Wednesday, December 9, 2009

People Pay You For That?

There are jobs that pay real money to real people to spend long hours accomplishing nothing. Jobs that likely consume you, taking over both your professional and personal lives, in the service of make-believe. And I say, as long as they're harmless, I think the world is a more interesting and engaging place for their existence.

One career path particular inspired this entry. Cryptozoology. It sounds like a scientific discipline, and it is, sort of. It's more of a pseudoscience, but its researchers take it very seriously. If you know that zoology is the the study of animals (duh?), then the meaning of Cryptozoology shouldn't be too hard to decipher. Here's a great definition I found online:

Cryptozoology: from Greek κρυπτός, kriptos, "hidden" + zoology; literally, "study of hidden animals") refers to the search for animals which are considered to be legendary or otherwise nonexistent by mainstream biology.

In other words, these guys devote their lives to studying Sasquatch, the Loch Ness Monster, extinct fish the might still be swimming around somewhere, and hundreds of other mythical animals around the world whose mere existence is eternally in question. And someone pays them for that! They travel the world following rumors, hearsay, tale tales and legends, looking for animals that in all likelihood cannot be found anymore then my residual checks for writing this entry.

What a charmed life that must be! Exotic locales, interesting conversations with native tribesman, and hours spent pouring over fanciful reports and literary references in any number of languages. And it's a job you literally cannot fail at. No one really imagines you'll find what you're looking for, so when you don't, you meet expectations. Even if you repeatedly, over a period of years fail to produce any measurable results you'll still have job security. And if you do manage to find one of the animals you're hunting, you're likely elevated to near-deity status.

It's one of the few jobs on the planet you where you can set performance expectations so low that you cannot possibly fall below them. It would be like me delivering three minutes of test pattern to everyone one of our clients for every project they hire us for, and getting praised for my effort.

What other permutations could you throw together that would be equally entertaining? There's the Cryptoarcheologist who spends his time looking for lost civilizations and the Cryptogeologist that labors to create theories where ancient man and dinosaurs live in pockets at the center of the earth. The Cryptometeorologist hunts down forms of precipitation only imagined in books like "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" and the Cryptophrenologist searches for hidden meanings in the bumps on people's skulls, new fake hidden meanings the made-up field of Phrenology hasn't yet fabricated.

I could keep tagging Crypto onto every scientific discipline, but I suspect none of the others will be nearly as marginally funny as the four above. The important lesson is that someone gets paid to do these jobs. I should start updating my resume.

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