The Right Job
Our cover story is “Cool Jobs,” a topic that reminds me of a job offer I once had that might not have been cool, but certainly, at intervals, would have been frigid.
I had just graduated from college with the intent of going to graduate school. For some reason there would be a six-month interval before classes started, so I had a half year to conquer the world, split the atom, mine for gold or do whatever I wanted to do. A job, I thought, might be nice.
Since my employment availability was going to be of short duration I figured I needed some specialty help. There was then a government agency called the Louisiana State Employment Service, which was located near the river end of Canal Street. I sat in the waiting room until my name was called. Then I was escorted into a small office. Behind a desk sat a clerk who took notes as I explained what I was looking for. With all the ideals of a freshly produced college graduate, I told him I would really like something where I could help people. I wanted to get involved, to make life better.
He nodded as he took notes. Then he asked me to go back into the waiting room while he checked his files.
After about a 20-minute wait I was sent again to the office, where the man handed me a slip. “We have a job for you,” he said. “Call this number.” “What is the job?” I asked. He looked at me straight in the eye and answered, “Washing airplanes.”
My quest to service humanity was dashed, except for that niche in the population that would be flying in window seats over the next six months and wanted a clean view.
I never followed up on the airplane job. Whatever phobia it is that makes people afraid of being frozen on the top of a wet airplane during winter struck me. Instead one day, out of boredom, I went and sat in on a city council meeting where I saw a man I knew who was running for a city council seat. He offered me a job working in his campaign, which included driving a campaign truck around the district each afternoon. A taped message on a loud speaker, with the theme music from A Man and A Woman in the background, urged folks to vote for him. As an aspiring political science major it was a great practical learning experience.
I regret that I didn’t get to improve the planet during that interim. I would like to think, however, that I at least created an opening for someone who would be a legendary plane washer.