Skip to main content

The Problem With British Job Titles

The Problem With British Job Titles

Erik Deckers
Laughing Stalk syndicate
Copyright 2009

"Look, if the British want us Americans to stop making fun of them, they have to quit doing this stuff," said Karl, my drinking buddy and literary curmudgeon.

What stuff, I said.

Karl plonked his beer on the bar, followed by a copy of Wednesday's London Daily Express. We were sitting at MacTaggart's Scottish Pub, watching the International Ferret-Legging Championships on satellite TV.

"This stuff," he said, jabbing a gnarled finger at an article.

Victoria Beckham's Slinky New Dress Excites Hubby David?

"No, Kid," he said with disgust and embarrassment. "This one."

Hasn't the Mortar Logistics Engineer Laid That Path Yet? What does that mean?

"That's what I said," he said. "There's a British company that researched all these job titles in England to see what kind of lofty new titles they were giving to the boring and low-paying jobs."

So? I said.

"They're trying to make a person's job seem more interesting and important than they really are."

You mean they're career consultants?

"Kid, sometimes for such a smart young man, you can be a real dolt at times."

Bartender, another McEwans for my new best friend, I called. (Karl calls me Kid because I'm 20 years younger than him. Plus I was beaming at the "smart" thing.)

"Thanks, Kid. No, what they're doing is finding the low-paying grunt jobs and giving them all these fancy-schmancy titles because they're in the grips of political correctness. They don't want people to realize how dreary and dull the jobs really are, so they make up these titles to improve self-esteem."

That sounds pretty cynical, Karl, even for you. What kinds of jobs?

He picked up the paper and studied it. "Here's one. They're calling a paper boy a Media Distribution Officer. I know, I know, there are paper girls and even paper adults now, so we should just call them paper deliverers, but that's where I draw the line."

He took a healthy swig from his beer, and looked ready for another. Too many more compliments from him, and I was going to go broke.

"Here's another. They're calling a gas station attendant a Petroleum Transfer Engineer. Now, what does that say to the guy who's job it is to make sure the fuel flows from the oil tanker into the refinery. Or the guy who makes sure the oil flows through the pipeline. Or even flows from the refinery to the fuel delivery truck. The guy that pumps your gas at the local Gulp-N-Go is a pump jockey, not an engineer."

I took the paper from him. What is an Education Centre Nourishment Consultant? I asked.

"That's a lunch lady."

You mean a cafeteria worker?

"Yeah, yeah, lunch lady, cafeteria worker. Who cares?"

The lunch man.

"Fair enough. But what about this? Concrete workers are Mortar Logistics Engineers? Ooh ooh, or how about this: a window cleaner is a Transparency Enhancement Facilitator."

Eww. That's just pushing the envelope of good taste.

"Tell me about it. I hate to break it to those newly-minted Mortar Logistics Engineers, but an engineer is someone who went to a really smart school, took really smart classes, and gets paid a lot of money to build really smart, safe things." Karl took another swig of beer.

Yeah, but. . .

"It comes down to this, Kid. Employers who think sticking the word 'engineer'" – he made air quotes – "at the end of some important sounding title doesn't make it more important or less sucky." Karl took a deep breath. I knew he was getting ready to roll.

"I mean, just because I sit in my garage doesn't mean I'm a car. And calling a gas jockey a 'petroleum transfer engineer' doesn't make him one. 'Engineer' needs to be reserved for people who are what psychologists call 'wicked smart,' and have taken mathematics classes that would make the Beautiful Mind guy cry like a little girl."

But what's wrong with making a job sound more appealing to its potential candidates? They may be having problems with the image of the job, and so they want to get better workers in the position.

Karl plonked his beer again. "I can think of better way to make them more appealing: pay them more!"

A few more beers, and we'll have you solving all of the world's problems in no time, I said.

"Darn right, Kid. You know what they call a guy like me?"

Bovine Waste Artisan?

Karl thought about that for a second. "Shut up, Kid."


---
Like this post? Leave a comment, Digg it, or Stumble it.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

AYFKMWTS?! FBI Creates 88 Page Twitter Slang Guide

TFBIHCAEEPTSD.

Did you get that? It's an acronym. Web slang. It's how all the teens and young people are texting with their tweeters and Facer-books on their cellular doodads.

It stands for "The FBI has created an eighty-eight page Twitter slang dictionary."

See, you would have known that if you had the FBI's 88 page Twitter slang dictionary.

Eighty-eight pages! Of slang! AYFKMWTS?! (Are you f***ing kidding me with this s***?! That's actually how they spell it in the guide, asterisks and everything. You know, in case the gun-toting agents who catch mobsters and international terrorists get offended by salty language.)

I didn't even know there were 88 Twitter acronyms, let alone enough acronyms to fill 88 pieces of paper.

The FBI needs to be good at Twitter because they're reading everyone's tweets to see if anyone is planning any illegal activities. Because that's what terrorists do — plan their terroristic activities publicly, as if they were…

Understanding 7 Different Types of Humor

One of my pet peeves is when people say they have a "dry" sense of humor, without actually understanding what it actually means.

"Dry" humor is not just any old type of humor. It's not violent, not off-color, not macabre or dark.

Basically, dry humor is that deadpan style of humor. It's the not-very-funny joke your uncle the cost analysis accountant tells. It's Bob Newhart, Steven Wright, or Jason Bateman in Arrested Development.

It is not, for the love of GOD, people, the Black Knight scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I swear, if anyone says Monty Python is "dry humor" is going to get a smack.

Here are some other types of comedy you may have heard and are just tossing around, willy-nilly.

Farce: Exaggerated comedy. Characters in a farce get themselves in an unlikely or improbable situation that takes a lot of footwork and fast talking to get out of. The play "The Foreigner" is an example of a farce, as are many of the Jeeves &…

What Are They Thinking? The Beloit College Mindset List

Every year at this time, the staff at Beloit College send out their new student Mindset List as a way to make everyone clutch their chest and feel the cold hand of death.

This list was originally created and shared with their faculty each year, so the faculty would understand what some of their own cultural touchstones might mean, or not mean, to the incoming freshmen. They also wanted the freshmen to know it was not cool to refer to '80s music as "Oldies."

This year's incoming Beloit freshmen are typically 18 years old, born in 1999. John F. Kennedy Jr. died that year, as did Stanley Kubrick and Gene Siskel. And so did my hope for a society that sought artistic and intellectual pursuits for the betterment of all humanity. Although it may have actually died when I heard about this year's Emoji Movie.

Before I throw my hands up in despair, here are a few items from the Mindset list for the class of 2021.

They're the last class to be born in the 1900s, and are t…