The Vox Pop Article: “What Makes Your Job Interesting?”

I very recently did a series of vox pop interviews in my neighborhood for Reuters and figured the resulting article was sufficiently interesting to merit posting on The Velvet Rocket:


“And then there was the giraffe incident…”

I’m with 56-year-old sanitation worker Travis Greene as he describes his job.

Certainly, it’s easy to find many depressing tales from the unemployed or the underemployed.  But, the holiday season is upon us.  Maybe it’s time to stretch for the positive?  There is already enough negativity about jobs out there.  So why not ask people what is most interesting about the jobs they have – whether they like them or not?

A New York City working class-bar, at a time when it is filled with the weary and thirsty stopping in for a beer on their way home from work, proves a fertile environment for that question.  Within, Polaroid pictures from past raucous nights cover the wood-paneled walls of the dimly lit establishment alongside posters of American muscle cars.  One can still inhale the sharp residue of many decades of smoking before it was banned indoors.

Parker Sullivan, a 26-year-old attractive and vivacious blonde is working behind the bar.

“What’s the most interesting part of your job?”

Once she realizes that she’s not being presented with a pick-up line, Sullivan admits that the best part of her work day is the customers and their peculiarities.

“On weekends this place is packed.  The other staff and I like to watch guys try to pick up women and we make bets on how successful they’ll be.  I’ve learned that success for women is really all about looks and for men it’s all about confidence.”

I turn to the man next to me, Hans Schulman, a 31-year-old aspiring mixed martial arts fighter who says in a thick Austrian accent, “My profession is destruction.  What’s more interesting than that?”

Nearby is 24-year-old Ryan Handy, a nurse at a local hospital.  After saying that he loves his job, he launches into a passionate, and extremely graphic, description of contending recently with a patient’s infected ingrown toenail.  “It was fascinating,” he insists.

Perhaps it is not necessary to know the most interesting aspects of everyone’s job…

Outside of the bar, an auto accident has blocked a garbage truck.  Sanitation worker Travis Greene, waiting for the traffic to be unsnarled, says, “Stuff we find makes our job interesting – guns, art… I found a suit of armor once.”

He gestures to the other man on the truck and says, “Jose found a bag of money.  Like $40,000. But we handed it all over to the city.”

Noting my raised eyebrows, Greene laughs and then insists, “It’s true.  Didn’t take a penny for ourselves.”

“And then there was the giraffe incident.  Everybody still talks about that.”

That’s a line that grabs one’s attention.

“Yeah, happened a few years ago, but it was the craziest…”

Abruptly, the accident is cleared and the flow of the conversation is broken.  Greene has to depart to catch up on their route.

Everyone has a good story.  It’s just a matter of getting it out of them.  And many, like the giraffe story, are still waiting to be told.


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