This article originally appeared on VICE UK.
A study shows that the average young person is now going to have to wait until they’re 77 to retire. Based on the current UK life expectancy (81), that gives us just enough time to pick a half-decent coffin and write a will that leaves our remaining student debt to our lucky families. But hey, that’s fine, no? People love their jobs and want to be working long into their arthritis years. Right?
Considering almost 50 percent of people in the UK want to change career, and a quarter are desperately miserable in their occupation, no. Wrong. Dead wrong. Worse still is when other people hate you for just doing your job. To find out how that feels, and to give them a chance to explain themselves, I spoke to five people who work in some of the most hated professions: an estate agent, a traffic officer, a lawyer, a door-to-door salesperson, and a journalist.
Some responses have been edited for length and clarity.
Heidi, Real Estate Agent
Greedy agents and greedy sellers are a toxic combination; hate is an inevitable outcome. Estate agents sell your most valuable asset; moving house is one of the biggest financial and life decisions we make. A good agent has exposure to the market on a daily basis, understanding the market at both a macro and micro level.
Choosing the agent with whom you establish a rapport and who provides pragmatic advice on selling strategy and price is the key. That agent is not necessarily the cheapest but will have offices locally with an internet platform to the world and a reputation earned. It is those agents who are worth their weight in gold, literally. You shouldn’t hate an agent who sells your house in the timescale you want at the best price achievable. The decision to like or hate that person is yours!
Ben, Traffic Officer
Imagine a job that demands that you spend your days out in the sun. Where you decide where to go and what to do; when to stop, rest, and look out over the sea. A job where people greet you with happiness and gratitude.
Well, I can give you two out of three.
As a traffic warden in a busy seaside town, I’ve had my share of abuse and snide remarks. I also learned some creative and, frankly, painful-sounding uses of the F and C words. But a job where you are paid to be outside, with total independence, and where I got the greatest tan of my life, I wouldn’t have traded it for the world.
Michael Wolkind QC, Defense Lawyer
On my fridge is Shakespeare’s magnetic instruction: “Let’s kill all the lawyers.” In my desk drawer is a file of thank you letters. Apparently, I have “literally” saved lives. It is better for the people [who say they hate lawyers] that they never need to meet me or my colleagues, as it would mean they are accused of a serious crime. On my conscience, I have no cases where I caused imprisonment. Positive news that the system works. Positive views that lawyers work. And we work hard.
Disastrous government cuts to public funding have increased the number of litigants and people left floundering without a professional voice. If only they had lawyers. The politicians decided otherwise. Whatever, next—could even politicians, one day be perceived in a negative light by an ungrateful public?
Kat, Door-to-Door Sales
I work for a well-known subscription box company doing door-to-door sales. I can’t imagine many other jobs with such a high frequency of hearing the words “fuck off.” It’s all very tactical—they make you do these morale-boosting sessions every morning, where you run around high-fiving each other because otherwise, you’d quit immediately. You have to keep a smile on your face at all times.
Within my first week, I was bitten by two dogs. I had to comfort a newly divorced woman who burst into tears at the words “box for two.” I was called a “little cunt” by a frail geriatric woman attached to a breathing machine. What people don’t know is that most of us work on commission, so if we make no sales we make no money, so you have to really push for it. So yeah, I guess people shouldn’t hate on us because we almost definitely already hate this job anyway.
Nadia Mendoza, Digital Editor of the Daily Star
You know when you were at school and couldn’t be bothered to read your English books so you watched the film instead? To me, that’s kind of what journalism is. It breaks down the political jargon from world leaders, challenges the crap fed to us by governments, and collates news from around the world so you don’t have to. It feeds our innate interest in culture, human nature, and connects us to the space we live in. Tabloids are no different from newspapers—they just happen to deliver the message like your best mate over a pint, rather than a newsreader on the ten o’clock news.
Also, the power of digital journalism is that it is ever-evolving, meaning we use reader feedback to give the public more of what they want. Yes, we sensationalize—that’s our craft—but I also believe journalists have a duty of care. For example, I don’t let my reporters use words like “flawless,” or “perfect body,” as we’re in a position where we could influence impressionable people, and so we try to take responsibility with that. People like to point fingers and blame “the media,” yet still click on articles they loathe to moan about in the comments section.
Everyone needs to be responsible for their own digital footprint. The more people click, it’s like a vote to the editor saying you want more of that content, so more of that content starts appearing online. Folks can talk about the “gutter press” all they want—it’s funny how they never complain when they want to be my plus-one for music festivals or visit me in Venice Beach, though!
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