Friday, March 5, 2010

Jobs I didn’t used to have

I know life was a lot tougher for my grandmother than it is for me. She had to beat rugs, make every meal from scratch, and wring her clothes through a machine meant to kill someone. She taught me the good old days weren’t always that great.

I was unplugging my ipod from the charger, getting ready to plug in the Bluetooth, trying to keep all my electronics charged up. It occurred to me that this was a job I never used to have. While I'm grateful for my conveniences and realize how lucky I am to have them, modern life includes a lot of annoying jobs I didn’t used to have.

For example:

Checking out my own library books. I haven't seen my librarian in months.

Scanning my own groceries. Ditto the grocery clerk.

Checking my credit history. I don't know who used to do this, but it wasn't my job.

Troubleshooting my computer. When that fails:

Calling customer service. How much time have we wasted on hold anyhow?

Cleaning out my inbox. Don't do this one as much as I should.

The camera. Charging it, downloading, organizing the photos, emailing. Point and shoot, my aunt Fanny.

Keeping track of club cards. I have an entire wallet devoted to club cards. And I still never have the right one.

Trust me, I know there are worse things than this and that complaining about having to untangle your Ipod ear buds is a little like complaining that there aren’t enough flavors of ice cream available.

Still, we’re among friends. Tell me, what’s a job you hate that you didn’t use to have to do?


Betty Hechtman said...

This isn't quite a job, but it used to be you dropped something in the mail and relaxed, knowing that they wouldn't get back to you in at least a few days.

Now, with email, the breathing space is gone.

Jill said...

The list could get very long if you thought too much more about it! Pumping gas, photocopying, steam-cleaning carpets, colouring my hair, etc.

An idea comes to me from this though: these kinds of details can really add a layer of verisimilitude to writing! My favourite is the drive through ATM - why not have your character do this, just before she hits the grocery store where she scans and bags her own food.


Dru said...

Shredding bills before tossing in trash
Having to choose from 200+ channels on TV and find nothing to watch
Heating up foods in seconds instead of 30 minutes in an oven

Terri Thayer said...

Yes, I hear about authors getting rejects from agents before they even leave their computers. Yikes.

Pumping gas, I hate that one. Banking is another place where I used to see a person. My bank actually charges me extra to go inside!

Shredding, how could I forget that? I shredded so much my shredder started smoking. And TV, so true. And I have to keep it organized on my DVR.

Thanks! And you're right, Jill, it's all grist for the mill.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Love this, Terri. You are so right. I also didn't have to update my computer, to charge my phones, and plug in all sorts of equipment every night! I find myself processing my own credit card and every machine works differently, pumping my own gas, ordering my own prescriptions, and so on. We were supposed to have more leisure, but I don't see how! I also find myself checking the sell-by dates on food. Never happened when I was a kid. And recycling. We collected pop bottles for candy money, but still...

Then there's making my own hotel and flight reservations and checking in my own baggage. I also register online for exercise classes! Whew. I'm feeling tired.

Terri Thayer said...

Oh, I miss travel agents. And checking in. I'm always a wreck the day before until I can check in.

I'm noticing that so many of these have become places where we no longer interact with others. That's a shame.

Monica Ferris said...

Terri, you're right about the lack of human contact in many tasks today. Used to be, you spoke with the woman or man who sold you groceries at the store, with your banker, with the operator on the phone, with the travel agent who set up your trip. Nowadays you can have a busy day doing lots of things and never speak to another human being. Kind of sad.

Camille Minichino said...

Fun and interesting observations, Terri!

I have a separate pouch for all the chargers I need when I travel!

I think the biggest change for me is the job of staying in touch more or less constantly. While optional, anyone in business of any kind can't afford to be away from a phone or computer for very long.

I'm old enough to remember then an operator put a call through for you (!) Now even if I'm just heading out for groceries, I panic if I've left my Droid home!

Terri Thayer said...

It is sad, Monica. Camille, I worked a switchboard. It was kind of fun.

signlady217 said...

My mom's first job was as an elevator operator: "Going up?"

I try to avoid scanning my own groceries. I detest doing that! And then there are the stores where they scan, but you bag your stuff.

Drive-throughs: food, bank, pharmacy, dry cleaners, wedding chapels, and yes, I even heard of a drive-through confessional! Yikes!

Jaye said...

LOL! Hilarious! and definitely true. Technically you have seen a librarian, though, since I am one. You are correct in that I can't help you check out your books. Not that kind of librarian and I make my patrons check out their own darn books!

Terri Thayer said...

Thanks sign lady and Jaye. Great thoughts.

Joanne said...

me too..i never thought id be seeling modest prom dresses in the mall before i work for an SEO company