Thank you, Forbes. It’s always fun to start the day by being told your job stinks.
For those who missed it, Forbes just put out its annual list of the worst jobs in America. You know the sort I mean: the jobs with either low pay, or high stress, or no future, or a work environment that goes beyond the challenging.
Jobs like the infantry, where people, you know, shoot at you from time to time.
Or working on an oil rig, where the hours are long and family often distant.
But the job that rated the worst of all – below the chancy life of an actor, the injury risk of a lumberjack or a roofer, or the downsizings of the post office – was newspaper reporter.
There must be some mistake. I mean, sure, the pay is nothing to write home about. Sure, there’s enough long hours and deadline pressure to make coffee a viable tax write-off. And yeah, a lot of papers have been closing down, laying off, or thinning out. But still, that’s no reason to ….
I hate to admit it, but they may have a point.
From a coldly clinical point of view, this is not the line of work that every parent dreams their child will someday pursue. Doctor? Sure. Lawyer? Why not? Teacher? Of course. Ink-stained wretch? Keep the room furnished, they may be moving back into it soon.
It’s folly. It’s absurd. It’s crazy. It’s ridiculous.
And I wouldn’t do anything else in the world.
I’ve wanted to be a reporter since the eighth grade, ever since the day in Ms. Shopland’s Spanish class where I couldn’t find the word “author” in my glossary for an exercise, but could find “journalist.” And despite every pothole I’ve mentioned above – and quite a few I haven’t! — I’ve never seriously regretted the choice.
To be a reporter is to be a storyteller, with the chance to meet intriguing people and relate interesting situations.
To be a reporter is to be a translator, making the complexities of a government, or a process, or a problem understandable to the average person.
To be a reporter is to be part of a heritage, measured out in crinkled headlines. It means being part of a profession so necessary, it’s cited in the Constitution; or being the first one to hear what’s happened; or seeing people at their best and worst, and remembering that they too are humans with a story worth telling.
It means diving into the pool of words, immersing yourself in the beauties of English. Even if it means arguing endlessly with an editor over using“cement” or “concrete” in a sentence.
And for me, it means doing what I love.
And really, that’s the important part, isn’t it?
We’ve all taken jobs because we had to. Life goes on, and it demands food on the table and a roof over the head. But to do what you love, to do a job you know you can do well and delight in the doing of – that is heaven and earth with a fistful of rainbow sprinkles on top.
It may even keep you alive and alert, as well as happy. There’s been more than one study out there showing that high job satisfaction is good for your body and good for your mind. And really, it’s just more fun to be around someone who enjoys what they do. Even if it’s not the glamorous or “practical” choice.
The science fiction author Spider Robinson once wrote about coming to a crossroads in his life: should he take the plunge and try to write full-time, or chuck it in and concentrate on his less enjoyable but more secure day job? His editor at the time, Ben Bova, gave it a week of thought before finally telling him “Spider, no one can pay you enough money to do what you don’t want to do.”
Words of wisdom.
Oh, the job that Spider walked away from?