Think back to when you were 10, and happy

CanWest News Service
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

What would you like to be when you grow up? Not what you'll end up being, in all likelihood. When you ask 10-year-olds, few pick occupations in which most 40-year-olds are actually engaged.
Adults generally manufacture, sell, distribute, service, administer, or manage. A smaller number heal, inform, educate, arbitrate, and adjudicate. Only a handful will explore, entertain, invent, create, inspire, lead or protect. There are probably 100 technicians and sales clerks for every dentist; 100 dentists for every member of Parliament; 100 members of Parliament for every concert pianist, and 100 concert pianists for every crocodile hunter, like the late Steve Irwin. No wonder adult life is mundane.
Children's lives are the other way around. They're firefighters, generals, or lion tamers. Once I met a bishop. Never met one who expressed the slightest interest in being a sales manager or a civil servant. That was only what most of them became.
Why are people unhappy? That's why. They end up disappointing their 10-year-old selves.
People's disappointment goes beyond their own occupations. They're also disappointed in the calling of the fellow next door. The occupational hit parade is really a hate parade. Top 10 lists vary, but I've yet to see a contemporary list of the 10 "most hated" or "least trusted" occupations that would fail to include lawyers and politicians.
Journalists aren't as high on the hate-scale as lawyers and politicians, but we're up there. People consider the Italian word "paparazzi" a good description for members of the Fourth (and Fifth) Estates. Some prefer a German word Albert Einstein coined for us. The great scientist called reporters lichtaffen or "flashbulb apes."
Intemperate? Perhaps. Inaccurate? Not really.
Ten-worst lists are rarely surprising, though I was somewhat taken aback to see "bouncers" appear on more than one list. Are bouncers so bad? Personally, I never had any trouble with them, either in North America or in Europe, but perhaps I didn't frequent the right clubs.
Some results are easier to predict than others. I wouldn't have guessed, for instance, that a list of "10 most hated occupations" in the U.K. would include traffic wardens. On a BBC list they actually make No. 1. Imagine, BBC viewers hate car-ticketing bylaw drones more than any other occupational group. Talk about tickety-boo. Life can't be so bad in Britain if people's worst problem is parking.
Meter maids wouldn't make a Top 10 list in Canada. Perhaps the authorities could change this by towing illegally parked cars instead of ticketing them, or locking their wheels as their European counterparts do. Any group can achieve hatred if they try hard enough, I suppose.
Oops - did I say I've seen no "most hated" list that doesn't include lawyers? Here's one. Look, ma, no lawyers! Even politicians make it only to 9th spot on this list, just ahead of Reality TV show contestants. It's a recent list from the south of England.
Let's see, whom do 21st century working-class Brits hate most? Hmm, that's interesting: Footballers, by which they mean soccer players. They're No. 6. Bus drivers are No. 5. I don't believe this: motorcycle couriers, No. 4. Well - come to think of it, I do believe it. Have you ever tried driving in London - on the wrong side of the road, which is where Londoners insist you should drive - while being buzzed by swarms of helmeted insects? Yes, couriers fit.
But soccer players - why? I guess playing soccer was what some respondents would have liked to do when they were 10, instead of whatever they ended up doing, for less than a fraction of what soccer players earn. No wonder the injury-faking prima donnas are on the list.
Estate agents are No. 2. Estate agents? Yes. U.K. respondents to this list live on council estates. Apparently they reserve a special place in their hearts for estate agents.
Americans of similar socio-economic background tend to own their homes, so a U.S. hate list features building contractors in the No. 7 spot, just behind car salesmen. What's in the No. 1 spot for Yanks? If you guessed "telemarketers" (or "cold-call telephone sales agents") you were right.
Children don't set out to be telemarketers. We educate our born heroes and magicians to become windbags, busybodies, and chisellers.
From astronauts and ambulance drivers at 10, we gradually metamorphose into high flyers and ambulance chasers at 40. Reverse Lepidoptera, we turn from butterflies into caterpillars. It's all very fascinating.

George Jonas writes for the CanWest?News Service

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page