Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Not a Teacher or a Doctor, but a...?

Remember when we were kids and someone asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up?  I seem to remember that I thought there were only a few handfuls of possible professions available to me: the standards (Teacher, Police Officer, Doctor, Lawyer, etc) and then whatever professions my parents had.  In my case, construction worker, produce deliverer and chef (the latter two were my mom - and yes, at some point around the age of 4 or 5, I wanted to own my own produce company and drive a big blue pickup truck and deliver produce...)  I think that this relatively narrow view of potential professions or careers continued on up through at least middle school, widening to include things like veterinarian or orchestra conductor (don't ask).

I know for a fact that I never considered what I currently do as a potential job.  I'm not even sure what to call it, but it is interesting.  At the moment, I work with my mom for my uncle, who owns his own business.  Essentially, we buy people's collections of a collectible item.  I can't say explicitly what that item is, but I will you give you some basic details, so that you get the idea.  
  • This item was not intended as a collectible item when it was first introduced.  
  • It was first produced over a 150 years ago, but new additions of it are introduced each year. 
  • It is still used for its original purpose today.
  • Some items are worth thousands of dollars, while others are worth only pennies.  The difference between the two values is sometimes only visible to the very trained eye.
My specific job has several components.  I spend a good portion of my day answering phones and talking with people who want to sell their collections.  As you might imagine, with the current economy, people are really looking for a quick source of cash.  Some of the phone calls I get are actually quite hilarious.   For some reason, the people who collect this item tend to be a bit...off.  In fact, if I'm talking with someone who seams relatively normal, I can almost guarantee that they inherited the collection.  Here is a conversation I had with the original collector of a collection that illustrates my points.  

Man on phone: "I live in Scottsdale, AZ.  It is near Phoenix.  Do you know what the difference is between Scottsdale and Phoenix?"

Me: "Um, no..."

Man on Phone: "People in Scottsdale are supposed to have more money.  Let me tell you a little story. I took my pants to a dry cleaners in Phoenix.  They wanted to charge me $5.  I took those same pants across the street to a dry cleaners in Scottsdale.  They wanted to charge me $8!  When I asked them why, they said, because people have more money in Scottsdale.  So, do you know where I take my pants?"

Me:  "Um, to the dry cleaner's in Phoenix?"

Let me give you a hint - we don't deal in pants!  Why was this part of the conversation necessary?   Sir, I do not care about your pants!

Sometimes, people ship their collections to us to be evaluated.  Then we make an offer.  Unfortunately, people often have expectations that far exceed the reality of the market, and thus they are unhappy with the offer.  If I'm lucky, I get to hear them complain or yell on the phone.  Then I get to repack their collections and return them.  To ensure that no one accuses us of stealing anything, we have to leave the entire collection in it's original boxes, find boxes just slightly larger than the originals, and then put the originals in the new boxes.  Then I have to weigh the boxes, create shipping labels based on the weight of the individual boxes, then tape the labels onto the boxes.  The process requires an inordinate amount of packing tape.  It is not such a big deal if we are talking about 1 or 2 boxes, or even 5.  However, recently, I repacked and returned 25 boxes...25!  The whole process of finding the right size box, building the box, taping the box shut, weighing, printing labels and affixing labels took me nearly two days!  I promise you, I never thought I'd be repacking boxes for a living!

The final part of my job is actually, secretly, my favorite.  It's data entry.  Yep, you heard me right - data entry.  Well, not just the entry, but the design and maintenance of a database.  I love the simplicity of the data, the logic of creating the database, and how neat and tidy all of the forms look.  I used to think that I could never do data entry for a living - I thought it was boring and monotonous.  Which it is, sometimes.  But there is something exciting about creating systems and making things more efficient.

So, how about you?  Are you currently working in your childhood dream profession?  Did you even know that your current profession existed when you were a kid?  Is there a part of your job, or maybe the whole thing, that you find oddly satisfying? 


  1. I have to admit that I am doing the job I always wanted to do, which is stay at home with my kid (hopefully future kids too). However, my husband and I run a study abroad business. I can guarantee I had no idea this is what I would end up doing. I do want to get my nursing degree (still) and perhaps when my little ones are older I will do that.

  2. That is really interesting about your job. I think that as a kid I saw myself becoming a lawyer and although I did get into law school somehow my path diverged...

  3. While I never would have come up with orchestra conductor as a job for you, as soon as I saw it I thought "yes, Amber could do that!" I can totally see it now.

    As for me, I went to school for the one thing that I didn't want to be as a child. Go figure.

  4. Yeah I had the typical teacher / vet aspirations. I also do enjoy date entry and systems, so I get ya there.


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