Are You Sure That’s A Job?

Dear readers,

before I start with another reflection on Missouri and its weirdness unique features seen from my Dutch eyes, I have an announcement. As you may have noted, my Fridays have been somewhat off. I have decided to therefore scratch the Friday part of this blog until my bachelor dregree is in the pocket. You may wish me luck with my thesis and the seven finals (that’s not normal, don’t worry) that I have coming up. In other news, I will be visiting Missouri again. I booked my flight tickets today and will be walking on American soil from August 6. I can’t wait either. From now on, you can suggest all sorts of activities you think I should do, on top of the list that I could already assemble of your earlier suggestions. I’ll see you next Tuesday. I don’t say this enough, but I really like you reading this blog and I enjoy every single comment you make.

Now, I may have touched on today’s observation earlier, but I want to expand it. In today’s job market, it’s a good thing if you know you’ve got a job. Some jobs in the United States however, seem created for their own sake. You don’t find these anywhere in the Netherlands. Let me list four examples:

  • The guy packing your groceries. Because some teenage punk or old person registering what you just bought is service rather than breaching your privacy.
  • The old person (I’m sorry, but compared to me, they just are) greeting me at Wal-Mart. Or, more often, not greeting me, nor giving me one of those cool stickers.
  • The old guy putting my suitcase on a conveyor belt (same link as before). Because I can drag it through five different airports, but actually on the conveyor belt would be too much.
  • Living road signs. Yes, this is a job, apparently. Those people stand on the side of the road and show you where to have your car washed, where to eat chicken or who to hire to hold your sign.

Like someone would hire her for something else to do. Come on...

You don’t find these jobs where I come from. As always, I’m just reflecting, but sometimes it feels like everybody could do better. Even though it’s good to have a job.
What’s the least skilled you ever had to be for a job?
Are you also excited for August 6?

31 thoughts on “Are You Sure That’s A Job?

  1. My least skilled job was the half-summer I spent working in a factory. Even then I learned stuff, though. Like, if I want to, I can be an AWESOME t-shirt folder. Also, how to use those little tag guns that put the paper tag with the plastic attachment in your clothes.

    And . . . to respect people who work in factories, too.

    I like to think the sign-people do other things at their place of employment, too, and just that day their boss says, “Okay, Trina–today YOU get to look like an idiot on the sidewalk.” But maybe I”m wrong about that. I’m not familiar with the conveyer belt guy (but that’s hilarious!), but yeah, I think I get what you’re saying. Do these jobs provide people with dignity or not? Maybe it depends . . .

    • I thought I replied to this one already, but well, I’ll go again 🙂

      Some of those living sings seem a part of the company, but I’ve seen others that clearly have only the one job description. I used to work in a factory as well and am still using the piling of boxes I learned there ;-). How DO you in fact fold a t-shirt?

  2. Well, as much as I dislike Wal-Mart (I occasionally have hippy tendencies, don’t judge me) I like the old people they have greeting. As people are living longer and longer, it’s harder to get by on just Social Security, and a job like greeting at Wal-Mart is easy for people who aren’t maybe in the best physical health.

    And just to get me back on track for disliking Wal-Mart, they’re ending that job now.

    The easiest job I ever had was selling t-shirts with fish on them at a store in the local mall. It was a tiny store, and I was usually by myself when I was working, which got real boring, real fast.

    • Ahhh, there are lots of reasons to dislike Wal-Mart (we may have the same tendencies, but I also have a budget that doesn’t always work with my ‘benefits are beneficial to the whole country’ beliefs. It’s a shame they’re ending that job though, even if I myself didn’t see the necessity, I liked those people not having to spend their days inside, saving money they don’t have. Did you have a cellphone to play with when working that job?

      • Well, I did this job right about 1997 – so a little too early in the information age for a cell phone to be any fun. Also, being that it WAS 1997, I think I actually had a pager.

        I know, right? Sexxxxxxxy.

  3. I completely agree with you about the jobs just being created for their own sake, but if a private company wants to create meaningless jobs to help alleviate some financial troubles, more power to them. I actually only work about 20% of the time at my job. It’s not because my job was just created for its own sake, but actually because we are waiting for more work that is being held up on the project side.

    Good post!

    • First: thanks for stopping by. Second: I fully support companies in helping people out, even if just by little bits. Even when jobs may seem meaningless, I would think they give a sense of purpose, or a reason to get up. Also, when you wouldn’t have a choice, any money earned from working would be welcome, I suppose. Let’s hope there’s more work coming your way!

  4. Living road signs cracked me up. There is a church just up the road from me that holds a barbeque most weekends in the summer. There is always a guy dressed up as a chicken dancing on the street. When I said something about “barbeque at the church,” my son said, “That’s a church? I thought it was a barbeque place!” Fail…epic…fail…

    • Christianity and meals go well together, but having someone jump around in a chicken suit may not benefit how seriously people take you as a church. When done well, those signs really can add to the experience as a customer.

  5. the least skilled job I’ve ever had to do was sticking lables on some food stuffs for the family of a friend of mine. I was still at school and we were helping out in my friend’s parents butcher’s shop. Yes, we are all excited you’re going back to the land of huge plates of pancakes and waffles. Good luck with your thesis and all the exams:)

  6. The jobs you noticed in Missouri made me laugh 🙂 You’re right.. I have yet to see a “bagger boy” when I’m buying my groceries. Instead, I frantically throw everything in my (reusable!) bag so I don’t take up the time for someone else. I never knew how much I’d miss the laziness of not packing my groceries….

    The easiest job I’ve had is working at the desk of my school. I sit there in 3 hour increments and work on homework the entire time or surf the internet. All with the perks of getting free laundry and toilet paper! (For a college student like me… those are the BEST).

    • I remember when I was a teenager, this packing business at the registre can be really awkward. You’re packing your stuff, paying for your stuff and trying not to take too long all at the same time. It felt like everybody was sighing in disbelief of how clumsy I was. Nowadays I just take my time. I have heard sometimes people here pack it up too, but mainly for the elderly. I might want to keep it that way.

      That job sounds perfect. I once looked for the same sort of job at a hotel at night. I would get so much reading done…

      • It is perfect! It goes right along side my two other jobs I have while I’m in school; which is my other thing I was wondering. I’m not sure if it’s the school I’m going to, but it doesn’t seem like a lot of kids my age have a job (or have ever held a job for that matter). I didn’t know if that was common in the Netherlands?

  7. In South Africa we have someone hired to put the ticket in to the machine on exit of automated parking garages. Apparently people don’t like to stretch their arm out the window here. Very strange!

  8. Here in the Rhode Island USA, I noticed a crossing guard for high school students this morning. Why? It was in a town that is facing major budget problems too. He was at least 80 years old. When I was in China I never say anyone over 6o years old working. They were often relaxing in parks, doing tai chi. Also In China, hotels and restaurants were very overstaffed by US standards. Lots of very young people trying to stay busy keeping everything neat and orderly. And when it snowed, no plows except on the very major highways – just masses of people with shovels .

    • Maybe all the high school students were texting while crossing the street? That could be pretty dangerous. The US has so far been the only place I know that has old people working (and doing physical labor). I hope I’ll be playing some amateur chess in the park when I’m old and greeting the people at Wal-Mart because I’m shopping there. Thanks for stopping by!

  9. I was actually a grocery bagger in high school. It was on an air force base. We worked for tips alone. Sometimes I would spend 8 hours sitting in the breakroom and come home with, MAYBE, $5 to show for it. It was good to show me responsibility, I s’pose but overall a lame job I must say. Having worked for tips alone, though, it makes me a really good tipper. 🙂

    And, yes, looking forward to August 6 😉

  10. Ah, the human signs. On one job search, I came across a “marketing assistant” job for a local tax firm. Fortunately, I recognized the company name, read between the lines of “getting out into the community” and realized they wanted people to dress up as Lady Liberty and hold a sign out by the road. Not really my thing.

    But I’m going to defend the baggers. Americans look at baggers as a service and older people even complain that they don’t actually carry your groceries all the way out to the car. It’s a courtesy leftover from when we used to care about other people–and it makes things go quicker.

  11. It made me giggle thinking about some of those oddly created jobs like the sticker man at WalMart that hardly ever gives out the stickers and the not-so-kind kid bagging groceries. What appals me is the servers at restaurants that hate their job and do it so poorly because they aren’t working for their tips, they get to SHARE with the other servers that bust their butts to do a great job.

    I’m new to following you so I don’t know what your thesis is on or if you are planning to come to the U.S. to work. But so far, I’ve really enjoyed your blog. Hope you have a great time in the U.S! I’m sure it will be full and memorable. 🙂

    • Welcome! Don’t worry, I normally don’t talk about my thesis. I did post twice a week though, so you’re missing out on that :). Do these servers who share their tips at least get a better hourly rate or are we talking slavery here?

      • You could probably call it slavery. The hourly wages are the same… to change that would be too logical, you know? 😉

        Haha. I will be sure to CATCH up on the posts I’ve missed.

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