to receive quality care (and let’s say that they do!) and because the care if quality care, they also receive instructions upon discharge; however, it would be interesting to know how many of those patients actually follow those set of instructions and if they do follow the instructions, how many actually complete those set of instructions?

      A NYT article I read this past summer talked about this woman who was the “ideal patient” according to the hospital staffs. After she was discharged, she relapsed less than a month and it wasn’t because the care she received in the hospital wasn’t superb, it was due to the artificial set up of the hospital that was optimal for sick. When the women returned home, she did not have the same resources and so she relapsed. What healthcare systems and advocates don’t see are those circumstances behind doors.

      People say that healthcare is broken because care is fragmented but I think with our country moving towards coordinated care, introducing community health workers and interactive softwares (like you’ve mentioned and thank you for what you do!) that people in America will be in better health!

      • wobster109

        I’m so glad people like you find this interesting! I can’t go into detail about what we make, but here are some broad ideas. One of our programs is a sort of patient-facing website, and you register for an account from your local clinic. At home, you can log in and see all your health information right there. Through it, your doctors and nurses can send you reminders for check-ups. It also makes it super-easy to schedule appointments or to ask questions. On the whole it gives the patient more control and makes them feel in charge. On the other end we also set up reminder systems so the computer can flag patients that are overdue for a test or a vaccine.

        Recently we (Americans, the US) has been really big on personal trackers such as the Fitbit, which is basically a pedometer. We’re looking into hooking personal tracking device data into medical records. Like you said, it’s hard for doctors to see what goes on when the patient is at home. But if we can hook, for example, your daily steps or your morning weight into your medical record, then it gives your doctors a glimpse of your lifestyle.

  • figthorn

    I’m a freelance translator and interpreter, and I used to think that was pretty self-explanatory. Alas, it isn’t. More people use Google Translate and put the results on their website/flyer/brochure than I care to think about. In healthcare settings, my hair stands on end when providers suddenly decide to practice their High School Spanish by explaining complicated medical procedures (they are kindly, but promptly, cut off by me). After close to a decade in the profession, I have come to understand that it is greatly misunderstood. One major thing about translation/interpreting that most people seem to ignore is that being bilingual is not all it takes. That is just the basic requirement, like having two hands is a basic requirement of being a surgeon. The rest of us have two hands; it does not mean we can all be surgeons.

    • Krattz

      I’m interested to know what else you need to be able to do. I know you need good people skills cause I watch a show that follows the day to day events of the customs staff at airports and there are often people in really shitty moods who got caught with undeclared food or without the right visa or something and if they don’t speak English it’s the interpreter who gets all the abuse and they have to just deal with it… not sure I could do that…

      • figthorn

        That is only one of a myriad settings where you could work as an interpreter. You could work in a hospital, in the courts, you could be a conference interpreter, you could interpret for business meetings… the possibilities are as many as the opportunities for human interaction. (Just as a side note, a lot of people think that “translator” applies to both texts and oral situations, but it doesn’t; technically, a translator works with text and an interpreter works with speech). Interpreters and translators need to be really good at absorbing information really quickly and have good decision-making skills. In translation, you have to be a good researcher in order to find the terminology and expressions that you need. You have to be an expert at grammar and as a translator you have to be a good writer. You have to LOVE reading. It might seem self-evident to you, but you can’t imagine the number of people who want to be translators and don’t particularly read that much or have any training/interest in writing. The more technical or complex texts require scholarly levels of expertise.

        • Krattz

          very interesting, thanks for sharing

          • James

            To answer your question, interpreting for a heated argument/fight is the most tense. Its hard sometimes to decide how much to filter to try and make it more diplomatic. Plus you’re the one saying rude things and getting rude things said to, even though the actual recipient isn’t you. Honestly, when its not awkward its kind of funny.

            Another thing I’ll mention is confidentiality, depending on the setting you’re interpreting for, you’ll be apart of conversations with a lot of personal information. Using myself for an example, I work in a company and translate many emails and meetings. So you hear/are apart of a lot of things you shouldn’t share to others. It gives you a unique perspective which is interesting though.

        • James

          I’m a Japanese/English translator/interpreter in a company, and I’ve done other interpreting on the side like medical in past and I agree with everything you say. Just because someone speaks both languages, doesn’t automatically make them a good interpreter. People don’t realize how complex it is to accurately convey one message into another one, often having to take cultural differences and beliefs into account not simply meaning of a word.

  • LColleen

    I am a teacher. I’m not sure anything is surprising about this profession, because we are so often in the public eye. I often want to shout at people, “I am not lazy! I don’t have summers off! Trust me, I don’t hate your kid (even though I should because he’s kind of a dick).” But it would bounce off deaf ears. That’s fine. I’m tough.

    That being said, it is interesting to watch teachers hide their political and social beliefs in the classroom. There’s occasionally a teacher who feels their students need to hear their opinions on life and religion and politics–but most of my coworkers/teacher friends work incredibly hard to be unbiased to create a more even atmosphere.

    It’s pretty neat. (Even though sometimes when a kid tells me that the reasons the mountains look like that is “Because of the Flood” or that Global Warming is a hoax or that “We are unbiased at home, we only watch Fox”—it takes most of my human will power to not roll my eyes.)

    I want a non-biased atmosphere, but some of the students are learning really dumb things at home.

    • Chick cop

      Thanks for doing what you do!

    • Gerry

      Hooray for school teachers, particularly those in public education! Being married to a teacher/principal/now superintendent of a VERY small school district in our home town, I hear about this stuff a lot. Your last paragraphs particularly resonate; we need to teach our children to think for themselves (even at the “risk” of disagreeing with our entrenched “sacred” beliefs).
      And yes, thank you (and the other educators in this thread) for all you do!

    • Vysakh S

      We never gave enough credit to our teachers while we were in school. I admit it. We were stupid back then.
      And yep…thanks for all that you do!

  • KitKat

    Im a graphic designer. I have worked in mostly fashion and advertisement design. When people ask what I do they often reply “Is that even a real job?” or “I dont know what that is”. Little do they know I have everything to do with your visual world. In fact I am often responsible for those restaurant menus you read, to the information layout on medical products or even the layout of websites you use everyday, plus everything visual in between. Most people think my job is a joke but I am a professional in dictating the way you perceive many everyday experiences through my design choices. Next time you think graphic designers are not important try formatting your own book or website! I see design that makes me cringe all the time. People often hire a distant friend’s unqualified little cousin to cut costs but a quality designer is well worth the investment.

    • Vysakh S

      Oh a graphic designer’s job is definitely important. I think you guys do get the credit you deserve, except from those who don’t observe advertisements well, the little details behind the marketing of a product and so and so.

  • LucasG

    I’m a teen, but my summer job is working the games at an amusement park. Best part is giving away unicorns to little kids. Or making fun of college kids who can’t throw a football. Or putting on my announcer voice for the racing game. Worst part is telling a kid that they didn’t win and dealing with angry parents. Or having to work ring toss for twenty minutes after the park closed. Guests, we love ya, but I’m was supposed to be home five minutes ago. The strange thing is that we carry money pouches that always have to have exactly 150 in it and we put the actual price of the game in the slot, then we exchange our large bills with our boss for more ones.

  • I do web stuff. I’ve worked for lots of companies and run my own business and the sites I’ve worked on get multi-millions of visitors per week. I do front-end code, some design and bit of content updating, UX, site management and developer management depending on my contract.

    Most of my time is spent reading blogs and sites like this. There are LOTS of meetings about very trivial updates and changes to sites and you’d be surprised (maybe not) how little many senior managers know about how the internet works and how to market websites.

    I worked at one of the largest clothing retailers in the UK and the majority of senior management for the website came from a non-ecommerce background. They still try to push what works in bricks and mortar stores on the web: “Make it big and red, people will click on it then!”

    You may not know that front-end coding (how a website looks) is still self teachable and reasonably easy to pick up. There are loads of online tutorials and you don’t need a “coding” background to understand as it’s all about layout.

    A lot of the people I work with who write content for websites (so-called marketing managers) and use content management systems have very little idea about computers and have to be taught even basic skills: “You don’t need to double click links on a website”, “The browser is what you use to view a website”, “Word documents don’t work very well for a website, even if you ‘Save for web’.”

    The large web design agencies will quite often outsource work to other companies round the world – they don’t care about the quality of the work or code as long as it looks as though it works. If you’re deciding on an agency to build you a site, don’t go with the largest or the most expensive. Try using a medium sized company who have the coders and designers in-house and make sure you can actually talk to the people involved in building the site.

  • Instant gratification monkey

    I am supposed to be a neuroscientist
    1. I spent three weeks doing experiments with people. Since then, I spent 8 months analyzing (see the picture) = Coding and doing weird statistical modeling. I have never had a single course on a) coding b) statistics c) computational modeling at university. Also I haven’t had any on the topic (not even area) I’m researching. I hold a BSc and MSc in ‘neuroscience’.
    So if any of you started a PhD in neuroscience: you’d be at least as prepared as I was.

    2. Other than that, 1 or 2 days a week I teach creativity at university (This is seriously all true.) There my work includes coming up with ‘warm up games’. This means ‘coming up with games for children’s birthdays’; once we spend the first 20 minutes of class running around the house, carrying water in plastic cups with holes. A friend of mine created ‘Turtle wushu’, you actually wanna google-video that and try it! Our department is finanzed by a software billionaire. I doubt he’d be happy to hear what we do exactly.

    • Eli Peter

      My Mom does research in speech pathology and genetics and she’s experienced a similar phenomenon – when your data is too big to fit into Excel, you kind of have to learn a ton of coding/statistics.
      I’m an Electrical Engineer and I’m super impressed by people who can teach themselves code because the work requires it.

  • Tess

    I’m an elementary school teacher and sometimes lock my door and nap on the floor of my classroom, midday, while students are at specials classes. And no, I’m not an alcoholic; just someone who wakes up too damn early for work. 😉

  • Marcus

    I’m a lawyer in a big public company. Among the million things I must do, there are some really lame things, such as number all the pages of every litigation file I work with. Been a lame ass activity, I really hate doing that shit, especially when considering that I must defend this ‘big public company’ in court every day, which is much more important and is my real job activity, which I love.

    So I don’t really care for numbering pages, which makes me forget to number all litigation files…I believe that my brain forces me to forget so I don’t get pissed everyday…but anyway…a good number of litigation files are not numbered.

    You might think that numbering files is not important at all…and that I should not care about that…but here comes the turning point.

    When judging for promotions my ‘superiors’ evaluate my work by analyzing if I numbered all the pages correctly, not by the quality of my actual work, but by this stupid activity that should be done by trained monkeys, not graduated lawyers.

    All the experienced lawyers that work in this company hate to do lame ass trained monkey activities, but not the “fresh from law school – know nothing” lawyers. They realised that the actual lawyer job is not analyzed, but the lame ass activities are, so, what is actually happening here, the “fresh from law school” lawyers are getting all the promotions, not by doing a good job at litigation practice, but by been trained monkeys.

    PS: sorry about the grammar mistakes…english is not my first language.

    • Barry Geibel

      Your english is fantastic, don’t worry. I couldn’t tell that you were a non-native speaker.

      • Marcus

        Tks man…I really worry about not sound sounding like an idiot. Are you a native speaker?

        • Barry Geibel

          Yes I am, so I like to think I have a good ear (eye?) for it.

  • Jackson

    I am a corporate health and wellness coach. I work with people on topics to help educate them on either controlling or managing a chronic or preventable condition for either money saved on premiums or to avoid fines from employers. This is picking up a lot of steam because employers are paying way too much for insurance and health care costs are influenced from a small percentage of very unhealthy individuals with preventable conditions. A lot of what I do is based on behavior change and focusing on intrinsic goals. When you look at the data you come to the conclusion that health isn’t always a matter of education the biggest overlooked factors are
    1) socio-economic class. When you’re a pay check away from losing everything your priorities shift. You also have less access to healthy living staples like an actual grocery store.
    2) Stress. There is a huge correlation between stress and health. The non stop pace of our society is effecting everyone and contributes to conditions ranging from mental illness, heart disease, and diabetes.
    3) Apathy. Some people have already checked out on life and don’t care about spending their lives on medication or having extensive procedures done on them. This is the worst.

  • David Hubbard

    I learned a heaping helping of stuff in the military.

    My favorite thing is the true meaning of a Fiscal Year. Every year, just before the year would end, the commander of the organization I was in would ask every shop, flight, and attachment if they needed “supplies.” These supplies could be anything, be it a new tool, or something along those lines. The purpose of this would be to blow through any budget surplus that we might have, since if we didn’t use the money, we didn’t get to keep it, and the next fiscal year, our budget would be less as a result of not using the surplus. Seems counter-productive.

    • ultraviolet

      And your job is the reason my husband has a job! He processes orders for a government contractor who sends you all those supplies and stuff (mostly technology.) While it’s good that you help our family put food on the table, September is an absolute working hell for him because of the dumb reason you just described! (End of the govt fiscal year is September in case you didn’t know.) So thank you, but please feel free to order stuff the other 11 months of the year too… 😉
      (Also just fyi, that’s the way budgets work in the private business sector too. Equally dumb.)

  • Mya P.

    What I do: Caregiver in an assisted living and rehabilitation
    facility. It’s a world sectioned off from the mainstream population. I
    never realized there were so many people over 90 until I started working
    in this field. The facility I am in is very well run and caters mostly
    to the well-to-do. Most of the residents live independently in pretty
    posh apartments and villas while a smaller segment lives in assisted and
    skilled nursing. Spending a lot of time around very old people (90+) on
    a regular basis is a mixed bag –

    Good stuff:
    1) Knowing you helped someone feel better, at least for a little while.
    Old people are living history – they’ve lived in a world that doesn’t
    exist anymore and hearing them retell what they can remember of it is
    quite interesting.
    3) Making friends.

    Not so good stuff:
    1) Seeing (and hearing) old people even when you are off the clock and your eyes are closed.

    2) Changing adult diapers. It’s almost like changing a baby but is much harder to maneuver a full grown adult.

    3) Having clients scream or quietly whisper that they wish they had a gun or a lot of pills so they be done.

    4) Seeing people deteriorate and suffer.
    5) Losing friends.

    • Mya P.

      Any way I can delete, reformat and repost?

    • Elizabeth J.

      Hi Mya, I worked in geriatrics for many years and you are absolutely right: that whole segment of our society is “cordoned off” and no one knows it’s there.

      I used to think it was a sleazy aspect of our society and I thought about it a lot. I finally realized that people who are that old are just too frail to be out and about so… we just don’t see them. It would be a shock for the general population to see what 90 year olds look like and live like, wouldn’t it?

      • Mya P.

        I think it’s a good thing for them to have a place to go where they will be taken care of. There are many who cannot afford to be in a facility and end up fending for themselves at home relying on friends, family, or churches to help out, if they are lucky.

  • Gerry

    What you might not know about my job is the job itself. I work in a large privately owned agricultural company that specializes in the production of berries, (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries) all over the world. My job is in new business development, which entails exploring potential new growing regions and assessing the growers, climate, land and water availability, labor, and other resources, for suitability for the production of our crops to meet certain timing or regional market demands. The key part of this work (and the most enjoyable aspect of it) is meeting and visiting with local farmers. This could be in various locations across the US and Mexico, where we currently operate extensively; or in any number of countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America. It should come of no surprise that farmers everywhere are pretty similar, and share common traits and concerns: a love of the land and a deep sense of tradition and pride in what they do; an intuitive sense of the sky, wind, and rain as those relate to their crops; a need to have more secure markets for their crops; worries about pests, frost, hail, and other “plagues” that can and often do rob them of their livelihood for a season; and always, a generosity and willingness to share with a fellow farmer. This might be knowledge of local conditions; introductions to others in the industry who might provide useful insights (or future collaborations); or perhaps a just meal shared with the family at the kitchen table (often with meat, fruit and vegetables from his own farm; and if you are lucky he will bring out his special homemade apple or pear brandy from last season, after which, in spite of your language differences, you are likely to become even closer friends).
    When I get home I will write up a report on my findings, and put together some financial analysis showing the risks and benefits of a potential foray into a new land. I like to research the places I’m visiting, and include in my assessments narratives on any political, cultural, and other considerations that might have a bearing in our decision to invest in those places. This turns up often unexpected, sometimes troubling, and always useful information, which adds perspective to our decision making.
    If we ever meet I will tell you some of these and other travel stories over beers.

    • Louis A. Cook

      I live in Philadelphia and I’d love to buy you the beers.

      • Gerry

        Next time I go through Philadelphia on my way to visit those blueberry boys down in Hammonton, I’ll take you up on this.

        • Louis A. Cook

          Please do. I live right by the Italian Market- easy walk from Market East (Now called Jefferson) Station, and close to many great bars and restaurants.

  • d

    I work in one of the Oxbridge Universities in non-research capacity, mostly on things such as outreach. I think most people would be surprised but how imprortant the ‘connections’ are in my job and world. What I do is completely secondary to who I know and how well.

  • Juice_Expert

    I cannot think of anything that might interest you about my current job but everyone *seemed* interested when I talked about my previous job… working a juice factory! Here are a few things you might not know about juice.

    In Europe, most of our juice is concentrated at source (i.e. all the water is evaporated off) and juice is transported as really thick syrup in big drums or even tankers. Most orange juice concentrate comes across from Brazil (unless you live in Spain) and most apple juice comes from little farms dotted around Poland and Germany. Apple juice used to be cheaper from China, but now the Chinese like eating apples and drinking apple juice so it’s not that cheap anymore. Which isn’t a bad thing, because apple juice from Europe is much more acidic and tastes nicer.

    When the juice arrives at the factory, it either pumped directly from the tankers into storage tanks on site, or the drums are unloaded. The juice concentrate is pumped through a network of pipes to HUGE tanks with a capacity of up to 24000L. Water is added to bring the juice back to its original strength and some flavourings are added to cover up the “cooked” notes which might develop during pasteurisation. These flavourings don’t need to be declared on the packaging according to EU legislation so you will never see these flavourings on the ingredients list of juices.

    Because there isn’t much money in making cartons of juice, the way to profit is through economy of scale. Bigger factories are more cost effective. Which means in a BIG juice factory, you’ll get hugely competitive brands running down the line alongside each other.

    There is a huge difference in consumer perception of quality of juices that are stored in your cupboard, and juices that you buy in the chiller aisle and store in your fridge. The reality is – wait for it – they are the same! The chilled juice has a shorter use by date, because it was pasteurised at a lower temperature to try and make it taste fresher. But if you buy room temperature (“ambient”) juice and store it in the fridge, you probably won’t know the difference. And it’s way cheaper.

    Despite knowing all this, I will still go and buy an expensive bottle of Innocent juice from the chiller, because I think it’s nicer. Marketing has penetrated my consciousness and sub-consciousness and entered a new level of deception.

  • brain trainer

    In a former career I use to train CEOs and managers how to
    be better leaders by teaching them a mental skill that improved their
    productivity and ability to focus. A little known insight – what they learned
    in the first twenty years of their lives, haunted them and got the way of their
    best intentions. During our formative years, everyone tries to establish a
    self-identity. By about age twenty or so, the ego is developed and there is a
    transition period to become a mature adult. However, what I’ve discovered is
    most adults still have a lot of pre adult traits that get in the way of what
    they aspire toward. As teenagers, we tried to measure up to our own and others
    expectations. We wanted to be accepted and fit in. This was all well and good
    as kids but as adults, strong needs to continually measure up and fit in come
    into direct conflict with adult values and aspirations. Put another way, as a
    teenager the world is all “me” and what’s in for me, pretty self-centric. Just
    about every leader and professional I’ve worked with unknowingly was still
    strongly motivated from that pre adult premise instead of being primarily
    guided by what they valued and wanted to create in their lives. The ongoing internal
    conflict between a leader’s need to defend and support his fragile self-identity
    versus work toward higher-level aspirations is what causes the vast majority of
    stupid behavior and unintended consequences. Some leaders think they know what
    is best for their organization but are often motivated by what is best for them,
    I mean “me.” When you look at a leader, you are often seeing an adult body
    motivated by a self-centric teenage brain.

    During the training, once this conflict became apparent, about eighty percent of leaders I worked with were able to make a transition, making their values and aspirations the dominant force in their lives. They learned how to reduce the internal conflict and negative affects of their mutant teenage brain. The other twenty percent couldn’t or wouldn’t see the conflict and are still out there making it all about what’s in it for me. This follows the 80/20 rule, twenty percent of leaders are immature assholes causing eighty percent of the problems.

  • Bankiest Banker

    I am a marketing analyst at a top world bank. My job is to apply some lipstick (and mascara) on huge, ugly databases and present them as slutty decks who then speak to the top banking bosses, “You like me? Yeah?”.

  • Louis A. Cook

    I do graphic and product design. I make a lot of infographics and such; sometimes furniture and fixtures. There’s simple methodology to making “things” “good.” It’s all about pre-defining goals for the creation. Things can be good by accident too, but to take credit for it as intentional, or to just assume that things will be good without defining what good actually is, is foolish. I’ve learned through experience that people suck at this.

    When a new client asks me for say, a poster, I always follow up with something like, “who are we trying to motivate to do what for what reasons, and what kind of places do you want to hang this poster?” Most times, people are confused by this line of questions, and they make it clear somehow that they’d prefer to move on to discussing the prettyness of the poster now. I then share concepts surrounding different ways to evaluate a poster, and that the thing that should be most important to anyone paying for a poster to be made is conveyance of their intended message to the most possible people within their target audience. I loose a remarkable amount of potential clients in these moments. Somewhere in here is the difference between fine art and design. Sometimes I just want to say, “Commission a painter to make you a painting, and hang it in your office.” (I make paintings too sometimes)

  • ajDyess

    I used to work with small children (2-4 years old) at a daycare center. Where I worked the common procedure was to tell the kids what to do and just watch them. If anything happened we were to handle the situation but other than that we just supervised. For example: we got a new girl in that always wanted to interact with the kids. I don’t really know why she was in the wrong with that but the higher ups were always telling her not to do that. She eventually realized what they wanted her to do and she started to just watch the kids without interacting. When she was asked about whether or not her sister should enroll her son there, she told her sister to find somewhere else.

    I’m not saying this is what happens at every daycare but it may be one of the reasons our children today are entering the school systems without such a great deal of intelligence. We need to start young and continue on.

    • Garp

      Yeah, I don’t think all daycares are like that. Mine only goes a about 3 hours for 2-4 days of week, depending on my husband’s and my niece’s schedule. (My niece watches her a couple days a week, depending on her work schedule). Anyway, a lot of the daycares I looked into are run more like preschools. My daughter is only 2 and a half years old and only started going there a couple months ago, but the workers definitely interact with the kids, and have lessons. She learns there, which makes me happy. I am sure there are more stand off ones. The kid’s safety is more important, but I love my kid’s daycare because she is definitely learning while she is there.

  • Karen Edgerton

    I have been in the death-care industry (hospice/funeral homes) and my funeral directors made sure not a speck of cremated human remains went on the floor, blew into the air, got on shoes or clothing. Every tiny ash was preserve with the dignity each person deserves

    • Barry Geibel

      That’s what I’ve heard from a close friend who was a funeral director. They treat all the dead with the utmost respect, always.

      • Karen Edgerton

        In the movie ‘Johnny Got His Gun’ there is a line “The dead have a dignity all their own”. Each person is a monument to the life they lead and the legacy they left.

    • Tim

      Nice to read about people actually taking even more care than I would expect, rather than the other way round, which seems to be a lot more common.

      • Karen Edgerton

        My directors left a huge profit-oriented funeral chain and opened a funeral home with prices cut in half because of the economic and demographic area we live in. Still have the biggest hearts in the business. It is an honor to work with them.

  • Sambhav Jain

    Something no one knows about my job is that – our industry is supposed to be the dirtiest there is in terms of person to person dealings. This is the Building construction and interior design industry. Any entrepreneur thinking of getting into this line should be prepared for lot hardships and money related fights with clients and sub-vendors.

    The bigger the order/buyer, the more the hassles. This is just a fact everyone here especially in india have come to expect and live with. Even the likes of Mukesh Ambani would be considered bad paymasters when we come to this industry.

    Only having a good product, design sense, ability to work hard and some fair financial backing can help turning your business into a success. We have tasted this success in less than 5 years of coming on and now fast becoming leaders in the country!

    Remember – interiors and construction industry is hard, with many an assholes in this line, but nothing’s impossible to crack!! 🙂

  • Cava

    My job title is Fishery Officer. It is an amazing job and not one that many people seem to know about. Basically, it is to regulate the sea fishing industry, to make sure they are compiling with the laws related to fishing (which mainly involve having a licence, limits on how you can fish, recording what you catch, sticking to the agreed catch quotas and getting rid of anything that is under the minimum size limit). The most enjoyable parts of the job:
    – Several times a month we patrol at sea and carry out inspections of fishing boats. This involves lots of climbing on and off boats and lots of measuring lobsters. Some of the scenary I see is amazing and there are occasions that I am surrounded by birds diving into the sea, or dolphins jumping, or seals swimming alongside the boat. We have spent a lot of time look for boats fishing with electricity, and have had some success with this.
    – I spend lots of my time standing in some beautiful ports waiting for boats to come in. In the summer these places are usually swarming with tourists and they want to talk to me about what I am doing and learn about the local fishing industry.
    There are also some not so enjoyable parts of the job:
    – There is lots of paperwork and therefore much time in the office to chase up things that are missing.
    – I regularly face verbal abuse from fishermen (and friends I have in the job from other parts of the country have it much worse with threats and even assaults). There are people who are difficult to deal with, and stopping them from making money is likely to provoke a reaction!

    What I think is interesting is this:
    – People have different views on the level of regulation that should apply. Some think that all regulation of this industry is excessive and that people should been able to do what they want. Others think we should see all landings everywhere whatever time they take place (even though there are limited people to do this). It is a difficult balance to achieve and we are encouraged concentrate on the issues that are most likely to be non-complaint. Whatever we do, people will not be happy with what we do.

    • Mya P.

      Interesting job. I love the ocean and would enjoy being paid to be near it and protect it. It would be tough to deal with those who you described as abusive. I can’t imagine to what extent fishing boats are looting the sea on a daily basis. It must be very difficult to regulate and to witness.

      When you are out at sea (not sure how far out you go) do you ever see floating islands of garbage?

  • suzanne

    I’m a pharmacist in Barcelona.

    pharmacies are individual businesses. a pharmacist can have only one pharmacy (or a %), but 100% of the capital must belong to a pharmacist. Only pharmacist (not a businessman, doctor, engineer …). It took 5 years get the degree.

    Medications can be classified into: i funded and on-funded. In the Public Health System, Government pays a % of medicines: the 50% of the founded medication (90% for pensionist) prescrived by Public Health System doctor.

    No, we not sell cocaine (was outlawed long ago)

    No, we not going to make Breaking Bad, so next torn in the dinner table. 🙂

  • Faith

    I’m a mitigation specialist and my clients are accused of first degree murder. You would be suprised to know how sweet, generous and kind a lot of them were outside of that fatal mistake. Even the ones who killed their own children. We interview their family, friends, neighbors… I was very surprised at how “human” and real the people often were. Normally just completely in shock and tears at what they had done in the moment of passion, fatigue, drugs, etc. They sometimes say they don’t deserve or want our help; to just give them the death penalty. One guy (who had been tortured by his paranoid schizophrenia for many years) told me to stop wasting time & just give him a blindfold & a cigarette. What you would not be surprised to learn is that none of them (so far) had loving childhoods other than the ones whose crimes were related to mental illness. I also have to go into great detail with their family members about how they were disciplined as children. They were all spanked.

    • Garp

      Yikes! That must be a really hard job.

    • Tim

      The only small problem I have with this otherwise fascinating post is the last sentence, which suggests that spanking (we call it smacking in my country) may have been part of what caused these later violent outbursts. I was smacked a handful of times by my loving parents when they felt a reprimand was not enough, and it never crossed my mind that this was a behaviour that I could duplicate to control others. Rather it was always made clear to me why the thing I was being punished for was morally wrong, and (after some initial resistance or hurt feelings, perhaps) I saw the sense in those reasons. This put the act of being smacked by my parents in a completely different category in my mind from the violent bullying (physical or emotional) I sometimes witnessed at school, which was purely about dominance/sadism.

      I realise that’s not the same experience every child had, and that there are (sadly) parents out there who beat their kids out of anger rather than when the kid has done something morally wrong and needs to be punished. Those parents are worse than bullies — a kid needs somewhere s/he can feel safe. But I think the vast majority of kids I grew up with had roughly the same experience as I did.

      That said, if there is a statistical association then that would be interesting to know about.

      • Faith

        There’s a line between corporal punishment and abuse and it’s not a fine one… I think it’s all about consistency. Disciplined discipline. There are parents who say, “This is what you did wrong and now I shall give you 5 licks…” And others who just go bat sh*t crazy any time they’re having a bad hair day. The client I’m working on today doesn’t remember her childhood at all, doesn’t remember her foster families, said she wouldn’t recognize any of them if she saw them in the grocery store… Well I just found a 6000 page record of her life in foster care… many transitions, police reports of physical abuse, sexual abuse and neglect beginning at age 1 (one!) and a huge paper trail. She had no idea. She remembered her childhood as being “fine,” nothing out of the ordinary. When I sat her down and showed her some reports I found regarding her own childhood she burst into tears and cryptically said it finally all made “sense.” She is alleged to have murdered her own small daughter. When I look at my little child I can’t help but think about my clients who “lost it” for seemingly insignificant reasons. Oh, and (TMI alert) I was an abused child in a very large very poor family with a pretty significant DCF history. After I ran away from that environment I put myself through 9 years of college and I’m a joyful, grateful adult. I would say I’m generally happier/more content than 98.5% of the population. I don’t need drugs or alcohol and I have never once screamed at or hit my child. I couldn’t. It’s an innate thing I think. Abuse can be really make or break… I digress but yes, it’s not the same. We had one abusive parent and we had one who spanked us with belts but was never what I would call abusive. It was disciplined discipline and there is a distinctive difference. It’s funny someone else commented that this must be a hard job… Actually, unlike my clients, I get to go home every night so it’s impossible not to be thankful. I feel grateful that my life turned out the way it did every time I walk from the jail to my car. Like, legit thankful… it kind of feels how you feel when you come home from a 3rd world country and appreciate everything more. Oh and it turns out our “bad” childhood was actually like a smooshy gooey “Leave it to Beaver” episode compared to that of some of these people. It is impossible to exagerrate the hell that some people have been through and are going through on a daily basis… the people serving you through drive through windows and cleaning your offices… the mental illness and domestic violence and just (UGH) nastiness out there that some people have learned to call home. #NotISaidTheFly (-:

        • SelectFromWhere

          What is “DCF”?

          • Faith

            Sorry, the Department of Children and Families. In some states called HRS or various acronyms… They’re the folks who come into your house to tell you how to raise your children if they suspect you need assistance… and remove them from you if you don’t do as they say. (I’m the in U.S.). It’s a fine line with such agencies though… If they let one child die it’s all over the paper that it’s their fault for allowing it but then they also get a lot of flack for overstepping their bounds. If some crazy person calls them they have to investigate (it starts with an anonymous 800 hotline). So one day unbeknownst to you someone calls and within 24 hours they show up at your house, check your child for bruises, check the beds for sheets, check the fridge for food, have you urinate in a cup so they can make sure you don’t use drugs, etc…. Often they are called repetitively during domestic situations (a lot of false allegations fly during divorces, break ups, etc.). If you don’t jump through the hoops they can put your child in foster care so it’s essentially a family situation police paid by the government to protect children, the elderly, the intellectually disabled, etc. Anyone who can’t fend for him/herself.

      • mpate

        You are right, Tim! Parents do smack their kids at times. I actually had more scolding given to me than any of my other siblings. However, something in my heart said they love me and that’s why they care and scold me. There were times, I would cry in a corner for hours and not speak to them for a day; but at the end – they are right no matter how much mad I get at them.

        Now, I’m married and I don’t have kids yet but I see other kids (friends & family). And, I realize, good thing – parents smacked when they had to. Cuz, that’s what has made me a great individual now and has made me seen this beautiful world in a successful way. Smacking kids was an old school way that doesn’t work anymore though. So, guess, I’m gonna have to scold my kids in a different (less harmful) manner 🙂

      • Lightforge

        Non-corporal punishment is effective in various areas as long as the great majority of contingencies are reinforcement-driven. Not that we need to reward everything vaguely positive, it’s just that fear/shame decreases (suppresses) behavior while joy/accomplishment increases behavior…and children need to learn to do things more so than to avoid doing things. Punishment is also far more difficult to use well, even with training, and it makes children/people more resistant to future punishments. The more a person is punished, the less potential negative consequences weigh against future decisions. That said, for some behaviors, especially where serious physical danger is involved, there’s no substitute.

        Corporal punishment specifically is virtually useless, though, because there are always better alternatives that carry fewer risks (even not counting the risk of crossing the line into abuse). Statistics-wise, specific results depend on the study in question, particularly the exact outcomes measured and duration. But across many studies, the answer is pretty clear. In a nutshell, even controlling for known confounds, there are no positive benefits of using corporal punishment (in the general population in the U.S.) and a variety of risks, both minor and serious. On an individual level, some children are resilient to it, others are harmed, and none benefits any more than if better punishments were used. It’s a common example of common sense being wrong, and it will likely take generational changes to phase out. I personally always thought spanking/smacking was just fine until I actually studied it. To be fair, there are worse things you can do, and everyone’s going to mess up their kids somehow. But this is just one area we can take it down a notch.

    • Wow, what an amazing story! I am a filmmaker, I would love to talk to you!

      • Faith

        I’m down! 321-438-8394. I may have to chage my # now but that’s okay… I just looked up “Alive Inside” and decided I wasn’t that attached to it anyway. 😉

  • Jake

    I got my job by playing World of Warcraft. I ran around with a small group during Vanilla through The Burning Crusade, during downtimes we’d chat about life and work. It turned out that two of us were in the same field, computer programming. We stayed in touch after quitting the game and shared articles and information about software development which led me to join his company. Six years later we are still trucking along as a successful 6 person company.

    Part of the unofficial terms of my employment are to never play World of Warcraft again.

    • Louis A. Cook

      Amazing. Similarly, I got my current job through connections I made as a result of online fishing communities.

  • Marie

    Some pilots have more fun flying by themselves in small planes compared to flying bigger planes full of people – like riding a stunt bike compared to driving a school bus!

  • Dana

    I’m a Pastry Cook at a catering company right now but before I was in a hotel. Its harder to make a small batch of something than a large batch because most of our ingredients are in larger sizes so it take more time to measure out smaller amounts. We also have larger equipment and mixing by hand takes more time. I only mention this because it was something that surprised me.

  • V.

    Behind the scenes of life as an Au Pair (Nanny) for a cliche, white trash, rich family.
    I thought it would be like the movies. Wonderful nanny meets uncooperative, naughty children. They end up being brilliant, darling little angels with hearts of gold who realize life’s great and there’s no need to be a painful herp sore on societies ass. Yes. That’s right. I described kids as a herp sore on societies ass. Right. On it. Mary Poppins lied too – I got zero magic flying powers.

    The kids were ages 6, 10 and 14. Every disgusting thing they did was my fault, (yeah, uh huh, was I the one that raised them to be that way? No. Thank you.), and it was always excused by someone saying “Oh come on, they’re only… insert age here..!.”. I don’t believe racial hate, sexism, homophobia and derogatory expressions are really acceptable at ANY age. Especially when they realize what they’re saying means. And boy did they know.

    TLDR: I was assigned the role of Nanny for the spawn of Satan. When reading this list of “Shit I Dealt With Daily” take into account the fact that I was a very calm, resilient care giver. I took the time, every damn time, to sit and explain why the actions weren’t acceptable. And why it’s so much more awesome to be a better person and to make more positive choices (“Which I KNOW you can do. Right guys?”)

    I was kicked, hit, bitten, spat on. Daily.

    I had to break up fights between the 6 foot, 200lb 14 year old and his stick insect 6 year old brother. Yeah, the 14 year old would film himself smiling with joy and beaming with pride over the fact that he could smash a 6 year old. The 6 year old would bite and scratch the hell out of me in anger whenever I stopped them, or end up screaming in tears if I didn’t.

    One of them took a dump ON the toilet seat and told me to “clean it up, you work for me.”

    Pee. On the floor. Always.

    Repeated, joyful shouting of racial slurs. I mean REPEATED. I won’t write them. Just think the worst and you got it.

    Hearing the 14 year old tell me “I don’t want a girlfriend. I’m a player, I just wanna fuck then play around with another girl. They all want me. I have so many naked snap chats.” – Really? Then what? Do you make these kids some warm milk after and go to sleepy sleep before school tomorrow? (I did in fact give the “Breaking hearts is a dick move and uh, at least have safe sex” talk. Don’t worry.)

    I got shot with a BB gun trying to stob one sibling shooting another.

    Confiscated matches, cigarette lighters and fire works from the 6 year olds bedroom.

    Heard the “Homosexuals are disgusting” rant day in and day out. (Love is love guys. C’mon.)

    Was asked “Are there many coloureds and negros whete you’re from?” – What is this. 1950? My country is MULTICULTURAL, yes, and it’s great.

    Got told “Negros, Asians and Jews” are inferior. Racist jokes are just shit. Extra shit coming from white, tacky, rich children and their family.

    Watched them refer to their previous nanny as “Whats her name.” and “The other one.”. Extra shitty because she RAISED them for 7 years, sending money overseas to her own children in much worse to do living conditions.

    “Why did my brother get to go to Lego Land?? I only got to go to a pool party. I demand you take me to Lego Land tomorrow AND I want a better toy.”. Yes. He was promptly taken to Lego Land which was a half hour away and got a bigger toy.

    “I’m graduating grade 8 and ALL the school is doing to reward us is the freakin’ aquarium and Wonderland? What’s wrong with them!” .. Hey.. you get given a free education. That’s a reward in itself. Some kids don’t even have that.

    “If I found a *insert animal here* then *insert elaborate ramt about how they would kill it.”. – Life’s precious little guy, animals are friends we need to peotect and incase you didn’t know, they feel pain too. Please listen to me before this habit requires therapy.

    Oh you soaked your retainer in a cup and then returned it to the cupboard without washing it… sorry… leaving it out for me to wash? Yep. I can taste the Listerine. I may vomit just a little. “It’s ok! Just remember next time buddy!”.

    The dog is barking? Of course, kicking her in the throat is perfectly logical. You aren’t awful at all.

    “The old people that work for pur parents have done it their whole life for minimum wage. How stupid are they. They must reeeally like it here!” – Please, tell me more as you spend their weekly wages worth of your parents money on iPad and PS3 games in the next 30 minutes.

    “I’m buying Beats By Dre. I don’t care what you say I want them for bragging rights.” – Fine. But like I told you, bragging rights isn’t going to make them effective in playing DOWNLOADS on your PHONE in better quality. Mp3 files don’t work that way. And yeah, uh, Beats By Dre. Shitty.

    “My knife is the same as the kind used by U.S marines. It cost so much money but I don’t use shit stuff.” – yeah ok that knife is fucking huge and sharp and you’re huge and irresponsible. Plus I’ve only seen you open freezer hot dogs with it so you kind of look stupid.

    And probably the saddest part, being hated on with every ounce of being they had, every single day, until night time when I had to tuck the youngest in, read to him and snuggle with him until he fell asleep because his parents weren’t there. We’d say I love you, I’d stay and read even after he fell asleep, and it would begin again the very next morning.

    • Louis A. Cook

      This is a sad but enlightening read. I guess I always knew life as any type of assistant could be like this, but I wanted to believe that someone in your shoes would have magic powers to enlighten the kids. Oh well. Hopefully the experience opened some doors for you and informed your perspective in a way that that is useful after the fact. I enjoyed the read. (In the way people enjoy horror movies)

    • Garp

      That is so sad.

    • JMo

      This sounds truly horrifying. You have the patience and compassion of a saint. If you don’t mind me asking, would you mind sharing the country and/or state you were in? Based on a few items on your list, I’m imagining that you’re somewhere in the US, somewhere in the south, and somewhere in a sprawling, old-money white suburb where you can’t walk or bike to literally anything. Just a guess.

    • Awesome writing!

      Lets make a film of your story!

  • Hamed Es

    I am working in a company, which I am not busy at all. I suggested the boss myself, let me work here on Part-time, strangely he didn’t accept. Now after 3 months he found that I was right, and now he wants to admit that if I come to work part-time would be enough, but because I told him first he wants to prove his idea. what a fool.

  • gatortator

    I previously worked in the semiconductor industry where it was common to meet co-workers in “the bootie room”. I also wore a “bunny suit” daily at work.

  • I work at a company that went belly up in 2001. I won’t name the company though one can probably figure it out as it was the largest failure in the history of the insurance industry. Yes, we’re proud. I am an actuary and because of the nature of insurance, there are a large number of claims (mostly workers’ comp and other liability) that are still open as their final values are yet to be determined. That is part of my job as one role of an actuary is to determine the future liabilities of a company. What I do specifically is actually somewhat different and has to do with potential commutations of reinsured business but I already see your eyes glazing over. The surprising thing, in short, is that you don’t often find someone working at a company that has been out of business for 13 years. While my time is probably near an end, I’ve had better job security than people at ongoing companies as my work is completely immune to the economy.

    • Vysakh S

      Wait..so if the company is out of business and earning 0 revenue, who pays your salary?

      • Once an insurance company goes into liquidation it is taken over by the state in which it is domiciled. In our case, the State of PA is paying our salaries.

  • Zuzu

    My full time job has been being a student for the past 14 years. Now I’m at the cusp of getting my bachelor’s and I could not be more ambivalent about what I just spend all this precious time doing. Some people really enjoy this activity or even become great at it, but I’m constantly struggling. I constantly go through existential crises and asking myself WHY. Why am I doing this?Why do I care?What’s this world all about? Am I the only one who gets freaked out by how many different perspectives there are? Why do I have ten fingers and ten toes? Why is the science that I’m studying is so divorced from ‘subjective experience’ when that’s all we really can experience? How do people cope with existence or perceive others’ actions? Anyways, I’m studying engineering and I just realized I’m not cut out for it. I can’t focus on the end result when I have all these philosophical questions unresolved in my mind. Hopefully I’ll find happiness and let myself go on and choose what’s best for me instead of constantly molding myself by social standards. I notice there’s a lot of I’s in my paragraph but hopefully I’m not the only jacked up, confused student suffering from sinusoidal emotional patterns around here and could get some input and perhaps advice on how to not loose one’s shit.

    • Mya P.

      Wow. Sounds like information overload and you lost yourself in the midst of it. It seems like some time for introspection and being able to have your own thoughts for a while would do you good. Everyone regardless of what they do has to have time to ‘just be’ and experience the joy of just being. Hope you find some peace of mind soon. Be well.

    • Tom

      “They’ve long known there’s nothing to life, but the living if it.”

      • Zuzu

        Thank you everyone for sharing. I think finally realizing that I’m just supposed to live my life and enjoy it is surprisingly mind blowing. It takes some effort to isolate myself from the daily grunt and realize that it doesn’t have much meaning outside of the weird reality we all create for ourselves. Time to change perspectives and let go of cultural baggage.

    • suzanna_dean

      First of all, you are fine.
      You are normal. That’s a long
      time to be in school, and not in the workforce, so you have not yet had a
      chance to intermingle with alot of people that do not share the same
      path/experiences that you do.

      Being in the engineering field, you have been exposed to
      mostly logical thinkers that probably explore the world within that
      mindset. My bet is that you haven’t had
      many people interested in discussing the ‘illogical’ in a casual manner in a random
      conversation. Most likely people that
      you have been in contact with are heads down in their own pursuit of the
      degree, which requires mastery of a certain way of thinking to be successful.

      Finish your degree, you are almost there. Once you enter the workforce, you will be
      exposed to people from Sales, Marketing, General Business…. all disciplines which require thought
      processes completely different from yours.
      Interacting with other mindsets and points of view on a day to day basis
      will ease the anguish that you currently feel and allow you to be both
      fulfilled and successful.

  • Panda Morse

    People in the specific business of caring about others and changing society can be mean, spiteful, immature, greedy and self-serving. It’s pretty alarming. Their egos and their employment all runs together and basically they are socially serving themselves a huge helping and making no apologies for it.


    I used to work on telephone billing equipment. Whenever I described my job, people were always amazed at how many levels are involved between making a phone call and getting a bill. Bills just seem to happen automatically, but that’s not the case. We had a library filled with manuals describing all of the complication that occurs when someone simply picks up a phone and makes a call. The industry is so huge that we actually had a customer that was also a competitor. They didn’t realize that they had a division that was selling a competing product.

    Telephones are so ubiquitous that you probably don’t give a moment’s thought to the army of people required to make every detail possible. You may not remember the days when area codes always had a 0 or 1 as the middle digit, and never ended with a 0. Back in the 90s, they were running out of area codes and I was responsible for modifying our equipment so it could handle the extra digits. We had encoded the middle digit as a single bit to save space (yeah, the 90s) and thus created for ourselves our personal mini-Y2K five years ahead of everyone else. That one little detail kept me employed for a time.

    In some third-world countries, they billed people by taking photographs of telephone meters every month. Someone would hold the negative up to last month’s picture to determine how much they used their phone that month.

  • Bob D

    I am a construction manager aka resident engineer on construction projects for municipalities in the US.

    Jobs usually run from a few months to several years.

    When I started doing this I didn’t realize that almost all of my job would involve negotiation. We negotiate among the contractor, the owner (department paying for the job), the architect, the designer and the various sub-contractors on the project. Some of the issues are petty and involve only egos but much of the time we must settle disputes that can amount to a lot of money (think 6-7 figures).

    All of this work is based on contracts but there is always wiggle room. No one ever goes to the lawyers and every issue is worked out on the job. This is not typical of other areas of business in the U.S.

    I learned a lot about this by doing business overseas where the concept of lawsuits, courts etc. for business differences is unheard of.

  • Victoria

    I’m an optometry school student in the USA, and it’s saddening to see a rise of things that demotivate people from going to an actual eye doctor. Whether it’s ordering contacts or glasses online (totally cool with this practice in theory) — except people are using many-year-old prescriptions and there have been numerous cases of poor quality lenses produced (that can lead to vision issues). Apps and websites that can find the “power of your eyes” — the problem being that this would be completely subjective to the patient without a trained professional being able to validate the information. And that visual acuity is more than just the size of print you can read. And possibly the most integral but often overlooked part of having a visit to your eye doc the actual looking at your eyes (when we look into your eyes with bright lights and funky equipment) — that’s how we find the problems before they get really bad, before you’re even symptomatic.

    I get that there is a fraction of people who think optometrists are just there to sell expensive glasses — and yes, the sale of frames does help keep these — often small — businesses afloat, practically all businesses do this. (When you buy a burrito at Chipotle, you’re paying for more than just ingredients. When you buy a pair of jeans from Wherever-You-Buy-Jeans, you’re paying for more than just the bare material.) Overall, we’re folks who are trying to help people, and we’re trying to have a stable job doing just that.

    And please don’t applaud the 5-15min exam. If you visited your family doc for a standard checkup, would you really want your doc to just look at you for 5 minutes? You’re complex, and boy, so are your eyes. We want to provide you with excellent care and that requires time.

  • rana

    I am a scientist.
    We work very hard, very long just to put that pill in the hands of the doctor that gives it to you. I wish people more people donated to research.

    • Bob Roach

      Why should more donations translate to more research results and better medicines? I have a brother who’s a research scientist. He’s convinced me not to donate to research-based charities.

      The bulk of the donated research money hardly ever reaches the actual scientists doing the work. Charity and program administrators? Different story. Same for research results. Big players take the credits of the hard working underlings.

      I’m not saying that the drug research industry is any different than other economically powerful activities, it’s just that I resent their portrayal as entirely benign, selfless benefactors to humanity. Any search for “Big Pharm scandals” should back up that truth.

      Also, have you followed the request here? What have you told us that’s really interesting or surprising about what you do, or your industry?

  • Laura

    I am a realtor- and there are a ton of misconceptions about us out there. I think that people think we make an absurd amount of money for what we do- but if you look up the average yearly income of realtors you will see that it is very low. Also- to be successful at ALL in this profession, you work 24/7. I regularly work 16 hour days and rarely take vacations. It is an extremely challenging and competitive job- only the people who love it and who are beloved by their clients (you must get referrals to survive) last for more than a year or two. Here are a couple of things that most people don’t know about realtors; for every deal I close (and commission I get paid), there are 10-20 that I worked just as hard on but did not get paid a cent for. Buyers regularly have me showing them properties and doing research for them for months or years, only to decide they want to remain renters- or move to London- or join the Peace Corps. Whatever- for all of those, I get paid nothing. Sellers regularly put properties on the market for unrealistic amounts, against advice, and when they don’t get the price they want, decide not to sell. In this case, not only do I not get paid a cent for weeks or months worth of work, I am actually out a LOT of money that I put into marketing and advertising. These examples are the NORM- they happen all of the time. Also, when you see that realtors get 5%-6%, that means that the buyers agent and the sellers agent split that amount. Then each agent pays 20%-50% of their half to their broker for insurance, operating cost, administration, desk fees, etc. Then, after those splits, each realtor must pay 30%+++ for taxes and expenses out of what is left (and expenses are huge!). So it is nothing even close to what you imagine it is. Another thing people do not know- it is crazy to search on your own for a house- maybe do a little research at first, but then find a professional. A good local agent will save you major time, heartache and money because they know the ins and outs of the market and neighborhood. It’s a free service to buyers- sellers pay all the commission in most states, so why not get some professional help for free??? BTW- Trulia, Zillow, etc are just advertising sites. They just steal data from legit sites and sell leads to agents. They are not real estate sites with professional realtors. But mostly what you need to know is that most agents are just hardworking people who love houses and like dealing with the public- people just trying to make a living and do a good job like everyone else.

  • Matthew

    I am a professional male ballet dancer. I’m only 24 but have been dancing professionally for paying audiences since I was 17. I chose to go to college when most begin their careers upon graduating high school (if they even get that far). In the past year I have danced at the Joyce Theater in NYC, throughout the Bay Area in San Francsico, Juneau AK, and a few small town nutcracker gigs in NC.
    I have 35,000 of debt to pay off from a school I went to on a 90% scholarship. All I want people to understand is that professionally dancers do not get paid nearly anything! I made only 11K last year living in the Bay. It was the happiest year of my life only spending the money I had. My company folded and now I’m working two service jobs to just pay my monthly debt. All I want to do is have enough money to May my debt and eat well. The arts are severely over looked and under appreciated in this nation.

  • xendawg

    I’m a marine surveyor. If you are buying a boat, particularly a used boat, you should get me or one of my colleagues to look the thing over for you. There will be a list of things that are wrong with the boat – sometimes big important things, almost always cosmetic things, and mostly just routine maintenance things. THIS LIST NEVER ENDS. You can fix it all, but something else will go wrong. Its entropy.

    • Bob Roach

      You conciseness, clarity and story-structure is brilliant. This could be the text from a very good children’s book. Awesome.

  • Dave Dv

    I’m an airline pilot and I just had to clear up some of the things in the initial post. #2 and #3 are correct but we are definitely not asleep for much of the flight! It’s allowed for one of us to take a short nap if you’re tired (lots of early mornings/late nights and weird time zones will do that to you), but the other pilot has to be awake and if we both ever fall asleep during flight we’d be in a lot of trouble. On long haul flights, there are more than 2 pilots on board and they’ll take turns to go back and sleep in the bunks, but no way are both pilots in the cockpit asleep, except maybe that flight that overflew its destination a few years ago 🙂

    Couple of other misconceptions about my job…
    – it’s not as glamorous as it’s made out to be. For every night in a “glamorous” destination, there are 5 or 6 in some generic hotel next to the airport in some nondescript city where the highlight of your day will be the free breakfast at 5am before you leave for the airport. The 1970s were the glory days of aviation. Nowadays, airlines have figured out how to make their crews productive and hanging out for days in Paris or NYC is not productive. When we’re at work we fly our asses off. The odd time we get to party in Hawaii is the exception, not the rule (but it’s definitely still a nice perk!)
    – the computers don’t just fly the plane while we sit there and do nothing, as lots of people seem to think. Automation takes care of a lot of the monotonous parts of flying a plane but airplanes still require people with training and experience to fly them. Even if you use the automation to its maximum ability, the computers are still dumb and need humans to tell them what to do.

    Love this website. So glad I found it

  • Anja

    I am from Germany and there is something about a few companies (as the one I am working for) that amazes me. We have around 30.000 from 120.000 employees who do nothing. High official. They get paid for just come to work, do nothing and go home again. And they stay because… Well there is a good reason behind it as it is really hard to find a new job with a certain age and qualification. And as there is no legal way to fire this people or to force them to learn something new (like dealing with a computer)… They just stay untile pension. Doing official nothing.
    Some cannot stand it and quit. But the number seemed still quiet high to me

    • Sargas

      Are you sure you are German and not Italian

  • I have been an artist and designer for over 25 years. To keep some money flowing over the years I’ve done everything from designing greeting cards, designing textiles, fabricating large metal sculptures, I painted numerous murals, I made jewelry, painted designs on furniture, did some blacksmith work, some portraits of humans and pets, and was a welder on the side as well as a wiz with a pencil.

    I was very fortunate to have had an eight year run as a successful gallery artist toward the end of my career, by painting mostly highly realistic still life paintings which sold extremely well and were collected by a few very kind collectors. I am now essentially retired, as my eyes are going and physically I’m not up to toil involved.

    I am one of the very few artists who has been fortunate enough to actually make a living at painting without having to subsidize his art career by busing tables, teach first graders not to eat the paste and use crayons, slave away at art fairs, etc. Even still, in my very best year I grossed $52K. More often over those years, My average earnings hovered around $18K.

    The truth about being an artist is that many of those who were kind enough to
    look at or buy my art work had absolutely no clue as to what it really
    took to be a working painter. If you are a prospective artist hoping
    for easy respect and praise, honestly, you may as well forget it. Most
    people regard artists like the guy who innocently said to me at a
    cocktail party: “Cool! So you’re an artist. That’s fantastic! I really
    wanted to be an artist too at one time, but then I decided I needed to
    get a REAL job.”

    Also, in my experience, most people seem to believe that an artist’s creations just flow out of their hand from some magic
    spigot, without any real effort. “You have a gift” they say.

    What most people don’t know about being an artist is that it usually takes years to get anywhere, even if you’re very good, and it takes working like a mad bastard to make any real money or garner even minor recognition for your skills. For most of my years as a painter it was not uncommon for me to work 6-10 hours a day, while having to
    concentrate and maintain tight control of my body and hands, and all the while trying to keep a critical eye on the quality of the work I was doing. Its a tough business physically and emotionally with very little in it unless you’re a guy like me who loved creating things so much that I couldn’t NOT do it. Creating good stuff was the best reward I got out of my career. Besides, some of those paintings will be around land being enjoyed by somebody long after I’m gone.

    And oh yeah… If you want to make cash, work where there is lots of money for expendables items like art, not in Wheatville OK.

  • Cacata

    The owner after 19 years working and suppose I was her right hand. She just came out and said that I was screaming one sunday, I know as a fact I was not. And there’s camera to prove it..then she tells me you’ll co e back!! ..still waiting for that…went over there had my hair done. Nigjibg…even my sunday, that that was the day I really started . She took them iff!!!…can I do so.etjing about this….I. an just imagine what she’s telling the customer…now she’s puching this other new girk!!!…I worked my ass off….and this is how she repays me????…

    • LGD


  • Bianca

    I am a primary school teacher. What I’d like to share with you is this: just because you also were a student in school and now youre a parent sending your child to school doesn’t mean you know how to teach. seriously- it’s surprises me to hear parents brazenly believe teaching primary is ridiculously easy. Yes, basic arithmetic and sentence construction is simple but just because you know your times tables and know where to put a comma, this doesn’t mean to say you know how to teach math or language arts! one fact for you to know about teaching primary- its a profession!

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