Turf & Rec

Take these jobs and…

May 3, 2012  By Ian Robinson

I've had a few different jobs during my life and pretty much all of them were kind of dumb.

My first choice—being born rich—was already taken by Paris Hilton. So, not being a member of the Lucky Fetus Club, I’ve been forced into any number of tasks, some of them demeaning, as I traded the precious pearls that were the moments of my life for cash.

Some of them better than others.

I used to trap skunks and bears.

The government agency that paid me to do this in a small town in northern Ontario called it “animal control” but that didn’t exactly elevate what I was doing, which was basically tricking animals.

Animals are not clever.

I know a lot of pet owners will disagree with me on this one.

Pet owners are like parents of humans; they’re convinced that their little four-legged baby Skippy or little two-legged baby Bobby are brilliant examples of their kind.

When a parent who talks about how cute/brilliant/talented/athletic their kid is and you actually get to meet the living, breathing, actual child …

Let’s just say, when somebody has built up their offspring as a combination of Wayne Gretzky, Brad Pitt and Albert Einstein, chances are when you meet the kid, he’s using one finger to mine for boogers and he ain’t using the other one to do math, if you get my drift.

Pet owners are the same.

They think their dogs/cats/birds/hamsters are just brilliant.

Trust me. If dogs were that smart, they’d be driving us to the veterinarian to get fixed, not the other way around.
You want to trick an animal into a trap, you hang some bait in a cage with a trap door and they just wander in and wonder why they can’t wander out. Then they get annoyed with you and snarl and try to attack you through the bars and you get to stand there and laugh at them.

Ha-ha, you say. Fooled you. You dumb… bear.

Face it, there is little honour in outwitting an animal.

It’s roughly equivalent to bragging that you once got into a fistfight in a bar and kicked the living crap out of a smart-ass celebrity … named … Stephen Hawking.

(Now, just as an aside, which fact about genius physicist Stephen Hawking is more impressive: That he’s a genius physicist despite his terrible physical disabilities or that U.K. newspapers reported he goes to sex clubs when he’s in the U.S.? Thought so. Good to know I’m not the only bad person around.)

In another job, I used to take really, really big rocks in a gold mine and make them smaller.

Eight hours a day. Big rock would come along, and when I was done with it, it was a lot of little, tiny rocks which were sent to another part of the mine where somebody else made them even smaller and, mysteriously, at the other end, gold came out somehow.

I wasn’t part of that part of the things. I just made little rocks out of big rocks and then went to a bar and tried to forget what I did for a living by drinking heavily.

I have been a minimum-wage security guard, which is a job that made me want to drink even more than gold mining. They gave me a blue blazer with a crest on the pocket. The blazer still smelled like the guy who’d worn it before me.
I used to guard the foyer of a large office building that was also the entrance to a subway station. When it snowed, I let a local homeless lady with plastic bags on her feet in lieu of shoes sit behind a really big potted plant and doze in the warmth.

My supervisor came by and told me I had to throw her out into the cold.

He pushed his narrow little chest up against me, trying to act all tough and said, “I could have your job for that.”

I took off the blazer that smelled like the previous guy who’d worn it and said, “You want my job? You got it.”

And I draped my blazer over his head, like a bird owner draping a cage trying to silence a loud and obnoxious parrot within and walked away. And as I left his squawking behind, walking out into the snow, it occurred to me that while my bank account had taken a serious hit, at least my self respect was intact. And I wondered if the next guy who got the blazer would bother to get it dry cleaned.

I got thinking about jobs I’ve had because I just read a great story in the New York Daily News about experiments being performed on animals … all funded by tax dollars, of course.

Here’s what some people actually do for a living:

They take a bunch of laboratory rats.

Play them music. Two kinds of music. Beethoven vs. Miles Davis, the iconic jazz musician.

Then they get the rats high as a kite on cocaine. I mean wired to the gills.

And then they find out which kind of music the rats bop to.

(Not that it matters to anybody in any meaningful way, but when you get rats stoned on Peruvian marching powder, they instantly prefer grooving to jazz, turning their backs on classical music.)

Now, I know what you’re thinking.

You’re thinking, you know where I’m going with this whole rant. You think I’m sitting here in the doldrums of my middle years wishing that if only I’d stayed in school longer, paid a little more attention to science classes beyond learning how to spell and pronounce tetrahydrocannabinol, I too could have done important scientific research like this.

And you would be wrong.

As I sit here in the doldrum of my middle years I find myself wishing this and only this: Where can I sign up to be a lab rat?

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