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Looking for Work 

Seeking employment these days requires tenacity, creativity — and a whole new vocabulary

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Blackjack Dealer… Choir Director… Professional Sandwich Artist… Fluvial Geomorphologist….

At least I knew what that one was, the Fluvial Geomorphologist. I had an idea, anyway, since I worked with environmental consultants for close to 18 years, doing hundreds of Environmental Site Assessments. I’d been sure in the spring that the worst of the slowdown had been left behind, so there I was, steady and cool in July when the layoff hit, blindside.

Leather Cutter... Fish Cutter… Plasma Cutter… Wild Game Cutter… Doughnut Cutter….

I looked and talked and looked, draining the local environmental network dry. I can’t relocate, morning hours work best for the family, and so I checked out other possibilities. Am I overqualifi ed or undertrained? Should I spring for more education? Paralegal? Medical? I know the community colleges are busting at the seams. I stay afl oat by the good graces of a wife with a good job. Advice mushrooms everywhere: I should volunteer down at the school, I should join a coffee group. I should do some of those projects hanging fi re around the ancient house, and I do, I do. I pursue a kitchen faucet drip that recedes ever upstream in terms of water and time and money, from the aerator through the spout, and then to the o-rings, the valves, the supply lines, the shutoffs and beyond, until at last I imagine the Pump Guy down at the aquifer saying, “I’m sorry, Mr. Wing, but that part will be $18,000. Credit or debit?”

Ranch Hand… Deck Hand… Tree Climber… Climbing Wall Belayer….

I’m not 19 anymore, can’t throw 90-pound guy-wire anchors around a warehouse the way I used to. Or handle the late shift at the Stop ’n’ Rob. One night I was working the cooler, and by the time I realized what was happening, the ski-masked, bag-o’-cash-bearing, cannon-waving robbers were already dashing out the door.

Bounty Hunter… Blimp Pilot… Pack Leader… Sci-Fi Fantasy Artist (specifically dealing with erotic alien abductions)….

I’ve been known to commit a bit of writing, and more than once have heard this: Hey, now’s your chance to write that bestseller! Oh, well, I say, that bestseller, it’s not exactly a question of having the time, really, and if it were going to happen, it already would have, don’t you think? That bestseller… I manage to hold back my rant on what’s wrong with Dan Brown, even the short version, and anyway, I’m supposed to be looking for a job, right?

Sobering Unit Tech… Goldsmith… Laundry/Tanning Attendant… Llama Shearer… Water and Fire Mitigation Tech…

In the Depression, my father fell into a series of Hobbesian jobs (nasty, brutish and short): meat packing, mucking in a copper mine, gandy dancing for the railroad. It’s ridiculous to compare my situation with his, but I’d like to. After a stint fighting forest fires, he joined the Army Air Corps and saved the world.

Tunnel Rat… Suitcase Runner… Mystery Shopper… High Voltage Equipment Sales…

They say the recession is on the wane. Then they say that this recovery is different. Then they say, however, work itself is changing. Sometimes I fi nd myself, well, I wouldn’t call it depressed, exactly. Call it… not always reliably resilient? Capriciously bemused? I keep a stern watch for telltale signs of goofi ng off. I wonder, for instance, if writing about looking for a job might be construed as goofing off….

Rodbuster… Poucher… Wobble Boarder… Technical Joomla Specialist….

I remember a line out of Tom Disch: “He’d been a grasshopper for years. The ants were on to his tricks.” And so the ants appear to be. And grasshopper jobs will no longer do, not for someone with kids. At one time, though, I’d do anything, anything. I once performed in a training exercise for prospective ER docs, feigning semi-consciousness — no great challenge to my acting chops — while my shirt was ripped open to reveal bullet wounds molded from mortician’s wax and leaking blood concocted from food coloring and liquid laundry starch. When ordered to stick out my tongue, I was supposed to poke it to the side, indicating damage to the hypoglossal nerve. Only one student caught this, an Irish fellow who cried out in a rich, trembly brogue, “Sweet Mother o’ God!”

Exciting Personality! Unbelievable Opportunity! We Are Hiring Everyone!

I know legitimate e-jobs are out there, but I fi nd myself increasingly fascinated by the scams, the ones that say, “May require initial investment.” Or, “No. 1 way to create massive wealth online! Massive!” “Google” is huge in Scamworld; “Green,” gigantic; “Work-at-home” is everywhere. (I never see, “Make it BIG in… Social Services!”) Then there’s “Turn your bad habits into a job!” (Oh, yes…) A writing/editing position requires the review of certain Websites. I’m skeptical, but I check the first listing, funhotgirl.com — and I am smacked by a graphic so graphic that I nearly break the mouse, I click away so fast.

Explosive Ordinance Disposal Apprentice… Graveyard Skills Coach… Major Gifts Officer… Mock Juror….

Score! I’m going to be a Mock Juror! For one day! $60 and a chicken sandwich! So, do I actually have a job? Well, no. Not exactly. Not… just… yet….

Hypnotism Intern… Autism Buddy… Newborn Photographer… Memory Walk Coordinator… Very Small Fit Man for Role in Short Film….

Note: The jobs italicized above were collected from various recent postings for greater Spokane.

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