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Imaginary Jobs: The Observer

Do you ever find yourself thinking, “No, I don’t want to be part of a dynamic team in a fast-paced environment”? You’re not alone! The recent Great Resignation was swiftly followed by the Great Scramble to Find a New Job, and by the universal realization that looking for a new job is less than no fun. But we are here to help! with a (hopefully) ongoing series of jobs you might not have realized existed (perhaps because they never did or have not for centuries). Find something to suit your skill set!

I once had a dream that I decided to legally change my name to Clairey the Observer. And in my dream this was my job (my dream job!), I was a professional observer. I just sat back and watched people and then I wrote about it. I made observations. I half-woke up and thought about what a nice job this would be in real life, I imagined myself on a high perch, taking notice of all that happened around me, and I thought about writing stories based on observations of people. I want this job!

Unfortunately I didn’t dream about the part where you apply for the position, so I don’t know how to go about it. But then when I was fully-woken up, I looked up “observe” in the OED, as one does, so I’d be fully apprised of the job description before I undertake the employment. Observe. It’s such a rich and fascinating word. According to my understanding of the term in my dream, my main responsibility as an observer would be “To take notice of, be conscious of; to notice, perceive, see.” And then “To remark or make observations on.”

I would tell them (in the “experience” section of my resumé) that I once walked past a woman who was undone by a perfect flower.

If I was actually applying for this job, I would write in my cover letter, “I think I would be excel at taking notice and being conscious of things, because it’s very important to me to observe things, and not to just let them pass me by. I want to observe things and collect and keep them, and not just let life wash over me as though I was in a sleepy stupor. I want to be a keen observer, and notice even the small things and feel them, too.  I want to engage keenly in all of the moments of life…not just the big ones that everybody takes photos of, but the smaller ones, the quotidian day-to-day moments that pass by easily unnoticed. ” I would tell them (in the “experience” section of my resumé) that I once walked past a woman who was undone by a perfect flower. She was a landscaper, working in somebody else’s garden on a tender spring day, and she was rendered speechless by a heliobore. She stood, hand on heart, looking at the flower, watching it grow. I imagine this is a fairly common danger in her line of work, at that time of year.

And I would add that I’ve seen it happen elsewhere. I once knew a woman who worked in veg cut in the kitchen of a restaurant. She sliced vegetables. She would be moved to tears by a lovely slice of beet, a perfect half leek, knocked off track by the beauty of the vegetables she was cutting. I imagine every profession has some unexpected beauty, if you look hard enough and take the time to notice. I’m sure it’s easier for a person whose job is to plant flowers in springtime than for a person who, say, scrubs toilets for a living, but even then, there might be some light in the water, some curve in the porcelain. I would mention that as a waitress I was sometimes moved by the beauty of certain gestures. People together, taking a table, preparing to eat, arranging their plate just as they like it – talking to each other or communicating without words.

Which would lead to the “weaknesses” section of the application, as I would admit that some days I’ll be walking along through the world, fully possessed of my maturity and composure and whatever other calloused armor lets us walk through this world in a capable and functioning fashion, and some small gesture will undo me.

If you take the time to notice, these small moments can be worth keeping, they can knock you off track for a moment and take you out of your routine. As disarming as an unexpected kind word. Which would lead to the “weaknesses” section of the application, as I would admit that some days I’ll be walking along through the world, fully possessed of my maturity and composure and whatever other calloused armor lets us walk through this world in a capable and functioning fashion, and some small gesture will undo me. It’s usually something seemingly insignificant, something I could easily pass by without noticing at all. But it will leave me a weepy puddly mess, for a minute or two. I suppose it’s moments of connection, if I stop and look at it rationally, which strike such a tender chord; moments of communication or thoughtfulness. And they’re everywhere! They’re all around us! I feel crazy for getting so emotional about small things, but maybe we’re crazy for not being constantly undone by these moments, for not being constantly aglow with emotion set off by these small gestures. I don’t suppose we’d get much done, though, throughout the day.

I also understand that as an observer I might be called upon to abide by or adhere to or to maintain or uphold a mode of existence, a covenant, or a promise, and I assure you that in my day-to-day existence, I will strive to observe principles of curiosity, creativity, generosity, honesty, and, of course, verbosity and I will faithfully observe such small daily rituals as necessary to ensure a life fully lived and thoughtfully observed, as far as I am able.

In summation, I would like to share the words of Francis Bacon, “If men will intend to observe, they shall finde much worthy to observe.” I hope that you will consider me for this position of observer, howsoever it shall be found and remunerated, yours sincerely and henceforth, Clairey the Observer.

Do you have an imaginary or outdated job you would love to do? A job you wanted as a child from some misheard line of poetry, like catcher in the rye? Do you want to tell us about it? We’re welcoming essays for the Imaginary Jobs series. Send submissions to magpiesmagazine@gmail.com.

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