Tag Archives: retail jobs

Take that, roustabouts

This list from the Wall Street Journal’s 2010 list of Best and Worst jobs speaks almost poetically for itself. But certainly worth mentioning. The $s are starting, mid-level and top-level salaries:


Interesting to note that “Author (books)” is high on the list at No. 74, between No. 75 “Hotel Manager” and No. 73 “Set Designer,” though still seven worse than No. 67 “Forklift operator,” which, I have to say as an occasional operator of the “Big Joe,” essentially a forklift, is pretty damned enjoyable. And “Newscaster” is at a happy medium at No. 95 between No. 96 “Protestant Minister” and No. 94 “Orthodontist.” But at least I’m glad that “Salesperson (Retail)” also droops low at No. 142.

I do enjoy that the Wiki definition of “roustabout” (not to be confused with “roundabout”) cites a newspaper story as its example:

A roustabout is a labourer typically performing temporary, unskilled work. The term has traditionally been used to refer to traveling-circus workers or oil rig workers.

In the American south, mid to late 19th century, roustabout was used to refer to unskilled labor working on steamboats. In reference to the Mississippi River fire and subsequent sinking of the Steamer Josie Harry:

NY Times, Dec 15, 1883, “A Steam-Boat Burned”: “…The fireman and greaser and two roustabouts jumped into the river…”

The intro to the piece on partner site Careercast.com reads:

Yet despite this central role employment plays in daily life, many people wind up in a given career virtually by chance. For all those who decide on a profession at an early age, a great deal more simply select the best opportunity that comes along, regardless of their interests.

I used to loathe the question “what do you do?” for its bland implication of the rote career-as-coals -for-the-furnace-of-Real-Life meme. Now I think that question, essentially as an Avatar for the query “how do you spend the majority of your time?” can be quite telling, especially if the subject of this query agrees with the aforementioned meme.

But shouldn’t lumberjacks be higher? That seems like the life: sleep all night; work all day, butter scones for tea… More scones than we ever got in the old newsroom, that’s for sure. You will also notice that “Blogger” is nowhere on the list, as the profession has yet to meet the income requirement necessary to be considered a “job.”