Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Feel the Excitement

It is better to have a permanent income than to be fascinating. ~ Oscar Wilde

The Inquirer had a story about a software company in the UK running a competition to find the nation's most exciting accountant. Now, the term “exciting accountant” would appear to be as much of an oxymoron as “jumbo shrimp” or “military intelligence”.

I've known a lot of accountants over the years, but I can honestly say that I never met one that I could consider “exciting.” In fact, I can't think of one that was even moderately interesting compared to his or her fellow number-crunchers. They were all uniformly staid, bland, and accountant-ish. I suppose, though, that there must be one or two actuarial types who might be construed as less unexciting than their colleagues, possibly engaging in wild and crazy outside activities like philately.

Well, I did know one that had seven kids, but I'm not going to go there.

There are certain professions that seem to draw the more sedate types (to choose the least offensive term I could think of) to their ranks. For example, before I entered the high-energy world of network system administration (lord, it's such a rush deleting someone's files), I spent over twenty years in Quality Control. Let me tell you, I may have picked on the accountants above, but the most boring person at Price-Waterhouse (not counting those under indictment) is a virtual wild man compared to the average QC practitioner.

Perhaps it's more a matter of the profession taming the employee. Both QC and accountancy involve a lot of number processing, maintaining of charts and reports, and following copious and involved procedures (and inflicting them on your fellow employees). No one likes such people because their main function seems to be to hinder people from having a good time, either by preventing the spending of money or by making people remake products because they're defective. Accounting outranks QC, though, because Quality Managers don't inspect the work of the bookkeepers while the bookkeepers can stop QC from having the only fun they can have, buying new measurement equipment.

When you have no friends, you become a dull person.

All of this depressing prelude gets me to thinking about where other professions stack up in the excitement realm. Oh, sure, some jobs obviously attract exciting people and make dull people more interesting by their very nature. For instance, I can't imagine a dull test pilot, Mt. Everest guide, or race car driver (although Ryan Newman comes close). So, as a public service to all the teenagers out there who are surfing blogs looking for salacious material but have had the misfortune to arrive here and had the tenacity to have read this far, I'd like to provide the definitive Gog's Blog What's Exciting and What's Not Career Guide. Within each field, I will list the Potential for Exciting People (PEP) and the Welcome to Dullsvile (WTD) jobs.

Science PEP jobs:
  • Physics: Deals with cosmic questions and energy sources sufficient to vaporize Detroit.
  • Chemistry: Explosions and toxic substances; need I say more?
  • Paleontology. You get to camp out and lift really heavy things that you dig up. Back in the lab you get to make up incredible stories about how the animal that belongs to that tibia was 82 feet long and ate a forest each morning.
Science WTD jobs:
  • Mathematics: If accounting is dull, how exciting can its basis be?
  • Astronomy: Sure, you get to take those pretty pictures. All it takes is sitting in a cold observatory at high altitude for hours on end. You're oxygen-deprived (which admittedly can be exciting, for a while), and you work nights. Not much good for the social life.
  • Biology: Spend your life looking through a microscope rooting for the red paramecium to eat the green one.
Engineering PEP jobs:
  • Electrical Engineering: Not only do you get to design neat stuff like computers and microwave ovens, you get to leave large capacitors charged up and lying around where your friends can get serious shocks from them.
  • Aeronautical Engineering: Nothing like designing things that have no visible means of support.
Engineering WTD jobs:
  • Civil Engineering: Aside from routing a highway through someone's house, what fun can you have?
  • Materials Engineering: This should be exciting, but the people who actually design the materials don't actually get to do anything with them. Besides, all you ever get are unreasonable requests: “Hey, Fred, I need something lighter than air, stronger than steel, and flexible as string. Can you have that by next week?”
Medical PEP jobs:
  • Brain surgeons: Now, THAT'S getting into people's heads. One wrong poke, and some poor patient is going to wake up speaking in tongues.
  • Gynecologists: Always the life of the party.
Medical WTD jobs:
  • Dentists: Sure, you can understand people who have a drawerfull of hardware in their mouth, but you don't know how to talk with people who can form actual words.
  • Podiatrists: Feet are just dull. You see one falling arch, you've seen them all.
Business PEP jobs:
  • Finance: Not to be confused with Accounting. These are the people who actually spend the money. In fact, they're the only ones who know where the money is actually hidden. Everyone wants to be friends with these guys.
  • Marketing: Talk about a fantasy world. You get to invent features that the R&D people never dreamed could be put into your products. Big plus: Guess who gets to go to all those trade shows in Vegas?
  • IT: You get to play with all the new toys, surf the web with impunity, and decide who gets the newest equipment. Power, toys, and play. What more can you ask?
Business WTD jobs:
  • Accounting and Quality Control: Didn't you read the stuff at the top?
No need to thank me. Adding to the number of exciting people in the world is a reward in itself.

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