January 26, 2006

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The Idler Book of Crap Jobs: 100 Tales of Workplace Hell, edited by Dan Kieran (Harper, 2006, 160 pages)

C

So, you hate your job? Boo-hoo. So does everybody else, and if there are people who don’t hate their jobs, we all hate them.

That’s America, and apparently England too, as this collection of undesirable professions comes straight from letters sent to British mag The Idler. That gives each first-person job description a distinct limey flavor (or should I say flavour?), enhancing its sarcastic humor to the point of delightful rudeness.

It’s a feel-good book, in the sense that when you read about the horrors others must go through to earn a living, you can feel a little bit better about your own personal slavery. “Journalist,” for example, is only number 95 on this list. Hot damn! 94 jobs worse than mine! Including “Damaged Food Discounter,” “Pie Holemaker” and “Cement Researcher.”

Something is inevitably lost in the translation from British to American humor. The wages are given in disconcerting dollars rather than pounds, and sidebar statistics apply mainly to the United States (“139 of the 168 countries investigated guaranteed paid sick leave to all employees. The U.S. was not one of them.”).

Also, the cartoons are terrible. I mean terrible. Second-grade line art and impotent cursing abound. Which can be funny, granted, but these aren’t. The cartoonist is credited only as “Gwyn.” Stay anonymous, good idea.

All in all, something entertaining to flip through in a bookstore café. Worth twelve bucks? Nah..

John "JaQ" Andrews

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