Monday, June 18, 2007

Soft hands

I have unusually soft hands. They are not the softest in the world, but they are still quite soft. Before you start thinking that I don’t do anything that would “rough” them up – let me assure you – I do. I have done various forms of manual labor since I was in old enough to work. I have been a bicycle mechanic, theatre carpenter, metal sculptor, concrete sculptor, hours of landscaping; the list can go on and on. Not to mention the athletic things I have done that should build up calluses or otherwise “damage” my hands – tennis, golf, ultimate Frisbee, climbing, years of baseball – it just seems logical that my hands would be a little “rougher.” Hell, I even played guitar for a bit (not too long) – but long enough that it hurt the tips of my fingers.

I don’t want my hands to look like Clint Eastwood’s face – but I feel like people silently judge me because of their lack of coarseness. They think, “Oh, here comes that designer/professor guy, he doesn’t ever do any work – have you felt his hands?” I’m not really looking for sympathy, nor am I looking for suggestions on what do to “harden” my hands. Rather I was just using this as a lead in to something more substantial.

I know, I know – what could possibly mean more to ANYBODY than my soft hands? Well, not much, maybe this – US News had an article on their website the other day – it was called Best Careers 2007. My guess is the article is still up on their site if you are interested. The only career I remember from the list is college professor – and really I didn’t even look at the rest of the list. I am going to cut and paste what they say about it…

Professor: Executive Summary

By Marty Nemko

Posted 12/18/06

If you can land a tenure-track position at a four-year institution, you'll enjoy many advantages. You'll get the pleasure of teaching–but only six to 15 hours a week, so you're unlikely to burn out. Outside of class, you're required to meet with students, but that too is just a few hours a week. Most of the time, you'll do research or write on a scholarly topic that interests you. And in some specialties, you can pick up extra money by consulting. You also get to work in a delightful work environment: a college campus. Plus, after seven years, you get tenure–lifetime job security.

The downside? It's tough to land a tenure-track job. It helps if you were a star in your Ph.D. program–and it helps more if that was at a prestigious university. Obtaining a Ph.D. typically takes five to eight years once you've got a bachelor's degree. In sciences, you may also have to excel in a postdoctoral fellowship.

Be forewarned: Some academics complain about political correctness in the awarding of jobs and tenure, arguing that if you espouse conservative or libertarian theories regarding societal problems, you have a strike or two against you. And if you don't get a tenure-track job, you could end up teaching courses part time, like one third of faculty members at universities. You might land a full-time faculty position at a two-year community college, but some professors are frustrated by the heavier workload, and by a bigger intellectual gap between students and instructors.

Median Salary

$73,666. More specific salary data, provided by

So – I have a few things to say. First – who is getting paid a TON to make up for my salary? I am not complaining…but if the median salary is $73,000 – well – I just hope that one day I am on the OTHER end of the spectrum. Second – I don’t really have anything else to say. I do consider myself very lucky for landing a tenure track position. I hope it leads to tenure…

Anyway – this sort of got me thinking. For years I wanted to be a freelance designer/artist. I thought it would be an incredibly romantic and exciting way to make a living. I was unaware how much I would actually enjoy the professor thing (and not just because I make my dad call me professor Strain). In just my first year I have done some amazing things with my career – all with the stability of a steady job. I could ramble on and on about the good – but there is yet another purpose to all of this.

With all of these thoughts in my mind, I spent the weekend working in my yard. We are having a new fence put in (which thankfully I am not doing much for), I had to bury some downspouts, loads of planting, today I just finished reroofing the HUGE barn. As I sat on the barn…sweating…something crossed my mind. Being a roofer would suck – A LOT! My barn is not really huge – I can only imagine what it would be like to actually do an entire roof.

So, without further adieu, here is a list of the top 25 worst jobs (at least for me). I will make large and gross generalizations here…and…I appreciate people who do these jobs – I just don’t want them. Note: these are in no particular order.

1. Roofer.

2. Landscaper.

3. ANYTHING in food service.

4. Lawyer (sorry Dad).

5. Anything in the medical professions.

6. House painter.

7. Lowe’s employee.

8. Any retail employee.

9. Freelance designer/artist (I am learning to find romance in security).

10. Anything in safety/security.

11. Anything involving sanitation/trash.

12. Dog poop scooper (there’s a company in Franklin that does it).

13. Appliance installer/remover (appliances are heavy and used ones are GROSS).

14. Dry cleaner/launderer.

15. Mortician/undertaker.

16. President of the U.S.

17. Web developer/computer programmer.

18. Planet Earth videographer (they spend months in caves/deserts, etc.).

19. Anything that requires EARLY mornings…unless I can just stay up the night before.

20. Anything airline related – pilot, steward, guy with the cones…

21. Any desk/cubicle job.

22. Pilgrim (mostly because I hate Thanksgiving).

23. Gas station attendant.

24. Car salesman.

25. Lumberjack (see previous blog).

So – I think that sums that up. As I mentioned earlier – I really do appreciate the people that do these jobs, they are just not for me. As a matter of fact it seems that there are only a few jobs that I am suited for/capable of. Firstly and most obviously – the job I am in. It would also appear that I could make it as a strip club owner or perhaps a lingerie designer. I don’t really think that there are even any other jobs, are there? I am sure I covered them all. So – if I ever finish with this professor thing I have two options.

What about you, faithful reader? What job are you in? What job can you not stand? What is your dream job? Do you have soft hands? Are you a pilgrim?

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