Monday Briefs: Laboring for a topic

In honor of Labor Day, I thought I’d start off today offering a tribute to the American workforce by trying to apply for a job at the U.S. Department of Labor.

Easier said than done.

Getting to the Labor Department’s official website ( is not that hard, but negotiating your way to the place you’d try to get a job with them is, perhaps appropriately, quite labor-intensive. I finally came across the right page, called the DOL Online Opportunities Recruitment System (DOORS) because the more accurate acronym of DOLOR would simply be too sad.

I went right to the “search all jobs” tab, since I’m not sure exactly what I’m qualified to do (if that matters). There were a number of interesting-sounding openings: human resources specialist, records management specialist and, probably the most appealing, the program analyst, who I guess spends his day evaluating TV shows. The best-paying position was for “Supvy General Attorney,” a slot that pulls down over 120 grand a year. I’m just a little concerned that I’d have to know what a “supvy” is.

There are brief descriptions attached to each post, but they’re so vague as to be next to useless. “The DOL is looking for an energetic and innovative person who will enjoy working in an exciting, dynamic and mission-driven organization” seems to be a catch-all come-on used for several jobs. A few other posts say “this is a standing register.” I won’t pursue these because I can’t tolerate being on my feet all day, plus I have no experience as a cashier. I finally settle on “contract specialist” since the vacancy announcement number, CFO 09-138DE, is one of my favorites.

Located in the Philadelphia office, this vacancy requires applicants to bring the voice of stakeholders into the organization, incorporate customer feedback in operational outcomes, promote organizational change while leveraging its impact, convert strategic goals into actions, and consider functional relationships when planning for and managing resources. I could do all these things, but they sound really hard.

By the time I get to the actual application form at a place called USAJOBS, I’m pretty much worn out. I half-heartedly consider entering information like my name, country and phone number, though this seems like an unnecessary federal intrusion into my privacy, especially when I read the fine print and realize I have to answer truthfully.

I think I’ll abandon this effort and go back to enjoying my Labor Day the way it was originally intended — by working on my tan.

♣ ♣ ♣ ♣

You don’t tend to think much about unusual proper names that you’ve known for years. One local example we have here in the South is a grocery store named Harris Teeter. When you see it written, you realize pretty quickly it’s probably named for two guys named Harris and Teeter. When you only hear it pronounced, you think about how inappropriate it is to name a food store “Harassed Eater.”

We have another grocery store that goes by the name “Bi-Lo.” Again, when you hear it spoken, you might incorrectly think that it sells primarily the bitter yellowish fluid stored in the gall bladder. In fact, it claims to offer you “lo” prices on grocery items that you “bi.”

Originally, there was only a single Bi-Lo in our city. When a second one opened on the other side of town, it became the “new Bi-Lo” in the local lexicon. Before long, the original Bi-Lo abandoned its home for a new location across the street, and thus became the “new new Bi-Lo.” What had previously been the “new Bi-Lo” now has become the “old new Bi-Lo.”

Unusual proper nouns can often be easier to explain than the modifying adjectives we come up with.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

I’ve been playing with a few ideas it’s becoming increasingly obvious I’m going to do nothing with. So I offer them here, free of charge, to any ambitious entrepreneur who might be able to make my dreams become a reality.

The first is a concept I call “inversion dentistry.” As healthcare professionals struggle for recognition in the marketplace, they find an increasing need to differentiate themselves from the competition. Dentists have come up with a “cosmetic” variation that concentrates on straightening and whitening, and a “painless” one that will intubate you with more sedatives than Michael Jackson should you feel the need to be flossed.

What if a practice started offering its patients the opportunity to be hung upside-down while they had their mouths worked on? You could use those inversion boots that were a popular piece of exercise equipment for a while. I imagine there could be an issue with excess bleeding during root canals and other invasive procedures, but I think that complication could be offset because the patient wouldn’t need novacaine since they’d likely be blacked out.

The other idea is for a reality game show you could call “Sleep On It.” Instead of human contestants, the participants vying for victory would be 10 pillows. During a preliminary round, judges would spend sixty seconds cuddling with each player to determine their comfort. A round of weighted voting would eliminate all but three, and the finalists would spend an entire night nesting the head of guest celebrities. Winners would be announced the following day.

All I ask is for an executive producer credit.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

I was reading a story in the local paper the other morning about a woodworker who is “legally blind.” That’s a term I’ve never fully understood. You tend to think that it means a person is completely unable to see, what you might otherwise refer to as “extremely blind.” But I believe what it actually means is that they are only technically blind, in a narrow sense of the term. It might make them unsafe drivers or poor proofreaders, yet they’re still able to see well enough to hammer a few nails without mistaking a chest of drawers for their spouse.

How is “legally blind” different from just plain “blind blind”? If there are any vision-impaired readers out there who can help me on this issue, please respond.

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I love how cats are so curious. The way they respond to anything new introduced into their environment inspires us all to be more open to changes in the world around us.

My wife and I recently moved a rack of old record albums out of storage and into our living room, in anticipation of getting a new turntable. Our cat Tom immediately sniffed at the new arrival, then proceeded to sit on it. Sitting on something seems to be the primary method cats use to evaluate the goodness or usefulness of a particular item.

I’d like to propose that we consider a similar vetting process for human interaction: “Thanks for your interest in the job opening we posted,” a manager might tell a potential new-hire. “Would it be okay if I sit on you for a few minutes?”

My record-setting cat: Tom (above), with Bruce Springsteen (below)

My record-setting cat: Tom (above), with Bruce Springsteen (below)


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5 Responses to “Monday Briefs: Laboring for a topic”

  1. bethsciallo Says:

    re: grocery stores

    So where does the Piggly-Wiggly fit in?
    My Grandaddy used to call it the “Hoggly-Woggly” 🙂

    cute kitah!

  2. fakename2 Says:

    Cats are constantly trying to communicate with you, if only you could understand them. I keep my dog food in a large Rubbermaid container in the kitchen. Long ago I learned that I have to actually lock the lid in place, at least on one side. Otherwise the cat removes the lid and fishes for dog food, bringing up one morsel of kibble at a time. Often she drops said morsel into the water bowl, and then truly goes fishing for it. I believe what she is saying is, “This stuff is swill, but at least it’s bearable when you get to play with it for a while first”. Now that the lid is always locked, she can often be found sleeping on top of it. This communiction is much more clear-cut. I believe it translates to, “You disgusting dog things may be allowed to eat, but you gotta go through me first”. Your cat may be trying to send a message that Bruce Springsteen looks highly edible.

  3. tom1950 Says:

    I used to remember shopping at “Rears and Sawbuck”. My mother-in-law worked at “JC Money”. My dad would get my mom a whole ounce of “Leatherneck” (Lentheric”.


  4. planetross Says:

    You think too much.

  5. planetross Says:

    I thought this was going to be about underwear … but not very hopefully.
    hee hee!

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