The Red Cross came to my workplace today for a blood drive. I chatted with the phlebotomist as she rubbed betadine on my arm. She asked what I do there, and I told her I am an editor.
"There's no way I could do that job," she said. "Too much reading and writing."
"Well, I don't think I could do your job," I told her. "Inserting needles in just the right place at the right angle..."
We paused our chitchat as she pierced my skin and I cringed and looked away until she'd covered the spot with gauze. I proceeded to tell her about another job I know I couldn't do: school crossing guard.
I've thought about this a lot lately. Every day, whether I'm taking Kate to school in one direction or heading directly to the interstate in the opposite direction, I pass not one but two schools, and if I get there during a certain time window, I get slowed down by the school traffic, rolling along at 15 mph and stopping until the nice lady in the orange vest tells me I can go. So, I have a lot of time sitting there, observing these brave and often spirited individuals, bopping along to the rhythm in their heads (or the earbud in their ears) as they expertly direct traffic coming from four directions, turning lanes, school buses, pedestrians in the crosswalk--and I have horrible visions of what would happen if I were the one donning that orange vest.
I would tell one lane to go but forget the turning lane or the lane going the opposite direction, and they would honk at me. I would zone out watching a squirrel and let eastbound traffic roll on for five minutes. I would step out of the way of the school bus and back into oncoming traffic, rolling over the hood like some movie character hit by a New York City cab (or rolling over the hood as much as one can at 15 mph).
It would not go well. I am sure of this.
I also know that I could not be a public defender (how do you defend someone who is clearly guilty?), an accountant (numbers seriously baffle me), or a politician (public speaking makes me have a panic attack and I have a low tolerance for B.S.).
What jobs could you not do?