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Discuss: Your Chosen Avocation

When I was in college, one of my favorite television shows was Inside the Actor’s Studio on Bravo.  At the end of each episode, the show’s host would ask his celebrity interview subject a series of ten questions called The Pivot Questionnaire.  Their answers to these simple questions were meant to show the audience a side of the celebrity that we might not have seen before.

My favorite query on Mr. Pivot’s questionnaire has to be number nine: What profession would you not like to attempt and why?  We spend so much time in D.C. talking about what people do for a living or what they want to do for a living, that I think finding out which job someone wouldn’t want to try is more interesting.

For me, the answer is anything to do with the airline industry.  Pilot. Flight attendant. Gate agent. TSA official.  Baggage handler.  It all sounds like a recipe for misery to me.  

Nothing but bitching passengers with dirty hair, wearing their pajama pants tucked into their Uggs, sipping 1,600 calorie, $7 cups of coffee telling me all the ways that I and my company have failed them. 

It’s the only thing I can think of that would be more emotionally taxing than answering phones in a congressional office during the bank bailout.  (I heard ringing phones in my nightmares for months.)

So which profession would you never, ever want to attempt, and why?  Leave your thoughts in the comments.

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  1. LE says:

    Interestingly enough I was just thinking about this today! It might sound odd, but I would never want to be someone super famous – celebrity/actress/supermodel/political figure. The whole personal intrusion and having your personal life dissected by a lot of people without them fully understanding you sounds like hell. I wouldn't mind being well-respected in my field (and financially stable), but I would not want to be in a profession that deals with being in the public eye 24/7.

    November 30, -0001/Reply
  2. gingerr says:

    I never wanted to be a teacher either.When I was young it was because they were always bossing me around. When I was in college it was because an education major put so many constraints on what courses you could take. After that I didn't need any more excuses, it wasn't for me.

    November 30, -0001/Reply
  3. CynthiaW says:

    Waitress, clerk in retail, customer service – pretty much anything that would make me have to put up with the vile way people think that it's appropriate to treat people who work in the public sector. Business – I don't want to work in a cubicle, go to meetings all day, or work with adults.

    I'm a teacher and political, red tap stuff aside – 90% of the time, it's just me and my kids and that's the way I like it.

    November 30, -0001/Reply
  4. r says:

    Doctor, nurse, etc…the combination of looking at bodily fluids all day (gross) and the responsibility of saving lives– way too much for me. I have so much respect for the men and women who do this every day!

    June 22, 2012/Reply
  5. Shelby says:

    Hey Belle! Was cruising Cup of Jo yesterday and noticed she wrote a post on Hatch My House. I don't want to accuse her of “stealing,” but since you linked to her blog in your post about the site, I'm sure she learned about it from your post. Not even a hat tip. There are no coincidences on the internet, amiright?

    Here's the link in case you missed it! https://joannagoddard.blogspot.com/2012/06/do-or-dont-house-registry.html

    Oh, and I would never want to be divorce lawyer. Ever. Ever. Ever.

    June 22, 2012/Reply
  6. Jess says:

    janitor in a hospital. The idea of cleaning up all the nasty in a place that is already disgusting and dirty, makes me gag.

    June 22, 2012/Reply
  7. s says:

    Does being one of those people who harasses you about saving the planet/planned parenthood/children in africa count? Because I will jump in front of a bus or work for WMATA before I'd do that.

    Or working for WMATA in any form or fashion if being an annoying sideway block isn't considered a job.

    June 22, 2012/Reply
  8. UB says:

    I don't think I could ever be a social worker. I would try to save the world and end up burned out and miserable.
    I need a job in which I can keep my distance. Something that deals with spreadsheets all day.

    June 22, 2012/Reply
  9. Helena says:

    Dentist, dental hygienist or any other person that has to mess around in people's mouths. UGH.

    June 22, 2012/Reply
  10. MominHeels says:


    Dangerous. Enclosed space. Hours without daylight or fresh air.

    A living hell.

    June 22, 2012/Reply
  11. XF says:

    Debt collector. Especially in this economy. Or a bus monitor, after watching that viral video.

    June 22, 2012/Reply
  12. Nora says:

    Professional athlete. I can't imagine being happy in a career in which my success can be affected so hugely by uncontrollable things such as injuries or, you know, aging.

    June 22, 2012/Reply
  13. Belle says:

    XF: I worked in debt collection once. It was awful.

    June 22, 2012/Reply
  14. CE says:

    Submariner – claustrophobia attack! Professional escort. Big-box retail. I don't know, there are lots of awful-sounding ways to make a living in the world. For me, anything involving tight hours, enclosed spaces, and lots of face time with people immediately sounds awful.

    My dad's a commercial pilot, and he actually loves it. But he doesn't really have to deal with passengers that much. Flight attendants, gate agents, TSA people – they get sh*t on constantly. (On the bright side, I guess, merely being polite and decently groomed can sometimes get you an upgrade, because it's so unexpected!)

    June 22, 2012/Reply
  15. Amy says:

    Teacher – I'm good with people one on one and in small groups, but I just do not have it in me to manage a whole classroom full of kids. I'm also just enough of an introvert that the effort of being “on” all day long and trying to help a group of people learn would completely drain me and I'd burn myself out. And that doesn't even touch on the crazy education politics you see in a lot of places.

    June 22, 2012/Reply
  16. lisa says:

    @Amy I'm an introvert too, so I thought an office job would be great, but I found that I missed people. I'm a teacher now and I love it. I get enough people time and then I get a break (like lunch or recess) to recharge. But I teach small groups, and I have to admit, I start getting stressed out going into “regular” classrooms of 28 kids!:)
    For me, the worst job would be school janitor. Kids make some absolutely disgusting messes!

    June 22, 2012/Reply
  17. M says:

    Barista at Starbucks

    I think I'd rather have a frontal lobotomy.

    June 22, 2012/Reply
  18. DG says:

    Soldier. I have the utmost respect for the men and women in our armed forces, but I just could not do it. I am not that brave.

    June 22, 2012/Reply
  19. melissa says:

    Salemen. I would hate the pressure and feeling like I was trying to sell a product to somebody who doesn't want/need it. Ugh…

    June 22, 2012/Reply
  20. CSB says:

    Lisa – did you make a career change to become a teacher? It's been something I've thought about recently but not sure how I'd even go about doing it.

    As for me, I'd hate to be someone working at the end of a cable company customer service line. I had some choice words for my local rep the other day but then felt guilty after I realized he wasn't the person who was responsible for the fact that my cable wasn't working. It was just his job to answer the phone and try to help me.

    June 22, 2012/Reply
  21. Amanda says:

    I agree with Melissa–I'd never want to work in sales. I had some retail jobs in college which weren't so bad, but they weren't commission; if they had been, I would have made no money.

    I also don't think I'd want to be a small business owner. As romantic as it seems in some ways, I don't think I'm cut out for the pressure of wearing so many hats, not to mention the scary financial investment in something that very well may not work out.

    June 22, 2012/Reply
  22. K says:

    I couldn't handle anything that involves children – daycare, teacher, tour guide, stay-at-home-parenting, etc. I would also be a very poor candidate for any kind of medical job. Way too much gross stuff, really stressed people, and medical insurance.

    June 22, 2012/Reply
  23. Mary says:

    Anything involving pests or public bathroom cleaning! Ew!!!

    June 22, 2012/Reply
  24. Stephanie says:

    Anything to do with gardening. I do not understand people who find it calming.

    June 22, 2012/Reply
  25. Ella says:

    Construction/road crew worker. The noise and the smells and the fumes and the danger are so bad I can barely stand to walk by the sites, I cannot imagine how terrible (and horrible for your health) it would be to work at one.

    June 22, 2012/Reply
  26. Rachel says:

    Mine is similar to Belle's though for different reasons. I hate flying, and still get scared during flights. Yes, I know this is irrational, and it does not prevent me from flying. I just dislike it! So the idea of having to fly for a living makes me want to scream.

    June 22, 2012/Reply
  27. AbsolutelyDC says:

    I would never want to be a meter maid. The thought of writing tickets, upsetting people, and walking in the elements – ugh. . .

    June 22, 2012/Reply
  28. Lady Engineer says:

    Debt collector, policeman, drug dealer… any job that would require me to bully people.

    June 22, 2012/Reply
  29. RA says:

    My current position within the Federal government :/

    June 22, 2012/Reply
  30. Mallory says:

    Telemarketer or a customer service rep for a large utility company. I have a LOT of patience when it comes to being on the customer side of these interactions (years of food service and retail make me fairly sympathetic) but even I lose my temper. I can't imagine the kind of demoralizing exchanges that come from those with short fuses!

    June 23, 2012/Reply
  31. jes says:

    I would hate to be a financial aid counselor at a university.

    June 25, 2012/Reply
  32. KLB says:

    Anything in the restaurant/fast food industry. I've never worked in it except as a volunteer for a summer in high school at a local hospital putting out the salad bar. Worst. Job. Ever. I could not handle the hours, the stress, the mess, rude people… it just sounds horrible. That and unless you own your restaurant it can be difficult to make a living.

    June 25, 2012/Reply
  33. ELH says:

    My mom is a flight attendant and my dad is a retired pilot. The stories they have told me over the years are incredible! But at least they would land in amazing cities after they had to deal with the public.. unlike hill staffers!

    June 25, 2012/Reply
  34. HM says:

    Vet or even the people who take animals out of places full of abuse or neglect! The thought of seeing any living thing being tortured just makes me want to weep for days straight. In fact, I cry when I see the ASPCA commercials or even hear the first few notes of the songs. I do send money to help, but I still feel the pain for the animals who can't speak or defend themselves. It's heartbreaking and I don't think I could stand being around that every single day.

    So while I don't like children and think it would be tough to teach, I think I could probably tolerate the job if I felt I was really making a difference in the world and teaching the children to learn their way out of any problems they may have in life.

    June 26, 2012/Reply