PerfectJob_Owen[1]

PerfectJob_Owen[1] - Work 49 I The Perfect Job David Owen A...

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Unformatted text preview: Work 49 I The Perfect Job David Owen A professional writer, David Owen was born in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1955. After attending Colorado College for two years, he graduated from Harvard University where he was an editor for the Harvard Lampoon, a satiric magazine. He has worked as a fact checker for New York magazine, a senior writer for Harper’s, and a writer for The New Yorker. His books include None of the Above: Behind the Myth of Scholastic Aptitude, a study of testing services in American society and some of the concerns they raise. Owen is also the author of humorous essays collected in High School, The Man Who Invented Saturday Morning, and The Walls Around Us. Preparation for Reading and Discussion 1. When people write about work, they tend to be very serious—after all, work is serious. But when confronted with serious material about a serious topic, we as readers may become bored, fidgety, distracted. We may even try to avoid doing the reading. What are your favorite techniques for avoiding work you have to do? List them and make notes about how they are effective for you. 2. Most of us will spend a lot of our adult life working—probably about one-third of our waking hours. If for no other reason, many of us fantasize about the “perfect job,” one that would fit us perfectly or make us happier than any other. What do you think is the perfectjob for you? How does it fit your personality or capabilities? Once you have named (or invented!) this job, identify the ways in which it would be perfect for you. 3. Many employers complain because they think employees may not be working hard enough. On the basis of your own experience or observation (or the experience of people whom you know), do you agree or disagree with these employers? List the reasons why you feel as you do. 50 Section 2 The Perfect J0b, David Owen' The perfect job—the one you would have if you could have any job in the world—what would it be? The most nearly perfect part of any less-than-perfect job is usually the occasional hour in which you are able to pretend that you are doing the job when in fact you are reading a magazine and eating candy. The rest of the office is throbbing frantically, but you are sitting quietly at your desk and learning interesting facts about Fergie and that guy who put his wife in the wood chipper. The perfect'job would feel like that, but all the time. The trouble with less-than-perfect jobs is that they usually don’t swoop you up and fling you through your day. That is, you don’t very often look up at the clock to find out how many minutes past eleven it is and discover that it’s five and time to go home. That’s what the perfect job would be like. The time would zoom by, the way it does when you are going through some old boxes and suddenly discover that they are filled with artifacts from the Pilgrim days. Well, I’ve thought about this a lot (while I was supposed to be doing something else), and I’ve nar- rowed down my choice of the perfect job to five possi- bilities: 0 Doing an unbelievably great cleanup of my base- ment, and ‘organizing my workshop so that I know exactly where everything is, and drawing up a lot of plans to show how I might expand my work- shop so that it would fill the entire basement instead of only the third that it fills now, and buying every conceivable kind of woodworking tool and finding exactly the perfect place to keep each one, but never actually getting around to doing any woodworking projects. 0 Doing the Times crossword puzzle and watching MTV while listening to people I knew in college discuss their marital problems on the other side of a one-way mirror. 0 Sorting my children’s vast Lego collection—by type, size, and color—into muffin tins and other containers while my children nearby happily build small vehicles and structures without hit- ting each other or asking me for something to eat. 0 Setting the prison sentences of criminals con- victed in highly publicized court cases; making all parole decisions for these people; receiving daily updates on how they spend their time in jail. o Touring the houses of strangers and looking through their stuff while they‘re not there. If I were driving along and happened to see a house that looked interesting, I could pull over and let myself in with a set of master keys. If the people happened to be there, I could spray them with a harmless paralyzing gas that would prevent them from remembering that I had read their diaries and checked to see whether they were making efficient use of their limited amount of storage . space, which they probably wouldn’t have been. All these jobs, as I see them, would require a full complement of office supplies: every conceivable kind of clip and clasp, name-brand ball-point pens, un- gunked-up bottles of correction fluid, ammo-like re- fills for various desktop mechanisms, and cool, smooth, hard pads of narrow-lined paper. I guess I would also need a fax machine and a staff of cheerful recent college graduates eager to do my bidding. Plus a really great benefits program that would pay not only for doctors and prescription drugs but also for things like deodorant. Recently I’ve begun to think that my real perfect job would probably consist of all five of my possible per- fect jobs, one for each weekday. That way I would never have to lie awake at night wondering whether sorting my children’s Legos would have made me hap- pier than snooping through people’s tax returns. Then, on weekends, I could hang around my house, drinking beer and watching golf tournaments on TV. I would seem to be having a really great time, but in reality I would be counting the hours until Monday and just itching to get back to work. Reprinted by permission of The Atlantic Monthly, Copyright David Owen. Work 51 I Writing about the Reading 1. David Owen lists five jobs that he claims would be “perfect” for him. Each of them, of course, is invented, and seems to be a combination of activities he says he would enjoy doing. What kinds of skills do these jobs seem to require? What kinds of personal traits do these jobs seem to require? (Do all of them require the same ones?) Start answering each of these questions by making a list of the skills or traits you think the jobs ask for; your lists may consist of phrases or words rather than complete sentences._ Once you have at least three items on each list, choose the one that interests you most and explain why you think the job would require these specific skills or traits. 2. Owen seems to be making fun of someone or something in “The Perfect Job.” Who or what might he be making fun of? What does he say that leads you to think so? Write a short piece in which you identify who or what he seems to be making fun of and in which you use material from his essay or from your own experience to support your idea. 3. Like Owen, most of us have probably given some thought to a “perfect” job, or at least to the kind ofjob we think would be perfect for us. Why, in your view, do we care so much about a “perfect” job in the first place? ...
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