Thursday, July 19, 2007

No more complaining about day jobs

Eszter Hargittai of Crooked Timber has a post about worst jobs. The comment thread is worth a browse for any composer unhappy with their day job, or frustrated by the eyestrain and repetition of composing. I've also gained a new degree of respect for orchestral musicians, especially those in opera pits, in realizing that a number of aspects of their work -- physical discomfort, repetitiveness, physical constraint, close supervision, and heavy personal contact -- are seriously undesirable workplace conditions.

In my training, teaching was assumed to be the default day job of composers, but that lost a lot of attraction for me when I visited some music schools -- one famous one had all the atmosphere of a Junior High School -- oncluding buzzers between classes and a loudspeaker system beaming out messages like "Gary Karr, please call the front office" at regular intervals. Yes, friends, if you are a composer, teaching is a day job, too. Personally, I've always thought that night desk clerk in a quiet motel was just about optimal for a composer, although I'd also consider a gig as a Javanese duckherd...

How about it - what's your best or worst day job?

3 comments:

Dame Honoria Glossop said...
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sfmike said...

Best job: Evening desk clerk at a Holiday Inn near Santa Barbara as a teenager (you don't want the the motel to be TOO quiet for your ideal gig, by the way).

Worst job: Jeezus, there have been so many, but I think picking lemons with Mexican farmworkers had to be the worst, where I was spared serious injury only by being fired after a week for not being fast enough.

Scott Spiegelberg said...

Worst job was at a canning factory, canning beets and potatoes. I was the swing man, moving from line to line so others could take their breaks. Once I had to take over a position because the guy had almost had his arm ripped off by the conveyor belt! The foreman said, "Spiegelberg, take over!" and then had another worker mop up the blood. Fun times.

Fortunately my current job is my best.