Metatalktail Hour: My dream job... November 29, 2020 10:44 AM   Subscribe

If I were to have my dream job, it would probably be a combination of writing Wikipedia articles about notable and under-appreciated people (librarians, artists, historical POC) and being the "Live Zoom link provider" person when I was watching a lecture or attending an event. "Oh hey that person mentioned their book, here's a link where you can read a review or purchase it from a non-Amazon shop." It would be great if that kind of thing paid. What sort of dream job would you like, if you're dreaming? Sky is the limit. Thank you to valkane for the suggestion.

This is a conversation starter not limiter. How are you doing this weekend! No politics please, we've got a whole big internet for that.
posted by jessamyn (retired) to MetaFilter-Related at 10:44 AM (112 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

I would grow an extensive food forest. People would shop the forest for free. It would also have a nursery component.
posted by aniola at 11:20 AM on November 29, 2020 [7 favorites]

I would also host for the food forest an excellent little library of all things even tangentially related. Including books, seeds, tools, and more.
posted by aniola at 11:25 AM on November 29, 2020 [5 favorites]

I would buy people the perfect gift on etsy and watch them open it. Is that a job?
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 11:33 AM on November 29, 2020 [8 favorites]

A position where I'm paid to do some minimal activity and I'm issued a reasonable computer with good internet with no filters, at a comfy desk with an interesting window-view, and a working shift no longer than a few hours a day (but weekends are okay). Yes, I know -- Theory X all the way.
posted by Rash at 11:40 AM on November 29, 2020 [7 favorites]

Edit & design a beautiful, thick poetry journal in which all the contributors are paid beaucoup dollars and also when the mood strikes me, which it often would, I drive around a little tricycle distributing free poetry books from small presses to any and all.

Goat petter.

That's my current job!
posted by youarenothere at 11:43 AM on November 29, 2020 [10 favorites]

I would knit clothing for people, in whatever fiber and color I choose. I would probably also learn how to spin and dye yarn if I was able to knit for a living.
posted by k8lin at 11:43 AM on November 29, 2020 [1 favorite]

I'd like to be hired to stroll on paths in the countryside for part of every day. Not the real countryside, with no pedestrian infrastructure and ticks and too many angry landowners. And, not real-world field work where you carry heavy gear across impossible terrain and put up with coworkers. I'm picturing a bucolic version where there are walking trails, no cars to watch out for, and convenient places to stop and buy lunch.

So, basically a half-time mailman or meter-reader in the hobbit shire. Walk from village to village in the mornings, have lunch and a drink or two in a pub, and take naps in front of the fire in the afternoons.
posted by Dip Flash at 12:28 PM on November 29, 2020 [25 favorites]

Years ago, I heard about someone who made a living finding and selling meteorites. It's a tossup between that and using border collies and/or falcons to scare birds and other wildlife away from airports.
posted by Redstart at 12:41 PM on November 29, 2020 [2 favorites]

Mail delivery would be a dream job for me but even the car-free routes require a drivers license which is BS.
posted by aniola at 1:28 PM on November 29, 2020 [2 favorites]

I would grow an extensive food forest

My answer is so similar! I'd want to help people design and install food forests in their yards.
posted by saladin at 1:49 PM on November 29, 2020 [2 favorites]

I would run a small retirement home for huskies. They would all sleep on my bed.
posted by roolya_boolya at 1:55 PM on November 29, 2020 [23 favorites]

I’d be a monorail driver at Disneyworld. Late Eisner years, if I get to specify.
posted by The Potate at 1:58 PM on November 29, 2020 [7 favorites]

I would like to live in a small town in the mountains and take care of people’s cats all around the world. And write books and have adventures riding bikes and climbing mountains.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 2:26 PM on November 29, 2020 [3 favorites]

I'd like to run a retirement home for cats with a sideline running a diner that provides free meals to people who need them, or sliding scale for people who can afford it to subsidize the free meals. Naturally the other staff at the diner would make at least $75K a year and have good healthcare and tips would be entirely optional.
posted by jzb at 2:41 PM on November 29, 2020 [5 favorites]

Staff writer and voice artist for animated movie and TV comedies. I get to be silly all day and listen to myself be silly, and entertain others in the bargain!
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:49 PM on November 29, 2020 [4 favorites]

I would re-write instruction manuals.

Easy-to-understand, pictures from multiple angles instruction manuals.

In my down time, I'd work for Air B&B hosts to tell them what sucks about their accommodations. This after staying at a place last year with *no* sharp knives and three ironing boards.
posted by Twicketface at 3:05 PM on November 29, 2020 [10 favorites]

Two jobs, from when I was younger (aside from wanting to work at ILM making practical effects and matte paintings, just to grow up when everything went to computers):

When I was a teen, we went to Disneyworld, and at Epcot Center, in the giant aquarium, they had rescue manatees. A woman was sitting on the side of their tank, feeding them lettuce and carrots. I wanted that job, but quickly realized she probably had advanced degrees in marine biology, and I am bad at the science.

The other job, at some point in college, on PBS, there was a man on a stage, telling the story of the Little Mermaid to an audience. Not acting, not performing: telling the story. At one point, he was so into the story, talking about the boat crashing through the waves that he reached out to the glass of water on the table next to him, dipped his fingers in it, and flicked the water in his face, representing the spray of the waves. The audience (and me, too, in my dorm room) gasped, completely taken my the story and the moment. Goddamn, I want to be a storyteller.
posted by Ghidorah at 3:08 PM on November 29, 2020 [10 favorites]

A couple other aspects of my dream job - my role, however minimal, would be part of some greater effort, a major project with some positive objective. My boss, about whom everybody says a really nice guy, is usually over at the main building. Also, a color printer.
posted by Rash at 3:33 PM on November 29, 2020 [3 favorites]

Roller coaster designer.
posted by holborne at 3:49 PM on November 29, 2020 [2 favorites]

saladin! That's a thing! People do that!
posted by aniola at 3:53 PM on November 29, 2020

I like to change jobs. Today, I would like to help people design and build sustainable homes. Would probably like being a bookseller again.
posted by theora55 at 3:57 PM on November 29, 2020 [4 favorites]

I would like someone to pay me exorbitant sums of money for my hobby of writing song/poem parodies.
posted by coppermoss at 4:29 PM on November 29, 2020 [3 favorites]

I would be a lawyer representing women who have been thrown under the bus by their children's' fathers and by the system so that they can get fair child support. This would include child care and college savings on top of the housing, food, clothing, medical expense, and extra-curricular activity expenses for the kids. This would become the standard for all single mothers. Also, any arrears are penalized severely instead of the interest-free indefinite loans dead beat dads currently get.
posted by waving at 4:31 PM on November 29, 2020 [9 favorites]

I’d like to play and cuddle with puppies. I’d have staff to take care of the yucky messes, of course.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:34 PM on November 29, 2020 [3 favorites]

I think it would be really fun to do what I'm doing except without a global pandemic.
posted by aubilenon at 4:44 PM on November 29, 2020 [10 favorites]

Run a small B&B in a large beautiful old house in a small town by the sea near a large city in interesting part of the world. Have 2 or 3 rooms, and curate who gets to stay. Make people breakfast and maybe dinner sometimes if I like them. Have sufficient employees to avoid any sort of drudge work, cleaning, etc. Have an apartment over and independent from the B&B, with a workshop, office and music studio, and a large terrace to have friends over for jam sessions as the sun goes down over the ocean.
posted by signal at 4:46 PM on November 29, 2020 [8 favorites]

I would be an engineer on the Rhaetian Railway in Switzerland. Or run a coffee cart at the Alp Grüm station.
posted by niicholas at 4:49 PM on November 29, 2020 [3 favorites]

waving: "I would be a lawyer representing women who have been thrown under the bus by their children's' fathers and by the system so that they can get fair child support. "

You might be happy to hear that in Chile, where I live, they're passing a law to have mandatory withdrawals of 10% of deadbeat dads' pension fund savings to be paid directly to mothers and children in this situation. It passed the lower house unanimously and is now working its way through the senate.
posted by signal at 4:51 PM on November 29, 2020 [6 favorites]

This is a conversation starter not limiter.
It's funny. Just this past Friday a large part of my weekly therapy session was about starting to figure out a structure for how we are going to talk about a potential re-try with Vocational Rehabilitation after my disastrous experience through them a couple years ago now. (That experience was scarring enough that just starting to lay some foundations for this conversation is triggering, which my therapist knew, so we were edging up to it into it only very slowly.)

But as part of this, my therapist straight-up asked me if working was even a viable thing for me at all.

I didn't, and don't, have a clear answer to this in either direction, if only because despite my problematic work history now having a sort of retrospective explanation (to wit: my then-undiagnosed autism, et cetera) there's an extreme sense of shame in our society that goes with not working, or failing to work, regardless of explanation.

I'm at this point sort of a bundle of unanswered unknowns. On the one hand, I'm deeply skeptical of my ability to work, or at least to work in any way consistently enough to make me self-sufficient. On the other hand, how much of that skepticism is "just" the scarring from that VocRehab attempt. On the third hand, I don't intrinsically believe my worth is defined by my employability. One the fourth hand, I feel like the world tells me otherwise.
How are you doing this weekend!
Oddly, despite having to dredge up and partially through all of the above in therapy on Friday, my weekend is fairly stable and content, if suffused with the tiredness that comes with that sort of therapy session.

But, yeah, I've no answer to the instigating question here. When I was little, my first-ever job want was "outer space moving van driver", helping move families into orbit. Blame seeing 2001 when I was like five or six years old.
posted by bixfrankonis at 4:54 PM on November 29, 2020 [9 favorites]

well wisher
posted by lalochezia at 5:01 PM on November 29, 2020 [1 favorite]

Once a year, as a promotional exercise, [quality car company] has one of their cars driven "around the world" by whatever route the driver chooses. I'm the driver. I have a helicopter-based support crew.
posted by LionIndex at 5:16 PM on November 29, 2020 [5 favorites]

Write articles or draw comics about whatever interesting historical events or other topics I thought were interesting. Paint murals. Collaborate on community history and art projects. Travel around the world taking care of people’s cats and publish travel comics about my trips (and the cats).
posted by heurtebise at 5:30 PM on November 29, 2020 [1 favorite]

I kinda have my dream job. I spend most of my days puttering around parks and cafes with my laptop, drawing comics, or doing private commissions. Mostly I do the latter when I'm too stressed out to do the former. The Patreon for my comics slowly grows; while I wasn't looking during all the stress and not-drawing-comics of 2020, it went up to $130/page. I'm trying to get myself back into drawing the comics, but it's slow going - 2020 may be mostly done from a political madness standpoint, but there's been some personal craziness involving the cats who live under the house coming in and having kittens that's been eating my energy.

The dream is mostly for that Patreon to be a bit bigger. $2-300 per page, so that when I get back in the groove of my current overambitious project, I can return to paying the whole rent from comics if need be. Or keep splitting it with the SO and make my savings start growing again instead of shrinking. And the dream is also to hook up with a publisher to deal with turning those comics pages into books on shelves on a far broader scale than I can manage with self-publishing. But it's pretty self-sustaining as is and that's really nice.
posted by egypturnash at 5:31 PM on November 29, 2020 [10 favorites]

I would make art stuff all the time, ceramics, garden sculptures, mobiles, drawings, paintings. I would give workshops for people who wanted to learn do similar things and give functional and fun stuff to people who loved it but weren't really interested in making it themselves. It isn't that much different than what I do now except that I would never, ever have to put a numerical grade on another art project or essay as long as I live.
posted by Cuke at 5:40 PM on November 29, 2020 [3 favorites]

On the one hand, paid psychonaut.

On the other, actually more realistic (still impossible), hand: guy who works on reforesting places like the Faroes and Iceland while building strange machines in his spare time.
posted by aramaic at 5:50 PM on November 29, 2020 [2 favorites]

Over the course of a few years, society decommisions most motor vehicles in such a way that is supportive of everyone's needs. But, like, people realize we need to make a fast, massive change (like how most people wear masks now) and we all put the work in to learn how to do what it takes and make it happen.

Instead of a junk yard, every region gets a big public amusement park at the nearest former race track that is lined with walls made from the husks of the former motor vehicles. People take their kids there to go like 10 mph around the track in a motor vehicle of their choice that is driven by a professional amusement park driver. The drivers go like 20-30 mph after hours and tell their kids about their reckless youth when they're older.

I do admin in the back office and a ticket booth shift once a week.
posted by aniola at 5:51 PM on November 29, 2020 [4 favorites]

I would be a novelist.
posted by Pax at 5:52 PM on November 29, 2020 [2 favorites]

posted by rue72 at 6:10 PM on November 29, 2020 [1 favorite]

I would make a really excellent professor of primatology, and that has been my dream job for nearly 20 years. Being on the academic job market this year, during COVID, is making it look like that might not be achievable. So I'm in the process of figuring out what else there is for me. If anyone has any ideas ... let me know!
posted by ChuraChura at 6:16 PM on November 29, 2020 [11 favorites]

1. Perpetual Student: I would travel the world and take the 101-level class in everything, at the best program for it. If it caught my fancy, I'd move up to 102.

2. Ecclesiastical/Historical/Awesome Old Architecture Explorer: I'd poke around all of the cathedrals and buildings and archives, looking for...oh, let's say I'm looking for mold. I'd have a clever doggie sidekick and a group of friends (oh, let's call them interns) to do things like organize transportation and lodging and food. They'd also hold the lantern when it's dark and hold my hand when it's scary. One of them has a little bluetooth speaker and a real yen for creating excellent atmospheric playlists.
posted by Gray Duck at 6:25 PM on November 29, 2020 [13 favorites]

Making mix tapes/playlists and writing stories about them. Throwing elaborate parties. Writing a television show abour queer kids in boarding school and/or glam rock pirates. Running a record store that also sells novels and evening gowns. Teaching history, emphasis on 17th century England.

The hilarious part is how the last one feels the most unrealistic.
posted by thivaia at 7:31 PM on November 29, 2020 [6 favorites]

2. Ecclesiastical/Historical/Awesome Old Architecture Explorer
Gray Duck: as it happens this is both my dream job, and actual job. You would be surprised by just how much mould there is, wear long sleeves. Alas, it's far less kicking around old buildings and significant places, and more dealing with project managers, demanding clients, PDF forms from here to breakfast, and endless, endless varieties of documents with Word tables in them. So my dream job: the one I have, but without clients, public authorities, word processors, 'strategies', project management practices, the NSW Heritage Act 1977, the heritage conservation system, the legal system, local government, or the concept of private property in real estate.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 10:03 PM on November 29, 2020 [3 favorites]

I have a small estate with a nice two or so fenced acres and a reliable and handsome groundskeeper to maintain it. My job is to take care of my little herd of Shelties, breed the occasional carefully planned litter, take them on long rambling walks in the countryside, and sit in a chair by the fire in my lovely house with the wide floorboards scattered with contented sleepy dogs. Sometimes I invite the groundskeeper to stay for supper and one thing leads to another.
posted by HotToddy at 10:09 PM on November 29, 2020 [10 favorites]

In the spring/summer/fall I'd be an architect and general contractor building modest, super insulated, earth sheltered, custom homes. Ideally this would be funded by a government with the homes managed as low income housing.

In the winter I'd travel the world taking pictures.
posted by Mitheral at 10:17 PM on November 29, 2020 [1 favorite]

I'm a trained mathematician, but my favorite thing to do with my math knowledge is to make random connections with people and help them with the mathy parts of cool things they're doing. Community math consulting, if you will. I already have some of this in my life, and I'm pretty happy with it as an avocation (my real job is teaching), but occasionally I fantasize about a world in which I could sit behind a desk like a P.I. and wait for people to bring me "cases".

When I was younger, I wanted to be a matchmaker of things and ideas. I think the common thread here is a need for serendipity, for variety and for the redemption of errant knowledge.
posted by aws17576 at 10:17 PM on November 29, 2020 [19 favorites]

I love writing code as a software developer. I'm pretty good at it too. But doing it as a career... well, it's work. And the longer you do it, the less code you write; as a manager type now my running joke is my IDE is now email and slack :( So if i could do anything I wanted, I'd just write code - the code I want to write. I wouldn't have to work out specs with anyone else, negotiate features with dates, deal with other's buggy libraries, listen to users, track my progress, etc - just write fun code in small projects that are finished before I get bored.

Continuing in the software development realm, I've always wanted to get into some data analysis / data science / machine learning but (a) my innate math abilities not strong enough, and (b) so much learning to do. Which would be cool, but who has time mid-career?

On a different tangent, I would like to be a dog walker somewhere with a nice climate with parks and trails nearby. I would love to make a livable salary playing with allll the doggos. As long as it's not cold and wet outside, or stupidly hot either. And someone else does the hustling for clients.

I'd also like to be a professional road tripper. I'd love to go see all the places in North America. I'd bring a doggo or two along and would blog about it.
posted by cgg at 10:39 PM on November 29, 2020 [4 favorites]

My kneejerk response to this is I simply do not dream of labor. I was recently fortunate enough to be able to take a few weeks off work and it was just so very nice to (for the most part) sleep when I wanted, wake up when I wanted, get household projects done, help my mom take care of some paperwork, and really focus on ankle surgery rehab, and it's so frustrating that I wouldn't have been able to get those things adequately taken care of without all that time off.

More to the spirit of the question, though--and acknowledging that I'd get restless and want to do these things anyway even in a world where labor wasn't a necessity--I'd want to go back into sex education for older teens and adults only this time I can actually pay my bills and not overwork myself, and as a side gig go around to all my neighbors and help them figure out what they need to prepare for potential disasters and encourage/enable them to do those things.
posted by rhiannonstone at 10:40 PM on November 29, 2020 [12 favorites]

I would like to be a professional baseball player. I would play catcher or 3rd base. NY Yankees.

Also would like to be a columnist. Just write 3 or 4 columns a week mostly on everyday living. No politics.

I would love to be a cabinet maker and/or a carpenter. Working with wood and my hands is a good thing. Auto mechanic that specializes in restorations.

I would love to have my first job which I had for 9 years back. It does not really exist. I was a trader of equities, options and commodities on the floor of several Chicago exchanges. Being in a pit, yelling and trading is the greatest job in the world when you are making money. Worst job when you are losing. You work for yourself. Your upside is unlimited. You can come and go as you please. You buy things you don't want, sell things you don't own, have a seat you cannot sit in and you make a living at it.

I would really enjoy and be really good at being a wealthy retiree. I would do a lot of volunteer work, travel and attempt to read the internet cover to cover.
posted by AugustWest at 10:42 PM on November 29, 2020 [5 favorites]

Oh the animal mentions reminded me that, as a great ape obsessive, I have also long longed to be one of the ladies raising rescued babies at the Lola Ya Bonobo sanctuary. Because y'all.
posted by youarenothere at 11:34 PM on November 29, 2020 [2 favorites]

A person on the internet posted his dream job was being the person who pushes terrified parachute jumpers out of the plane. I would like to say to him "You go first."
posted by Cranberry at 11:56 PM on November 29, 2020 [1 favorite]

An existential chiropractor and Arcivist. Ideally, all reached by bicycle.

realistic, a food truck in post Covid world.

Dog walking is great but you can't get attached. So I'd like to train humans about their companion not to be a pet.

fantasy job, cowboy.
posted by clavdivs at 11:56 PM on November 29, 2020 [1 favorite]

I want(ed) to be a toy designer and work for Mattel or Disney or Hasbro. I think I'm too old. But younger me is still holding out hope. I think I'd be really good at it.
posted by Kitchen Witch at 12:56 AM on November 30, 2020 [1 favorite]

I'd love to be a taster for a chocolate factor, ice cream manufacturer, fancy bakery or similar. I'd constantly be taking the rejects home. It'd be great.
posted by unicorn chaser at 2:50 AM on November 30, 2020 [1 favorite]

Wearing lots of tweed and solving crimes with my robot butler.
posted by betweenthebars at 4:13 AM on November 30, 2020 [6 favorites]

I'd be teaching people things all the time! I'm great at explaining all kinds of things in understandable, interesting ways, but it would have to be extempore/spur-of-the-moment. If I have to plan anything out I always fucking overthink it and enlarge the scope of the topic to ~infinity~ and never finish. THIS is why I could never have an actual job doing the thing I'm driven to do. Nobody's going to trust me if I don't have a lesson plan.
posted by MiraK at 6:00 AM on November 30, 2020

I would like to be a script writer in the 1940s for radio shows. I would also like to write witty things for The New Yorker.
posted by JanetLand at 6:04 AM on November 30, 2020 [2 favorites]

I think I have figured out that I don’t really care much about what the setting is as long as I’m in a leadership role. I want to be the regional manager, the superintendent, the captain, or the CEO. I like seeing the big picture and being able to improve things.

Unfortunately, I’m a humble community college instructor, and I’m not in charge of anything except, within reason, how I teach.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 6:16 AM on November 30, 2020 [7 favorites]

I'd like to be a person who helps postsecondary students figure out what they want to study. Not like, What Career Do You Want, but more, oh, you don't know what you want to do your master's thesis on? Let's look at your papers from the last couple of years that you enjoyed writing, talk about your interests, and pick a topic together.

My favourite part of my old pse admin job was helping students figure out their course schedules so it makes sense. Just having someone to talk to about how to complete their programs of study in a way that made sense for them helped them SO much, they were so happy afterwards.
posted by wellred at 7:10 AM on November 30, 2020 [5 favorites]

I want to be Machiavelli's henchman. I don't want to be in a leadership role, nor do I want to be the main person scheming, but I want to help implement very clever schemes. (Ideally for the benevolent greater good)

I recognize that makes me sound evil? but honestly getting things done? ugh beautiful.
posted by larthegreat at 7:18 AM on November 30, 2020 [8 favorites]

Eccentric millionaire/cat snuggler
posted by Orange Dinosaur Slide at 7:24 AM on November 30, 2020 [3 favorites]

I want to be Phil Rosenthal/Anthony Bourdain travelling around the world, eating magnificent food, hobnobbing with the hoi polloi and the elite chefs alike, while offering pithy and charming commentary to the home audience.
posted by briank at 7:57 AM on November 30, 2020 [7 favorites]

On second thought, and not unrelated in spirit to my etsy gift-buying career -- having just finished the Christmas book (spawner of 1000 AskMes) for my son, I think that would be a cool job too: Writing/illustrating/making custom picture books for kids. And I'd have an unlimited stock photo budget to use for source imagery where needed. And who knows, if this were an actual job, maybe I could get my books into a library somewhere. Like obviously a book made for ONE KID is not of widespread interest..but you know, maybe some "local folk" collection somewhere would want it. How cool would it be to be in a library?
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 8:38 AM on November 30, 2020 [1 favorite]

I want to be with donkeys and mules
posted by Morpeth at 9:00 AM on November 30, 2020 [1 favorite]

1. Basically what Gilles Peterson does for a living.
2. Retired.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:02 AM on November 30, 2020 [1 favorite]

I want a sabbatical to fix my house - I've already put many, many hours into appliance repairs and yard work, but there's still 20+ poorly patched drywall holes large enough to need a new hunk of drywall plus a lot of smaller ones, and the interior painting of the house is obviously half-assed with splashes on paint on everything and the intense former color scheme showing through, and all the yard work only got me to a blank slate with no actual plants in it yet.

Post-sabbatical, I would be into retiring early and doing lots of outdoorsy volunteering and reading. I would also go on all the mid-week daytime native plant society and mycology society field trips.
posted by momus_window at 9:04 AM on November 30, 2020 [3 favorites]

I really liked the job I had at the college bookstore where I was the person with access to all the textbooks and people would come to me and request those books. I had the inventory memorized, read the interesting books in my spare time, and the busy season (start of the semester) was the opposite of my busy season (finals).
posted by aniola at 9:06 AM on November 30, 2020 [6 favorites]

I think I have figured out that I don’t really care much about what the setting is as long as I’m in a leadership role. I want to be the regional manager, the superintendent, the captain, or the CEO. I like seeing the big picture and being able to improve things.

Unfortunately, I’m a humble community college instructor, and I’m not in charge of anything except, within reason, how I teach.

Can we somehow arrange a Freaky Friday situation? I have recently been made a manager entirely against my will and hate it so much. I would love to be a community college instructor.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 9:49 AM on November 30, 2020 [7 favorites]

For a while in school I worked at the outreach office of my university's physics department, which was great. I hung out in a room full of all sorts of physics demo apparatus built/accumulated over the years, playing around with them and trying to redesign them so the concepts could be reproduced using ordinary household items by a reasonably crafty adult (our target audience was physics teachers, not students). Then I would take pictures of the process and write it all up with an explanation of the science behind the demo. Occasionally we would get a group of homeschool kids on a field trip, and I would help them build circuits and make liquid nitrogen ice cream, or someone would ask me to pull out our high-speed camera and pop some water balloons in slow motion. Fun job - if only it paid a full-time living wage!
posted by btfreek at 10:03 AM on November 30, 2020 [1 favorite]

2. Ecclesiastical/Historical/Awesome Old Architecture Explorer
Gray Duck: as it happens this is both my dream job, and actual job.

Do you need an intern? I make a heck of a good atmospheric playlist! And I already have a doggie sidekick!
posted by Gray Duck at 10:07 AM on November 30, 2020 [2 favorites]

Unfortunately, I’m a humble community college instructor

Do not sell yourself short. I was super fortunate to have some amazing instructors while at community college, and they provided an amazing jump start / kick in the ass to an aimless 20-something that could have easily stayed in dead-end factory jobs until they dried up permanently in that area. I wouldn't be surprised if some of your former students have similar stories about you. If not, well, there's still time. :-)
posted by jzb at 11:37 AM on November 30, 2020 [2 favorites]

I'm in the incredibly lucky position of actually having my dream job, in a pretty great location. (If someone offered to pick up my lab and colleagues and drop us all in Coyoacán or Montmartre, I wouldn't object. But, all things considered, I've got less than nothing to complain about.)

The pre/early-industrial job that seems like the most fun to me is clock-maker and designer of automata. My family's history suggests getting that job would have been challenging if I'd lived at a time when that was exciting technology. I did try to get a summer job as a watch repair person in high-school. They don't seem to take outsiders, even today.

The contemporary job that sounds like the most fun aside from mine would probably be either archeology or experimental economics. Which I guess are actually both essentially the same job I have now, but in very different departments. I'm not sure I'd be any good at the former. And I'm sure I would despise my colleagues in the latter. But, I did manage to marry someone archeology-adjacent, so I get to hear other people talk about the fun details fairly often without having to actually know anything.
posted by eotvos at 11:48 AM on November 30, 2020 [1 favorite]

I'd like to work in a bookstore, which I have often done, but this time without the more serious constraints of retail. Real estate woes, finding employees, the supply chain, all that vexing stuff. I guess if I didn't have any of those issues, there would be no problems finding and keeping employees. But I wouldn't really want to be the person in charge of all that. I'd just want that fantasy bookstore experience you get in fluffy romance novels where the character is forced by dire circumstances to work in a bookstore somewhere by the sea. People come by and you find the perfect books for each one. Since the sky is the limit, let's say if that book does not yet exist, you can conjure it up. Multiple times a day I would have the experience where someone is shown a book and exclaims, "That one!"

I would also not mind the retail schedule, working long hours, weekends and holidays because the store would be a social hub and all my friends and family could hang out.
posted by BibiRose at 12:02 PM on November 30, 2020 [5 favorites]

My library has this program called Book Match, where you send the librarian five books you liked and the librarian sends you back some recommendations for more books.

First of all, I love that.

Second of all, my dream job is to be the librarian at the other end of Book Match. How fun is that?

In general, being a librarian sounds incredibly fun...but also totally out of reach, so here I am, an accountant instead. Blechhhhhh
posted by rue72 at 12:33 PM on November 30, 2020 [6 favorites]

Monologuist, storyteller, very much inspired by Claudia Shear's Blown Sideways Through Life.

My therapist recently inspired me by putting this into words: I have a lot of interesting stories about my life that I tell with humor, intelligence and, most importantly, real emotions and vulnerability. I like to perform, to make people laugh and to be as honest as I can.

I've actually started writing my memoir - I have no idea where it will go but just scribbling down stories and ideas is enlightening.

Other ideal jobs include:
- Doctor who performs abortions
- Advocate for homeless people
- Sailor
- Video editor
- Web developer (lucky me this is what I do!)
- Electrician
- Own a small appliance repair shop
- Own a B&B
posted by bendy at 12:40 PM on November 30, 2020 [6 favorites]

My dream job is the work I actually do-- but with steadier employment, less struggle to find employment, and no assholes.
posted by Pallas Athena at 12:44 PM on November 30, 2020 [4 favorites]

I think talking about my dream job involves starting with reimagining what labor is for a handful of reasons. My favorite parts of life mostly involve not engaging with the existing economic regime around labor -- a long-winded way of saying my favorite part of work is when I'm not doing it. Despite this, I have a desire to be somewhat useful and productive. I simply prefer to be useful and productive doing things that are hard-to-value as labor.

The whole notion of a dream job to me implies reimagining my place in the world. I have the desire to follow my own interests but to make what I know about them useful to others. I might describe my dream job involving sitting on a cushion atop a mountain and dispensing wisdom, except with fewer mountains, more human interaction, and perhaps being a little less enigmatic. I like learning things, knowing things, and telling people the things I know in a way that helps.

In an ideal world my daily tasks would involve pursuing one or more of my interests, perhaps writing something about them, and helping others solve their problems. My favorite way to solve a problem is by thinking about things and then telling people something they needed to know. I suppose there's an element of education, here, but I don't think I have the desire to be a full-time educator.

This is all pretty abstract sounding, though. I have specific areas of interest and specialization that I'd enjoy capitalizing on in a way that would benefit others: I'm interested in early microcomputing, software archaeology, UNIX history and philosophy, and process design. Certainly I'm happy dispensing wisdom that isn't about old computers or the best way to use modern computers, but my knowledge in other areas is more broad and less specialized.

In the absence of paying gigs sitting atop mountains and talking too much about technology history, the closest thing to my dream job is what I already do: I'm a reliability engineer for a stunningly non-toxic major technology company, surrounded by some of the smartest people I've ever worked with.
posted by majick at 12:45 PM on November 30, 2020 [3 favorites]

I'd be a sauce sommelier. This would entail working as a consultant for or tableside at restaurants or other food purveyors, but of course I'd also be available for private events (via Zoom in Covid times).
I'd recommend tasty sauce and dip options from the basic to the gourmet, from chicken tenders to the fanciest gastronomy.
This is incredibly goofy but I'd love it.
posted by pointystick at 1:13 PM on November 30, 2020 [3 favorites]

I'm privileged to have my dream job, but it makes up only about 20% of what I get paid for. In other words, admin and bureaucracy are stressful and tedious, teaching and making art happen is great. Definitely not complaining!

I'd also love to be some kind of food professional that doesn't exist probably, like just hanging out at the public kitchen at the library and helping folks with their cooking projects.
posted by Mngo at 1:14 PM on November 30, 2020 [2 favorites]

Wellred, I loved talking to my friends about their degrees at uni (Arts Degrees, usually- in American I think it's liberal arts) - you'd take whatever seemed interesting in first year, then suddenly you needed a major (eight units) two? minors (four units) and first year sequences (2 units)
I did a double degree so all I needed was a major, a minor, a first year sequence, and then the balance of units to make up my degree.

I am currently on maternity leave, and I'm really missing school. (Covid restrictions have eased here which means I can go visit soon!) I don't miss the stress, the marking and assessment at all. I do miss the kids and I miss my colleagues the most.

Before I finished up, I was a year 7 coordinator (aka student management) which freed me from some of my teaching load. Face to face teaching is OK but it's draining!

So, my dream job is to be at a school, but no face to face teaching. I could drop in to classrooms and help out, I could teach interesting lessons. I could have interesting discussions about curriculum, and actually have time to deep dive into the curriculum documents. I would be there to help people with technology and solve problems. I would be available- so many interesting things happen when you have time. (I love answering the phone at work!) Medical emergencies- I'm there. Crowd control- on it. Student needs someone to talk to: I'm here. Mentoring new staff. Teacher bathroom breaks. Excursions. Camps. Planning, paperwork, I'll do it!

I loved being on top of our attendance (we get rightly pinged for having unexplained absences- either the kid is with us, or the parent knows where they are, if not we need to do something) I loved chasing down discrepancies and phoning parents and driving that unexplained number to zero.

I loved being the union president, meeting with the boss to sort things out and make things fair. Being on hiring panels.

Basically the job I have, but with extremely limited actual responsibility for classroom management and especially no assessment. All the fun stuff. Being able to make my colleague's jobs easier and nicer.
posted by freethefeet at 2:46 PM on November 30, 2020 [3 favorites]

When I think of an ideal job, it's certainly not working in an office, sitting in a cubicle farm.

When I was a teenager, I worked at a local dinner theater. That was pretty cool, because the show changed every month, and we were one big family. I learned how to do special effects, like how to make a fog/dry ice machine on a low budget (pour the hot water now! Turn on the hair dryer! Aim the tube!), how to make a flashpot (the thing that explodes when Dracula is changing into a bat), making salads for 100 people, helping people change costumes, warming up in the dressing room, running down to the store for a fresh pair of nylons, taking a Saturday morning ballet class, being an understudy Kit Kat girl and learning the steps in two weeks. It was constantly changing, and yet, these people were my family. Everyone took care of me and looked out for me, gave me new tasks to do, whether it was pulling curtain or running lights, or learning how to be a dancer and putting on make-up.

Then I went away to college and joined another theater group there. They were equally welcoming. I learned a lot about lighting and sound. I ran lights for theater productions and visiting performers. I learned how to run the lighting boards, and to tie my wrench to the loop on my jeans when climbing a ladder or scooting along the boards to adjust the lights and put a new gel. I argued over whether a pink or yellow gel was the best one to light an actress. I was really good at it, and I won a Barrymore award for lighting in my Freshman year. Other theater students liked me, and some approached me to share a house with them the next year.

Then I got pregnant, and I had to quit school and later became a secretary. I hated office work with a passion, even as I advanced myself throughout the years.

What I really wanted to do was become a lighting expert and move to NYC and join the Brotherhood of Light (I think that is what the union was called at the time?). I wanted to continue to be part of that family. To put on great productions, whether in lighting or costumes, any aspect of it. I did audition a couple of times, and while I would have also loved to become an actor, I found any involvement, from set building to directing (got an A in directing class at college!), just a super fun experience. The constant change, the challenge, the many diverse personalities, a big group experience of talented people coming together to put on a show that brings joy, anticipation, horror, tears, laughter, all the emotions, to other people.

That is my dream job, to be part of something like that again, post-pandemic of course, but oh god, wasn't it wonderful to wear some fishnet tights, a sparkly headband, and dance on stage for a little while.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 4:27 PM on November 30, 2020 [6 favorites]

If a statistician could find a home in something like emergency management, that might be my dream job. I would love to use my actual skills in service of something that matters to people and features real and inescapable deadlines, but does not involve lifting heavy objects or being the face of anything. I just want to be quietly but constantly useful. Like Samwise Gamgee, maybe, but for data.
posted by eirias at 6:55 PM on November 30, 2020 [7 favorites]

Columnist, monologist, storyteller, actress, feature writer (used to do that), designer, person who finds the weird things and then goes, "HEY EVERYBODY, LOOK AT THIS WEIRD THING!" Preferably having someone else figure out the business/money thing because good god, I don'[t have the brains for that.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:14 PM on November 30, 2020 [1 favorite]

I would like to:

- get paid to go to school
- get paid to give people ideas
- be a patron of the arts (and crafts)
- write movie scripts
posted by Soliloquy at 12:17 AM on December 1, 2020 [3 favorites]

I'd like to be a travel agent. Plan every minute detail of people's vacations, and recommend where they should go to and how they should get there.

Too bad it's a dying profession. But I'm in school studying to be a wetland consultant, and I'm looking forward to a career that half consists of roaming around in the woods sampling soils and identifying plants, and half making reports in an office.
posted by mollywas at 12:24 AM on December 1, 2020 [3 favorites]

I'd like to receive some kind of universal basic income that covered my financial needs without stress, to spend most of my time writing but without the pressure of a capricious market to sell the writing into (I'm deep in short story rejection hell right now and would dearly love not to be, to just be able to do the work without worrying that I'll never sell any of it), and then to make some fun money on the side as a weed sommelier/review writer (which is a job that exists, just not legally in the place where I live).

One of the things I like most about being neurodiverse is the weird perspective it allows me to bring to things, whether that's a metaphor no one else would have come up with or a really specific description of something sensory/synaesthesia-adjacent (also, incidentally, I also really like the ability it gives me to cut through a lot of society's bullshit by never taking anything as a given). I also have a strong sense of taste and smell and am good at tuning into the ways a specific strain is making me feel and turning that into some kind of weird metaphor. To be able to plug those skills into helping other folks find strains that they like or that really work for them would be neat.
posted by terretu at 1:02 AM on December 1, 2020 [3 favorites]

Marie Mon Dieu, your vivid description made me grin wildly. I was in the pit orchestra for musicals at my high school and I felt similarly about the theater then. I hope you get to be part of it again soon. 💃🏻
posted by eirias at 3:36 AM on December 1, 2020 [1 favorite]

Climate change educator in a world that takes it seriously.

And/or professional napper and cat petter.
posted by carter at 3:40 AM on December 1, 2020 [1 favorite]

I want to wander around the world, looking at interesting urban, suburban, and rural landscapes, puzzling together how they got to be the way they are, and writing about it all. It's a very limited part of my current job (go, geography!), but I could, quite frankly, do without all of the other parts, and with more time and funds to travel.
posted by mollweide at 3:49 AM on December 1, 2020 [3 favorites]

rue72– “My library has this program called Book Match, where you send the librarian five books you liked and the librarian sends you back some recommendations for more books. . . my dream job is to be the librarian at the other end of Book Match. How fun is that?”

This is literally one of the parts of my library job, and it is SO MUCH FUN!
posted by bookmammal at 7:02 AM on December 1, 2020 [4 favorites]

I would be a professional divorce/dumping coach. I'm doing this a lot on an amateur basis anyway. I think many people who've been divorced become weirdly attuned to how to help people in that moment.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:31 AM on December 1, 2020 [4 favorites]

Bake really, really good pies. Like, the best pie you've ever tasted.
Make like, a dozen a day, tops. Experiment. Perfect my craft.
posted by signal at 1:30 PM on December 1, 2020 [2 favorites]

mollywas: "I'd like to be a travel agent. … Too bad it's a dying profession."

Saw some articles recently how the 'rona has brought it back. It's not so easy to go on vacation with no planning, now.
posted by signal at 1:31 PM on December 1, 2020 [2 favorites]

wow, great thread.

I have lots, but the one that makes me super wistful is food and scent product development. I love interesting flavors, and I spend so much time thinking about them and reacting to them. I wish I'd realized that about myself when I was in college.
posted by fingersandtoes at 3:56 PM on December 1, 2020 [1 favorite]

70% time independent staff scientist, fully funded, with complete control over my own time & projects, cool biologist colleagues, and enough funding to buy some technician time when I want extra help with wet lab things.
posted by deludingmyself at 5:16 PM on December 1, 2020 [3 favorites]

Staff writer and voice artist for animated movie and TV comedies. I get to be silly all day and listen to myself be silly, and entertain others in the bargain!

Two days later I notice I mistyped "I'd get to be..." I don't actually have that job, I just wish I did. Thought I'd mention that for the sake of posterity.
posted by Greg_Ace at 7:58 PM on December 1, 2020

I don’t want to be anybody’s boss. I also don’t want to be anybody’s staff. That makes it kind of hard, overall.

I did enjoy being in grad school, where i was paid a small stipend to read and write. This, but without subject restrictions.

Walking around in the neighborhood, chatting with random people is nice. I’m good at jerry-rigging and quick fixes. Think duct tape. I like to sing and play the guitar. I’m good at drawing. I have no problem with being alone for long periods. I can be very funny, or so I’m told.

Maybe, once we abolish capitalism. I’ll become a wandering sage/duct tape fixer/musicianer/clown.
posted by The Toad at 8:55 PM on December 1, 2020 [4 favorites]

Add WD-40 to your arsenal and you'd be unbeatable!
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:03 PM on December 1, 2020 [1 favorite]

Awesome thread! I'd just do what I do now (land/water-scape design and planning and some undefinable land things), but without all the tax, legal and (some) annoying clients.

I love what I do but hate the whole money side, I'm very unfinancial and not into things, I think when money got invented something important was lost.
posted by unearthed at 2:15 AM on December 2, 2020 [1 favorite]

eirias, it sounds like wildfire modeling could be your thing. I know people who do this here.
posted by unearthed at 2:25 AM on December 2, 2020 [1 favorite]

I HAD my dream job!

I once operated an astonishing phototypesetting machine called a Quadex. Every moment spent at its keyboard was a joy for me as I set all of the type for an alternative weekly newspaper.

Interesting folks, many of them national, came through our offices and hung out with staff. Tom Kenney came by and did answering-machine messages for staff as SpongeBob. Commander Cody dropped by a party and sat in with the band. There was always someone being photographed or interviewed.

The Quadex was insanely powerful and I could make it jump through hoops. The keyboard feel was a dream. I set all the articles and ads, often editing on the fly, producing beautifully finished copy using coding and no preview screen—I previewed in my head. As mistress of the Quadex I was treated like a goddess. The work provided a constant positive feedback loop. I couldn’t wait to get to the office every day.

The staff photographer’s darkroom was near my work station; I got to see a lot of images still wet in the tray.

Every week had rhythm as another issue took shape. It was exciting and fun.

One day I was pulled into the publisher’s office. He cheerfully informed me that after 12 years of work I could leave or accept half my pay as an entry-level Macintosh operator. I left.

The paper closed down for good two years ago.

Damn it was fun while it lasted.
posted by kinnakeet at 3:06 AM on December 2, 2020 [9 favorites]

I had my dream job as well, for a while - theater doesn't pay jack shit, and that's one big reason why I left.

But I think I also just grew out of it. In college, as part of the last year of our conservatory training, we had a year-long workshop where we mounted a play. The director they brought in ended up imparting her life philosophy to us along the way - and one big thing she told us was that look, we humans live a long time, and over that time we change. And one of the things that may change is your dreams. So - if at some point we decided we didn't want to do theater any more, that wasn't a sign we'd failed or couldn't hack it or anything; it was simply a sign that we had grown and changed and this particular dream just didn't fit us any more, and that was fine. Here's how to take the lessons we'd learned over the course of our theater careers and apply them elsewhere.

I've thought about what I would consider my "dream job" since then; I've never really known how to answer that. I once also said "something like Anthony Bourdain", but that's not quite right either; I'm a little too shy to be that gregarious around strangers. I could definitely be into the exploring and eating and trying things, but engaging in conversations with people, I'd be shy at the onset and it would be awkward. (I know Tony was very shy as well, but he learned how to cover for that way better than I ever did.)

I'm kind of leaning towards something, though. I explain the "Empress" part of my handle in my profile, but: I took that bit from the "Empress" tarot card. I once took a dippy "what tarot card are you" quiz when I was bored at work, and that's what I got; when I read their take on the Empress card and what it symbolizes, though, I realized that yes, actually, it was indeed what I wanted to be. The Empress is both about appreciating the sensual abundances of life - food, music, sex, really gorgeously-scented candles, pretty things - and about nurturing others and getting them to appreciate them too. It's about taking the time to make yourself hot chocolate from scratch in your best mug instead of opting for Swiss Miss packets, or listening to the whole album "Astral Weeks" instead of just one track. It's about splurging on the really nice pillow and a fuzzy throw blanket for your bed, and getting little string lights for your headboard just because it's a nice mood lighting touch when it's late at night and you just want to vibe in your room. It's about running pell-mell down a beach just to feel your body moving. It's about always having some cookies you just took out of the oven when friends come over and insisting they have some. It's about stumbling across a great piece of music a friend would love and dropping everything to send them the link. As I saw it, the Empress is kind of like a decadent hippie earth mother.

It's like that passage from The Color Purple -
Shug: More than anything God loves admiration.
Celie: You saying God is vain?
Shug: No, not vain, just wanting to share a good thing. I think it pisses God off when you walk by the color purple in a field and don't notice it.
The Empress takes the time to notice the color purple, and point it out to people.

So, that. If money were no object, I'd just be vibing in my apartment with a door open to anyone, and anyone who turned up would get fed and there would always be great music, anyone who needs a place to crash would get a bed (if I have one available) and I'd stock it with nice linens, midnight snacks and books, and I'd encourage them to indulge in whatever they need to feed themselves and their souls. And if no one were around and it were just me, then I would feed and nurture my own self.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:26 AM on December 2, 2020 [11 favorites]

I would like to be a large glacial erratic boulder sitting in a valley somewhere pretty and deep in nature and watch the seasons change over geological time. Sometimes hikers pass through and rest on me, or lay back and watch the stars. I'd be mossy in the shade and shadows, with just enough lichen and stonecrop.

I think that would be gneiss.
posted by loquacious at 7:34 AM on December 2, 2020 [11 favorites]

I, too, would like to be stoned.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:32 AM on December 2, 2020 [5 favorites]

For a while, it's been to be a counsellor/therapist. And I have just handed in my notice at my job of 12 years, to begin my studies :)

It feels exciting to say this here. I've been skulking around the green for so long now. And someday soon, I will, in fact, be AT, albeit not YT
posted by greenish at 8:51 AM on December 2, 2020 [8 favorites]

I didn't know John Mahoney was British, in all the years that I watched Frasier.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 3:50 PM on December 2, 2020

Marie MonDieu, I think you needed to be over here...
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:33 PM on December 2, 2020

I know. Things happen.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 7:17 PM on December 2, 2020

Professional kisser. I would kiss people, professionally.
posted by slappy_pinchbottom at 9:57 PM on December 2, 2020 [8 favorites]

I would like to scuba-dive professionally for kelp sori for a Pacific Northwest kelp and shellfish farm.

I would also like to track and report on the behavior of local harbor seals by being a Professional Cold-Water Swimmer, Day and Night.

(I also want to perform surgery on people, but there's a school for that and so that's why I'm currently getting an A in the mostly-unrelated-but-somehow-required discipline of organic chemistry.)
posted by cnidaria at 12:24 AM on December 3, 2020 [1 favorite]

I might be biased, but Slappy Pinch-Bottom is actually quite a good name for a professional kisser. I'd pay for that.
posted by cnidaria at 12:25 AM on December 3, 2020 [2 favorites]

I just want the job that I have, but always working from home, and all the information I need is sent to me at the beginning of my workday. All notes on my work are clear, concise, and actually make my work look better. Deadlines, references and editorial details would all be in some easily accessible database, and I never have to go chasing answers or stressing that there is something important that I need to know but they've forgotten to tell me. That would be so nice.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 2:17 AM on December 3, 2020 [1 favorite]

I would like to work in a place like the Repair Shop except not on a tv show. I would be the person who repairs miscellaneous things that the other repairers don't do, and we would all work together and help each other fix people's weird old heirloom things, and they'd be really happy when they got them back all shined up and purring like new.
I would have a beautifully organized tool cabinet, and there would be about five other expert repairers and we'd all be good friends and consult on each other's projects and solve interesting problems and wear cozy sweaters and drink a lot of coffee.
posted by exceptinsects at 10:42 AM on December 3, 2020 [4 favorites]

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