In 8th grade, as hormones raged and the nation prepared for its bicentennial, my fellow students and I were given a standardized test to determine what kind of career we would be best-suited for. One of the more clever questions read, “Would you enjoy weighing boxes of cookies eight hours per day?” I cautiously opted for “No,” but the notion continues to intrigue me some decades later.
If pressed for an answer to that age-old conundrum “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I most likely would have replied, “A psychologist!” Ah, the smell of naugahyde, the rustic retreats with disgruntled couples, the quality time on crumbling ledges with jumpers-to-be. That was the life for me. Of course I didn’t know exactly what a psychologist did, but it had to be more fulfilling than weighing boxes of cookies (and pirate didn’t seem to be an in-vogue career choice at that time).
Pete Jordan had a different vision. It may not have been born in his early youth, but as middle age rapidly approached he began to find a passion for that lowliest of occupations (ranked #735 out of 740 jobs in desirability), dishwashing. This widely-avoided career offered the benefits of free food, an abundance of job openings and ease of termination (“I quit, goodbye!”). Thus began a 12 year odyssey filled with dishwashing, travel (Dishwasher Pete decided to wash dishes in each of the 50 states), and interesting people. Along the way Jordan wrote an entertaining and funny memoir, Dishwasher, that will make you yearn for suds and a dish towel.
While cookie weighing and dish washing might not entice most tykes, many would give their left canine tooth to work in a candy factory. In Candyfreak, Steve Almond takes the reader on a journey through the dark and sticky bits of the candy world. As he journeys to small-market companies, Almond’s readers can vicariously taste exotic candies fresh off of the manufacturing line, learn a few tidbits about the candy making process, and witness the potential death throes of small-time candy. Almond, with his fanatical passion for candy, creates a narrative that is comical as well as informative.
If you’d like to investigate other occupations through movies you might look into Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life (and discover the hidden excitement of chartered accountancy), Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (maniacal factory owner) and Talladega Nights (rich race car driver).
Of course, working at a library ain’t half bad.