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The world’s most useless job?BY: Dan Rottenberg 07.26.2011
Who in his right mind would patronize a sexist, high-cholesterol, beer-swilling roadhouse like Hooters? Funny you should ask.
One cheer for HootersDAN ROTTENBERG
Why not quit your meaningless job and do something really worthwhile, like eliminating poverty or relieving hunger? This modern fantasy was resuscitated recently by one Scott Gilmore, who wrote in the Ottawa Citizen that he quit “a really good job” to launch a worldwide relief organization called Peace Dividend Trust.
As Maria Corley reminds us elsewhere in BSR this week, such dreams are realized only by folks who’ve accumulated a nest egg and/or high-powered connections. (See “Why you shouldn’t quit your job.”) More to the point, Maria asks rhetorically, “What job isn’t important?”
Maria cites two men with seemingly humdrum jobs: her bartender grandfather and a conscientious supermarket grocery-bagger, both of whom provided their patrons with valuable if underappreciated services that can’t yet be performed by machines.
Those examples suggest an interesting parlor game: Think of the most useless, pointless, retrograde job you can conceive— and then try to imagine what positive purpose it serves.
Here’s my example: The Hooters restaurant chain, so named because of the high priority it places on the breasts of its waitresses.
I ask you: What could be more demeaning to the image of women and detrimental to the health of men than a place that hires busty women to wear tight T-shirts while serving greasy hamburgers, fatty chicken wings and beer to slobbering male customers? Wouldn’t we all be better off without it? And yet….
A few years ago my friend, the Philadelphia artist Burnell Yow, set himself the challenge of finding some way to brighten the last months of his father-in-law, who was dying of Alzheimer’s disease. Considering that his father-in-law’s mind had so deteriorated that he barely recognized his own family, this was no small challenge. What to do?
You guessed it. Once a week until the man died, Burnell took his father-in-law to lunch at Hooters. To spend an hour or so being fawned over by all those good-looking women became the high point of the man’s week— indeed, his only remaining pleasure before he departed this vale of tears.
You, as a cultivated BSR reader, logically ask: Who in his right mind would patronize Hooters? But that’s precisely my point: Hooters uniquely served the needs of someone who wasn’t in his right mind— which may be my condition some day, or yours. And its service won’t be replaced by machines any time soon.
Send not to know for whom the Hooters pop their T-shirts; they pop for thee.♦
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