Saturday, July 22, 2006

jobs with animals?

This past week, I've been reading "Gig: Americans Talk About Their Jobs" (ed. by John Bowe, Marisa Bowe, and Sabin Streeter). It's a fascinating compendium of people talking about their jobs, including such jobs as transvestite hooker, long distance truckdriver, Kinko's "coworker", computer chip designer, crime scene cleaner, etc.., etc... It's a huge book, with over 200 jobs outlined.

But what struck me after finishing it was that there careers related to animals were underrepresented. It's almost as if the editors occupy an animal-free world. Where were the veterinarian, vet tech, goat farmer, wildlife rehabilitator, animal activist, zookeeper, dairy inseminator, dogcatcher, etc...? Where are even the lab rat breeder and animal testers? (You can guess how the Drunken Housewife feels about those last professions, which is probably fair enough, given that the people in those jobs probably, like society at large, despise lawyers and housewives). To be fair, there was a dog trainer and a man obsessed with gathering geckos.

Even worse, when I was a disgruntled lawyer I took a class at a career center, which I referred to as "disgruntled lawyer class." (It was actually called "New Careers For Attorneys"). We met weekly for months, and we networked, took personality assessment tests, read about careers, etc... and NOWHERE were animals mentioned. There were booklets about one's interests, and the closest it came was "careers outdoors" for people who just love the outdoors. You could be a landscape artist or a roofer or a park ranger, but there was no category whatsoever for animal lovers. I brought this up, and I got a weird stare from the woman leading our class. She suggested that I teach high school, which is a pretty bad idea.

That class was almost as worthless for me as my friend's mandatory welfare career assessment. My beloved friend, when she was on welfare as a single mom, was compelled to spend a day being tested for her career compatibilities. At the end of a long, dreary day, she was told that she was suited emotionally and intellectually for two jobs: mortician and president. "President of what?" she asked. "Oh, a company, I guess, or the United States." Talk about helpful. (She's back to gainful employment as a graphic artist now, no thanks to her career testing).

When I somehow get to the position where I can have a second career (or third, if you count stay-at-home parenting as a career, which I guess I should), I'd like it to be with flexible hours and working with animals. I am not prepared to go to vet school, although I may do a vet tech course so I could work hands-on with animals. (My own teenaged niece is considering the same option). I'd like to do wildlife rehabilitation, and I should start volunteering again in that area. But to the world at large, animal lovers' jobs are non-existent.

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