Topics: education, food, health, taxes, technology, transportation, work
It has been said that everyone in our society performs a vital role that helps our worldwide community continue to function in perpetuity. But it has also been said that 99% of people work to serve the 1% of people who actually keep the world running and progressing. From the bottom of my 1% heart I’d like to thank you, other 99%, for serving me so faithfully over the years.
Okay, so I’m only joking about the 1% argument, but maybe it’s not so far-fetched to say that there are some jobs out there that we could be doing ourselves but we don’t. Maybe we just don’t have time to do them, maybe we don’t know how to do them, or maybe we just choose not to do them. Here are a few occupations that I think we could do without… were it not for our own laziness and ignorance. (Scores are on a 0-10 scale, 10 high.)
- Tax accountant. Why, people, do you allow services like H&R Block or Jackson Hewitt to exist anymore? Those folks you hand over your W-2s and hard-earned money to each year typically only have a couple more years of training than you, and they use software not unlike that which you can find online for cheap or free. I say that if you have all that money, you should be able to compute and submit the taxes on it yourself. Millions of people do it themselves each year, and so should you! Laziness Factor: 5. Ignorance Factor: 6.
- Home PC repair technician. With a quick phone call to a service like Geek Squad, you can order your very own housecall from a computer geek who will help you diagnose your PC’s problems. From virus protection installation to wireless home network setup, these folks will come to the aid of the computer illiterate and perform seemingly miraculous works on their machines. In reality, companies like these are offering you services that you can take care of yourself at little or no cost. Things like spyware removal (and avoidance) or printer installation are actually fairly simple if you follow the directions that accompany the software or hardware. And you can almost always find answers to any computer problem online for free. But for some reason, a lot of folks associate the inner workings of a computer with the complexity of nuclear physics. That’s simply not the case. Pick up a computer book or two and learn about that tool you take for granted. You’ll be pleasantly surprised when you’re able to handle your own technical problem next time; and in time, the number of problems you encounter will drop as your computing habits improve. Laziness Factor: 3. Ignorance Factor: 8.
- College admission advisor. I just read this BusinessWeek article on college admission advisors. Some of these folks are making tens of thousands of dollars per client simply dispensing advice you can find online for free or in books that go for less than $20. I think most people will agree that one of the most important parts of college is the application process–exploring your options, thinking about a major, figuring out which classes to take. If you want to pay someone a ridiculous sum of money to determine all of this for you, then maybe college isn’t right for you in the first place. Laziness Factor: 3. Ignorance Factor: 7.
- Fast food worker. We’re all guilty of supporting these folks from time to time. Sometimes we’re just in a hurry and need a quick bite to eat, though there are those for whom the Golden Arches are the most important architectural achievement in history. Next time instead of blowing seven bucks or more on a trip to the drive-thru, take an extra five minutes in the morning to fix yourself a lighter, more nutritious lunch. You’ll spend less money, live longer, and help save future generations from having to utter the words “Would you like fries with that?” Laziness Factor: 9. Ignorance Factor: 1.
- Parking attendant. Valet parking makes the most sense in crowded cities where parking is scarce, though in such cases you should probably be using public transportation in the first place to save you time and money. Now valet parking services are cropping up at malls and other locations where parking is plentiful and such services are merely an interesting convenience. So next time you’re offered valet parking when self-service parking is readily available, save yourself a couple bucks (not to mention the trouble that comes with dishonest attendants who poke through your car for “free” stuff) and get a little more exercise by finding a space yourself. Laziness Factor: 8. Ignorance Factor: 2.
- Personal fitness trainer. I know a few people who swear by them, but the truth about personal trainers is that you don’t really need them unless you’re a serious athlete. You can maintain a healthy body and develop a personalized workout regimen on your own. Instead of shelling out big bucks for your own trainer, pick up a book that will tell you everything you need to know about putting together a fitness routine tailored specifically to your body. And if you’re suffering from a specific health problem that mandates a particular fitness program, then your doctor should be the one to help you put the program together, not that muscly guy at Bally’s. Laziness Factor: 2. Ignorance Factor: 6.
- Part-time maid. I’m still a bit on the fence about this one. Services like Merry Maids have been booming lately as more and more people outsource their cleaning and other dreaded household chores. On the one hand, my wife and I certainly wouldn’t mind never having to clean again, so I can understand why some people would be willing to pay others to do it for them. But on the other hand, if you’re having trouble keeping up with the dust bunnies, then your home might be too big for you. If it’s just you and your spouse, do you really need five bedrooms, all of which still need to be kept clean? This job will probably move to the top of the list in a few years once affordable robots are able to run your entire household. Laziness Factor: 5. Ignorance Factor: 2.
If you’re someone who is employed in one of the above fields, I encourage you to comment on what I’ve said… especially if you agree with my assessments! Or if you know of another occupation that needs to be on this list, please feel free to leave your thoughts here as well.