Labor Day seems like the moment to celebrate America’s astonishing diversity of employment opportunities.
For as long as I can remember, Vanity Fair magazine has employed a “celebrity wrangler” to round up A-listers for their famous bicoastal bacchanals. (“Whoa, Brad Pitt! Get your limo back in line!”) This vestigial job title is now as revered for its honorific gravitas as “sandwich artist” at the Subway sandwich franchise.
Silicon Valley has always featured ridiculous job descriptions, e.g., “innovation sherpa,” “technology evangelist,” “branding czar,” and (insert mundane activity here) “jedi,” “warrior,” or “ninja.” Those are usually clipboard-carrying drones, or underpaid worker ants in an over-hyped startup.
HubSpot, the online marketing company that Dan Lyons cruelly lampooned in his bestseller “Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble,” bragged about its “director of brand & buzz” in a 2014 blog post. The director has since been promoted to VP of Marketing (Brand & Buzz). Onward!
America Online, which apparently still exists, employs a high-profile “digital prophet” named David Shing. The Valleywag website inevitably mocked Shing’s job description, “which means he’s gloating about the fact that he has a make-believe job at AOL, unlike most tech charlatans, who try to conceal it.”
There is a company called Delivering Happiness, and it of course has a chief happiness officer, Jenn Lim. It’s easy to find videos of her online, pontificating about happiness in dour, stentorian tones. My stand on happiness is widely known; I’m against it. Ms. Lim is more than welcome to deliver her little sachets of happiness fairy dust wherever she likes. Just not in my backyard.
Here is a classic job title: “topless retail strategist.” In 2014, the MailOnline website reported on a 22-year-old woman named Maks who posed shirtless in American Apparel’s “Made in Bangladesh” advertising campaign.
“The Los Angeles-based retail strategist, who decided to ‘distance' herself from Islam in high school,” according to the Mail, “says that she saw the campaign as an opportunity to show how all women should feel strong and powerful no matter what their background or what they were taught they had to be.”
Most people don’t know what a “physiatrist” does, and I am here to tell you: not a whole heck of a lot. They are doctors who practice in a field that used to be called Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. I spent the first 15 minutes of my appointment trying to pronounce that job title, and my year’s worth of treatment spiraled downhill from there.
The Metropolitan Opera employs “wig runners” (of course) and a friend of mine calls himself a “well-being innovator,” which sounds like good work if you can get it. But not as good as “chick sexer,” a job that, alas, is nothing like it sounds. The job of determining young chickens’ gender is difficult and unpopular, it was recently explained, because no one “wants to stare at the back side of a chick.”
What about me? Superannuated word monkey? Faux-journalism parasite? Opinion ninja? They all fit. Czars, evangelists, jedi warriors, and sandwich artists of the world: Enjoy your day off! You’ve earned it.